The new year always brings new trends, but in the accounting profession, many of the trends firms will face in 2017 are continuations from this year. Yet, there are some new things on the horizon that you should be thinking about, too.
As you are looking to put together your next marketing plan, here are some things you should have in your focus, and in your marketing budget:
- Marketing Technology. Marketing and technology are colliding. Due to increased demand for a higher return on investment and the ability to prove it with technology, firms can no longer ignore the importance technology plays in their marketing efforts. This includes things like CRM, marketing automation, data visualization, proposal software, dashboards and much more.
- Data Analysis. Big data is everywhere and you have a lot of data about your customers in various pieces of software throughout the firm. By compiling this data, you look for insights you can use to drive strategy. That way you know the actions you are taking with specific buyers are producing the desired outcomes.
- Content Marketing. This has been a hot topic for many years and that’s not going to change. It’s taking such a top priority at major corporations that they are forming media companies to develop and manage it. Media companies and content librarians may not be on your radar, but recognize that more firms will be looking to launch original research, try out live streaming and make content interactive. With so much content out there, firms will invest into marketing initiatives to promote that content, too. Longer content is also making a comeback as long as it’s quality.
- Social Selling. It’s been about social media for many years now, but social selling is what’s next. There is increased spending on paid social as the focus on online activity is lead generation. Social media is also switching from real time to right time; making sure you’re active when people are looking for you. And more firms will begin actively owning and managing their online reviews because of the impact reviews have on prospects’ purchasing behavior.
- Client Experience. Firms are beginning to recognize the importance of managing client relationships to drive revenue and profit. A few firms have made this a full time role, and more will begin adding it to someone’s job responsibilities. The focus will be on driving in-person and online actions to increase customer loyalty…an important strategy in mature industries like accounting.
- Purpose-Driven Marketing. Millennials aren’t the only ones who like it when a company supports greater causes. Businesses find it acceptable when brands support good causes while making money at the same time. By aligning your firm with a purpose(s), you can better allocate contributions, sponsorships and volunteer time while building your culture.
- Digital Marketing. You have to begin thinking past traditional websites. Some digital marketers are predicting an end to websites as we know them in the next five years as apps take over. This will change the way you optimize your digital properties for search. Until then, you need to think about how regular search engine optimization has to change with more searches being done on mobile devices and via verbal commands to Siri, Alexa, Contana and such.
- Innovation. This is another important job function that no one person(s) takes responsibility for except for in a handful of firms. With an increased focus on higher margin work and technology providing new opportunities, firms are looking to come up with service offerings that are new to the industry or at least new to them. Tied to this is productiziation, where firms are packaging their intangible offerings like a tangible product to gain a competitive advantage.
- Global Marketing. Quit going head-to-head with your same competitors chasing a limited number or prospects when there are more prospects and a less-competitive environment on the global stage. This requires that you adapt a niche strategy to tackle some smaller part of the international pie. Services needed extend well beyond compliance, expanding your opportunities. This is another instance where you need to think smaller to get bigger.
There is no one way to grow a firm; however, keeping abreast of where marketing is and where is it going will put you in the best position to seize opportunity. Start by looking at what you want to accomplish and where opportunity exists, and begin to adopt new strategies that will get you there.
If you have questions on how to grow your CPA firm or any of these trends, please contact us. We’d be happy to help you determine how to best drive top-line revenue and profitability.