Growth Strategies For Digital Transformation- Spring 2024

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For Digital Transformation

The Journal of Accounting Marketing and Sales Spring 2024


“You’re on mute”

“Can you hear me now?”

“My camera isn’t working”

“I can’t seem to share my screen”

Then come to Summit IRL.

MAY 13-15, 2024

In This Issue Features Spring 2024 is published three times a year by the Association for Accounting Marketing, Inc. (AAM). It is a benefit of membership in AAM. The views expressed in any article do not represent the official position of, or endorsement by, AAM or the author’s employer. Association membership for executive and affiliate members is $445 annually with a one-time $50 initiation fee. Association membership for student members is $150 annually with a one-time $50 initiation fee. Growth Strategies: The Journal of Accounting Marketing and Sales must receive 3 Heather Tice EisnerAmper Maddy Rojo, Publication Designer AAM Headquarters 201 East Main Street, Suite 810 Lexington, KY 40507 859-402-9769 Rhonda Clark AAM Headquarters Emily Hensler AAM Headquarters Tara Arrington Kassouf & Co. Inc. Dana Bottorff Anadon Marketing Communications Christine Downs BerryDunn Stacy Dreher James Moore & Co. Katie Funderburk Mauldin & Jenkins Siouxsie Jennett Mambo Media Dustin Kass Honkamp Heather Kunz FORVIS LLP Eileen Monesson PRCounts, llc Richard Shippee Whitman Business Advisors Editorial Board Christine Proulx Grzyb Committee Co-Editor Lumsden & McCormick, LLP Kaila Yim Committee Co-Editor Froehling Anderson Trends and Insights 4 Partner POV 8 Take 5 9 AAM Member Perspectives 12 Business Development 14 Consultants’ Corner 16 By the Numbers 17

Trends and Insights

Using Technology to Elevate Accounting Marketing: Exploring Digital Tactics Used by High-Growth Firms

Adopting advanced marketing technologies is transforming how firms engage with clients, develop their brands, and gain a competitive advantage.

High-growth accounting firms are at the forefront of this revolution, leveraging cutting-edge digital tools and data-driven strategies to craft marketing campaigns that are innovative and highly effective in attracting and retaining clients.

The "2023–2024 AAM Marketing Budget Benchmark Study," conducted by the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) in partnership with Hinge, reveals that high-growth firms are expanding at an impressive annual rate of 29%—a pace five times quicker than their low-growth counterparts, who reported a growth rate of just 5.79%.

High-growth firms' marketing tactics highlight technology's role in amplifying their marketing efforts and outcomes. Using analytics, automation, social media, content marketing, and other digital strategies enables high-growth firms to target their audiences more accurately, engage with them meaningfully, and convert these contacts into lasting client relationships.

Unlocking the Secrets of Growth

The "2023–2024 AAM Marketing Budget Benchmark Study" shed light on the marketing tactics that set highperforming firms apart. These firms effectively position themselves as industry leaders by employing a multifaceted approach that includes:

• Strategic Technology Integration: High-growth firms excel in the agile integration of technology. This is reflected in data-driven marketing strategies, advanced analytics tools, AIdriven solutions, and software

that optimizes campaigns. Investing in technology is a force multiplier, allowing these firms to stay ahead of industry trends and cater to evolving client needs.

• Robust Content Marketing and SEO Optimization: High-growth firms invest in creating nichespecific, valuable content that positions them as thought leaders and significantly enhances their online visibility. SEO optimization is a focal point, ensuring their content reaches the right audience, contributing to organic growth and client acquisition.

• Client Engagement Initiatives: High-growth firms use proactive client engagement initiatives, such as personalized communication, targeted newsletters, and exclusive client events strategically designed to build long-term relationships. These firms also invest in client

4 Growth Strategies Spring 2024

satisfaction or loyalty programs, which creates a ripple effect of positive word-of-mouth referrals and brand advocacy.

• Innovative Social Media Campaigns: High-growth firms allocate resources to craft innovative social media campaigns beyond mere presence. Engaging content, active participation in industry discussions, and strategic use of social media platforms contribute to building a vibrant online community. This robust online presence attracts a diverse client base and reinforces the firm's position as an industry leader.

• Strategic Alliances and Partnerships: High-growth firms actively seek and foster strategic alliances and partnerships. These firms leverage their network to expand their reach and offer clients comprehensive services. This strategic approach is seamlessly integrated into their marketing messages, emphasizing the strength of their diverse network and collaborative endeavors.

• Data-Driven Strategies: Highgrowth firms prioritize datadriven strategies that enable them to tailor their marketing messages for maximum impact, continually optimizing campaigns to remain responsive to the dynamic needs of their target audience.

• Employee Advocacy Programs: High-growth firms recognize the value of personal connections and allocate resources for employee advocacy programs. Employees become active brand ambassadors, contributing to industry events, sharing valuable

content, and enhancing the firm's online presence. This humancentric approach adds a personal touch to their marketing, which fosters trust and credibility among prospective clients.

Opportunities for Low-growth Firms

Firms experiencing low growth may find opportunities for improvement by embracing modern marketing strategies and technologies more fully. These firms could benefit from prioritizing technology integration, expanding their content marketing efforts, adopting a more active approach to client engagement, and increasing investment in programs that promote employee advocacy. By adjusting their strategies, low-growth firms can enhance their outcomes and navigate the competitive marketplace more effectively.

Technology is the Differentiator

A key factor distinguishing highgrowth firms is their digital maturity. These firms utilize various technologies, including marketing automation tools and CRM systems, to enhance their marketing strategies. This digital advantage enables them to execute more personalized, efficient, and effective marketing campaigns, setting them apart in a competitive landscape.

Yet, the "Top Tech Report 2023" survey of RSM US Alliance and RSM Canada Alliance firms in July 2023 revealed a significant delay in adopting AI technologies in the accounting sector.

Despite the transformative potential of AI platforms like OpenAI's ChatGPT for content creation, only a quarter of the firms had embraced AI by last summer. Notably, almost 60 percent of these firms still rely on traditional content creation methods or wellestablished tools such as the RSM Content Center, Marketing by Numbers, and Thompson Reuters Checkpoint.

Nearly half of the firms surveyed produce their own content, underscoring the heightened value of original thought leadership. AI functions optimally with human input, aiding in content research, proofreading, and SEO refinements. In integrating AI into their strategies, these firms maintain a delicate equilibrium, using AI to enhance their articles without compromising their commitment to originality and quality. This measured approach to AI reflects a wider, thoughtful enthusiasm for embracing new technologies while preserving the brand’s fundamental identity as a “trusted advisor”and provider of accurate information.

With the progression of technology, the importance of leveraging digital tools for process automation and data-driven insights escalates. Effective marketing will increasingly rely on data to achieve the firm's goals, improve the customer experience, and enhance outcomes.

The findings of both studies underscore the pivotal role of technology in shaping the trajectories of accounting firms. Highgrowth firms provide valuable insights for low-growth firms looking to bridge the gap. By embracing innovative approaches, low-growth firms can position themselves for sustained success in the evolving landscape of accounting marketing.

The Executive Summary of the 2023–2024 AAM Marketing Budget Benchmark Study can be downloaded for free on AAM’s website. The full report is available for a discounted price for AAM members.

Eileen Monesson, CPC, MBA, PRCounts. Contact Eileen at


Driving Digital Transformation Strategy through Content Automation

When did the digital transformation of marketing communications start?

A good guess would be 1999 when the power of Web 2.0 encouraged users to provide and share data. This means it has been a quarter century from the earliest days of developing client-directed content to today’s comprehensive array of automation tools and analytic processes designed to speed personalized information to the brains of buyers and influencers.

The impact of this transformation has been significant. Consider the cumulative effect of digitally powered strategies on:

• Increased Efficiency

• Improved Targeting

• Enhanced Client Engagement

• Competitive Advantage

• Better Insights

Achieving these results has come through content development, with an emphasis on continuous improvement and measurement. It’s been an interesting journey for three digital marketing professionals as they explain how they got to where they are today and where they think the future is taking them.

Content Strategies

Building a robust content strategy took time to implement.At Johnson Lambert, based in Park Ridge, IL, Marketing Director Becca McGovern said that their digital marketing is more than a decade old and began

with tools for website content development, followed by email marketing, webinars, digital advertising, and more.

“These tools and processes were initially stand-alone, but they have coalesced and now work together to support the firm’s over-arching growth initiatives. Focused on enhancing both the client experience and our internal processes, we've implemented platform changes and updates to streamline our client tracking process within a centralized Salesforce environment to seamlessly monitor and support the client lifecycle.”

It was a similar experience at Keiter, located in Glen Allen, VA, which also implemented their content strategy over 10 years ago.

"We started with our niche groups, since that was our growth strategy for differentiation and, most importantly, personal branding for our team members," said Fonda Lang, marketing and practice development director at Keiter. "Part of the participation requirements for niche members is to write at least one article a year on a relevant topic. Marketing reviews final content to add language that is understandable to our audience, as well as adding crosslinks, calls to action and SEO components before launch."

Lang adds that to augment the efforts of their writers, Keiter also shares the content on their blog, niche newsletters, social media, and LinkedIn ad campaigns.“Marketing also identifies potential topics that are trending online and uses marketing

team members as ghost writers during busy times,”she explained.

Johnson Lambert’s and Keiter’s integrated content strategy now includes videos, webinars, whitepapers, digital ad campaigns, and specialized landing pages.Both firms find that comparing the analytics and rankings for blog content showcases which topics are having the most exposure. This aids in building personal branding for their writers internally and externally, as well as assisting with lead generation.

Maintaining Momentum

Outstanding corporate environments are identifiable by a positive tone at the top, and this is key when talking about maintaining the momentum that digital marketing has generated. Lang commented, “I am seeing more of our partners understanding the importance of content development for lead generation and personal brand building.This past year I have had multiple partners promoting article development on their own –without marketing suggesting it first. This is a culture change and is not seen as just part of a marketing “todo list”, but as a valuable area to spend time on for career growth.”

Also impactful are checklists. As McGovern said, “Checklists are important for us internally to help us keep our eye on the ball.”But of course, it goes much further. She adds, “we keep momentum going by celebrating success,”and then taking the added and often overlooked step of recognizing what could have been done better. “If an email mailing or webinar, that we thought was a

Focus Article 6 Growth Strategies Spring 2024

success, didn’t garner the hits we expected, we research to find out why and take steps to improve performance the next time.”

When it comes to continuous improvement, Becky Weiand, digital marketing manager of Rea & Associates in New Philadelphia, Ohio, dug into one aspect. “Data is the biggest helper in measuring the impact of digital transformation efforts, but I don’t just mean your normal visits, clicks, and other standard data that we all look at. It is important to look one step further. We insist on reviewing quality time on site. Sure, it’s great to get 1,000 people on your website in one day, but if they only average 15 seconds, were they really the right people, and why did they leave so quickly? It comes down to reviewing the pages visited to find out what kept them engaged and what turned them away. Just looking at that one data point can really change how you look at and invest in your digital approach.”

Measurement and Beyond

Measuring and then benchmarking results is a work in progress. As 25 years’worth of new tools and processes were being introduced at a dizzying (and expensive) pace, the

idea of measuring success became a must-have, if only for budget justification purposes. Taking the time, however, to benchmark success was, if not an afterthought, at least not top of mind. This was largely true as digital marketing campaigns were emerging independently as one-offs and were so new that results weren’t necessarily comparable internally (or against industry standards, because there weren’t any) to what had gone before. So, while it was an obvious step to look at what kind of hits came from a digital campaign, there were not many ways to analyze those results. That changed with the onset of Google Analytics. As McGovern said when looking at how Johnson Lambert now measures success in their webinar program, “We've evolved beyond simply tracking attendee lists. Now, we delve into deeper insights by analyzing participant engagement during webinars. For instance, we examine the inquiries submitted via the Q&A, and we even take the time to analyze responses to our polling questions, which we strategically craft to provide valuable client and prospect insights to our marketing and business development teams.”

For Weiand, in addition to using both Google Analytics and Marketo to track client engagement, she said,

“Customer Journey, from Acoustic, has now become my favorite tool, allowing me to track the client conversation from connection to conversion. I benchmark success against the industry standards through online research or through AAM resources.”

Crystal Ball Gazing: AI, Automation, and Personalization

The fast pace of digital transformation continues on, so we also asked our respondents to look into their crystal balls to see what’s coming next. Not surprisingly, they see AI, but it is not at all a Wild West scenario. Lang predicted that“our industry will embrace AI content development but at a cautious pace.By utilizing the tools that are available and monitoring their accuracy, marketing teams can further support content development through custom creation, analytics, and repurposing the content for the most reach possible for lead generation and specialized brand building.”

McGovern echoed this regarding the pace of AI adoption,“Automation and AI will make life easier for us to do more, but that doesn’t mean we can lose sight of the strategy behind using these tools and understanding what the purpose of it is. There is so much we must do on the front end in terms of research and testing before we can trust AI with our firm’s reputation.”

Weiand pointed to the increased emphasis on personalized marketing powered by automation.“While the idea of companies tracking our every movement online is a little scary, consumers love getting information they want in a way they want it. We are no longer in a world where we can just put up a big billboard and expect a line of customers to come to our door. We must tailor the journey based on the end user and what they prefer.”


Deneen Akture, MS

Chief Marketing and Communications Officer


Deneen has more than 25 years of experience encompassing brand, marketing, lead generation and corporate communications. As Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for BDO USA, P.C. she is responsible for the firm’s brand and marketing strategy, go-to-market programs, and internal communications. She also represents BDO USA on the International Brand and Marketing Committee of the BDO global network.

How do you envision digital transformation impacting the accounting industry, specifically in terms of marketing?

The digital economy is changing everything, and with unprecedented velocity. Client issues are more complex and require an expanding array of services and solutions. Today’s buyers expect faster response times, more personalized offerings, and greater access to insights and solutions. In an industry like ours that is built on relationships, the customer experience is more important than ever, and increasingly online. Marketing must transform to engage the modern buyer who is wellinformed and has high expectations by rethinking processes, deploying new technologies, and aligning skills and resources to deliver value and scale growth.

What role do you see yourself playing in leading your firm through the digital transformation journey?

I have always viewed marketing’s role as both a catalyst and a connector, leading transformation with a holistic view of the business. By understanding our buyers, listening to the market, and stewarding the brand, we can deliver a modern “revenue engine”that creates value and growth. We can also bring the broader transformation story to the market and showcase how we differentiate ourselves with empathy, creativity, and being data-driven.

What challenges have you encountered related to digital evolution?

Digital evolution means leading through constant change—changes in the market, in our business, and in how we go to market. It requires leadership buy-in, and a mindset shift to recognize marketing as a contributor to revenue. In navigating change, it’s important to meet both the organization and individuals where they are, with focus

on clear communication, education, and agility to adapt to new processes and technologies.

How does BDO measure the success of its digital marketing initiatives, and what key performance indicators (KPIs) are considered most important?

We are measuring marketing attributable revenue and pipeline—both the programs and touchpoints that are influencing revenue and pipeline, as well as the quality and conversion rates of the leads we produce. We also track metrics like new contacts, engagement trends, and ROI on marketing channels to optimize strategies and campaigns.

In an ever-evolving digital landscape, how do you stay adaptable to emerging trends, and what do you see as the next big developments in digital marketing for accounting firms?

I constantly research the changing landscape and utilize expertise, ideas and insights from my team. Taking a proactive approach to innovation, we focus on what works for our business and follow a roadmap that’s mindful of where we are in our transformation journey. I think applying insights from data-driven marketing and the thoughtful application of generative AI are the next big developments that can enhance the client experience and efficiency.

8 Growth Strategies Spring 2024 Interview by Christine Proulx Grzyb

What Should You Consider When Developing your AI Policy?

Weaver’s CIO Robert Neill published our AI policy in April 2023 in close collaboration with firm leadership. Recognizing the transformative potential of these technologies, we designed guidelines that not only harness their capabilities to enhance efficiency and innovation but to also ensure responsible use aligned with our core values of confidentiality, integrity and professional excellence. Our approach is rooted in the belief that while generative AI can significantly augment our efficiency and service delivery, it is our professional judgment and commitment to quality that ultimately define our work. This policy reflects our dedication to staying at the forefront of the industry, ensuring that we leverage cutting-edge technology to better serve our clients, all the while upholding the highest standards of data security and ethical conduct.

Raissa Evans, senior manager, marketing, Weaver

Firm leadership recognized early that artificial intelligence was going to be a force to be dealt with, which led to the formation of our Generative AI Innovation Council, comprised of 21 firm professionals from across our business lines and operational functions. The Council is tasked with establishing the generative AI (“GenAI”) strategy and execution plan for the firm, as well as monitoring implementation. Many of our service lines and functions are working on a vision and plan specific to their respective groups with an eye toward organizing for a GenAI-enabled workforce. This includes building strategies to eliminate toil and repetitive tasks, using new capabilities to improve client experience, leveraging GenAI tools to reshape business processes, and investing in new revenue generation by using augmented tools and services.

Grassi has put forth a forward-thinking AI policy, exploring its applications while recognizing AI's immense potential alongside the imperative of wielding it responsibly. In a collaborative effort, Grassi consults experts to develop an ethical framework that harnesses AI’s benefits while ensuring its responsible use. This initiative establishes guidelines across domains such as safety, reliability, equality, privacy, security, transparency and accountability. By integrating legal and technological expertise, Grassi aims to unlock AI's potential through conscientious development and usage within the organization.

Don Logan, CTO, Grassi

Our firm is currently evaluating an AI policy that I have developed on behalf of our AI committee. This policy emphasizes the ethical use of AI, strict adherence to data privacy, compliance with legal standards, and the responsible deployment of AI technologies. My goal is to foster enthusiasm for AI within our firm while ensuring a thorough understanding of its limitations and potential risks. It's crucial that we approach AI with a balanced perspective, avoiding the pitfalls of prohibition or the other extreme of applying it indiscriminately without proper oversight.

Future-facing firms are approaching AI head-on, and a policy is key to getting out of the gate. First, assemble the right team. Most people underestimate how far-reaching an AI policy will be. For instance, will the firm issue client disclosures for AI-informed projects? How about thresholds of AI influence for intellectual property? Firm leaders, HR, marketing and legal need to be involved. The team needs to evaluate the firm’s current tech stack and processes. Without that intel, they may under- or overengineer a policy that doesn’t match the firm’s needs. Second, articulate how AI tech decisions support the firm’s growth now and in the future. AI isn’t magic. It’s a tool that needs to be used to support strategic objectives.

Joy Youell, content consultant, Winding River Consulting

Interviews by Dana Bottorff


Is Your Company Prepared for AI?

A 5-Step Guide to AI Readiness and an Era of

Big Change

“Privacy concerns often stem from how companies collect, store, and Siouxsie

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) rapidly becomes an integral part of the business world, understanding and preparing for its impact is essential for any forwardthinking company.

The shift towards AI-driven operations is not a distant-future scenario but a reality that is unfolding today, reshaping industries, and redefining how businesses operate. Recognizing the importance of AI and taking proactive steps to integrate it into your business practices will be crucial for staying competitive and innovative in this evolving landscape.

As automation tools powered by AI streamline marketing operations, from content creation to competitive positioning, marketers are freed up to focus on more creative and strategic tasks. This new era demands not just technological adaptation but a revolution of priorities and approach, positioning marketers at the forefront of change.

However, with great power comes great responsibility. “There’s not a single department in the company that’s not already influenced by AI; it’s going to be a game changer,”said Becky Lewis, COO of Accountinuity and Veracity Pros. “We are being very thoughtful in developing important

policies that will help us navigate this exciting and uncharted opportunity.”

Pros and Cons to Consider with AI

Integrating AI into business operations, including marketing, brings a mix of challenges and opportunities. The advent of AI prompts concerns over human resource disruptions, data privacy, copyright issues, potential biases, and inaccuracies.Yet, it also offers significant advantages, including operational efficiencies, time savings for strategic planning, access to vast resources, and a competitive edge in marketing. Navigating this landscape requires a thoughtful approach to balancing the transformative promise of AI with its complex implications, aiming to leverage its benefits while addressing its risks responsibly.

5-Step Guide to AI Readiness

This guide outlines the initial, vital steps to ensure your company is not just prepared for the integration of AI but is positioned to thrive from its benefits and protect against the potential risks. By focusing on governance, policy development, staff training, and continuous adaptation, businesses can navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by AI, ensuring a smooth transition into a future where technology enhances efficiency, creativity, and strategic decision-making.

Step 1: Form an AI Governance Committee

The first step towards AI readiness is establishing an AI Governance Committee, including priority

representatives from IT, Marketing, Human Resources, and Legal departments. Depending on the experience of your in-house team, it may be of benefit to hire an outside expert to consult to the committee, especially when you are first starting out. This committee is tasked with overseeing the ethical, legal, and practical aspects of AI integration within the company as outlined in the following steps. Its role is crucial in ensuring that AI tools are used responsibly and in alignment with the company's values and legal obligations.

First steps to forming an AI Governance Committee:

• Identify key members

• Hold your first meeting to establish goals and milestones for committee

• Schedule follow up meetings for the year (at least monthly)

Step 2: Develop Initial AI Guidelines and Policies

Developing initial AI guidelines and policies is essential. These guidelines should be made accessible to all staff, requiring them to read and accept them. The AI Governance Committee plays a vital role here, regularly reviewing and updating these policies, including approving platforms for use, and ensuring transparency, especially in how AIgenerated content or decisions are sourced and presented.

Focus Article 10 Growth Strategies Spring 2024
Jennett and ChatGPT 4

use consumer data for marketing purposes,”notes SOCi CMO Monica Ho. “With AI's ability to analyze large datasets, there's an increased risk of sensitive information being mishandled or used in ways that violate consumer privacy.

Establishing clear internal guidelines and policies around AI usage in marketing can help ensure ethical practices and compliance with laws.”

Items to consider when drafting policies and guidelines:

• Data privacy

• Human review of AI outputs

• Communicating AI use with clients

• Approved tool usage and use cases

• Staff readiness and training

Step 3: Monitor and Update Staff Utilization

Continuous monitoring of staff utilization of AI tools is necessary to understand their impact on work processes and efficiency and gives the AI Governance Committee full visibility into the evolving technology stack. Conduct monthly surveys on AI usage, including the platforms used and frequency, and monitor how AI is transforming operations. The first handful of surveys can be a simple set of questions while later you may be able to adopt monitoring software that automatically tracks and reports usage. The survey results will ensure that the AI Governance Committee is fully aware of all AI technologies in use at your firm and identify areas for further improvement or training.

Next steps in monitoring:

• Craft first survey

• Announce survey and intentions to staff

• Execute first survey

• Review results and make improvement

Helpful Tip

Be transparent with your team that this is an emerging technology and not predictable; there are going to be some bumps in the road

Step 4: Invest in Staff Training – Especially Marketing

Investing in staff training and continuous learning is critical to staying ahead in a rapidly evolving technological landscape. Marketers, in particular, should be encouraged to engage in professional development opportunities such as industry conferences, webinars, online courses, certification programs, and staying updated through thought leaders and publications. This continuous learning culture not only helps in adapting to new technologies but also ensures that the marketing team remains innovative and competitive.

Marketing leadership considerations:

• Research and approve best training options for staff

• Request additional budget for training and staff development

• Review marketing AI tools currently in use

• Set expectations for staff on approved tools and use cases

Step 5: Embrace the New Era

This journey requires a commitment to continuous improvement and change management, while placing human values at the core of marketing strategies. As we embrace this change, it’s important to remain nimble and open to possibilities while remaining aligned with your company’s focus and mission. This flexible approach

will not only foster innovation but also ensure that your company remains competitive and relevant in the everevolving digital landscape.

Things to keep in mind:

• Practice continuous improvement methods of review

• Stay up to date on new tools and uses for AI

• Be flexible and anticipate change

• Be transparent with your team

This journey towards AI readiness, starting with these important strategic steps, will help your company leverage AI's transformative power effectively. Through a structured approach encompassing governance, managed innovation, and team development, your company is poised to leverage the power of AI while ensuring data privacy and accuracy. This new era will require openness to change, adaptability, and innovation, and promises to be nothing short of transformative for all businesses. Buckle up!

Siouxsie Jennett , CEO, Mambo Media. Contact at


Why You Should Attend Summit

AAM members share their top reasons for attending Summit—and why you should, too

The 2024 AAM Summit is just a month away. Whether you are brand new to AAM or a long-time member, there are plenty of networking and education opportunities at this annual event.

This year, we are bringing the magic of accounting marketing to Orlando, FL. Interested in learning more about what to expect at Summit? We sat down with a newer AAM member and a repeat attendee to get the scoop on all things Summit.

First, tell us a little about yourself.

RA: My name is Rebekah Arredondo and I've been with Whitley Penn for four years. I’m located in Dallas, TX but we have several offices throughout the state. As the firm’s senior marketing coordinator, I focus on external firm promotion which includes, but is not limited to, social media channels. I also serve as our service line marketer.

JF: I am Jeshanah Fox, the marketing director at Brown Plus, where I oversee our four-person marketing team. In my role, I focus on aligning the firm’s strategic vision and marketing initiatives, as well as being a Brown Plus brand custodian. In addition to my marketing role, I am also involved in the firm’s strategic planning and key culture initiatives, seeking to integrate

our culture and values in everything we do.

How long have you been involved in AAM?

RA: I’ve been an AAM member for a little over a year now. I participate in various AAM Circles and recently completed the Digital Marketing Fundamentals course.

JF: I joined AAM as a member in 2015 when I first started working at Brown Plus and my involvement in AAM has really grown over the years. I’ve served on the website committee, have helped with the last two Summits, and am now chair for the 2024 Summit.

How many times have you attended the AAM Summit?

RA: Last year was my first time attending the AAM Summit and it was enlightening. I hadn’t heard of Summit until my CMO pointed it out to me, and I’m so glad she did!

JF: My very first AAM Summit was in 2016, and I have not missed one since. I have learned so much and have made such great connections, that I save the date on my calendar as soon as the registration is live.

What is your favorite part about the AAM Summit?

RA: Definitely the people. Marketing for an accounting firm is very niche, so it was great being surrounded by so many like-minded people and having meaningful conversations about the challenges and growth opportunities we are each facing at our firms. Aside from the people, my favorite thing about the Salt Lake City Summit (2023)

was the first day when we lined up based on our birthdays and sat together in groups for guided discussions. I didn’t know anyone else at Summit aside from the people from my firm, so it was a great opportunity to meet new people and see those familiar faces throughout the rest of Summit.

JF: There are so many great aspects of Summit, but being surrounded by a network of people who just get you is hands down the best part. I learn so much from networking and hearing other marketers’challenges and successes – and that’s before I even sit down for my first session.

Have you met new people at the AAM Summit? Do you still stay in touch with them?

RA: I really tried to branch out and talk to as many people as I could to get out of my comfort zone and gain new perspectives. I connected with people on the app during Summit and then added them on LinkedIn to keep in touch after. Some of us are also in the same AAM Circles which has provided us with one more way to stay connected.

JF: I meet new people every year, and it’s so exciting to make new connections. There are people that I met during my first AAM Summit that I am still great friends with today. I have a group chat with several of them where I can send a message with a question and receive an answer within minutes. The community that you build through AAM and get to experience inperson at Summit is unparalleled for an accounting marketer.

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AAM Member Perspectives

What have you learned at the AAM Summit? Have you taken these new insights back to your team?

RA: I attended a variety of sessions to get the most out of the learning opportunities at Summit. I also sat in on some sessions (like events and proposals) that pertained to other members on my team who couldn’t attend so that I could take those key learnings back to our firm.

JF: I learn so much every year that it’s hard to pinpoint one thing. When I first started at Brown Plus, it was my first foray into accounting marketing, and I had no idea what to expect. I was a solo marketer and had mostly done digital marketing up to that point so when I went to my first AAM Summit, I was a sponge; I could not get information fast enough. There really isn’t another conference out there that is so specific to the industry with such a range of great content. I learned how to create a marketing strategy for my firm the first year I attended Summit, and I still use those tools for every strategy I create.

Why would you recommend others attend the AAM Summit?

RA: Since the marketing industry is constantly changing, attending Summit is a great way to stay on top of the latest trends. It also allows you to meet people from different sized firms and learn new ways of doing things that you may have not considered in the past.

JF: Summit is the best conference to attend that is focused on our niche within the accounting industry. The content is relevant to the challenges that are being faced by accounting marketers. In addition to great content, you will make long lasting connections. You never have to explain the context of your problems because you’re surrounded by industry peers. It’s honestly quite therapeutic.

How has AAM (and Summit) helped you with your career goals?

RA: AAM is such a great resource for accounting marketers. I love getting the emails and monitoring the forum to keep a pulse on what’s going on in the industry. I’ve also learned a lot from the AAM webinars. The Digital Marketing Fundamentals course was beyond helpful in my career. I’m wellversed in social media, but this course exposed me to the various aspects of digital marketing such as content strategy and website optimization.

JF: Having been a solo marketer organization, there really was no path or map for how the marketing department should function and grow at Brown Plus. One of the most beneficial things for me that came from Summit was learning about department structures and career paths. I took information that I learned about ratios of team members to marketers, as well as roles, and created a roadmap for where the department should be and when. Now our Brown Plus marketing team is four people, including myself, and that is something that I was able to develop through resources available at AAM and Summit. Marketing is always evolving, and I am excited to attend some of the sessions this year that deal with this topic!

What’s something you wish you had known before attending your first AAM Summit?

RA: This may sound silly, but advice that was given to me was to drink a lot of coffee. If you aren’t a coffee drinker, do what you need to do to stay energized. Also know that it’s okay to go back to your room or step outside for a bit and take time to recharge.

JF: No matter what climate you are in, bring a sweater! No, in all seriousness, I wish I knew not to stress about the networking. It’s overwhelming sometimes to think that you’re going to be in these large crowds of people, and you don’t know most, if any, of

them. But our AAM members are welcoming – and there is even a Summit welcome committee whose job it is to make everyone feel welcome. So, lean into the nervousness if you have it and make that first introduction. Once you get past the first one, I can guarantee that all the other introductions will be easy, most likely because that person will introduce you to more people. If you’re attending Summit for the first time and need a friendly face, I am happy to connect with you before you go!

What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone attending the AAM Summit for the first time?

RA: I encourage you to make some connections ahead of time through AAM and set up your own informal get togethers, whether it be grabbing coffee during a break or having dinner with someone from one of your AAM Circles. Really try to maximize this time for in-person connections.

JF: I always advise first-timers to go into Summit knowing the top three things they want to accomplish and being intentional about finding solutions for those things. Yes, you want to learn from all the sessions and be present. But having those three things identified before you get to Summit can help prevent you from getting overwhelmed by how much you’re learning.

the website to learn more and register today.
May 13-15 Visit

The Value of Embracing Technology as a Business Development Professional

We often hear that leveraging technology is critical for success, but why is that?

What does technology do that makes it so impactful? For that matter, what does "technology" even mean? This article will aim to help business development professionals within the accounting and advisory industry better understand why leveraging technology is a competitive advantage and how you can take advantage of it.

For business development professionals operating within the accounting and advisory industry, the deployment of business applications, such as customer relationship management systems (CRMs), marketing automation tools, and other relational database tools, are the most commonly leveraged pieces of

technology. Amidst the myriad of software and application options available in today's digital marketplace, a common theme emerges: their primary function is to assist the user in managing knowledge and information more efficiently and automating repetitive processes, thus providing a clear pathway towards improved productivity and effectiveness.

Navigating Complexity to Drive Value

Understanding client needs and the market dynamics that drive these needs is crucial to developing and cultivating new business opportunities. The more comprehensive the context you and your firm can establish surrounding these factors, the better equipped you will be to identify and seize upon value-creation opportunities. It's this deep understanding that allows for the differentiation of your services in a crowded market.

Moreover, today's business world has become increasingly complex, with nearly infinite variables that continue to change. The ability to collect, assess, analyze, and understand a large amount of information at any given time is essential for success.

Effective knowledge and information management is not just a tool, but a powerhouse that can fuel your success. By using these technologies to their full potential, you're not just staying organized - you're staying ahead of the curve, anticipating needs, and positioning yourself and your firm to best meet those needs. It's an investment in your future success and a key component of strategic business development.

Accomplish More with Less

Beyond knowledge management, technology enablement is a powerful tool for organizations seeking to increase productivity. The most straightforward way these productivity gains are accomplished is through the strategic automation of routine tasks. This could be anything from sending out a timely reminder to stakeholders to triggering an automated message based on a specific action taken by a prospect.

Today's advanced business applications are well-equipped to execute clearly defined workflows, providing organizations with the ability to streamline their processes and increase efficiency. However, the key to unlocking the true value of these automated workflows is through their careful and thorough definition. This involves a comprehensive understanding of each step of the

Business Development 14 Growth Strategies Spring 2024

journey, as well as the trigger points that initiate each action along the way.

Developing the framework of automated processes can often be one of the more challenging aspects of technology implementation. It requires a detailed understanding of the organization's processes and the ability to translate them into a digital format that technology can understand and execute. It is a complex but necessary task, as it is through this process that the full potential of technological enablement can be realized.

Productivity Benefits

The organizations that choose to make this investment and commit to developing comprehensive automated workflow systems will likely reap significant productivity benefits in the medium and long term. Investing in technology and process automation can lead to improved operational efficiency, greater productivity, and a stronger bottom line.

When properly implemented and thoroughly developed, business applications provide the critical means for organizations to redirect a more substantial proportion of their collective focus and energy toward higher-value-added activities. The value creation process is an ongoing, continuous effort, and leveraging the power of advanced technology significantly enhances your capacity to push further along this continuum.

For professionals involved in the development of accounting and advisory businesses, the current environment presents a golden opportunity to embrace and make substantial investments in technology. If your role is that of an individual 'hunter,' with the primary responsibility of generating revenue, then adopting a disciplined approach to using customer relationship management (CRM) systems to monitor your activities, report on your opportunities, and analyze your

win/loss rate, can yield significant benefits.

If, on the other hand, your function is to enable revenue generation, then your contribution could be to assist in designing and developing a robust technology infrastructure that supports your team's efforts to achieve their goals. If your role is to oversee strategic growth, then it would be prudent to consistently advocate for allocating resources toward technological advancements.

Individuals and firms that choose to make a commitment to embracing technology will gain a competitive advantage that can serve as a catalyst for growth and future success in today's fast-paced business landscape.


As a certified HubSpot partner, our firm leverages personalization in our email marketing for both clients and internal communications. While subject lines and body copy offer simple ways to personalize, more advanced systems allow for deeper customization. Incorporating personalization has significantly increased our open rates.

Trigger emails, such as reminders for deadlines or sign-ups, play a crucial role. For instance, we worked with a CPA client to send tax submission reminders to those who hadn’t submitted information, resulting in a substantial increase in data submissions.

Segmentation by industry, role, or client type is another effective approach. Construction industry clients receive different emails than retail clients, and in retirement situations, relationships are transferred to specific individuals within the firm.

How are you leveraging personalization in your email marketing?

Everyone wants to be seen and understood; our clients are no different. Email marketing, when done right, is a powerful tool for accounting marketers to engage with their audience and build meaningful relationships. Adding prospects to an ongoing nurture campaign is one common best practice, but personalization can be challenging when your audience is large, diverse, and at different stages of the buyer’s journey. Industry-focused campaigns are typically more effective. When using segmentation, you can include industry trends, news, client case studies, and other value-add thought leadership which demonstrates a deep understanding of and commitment to your client’s industry. I believe this specific type of personalization adds the most value, not just including their <first name>!

For those who are starting this process at your firm, we suggest beginning with a basic segmentation of your email list(s) based on demographics, industries, contact type (client, COI, or prospect), or services. Since a successful email campaign revolves around education and awareness, tailoring your content to the recipient's interests strengthens the likelihood of them engaging with the email. Another recommendation is to have your emails originate from an individual rather than the firm because it increases the likelihood of the recipient opening the email.

Finally, keep your email content short and sweet. Simplicity, conciseness, and relevancy are key. This takes strategy, consistency, and perseverance, but if you keep at it, it can lead to increased open rates and recipient engagement.

Interviews by Heather Tice 16 Growth Strategies Spring 2024

Are you ready to elevate your accounting firm's online presence and drive digital growth?

Discover the secrets of search engine optimization (SEO) tailored specifically for marketers in the accounting profession with the Association for Accounting Marketing’s cutting-edge certificate course, SEO Deep Dive for Accounting Firm Growth, beginning May 30.

Why Choose This Course?

Tailored Expertise: Dive into content crafted exclusively for accounting firms developed and delivered by professionals working on or with accounting firm marketing teams.

Comprehensive Curriculum: From foundational SEO principles to advanced strategies for leveraging digital platforms, this course covers everything you need to transform your firm’s online visibility.

Practical Application: Learn not just the "what" but the "how" with actionable insights and strategies.

Future-Proof Your Firm: Stay ahead of the curve with the latest trends and anticipate the impact of AI on SEO, ensuring a competitive advantage in an ever-evolving digital landscape.

Who Should Enroll?

This course is for marketing professionals, digital marketers, content creators, and anyone within the accounting profession aiming to leverage SEO to attract more clients, generate leads, and build a robust online presence.

Enroll now and transform your firm’s future!

The cost is $495 Members / $595 Non-Members. Group discounts are available for 3 or more participants from the same firm. Deadline to register is May 24.

For more information and to register, visit our website. Propel your accounting firm to new heights with SEO – your journey begins here!

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