Less than 50 years ago, CPA marketing wasn’t even a thing. It’s hard to imagine not being able to promote your CPA firm today. However, advertising wasn’t allowed in the accounting industry until 1977 when a Supreme Court decision about professional service firms made it legal.
Now there are so many CPA marketers we have our own national association! Some Association for Accounting Marketing members have been working in the field since the beginning. They can tell you, CPA marketing has definitely changed throughout the decades!
In the early years of CPA marketing, much of the focus was on telephone book advertising, printed brochures and trade shows with displays reminiscent of science fair poster boards.
Luckily most accounting marketers no longer have to break out their grammar school arts and crafts skills to attract clients with the many changes in CPA marketing. Read on to learn what modern CPA marketing entails and how your accounting firm can benefit from it.
What is CPA Marketing
Marketing is the business of promoting or selling products or services, and it includes market research and advertising. Many people refer to a marketing funnel. For the inbound marketing company, HubSpot, they use a flywheel that spins faster the more marketers eliminate friction. HubSpot’s philosophy is that you should be continuously marketing to clients through attraction, conversion, and retention activities.
- Attract: Drawing in the right people with valuable content and conversations that establish you as a trusted advisor with whom they want to engage.
- Engage: Presenting insights and solutions that align with their pain points and goals so they are more likely to buy from you.
- Delight: Providing help and support to empower your customers to find success with their purchase.
While accounting marketers share many of the goals and duties of general marketers, building trust and sharing expertise are key in professional services fields and should be a main focus of a CPA marketer.
Types of Accounting Marketing
There are so many types of marketing and the varieties just seem to multiply with the growth of digital media. Here’s a rundown of some of what accounting marketing entails:
- Advertising: Purchase of ads in newspapers, in industry publications, on websites and on social media.
- Direct mail: Sending letters or postcards to potential clients.
- Branding: Branding is much more than just a logo and company colors. While marketing usually has a big hand in those, branding for CPA firms includes all your messaging and company profile and developing your ideal client (and your messaging to attract them.) Branding also involves the dissemination of your company name and messaging.
- Public relations: Another way to build brand recognition is through public relations. Does your firm specialize in construction, manufacturing or restaurants? Then try to get your CPAs quoted in industry publications. Don’t forget to send your company news to local media outlets, especially business publications.
- Content marketing: CPAs have a wealth of knowledge that can benefit businesses and individuals. Content marketing is a great way to showcase that knowledge. Content marketing includes everything from blogs to white papers to infographics and videos.
- Video marketing: While video is part of content marketing, it’s such a growing and important segment of content marketing that it’s worth its own mention. You’re selling relationships and trust in accounting marketing. Video marketing allows prospects to get a better sense of your CPAs.
- SEO: Search engine optimization – strategy that involves the inclusion of keywords to get your website content discovered on search.
- Social media: Using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. is a key way to disseminate your content marketing, engage your current clients and attract prospects. Tools like Hootsuite can help you schedule and automate your social media posts.
- Trade shows: Especially if you have particular industry expertise, trade shows are a great place to meet more prospects in the field.
- Proposals: Accounting marketers are usually the best writers in a sea of numbers people. Because of this, they are often tasked with crafting written proposals to send to clients. This to-do can become highly tedious and time-consuming. Proposal creation can eat up valuable time that your team members could use for strategic work. Tools like Pitchly help you leverage the credential data that you already have to automate the proposal creation process. With their easy template builder and dynamic fields that automatically update when your data does, you save hours each week and have consistent, easy-to-update proposals at the click of a button.
How Accounting Firms Benefit from CPA Marketing
A lot of CPA firm business used to come from word-of-mouth referrals. While that’s still a portion of how new business is brought in, leads through marketing – especially digital marketing – continue to increase. Some experts believe your firm’s website will be its biggest rainmaker in the near future if it’s not already. The bottom line is marketers have a lot of roles – and a lot of impact – at CPA firms.
About Lynn Olanoff
Lynn Olanoff is the marketing communications specialist at Concannon Miller, a CPA and business advisory firm in Bethlehem, Pa. and St. Petersburg, Fl. She has worked in accounting marketing since September 2015 and was previously a newspaper reporter for 13 years.