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Do CPA Firm Marketers Need to Get More Curious?


6 Nooks Where Curiosity Leads to Bigger, Bolder, and Better Marketing

Albert_success_quote.jpgRecently, we talked about a meeting that we had with partner from a professional service firm where he declared that their firm just didn’t need any more marketing.

As you might recall, our takeaway was that: (1) regardless of the truth of the matter, he just wasn’t curious about marketing, and (2) the $13.45 (with tip) that I paid for coffee and parking was well worth the “aha!” moment we walked away with.

You might say, we "got curious about curiosity." So, we built this blog post around marketing curiosity and questions partners might consider when climbing a marketing curiosity curve.

Lest ye think that we're leaving marketers unscathed, we started thinking about the role that curiosity can play within the scope of their responsibilities. It’s tough to be marketing curious if most of your time is spent on tactics or responding to partner requests, but nonetheless, as our friend Albert might say… “Success comes from curiosity, concentration, perseverance, and self criticism.”

Curiosity Nooks

That recalcitrant partner crystalized our thinking that curiosity is the first step on the path to better marketing—and better results from a firm’s investment in marketing. Here’s our take on the six different “nooks” where firm marketers can get a lot more curious:

Opportunities: What’s hot, new, or unusual that our partners need to tell us about so we can do some agile marketing?

We think the number one job of professional service marketers, hands down, is to help niche practice leaders capture opportunities that are a result of change that leads to client or prospect pain and the need for relief. So, to be effective, you need to be curious about what those hot buttons are, and that could be as simple as asking practice leaders or subject matter experts, or staying on top industry news or surveys like the PCPS CPA Firm Top Issues Survey.

Results: What’s working—or not—with our marketing strategies, tactics, and spend, and what should we be cutting or where should we be doubling down?

If you’re not measuring the results of your marketing efforts, then how would you ever possibly know if what you’re doing is working? Curious marketers will start by selecting a limited number of key performance indices and review them on a weekly basis to track progress against goals or the results of any single marketing initiative.

Process: Is there a better, cheaper, quicker, more effective way to (fill in the bank)? E.g., write proposals, generate leads, make website changes, etc.

Your firm is probably chuck-full of various and sundry marketing processes, and there never seems to be a lack of new ones on the horizon, right? The curious marketer is going to be a questioning marketer, not only in terms of whether or not a new process added to the heap of processes in existence is necessary, but also, whether those in place can be improved.

Environment: What are our competitors up to and how does our marketing program stack up against theirs?

On a regular basis, you need to satisfy your curiosity about what competitors are up to. A 10 minute or less tour around their website should give you most if not all of the insight to see whether you’re whippin’ their butt, your butt is gettin’ whipped, or it’s a draw. If you’re curious about how to peek behind your competitors’ curtain, read this blog post.

Technology: What’s the best way to keep up with the pace of innovation in marketing technology?

This graphic from Chiefmartec.com sums up what I think is a major problem for professional service firm marketers: 3,874 marketing technology solutions on a single slide. 5 years ago 150 marketing solutions where available. Aren’t you curious about what’s the cream of this crop and how it might work in your firm … but, good luck sorting through the options!Martec_graphic.png(Click here for a magnified view)

At the Very Top of the Curiosity Curve: (Culture) How Can I Get Partners More Engaged in Marketing?

Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of senior-level professional service marketers throw up their hands and walk away because of the frustrations and disappointments they experienced because they just could not get their partners engaged in marketing. There are ongoing discussions at association meetings, in blog posts, via seminars and the like around this issue, and frankly, cracking this code is pretty difficult because there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

But that doesn’t mean you should stop being curious about a solution, because curiosity isn’t a destination. It’s a journey.

Keep attending those presentations, asking your peers, participating in social communities, and so on, and it’s likely that you’ll end up with a handful of ideas to try for getting your partners more engaged.

And if you do indeed have an amazing solution, you might consider packaging and selling it to other CPA and professional service firms.

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