4 minute read

Trends and Insights

Marketing Departments of the Future

In her “Building a Marketing Department Guide,” Katie Tolin, founder of CPA Growth Guides, outlines a vision of how accounting and advisory firm marketing departments will be structured in the future — and it may surprise you.

“While there are more roles and opportunities for accounting and advisory firm marketers than ever before, in-house marketing departments of the future may become more streamlined,” Tolin said. “The ‘we’ve always done it this way’ mindset can be costly to organizations. Firm leaders will benefit by thinking of new creative ways to accomplish their marketing goals.”

Flexible and Agile

After conducting online research to see how others predict how marketing departments may change in the future, Tolin found an explanation by author and thought leader Steven Van Belleghem to be most applicable to accounting marketing. He suggests marketing departments of the future will be:

• Smaller

• Organized with a network of experts

“This will allow departments to be more flexible and agile,” Tolin said. “Rather than putting specialized people on the payroll and risk not needing that area of expertise in the future, you can call upon members of your network as needed. This will help as needs change over time. And these resources won’t be from a typical marketing agency; you will find the niched expert you need for a specific project. A niched network of resources allows you to find the best resources in every aspect of marketing to be a part of your team.”

With smaller internal teams, the people on the team will need to be visionaries, according to Tolin. They will be focused on setting the long-term strategy and vision for the company. They should also be strong project managers who will manage the network of experts.

Van Belleghem shared his model in 2007, well before a worldwide pandemic had businesses everywhere rethinking how to build teams. Firms that started using a model similar to Van Belleghem’s before Covid hit were lucky. They were able to quickly adjust their strategy and pull in the resources needed to successfully market and communicate with clients in a new and uncertain environment.

When to Outsource

Tolin said it’s easier to outsource today than it ever has been, however figuring out when to do it is not as easy. She suggests starting by looking at how much of a certain type of work needs to be completed with what frequency. And then which of those work products can be completed by the same job role. If your department only needs someone for a few hours a week or someone for a year, then that role may be better suited for outsourcing.

Tolin recommends outsourcing when the work will:

• Drain your internal resources. If you have a small department, writing articles for your professionals to appear on your blog and in newsletters takes a lot of time. Taking on all this writing will be at the sacrifice of something else like developing proposals, planning events, etc. It’s a popular outsource area for many firms considering their limited resources.

• Cost more when completed internally. For example, you may have someone internally who wants to record videos for you, but the camera, microphones, lighting, editing software, etc. makes it more costly to do in-house.

• Require a very specialized skillset. You don’t develop a new website every day or even every year, so you don’t need a website developer on staff. You don’t need someone to do search engine optimization (SEO) or buy online ads for you every week either. Unless another role on your team also has these skillsets, outsourcing makes more sense.

Technology has made it easier to find outsourced partners. This could be through internet searches or by searching a specific website that connect you to gig contractors.

“Regardless of how you find them, be sure to vet them,” Tolin said. “You’ll want to look at the basics like years of experience, experience in the accounting or related industry, billing structure and reviews. But you also want to make sure you understand how they work. Most won’t be able to jump at your beck and call, but they can let you know what sort of timeframe they can deliver your work on.”

Outsourcing is a great way to fill in holes in your marketing department. You can find greater expertise than you have in house, potentially cut costs, gain deeper industry experience and get the flexibility needed to adapt to changing times.

Heather Kunz, WBL CPAs + Advisors. Contact at hkunz@wblcpa.com.