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.
Planning produces better results
Your firm has come up with a growth goal. It may have stemmed from discussions around client attrition, charge hours and changes in your clients’ businesses. Your partners agree that a 7 percent goal sounds reasonable. So you drop that number into your budget without really looking at how that goal will be achieved. Now what? Read more
A revolution is occurring in marketing today. Marketing strategies of the past are not as effective as they once were. And there are new tactics today that didn’t exist just a few years ago. This requires firms take a deep look at what they are doing and open their eyes to new things. Growth does not occur from marketing alone. There are many factors that contribute to firm growth and here’s a look at 10 strategies that will grow in importance in 2016.
Consistency is the Key to Proving ROI
Marketing today is being driven by data…and its effectiveness is being proven by data. However, there are many different ways calculations can be made – there are more loopholes to navigate than can be found in the tax code.
In order for data to be accurate, it needs to be complete, up-to-date and relevant. Look in your firm’s time and billing system, your email distribution list or your CRM. Is every piece of data in there? Probably not. However, you should strive for consistency to improve your accuracy. There a many ways to do this when firms place a priority on data integrity, but that’s a topic for another day. Let’s explore why no two firms will make the exact same calculations and the factors that will impact how calculations are is made. Read more
Marketers are known as the creative, personable types. They are the people who put together ads, brochures and other catchy creative pieces. They plan events and have a supply of branded giveaways. However, most people don’t realize that marketers are also numbers people. Numbers and data are the foundation of solid market strategy. From analyzing your client base to digging into your pipeline of opportunities to understanding your market share, these figures hold opportunities for growth. Numbers make great baseline data from which you can measure success, but they also illuminate future strategy.
Does it make more sense to focus your efforts on City A or City B? Should you push Industry Y or Industry Z? While there are a lot of factors to consider, marketers want to know the potential for revenue. Let’s assume that City A and City B have a similarly sized market. If you have 50 percent of all business in City A and only 4 percent of the potential business in City B, where should you spend your time? The numbers tell you that you have the most potential in City B. Now, things are not always that simple, but strategic decisions are easier when you take the time to calculate market share. Once you have the overall big picture, take your calculations a bit deeper. Break it down by industry within geographies or within sub-segments of an industry or by any numerous data combination. Use this data to then develop a list of prospects to target.
If obtaining new clients is a top area of focus for your firm, you’re not alone.
According to the 2015 PCPS CPA Firm Top Issues Survey, bringing in new clients is an issue for firms of all sizes. As firms look for sources of new revenue, many consider strategies successfully implemented by other firms. And the formation of niches – industry or service line specialties – is a tactic at the top of the list.
Implementing a niche strategy is one way firms can differentiate themselves from their competition. While it’s difficult for one firm to claim it does better work than the CPA firm down the street, it can say it has an area of expertise the competition doesn’t. Firms with niches bring something extra to the businesses they serve. They can translate sound experience into better advice; hence, specialization demands a higher fee than compliance work.
A few years ago I wrote a blog post for Intuit, “Using Client Surveys to Improve Client Service.” I had just wrapped up a client survey for the CPA firm I worked for and was armed with a wealth of information. But this information (a.k.a. data metrics) doesn’t mean anything unless you do something with it.
Whenever you are dealing with data, there are a few steps you have to take. You begin with the measurement, the metrics. You then have to analyze what the information is telling you and garner insights from it. The insights lead to the actions you are going to take to improve your current state.
How does this apply to the client survey process? You have data to look at it from both an overall and an individual basis.
Many people interchange the words marketing and practice growth. Those who do are wrong. Why? Because growing a firm takes more than top-notch market strategy. Here’s why your CPA firm needs a practice growth strategy instead.
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As growth consultants to the CPA industry, CPA Growth Guides assist accounting firms with all aspects of firm growth including strategic growth plans, niche marketing, market research, pipeline implementation, bringing new services to market and CMO outsourcing.
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