An Introduction to AI for Accounting Firm Marketers

Since early 2023, one topic has been top-of-mind for all marketers: Artificial Intelligence. AI will upend the way that many marketing teams operate, bringing changes to all kinds of marketing tasks: from email outreach to creating blog posts. 

The coming years promise to be a disruptive yet fascinating time for marketers. Change is inevitable, but these shifts will give birth to a wide range of new opportunities, revolutionizing the ways firms operate. The time to begin this evolution is now, but many firms remain unsure of what their first steps into this new world should look like. 

In a recent Digital Deep Dive Webinar, we heard from Paul Roetzer, Founder & CEO of the Marketing AI Institute. This article summarizes the key takeaways from the session, highlighting the steps that marketing teams can take today to start leveraging AI technologies in their firm’s growth strategies. 

The State of Play: Where is AI Today?

The advent of ChatGPT, and all the headlines it has garnered in 2023, is just the tip of the (very shiny) AI iceberg. What most people fail to realize is that AI technology itself is nothing new. Everyone already uses AI countless times each day. 

Social media algorithms use AI to display new content that keeps users on their platforms. Gmail auto-complete finishes your sentences in emails. Your iPhone has learned what your face looks like and unlocks when you look at it.

AI has touched our lives as consumers for well over a decade now. Today, it’s starting to influence our lives as marketers and knowledge workers in a very impactful way. For the most part, the business software marketers use today does not help them improve as marketers. These rules-based platforms don’t improve performance by themselves: performance only improves when the marketer themselves improves. 

This is changing. Marketing is rapidly moving toward a future where marketing software itself evolves over time to deliver better results. 

You don’t have to be a software engineer or data scientist to take advantage of the opportunities that this next generation of technologies affords your firm. However, you do have to take a thoughtful, measured approach toward redesigning your strategy, team, and tech stack for continued success. 

How Can Accounting Firm Marketers Leverage AI?

As AI becomes increasingly commonplace, the roles of marketers will evolve significantly. 80% of the tasks that knowledge workers perform every day will be intelligently automated to some degree in the next two to three years. Firms willing to invest in innovation today will be much better equipped to compete in this new world. 

There are all kinds of use cases for AI. Paul suggests marketers ask themselves the following questions to identify potential AI use cases in their marketing workflows:

  • Is it data-driven?
  • Is it repetitive?
  • Is it predictable?
  • Is it generative?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, there’s every chance that that task could be streamlined by leveraging AI technologies. We’re rapidly moving toward a world where AI software performs the bulk of the work, overseen by marketers. The possible applications are endless:

  • Developing true personalization and tailored experiences for clients and prospects
  • Unlocking previously unimaginable creative possibilities
  • Driving efficiency, revenue growth, and profitability

These will manifest themselves in practically every marketing vertical your firm leverages today: content, email, social media, video – no element of the marketing stack will be left untouched. 

AI Strategy Recommendations for Accounting Firm Marketers

The accounting industry is barrelling towards a new future. It’s easy for leaders to feel daunted by the changes that lie ahead. Fortunately, we’re still in the early stages of this technological shift. Provided they start today, firms have time to take a thoughtful, measured approach that ensures their wider organization is leveraging AI the right way. 

1. Focus on Education and Training

It’s impossible to build an effective AI strategy without a deeper understanding of how AI technology works and what it’s capable of. 

Investing in education is key, but what’s also vital is developing organization-wide competency in using AI technologies. This level of competency can only be developed by starting to experiment and iterate with different platforms. 

It’s key to note that this education-first approach shouldn’t be limited to the marketing team: your entire firm needs to understand how AI technologies work and how they can be leveraged to improve workflows and boost productivity. 

2. Build an Internal AI Committee

Forming a cross-discipline AI Council that builds alignment on how your firm will adopt AI technologies is a key step to success. 

This council is often led by marketing teams and should consider the impact of AI across all functions of a firm, rather than looking at this as an isolated marketing issue. 

3. Develop Responsible AI Principles & Policies

Firms are taking radically different approaches to AI. While some have outright banned employees from accessing ChatGPT, others have leaned into the power of AI. Bloomberg has developed BloombergGPT, an internal AI model trained on over 40 years of Bloomberg financial data. 

Regardless of the stance your firm takes, it does need to take a stance. Develop principles and policies that outline exactly how your firm will leverage generative AI technologies. This ensures that employees use AI in a way that is consistent with your firm’s stated approach, rather than using tools when they shouldn’t be. 

4. Start with Your Existing Tech Stack

The landscape of AI tools is already vast and it’s not shrinking anytime soon. Paul recommends firms start experimenting with AI by looking first at their existing tech stack. Many leading technology platforms are actively incorporating AI technologies into their tools: popular examples include HubSpot and Salesforce.  

5. Be Cognizant of AI’s Limitations

There’s no question that AI is a game-changing technology. But like any other technology, it has limitations. There are two key limitations for marketers to be aware of: copyright issues and factual issues. 

Current copyright law only protects intellectual property that is the result of human creativity. If your firm generates content with AI, it doesn’t own the intellectual property associated with it. This can apply to written content, code, and more.

AI is also prone to hallucinations and bias. While they may seem incredibly like humans, these models do not know facts, people, places, or things the way that humans do. They can produce false information, underscoring the importance of developing AI policies.

Rethinking Your Firm’s Growth Strategy

The AI revolution is not only inevitable, it’s accelerating. If firms want to remain competitive, both in their marketing and in a broader operational sense, they must begin leveraging AI technologies effectively. 

Today, we’re still in the early stages of this technological shift. A year ago, few people had heard of AI – let alone considered their firm’s AI strategy. But this change will happen fast. The onus is on firms to lean into education, maintain an open mind, and start iterating the use of AI technologies. 

To learn more about the growing role of AI in marketing, visit the Marketing AI Institute. With plenty of free resources for marketers, plus a range of more advanced paid options, it’s the perfect place to begin your AI learning journey. 
If you need guidance shaping your firm’s long-term growth strategy and use of AI, contact Winding River Consulting.