If you’re new to the accounting marketing industry or joined a new firm not long before the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re likely experiencing a cultural learning curve. It’s important for marketers to add value, show commitment, and work smoothly with the CPAs by being sensitive to their many deadlines and client expectations. It’s common to wonder how, when, and what to communicate. You will learn some remote working tips to be effective in your new accounting marketing role below.
Curating a professional, helpful presence in the office is normally the easiest way to navigate this but the shelter-in-place orders changed everything this year. Plus, it means our most visible projects (live events, networking, etc.) aren’t possible, while the accounting staff is in a seemingly never-ending busy season. However, this doesn’t mean your “visibility” should diminish. It might be helpful to think about how you normally build and manage your relationships with colleagues, and then design creative ways to accomplish the same thing virtually. Consider these tried and true alternatives to the things you’d do in real life at the office.
Accounting Marketing Remote Working Tips:
1. Establish regular meetings with your CEO/MP/Growth Partner/Direct Supervisor.
Marketing is more important than ever, particularly in a virtual landscape and shifting economy. The first of these remote working tips: Don’t wait for the boss to come calling. See if you can grab a quick check-in call at a regular time to discuss what’s going on at the firm and the impact on your overall strategy. This might be a great place to talk about your pipeline and how service offerings continue to evolve. Your goal is to look for opportunities, offer creative solutions surrounding communications and audience engagement. You need to ensure that marketing and brand experience are maintained during these times.
2. Connect with champions/niche leaders regularly and proactively—but subtly.
Don’t wait for them to think of you—they are rightly occupied with client needs. Check-in with them to gather knowledge on their sector and how service needs are changing. Consider sending them an article plus a short sentence to share on LinkedIn or attach their name to a ghost-written blog. The key is to be proactive, quick, and helpful to build a rapport for the future.
3. Be over-prepared.
Securing meeting time may be more difficult than usual. Attend your Zooms armed with analytics, industry research, case studies, and budgets. Do your homework so that you can maximize their time, eliminate the need for follow up meetings, and reduce the overall length of the meeting. Better yet, send relevant information in advance then use the meeting for a short discussion and real-time decision-making.
4. Show your face!
Face time with your partners is an opportunity to show that you and your workspace are set up for productivity and success. Not only does it benefit you professionally, but it also allows you to connect on a more personal level than would be possible in the office. Don’t wait to be asked for video—initiate the Zoom link. If possible, try to set up a professional(ish) background, lighting, and camera angle and either minimize or proactively apologize for background noise.
5. Get HAPPY.
Participate in virtual happy hours and firm meetings – with video on – to be seen and to interact with the group. These are decent opportunities to connect, learn about the big picture at your new firm, and find out what other departments are going through right now. You may uncover a new project or a chance to collaborate. Remember, don’t get too HAPPY if there are adult beverages involved. But showing up will help with rapport and give your team members some common ground with you.
6. Share practical knowledge for a virtual world.
Widespread remote work and limitations on in-person gatherings make virtual networking critical. Set up a virtual lunch and learn to share LinkedIn best practices. Demonstrate how team members can share content with their networks. Discuss online networking tips, including video call etiquette. Share technical tips on running a networking call – including how to mute people! Create a virtual office hour where colleagues login to receive live feedback and make their online profiles better.
7. Send regular updates.
Toot your own horn! Initiate a regular reporting system for the accounting firm to communicate what you and your marketing department are working on in this remote environment. It could take many different formats but should prevent the firm from wondering, “What is marketing up to?” It’s also a chance to put your champions in the spotlight which will help you gain momentum with others when they have the capacity.
8. Brainstorm communication needs and content opportunities.
The format for this will depend on your firm and range from lunchtime focus groups with partners to joining recurring staff meetings. Check-in and find out what they are hearing from clients and competitors. If scheduling a big marketing meeting during this time seems impossible, asking for five minutes at the beginning of an existing or recurring meeting might be doable. Use the time wisely and be clear and specific about what you’re requesting: blog topics, resource gathering, volunteers, etc.
9. Understand the culture shift within your firm.
To be effective in a remote working environment, you need to understand how your firm has been or anticipates being affected by the pandemic. Before requesting time or resources from the firm, you must be aware of changing client service demands which impact time available for practice development, how your budget may have changed, and whether the firm’s strategy has shifted. Go to your firm’s administrator, managing partner, or CFO for this information. Providing and showing value is the underlying theme but give yourself grace as you navigate and learn your firm’s culture and unique personality.
If you are strategic about your new accounting marketing role and you effectively implement these remote working tips, you can return to the office with a stronger impact than when you left.
By Kristen Lewis and Stephanie Chapa
About Kristen Lewis
Kristen Lewis is a past President of the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) and the Director of Marketing for the Philadelphia office of EisnerAmper LLP. Kristen has been an active volunteer for AAM since 2004, serving on various committees and task forces over the years, as well as a member of the Board of Directors. As AAM’s current President, Kristen has been heavily involved over the past two years in the planning and implementation of the organization’s Vision 2020 strategic plan. In 2009, AAM honored Kristen as Volunteer of the Year at the organization’s Annual Summit. She serves her local community as an employee campaign chair for the United Way of Southeastern PA. Kristen also serves on the Marketing Committee for the annual PACT Capital Conference.
About Stephanie Chapa
Stephanie Chapa is the Director of Marketing at Wiebe Hinton Hambalek, LLP.