Know Your Firm: Strategic Marketing Goals

June 30, 2017

Scott Dine

Scott Dine

Partner + Technical Director

4 min read

Know Your Firm: Strategic Marketing Goals

Know Your Firm: Strategic Marketing Goals


Principal + Technical Director

Focusing Your Strategic Marketing Goals

We spend a lot of time talking to CPA firms about the importance of strategic marketing. Put simply, the various components of your company’s accounting marketing plan must work together as a cohesive whole to advance your business objectives. While having a strategic plan which directs your marketing efforts is important, it is not the first step in effective marketing.

The entire purpose of a strategic marketing plan is to advance the business objectives of your CPA Firm. But it can’t get off the ground if the organization doesn’t agree on its business objectives, and nowhere have we found so many businesses without clearly defined objectives as the public accounting industry.

The difficulty lies in the structure of a partnership. Many CPA Firms have various partners with vastly different practices who are in completely different places in their careers. What one partner believes is an important objective of the firm may not even show up on the radar of another. This causes confusion among marketing professionals in the accounting industry. Frequently, the marketers are forced to choose between competing messages and objectives.

This puts marketing professionals in a difficult spot. A lack of focus from the top means strategic marketers have to market without a strategy, which undermines their efforts from the start. Not surprisingly, the marketing group will be unable to produce the results that the accounting firm expects.

So what steps can strategic marketers take to help clients with such a lack of focus? There is no one simple fix, but here are some steps the marketing team can take to address the problem.

While you may never get every partner in a firm to agree on all of the business objectives, a good start is to empower a strong managing partner. That way, the strategic marketers can work toward the objectives of the leader. But what if the firm has no such leader?

Understanding the objectives of your firm is the cornerstone of all your marketing efforts.
The first step is to bring this issue to the attention of the partners, then identify and build unity around a common set of goals. Clearly, you must proceed with caution.

At Catalyst, I frequently send out a discovery questionnaire. It’s a simple series of questions I pose to the ownership groups periodically. These can be conducted anonymously or openly. I use whichever method that I think will get the most participation. The questions should focus on:

  • How each partner views the firm today (including strengths and weaknesses).
  • How each partner views the goals and future of the firm (both short- and long-term).
  • What each partner believes should be the primary objectives in the upcoming year.

Usually, I provide a series of suggested answers and ask them to pick the ones they feel are most important or best describe the firm. If you allow for responses to be wide open, you’ll have a difficult time grouping answers and identifying  common goals. One purpose of the survey is to uncover any opposing opinions, but the primary purpose is to find agreement that allows us to build unity of purpose into our marketing strategy.

Understanding the objectives of your firm is the cornerstone of all your marketing efforts. If you don’t know where your leaders want go, you have no chance of getting them there. Going through this process on an annual basis will make your marketing efforts more effective and also make your life a lot easier.

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