The business development landscape for accounting firms has experienced a dramatic change over the past year. With new strategies and techniques constantly emerging, the spotlight is now on digital channels.
Success in this new digital age requires an entirely new set of skills: data literacy, audience building, thought leadership, and much more. If you want to be a rainmaker for your firm and build a reliable pipeline of new business, it’s imperative that you master this new landscape around marketing for accounting firms.
Driving business today not only requires new skills, it demands a new cast of partners, a grasp of technology, and a commitment to develop and promote your firm’s greatest asset: its people.
In this article, we’ll explore the evolving world of digital marketing in the accounting field, outline the skills it takes to succeed, and arm you with the insights you need to become a digital rainmaker and power player at your firm. Let’s dive in.
The Changing Role of Sales & Marketing
Historically, sales and marketing have often existed relatively separate from each other within accounting firms. Marketing was primarily a communication effort, focused on building a brand and supporting promotional efforts. Sales, defined by the ability to develop relationships and bring in new business, determined the rainmakers of old and governed the path to partnership.
The two functions didn’t intersect all that much. And, if we’re honest, marketing wasn’t a huge focus for many accounting firms. But marketing, and especially digital marketing, have become more prominent in recent years. The past year has only accelerated this trend. Now, digital marketing is at the forefront of business development for accounting firms.
It’s now essential that accounting and consulting firms embrace a digital strategy. In fact, 77% of CIOs rated digital transformation as a top priority in 2021. To remain competitive, firms must build an outstanding digital-first customer journey. Our tips for success? Target a niche market, develop a deep stack of valuable content tailored to their audience’s needs, and manage customer relationships using scalable, automated tools.
Sales and marketing are now intertwined, and the rainmaker in this new era will be a master of both disciplines. The flow from the first marketing touchpoint to the signature that closes the deal is now entirely online. And clients expect a seamless experience with fast, customized interactions.
The key power players at firms are no longer just the individuals with the biggest Rolodex: they’re the digitally literate professionals who can unite sales and marketing to unlock significant customer value.
But many professionals, and even entire firms, are way behind the curve on this. If you want to command your field, make sure you’re not one of them. Let’s explore the skills it takes to be a digital rainmaker today.
Meet the New Rainmakers
Rainmakers are like Olympic decathletes: highly-trained professionals equally well rounded in a variety of disciplines. Another characteristic they share? They’re extremely rare.
But building the skills for your firm to prosper is a team effort. Marketing must work with partners and subject matter experts within the firm to build a bedrock of knowledge and thought leadership that drives value for customers. Providing that value simply isn’t possible without the expertise of the firm’s combined resources.
Becoming a successful rainmaker demands the right blend of hard skills and soft skills. Leaders at this level are creative geniuses who can command attention and data whizzes who can reach qualified customers with surgical precision.
They’re masters of hard skills, including:
- Content generation
- Data analysis
- Community building
- Visual design
- Tactical SEO skills
- CRM integration and management
But it’s not just the hard skills that count. The art of relationship building still commands great importance. As always, it’s crucial to understand your customers’ problems and come up with creative solutions. Rainmakers are leaders who pioneer a digital transformation and usher in an era of growth and prosperity for the entire firm.
Of course, finding individuals with all of these skills is like finding a needle in a haystack. Finding one with all those skills who specializes in the accounting industry is near-impossible. But it’s worth the effort; these people represent the future of your firm.
The partner of tomorrow is the person with 40,000 podcast subscribers, a meaningful personal brand, and the ability to build a reliable pipeline of qualified leads that goes far beyond any one individual’s book of business.
Drafting Your Marketing Team: Generalists and Specialists
Build out your marketing team with a balance of generalists and specialists, and let your choices be defined by your strategic focus. Focus on hiring or nurturing internal talent and finding a dependable external expert with a track record in your field.
In many ways, this is analogous to the way you recruit CPAs. Every individual has their own speciality, whether that’s audit, tax planning, or wealth management. At the same time, it’s important to have individuals with a more general focus driving the organization forward.
Let’s consider the example of building an inbound strategy for your firm. There are a few specialists you’ll need. Consider working with a content writer to produce meaningful thought leadership pieces. Firstly, a technical SEO consultant to optimize your site, and secondly, a technical consultant to integrate a reliable CRM system that’s easy for your team to use. To unite it all, assign an internal leader to drive the strategy, monitor KPIs, and manage the relationships between marketing and business development teams. Specialists will move the needle, but it’s important your firm takes a united approach.
While you could invest in all the best individual specialists in the world, you’re constrained by time and cost. Instead, it may be best to build a relationship with an external partner who already possesses the specialist personnel and technical expertise to get the job done. Seek a firm with a proven track record in your niche and a history of helping firms grow successfully and sustainably.
Final Thoughts on Digital Marketing Power Players
The profile of the rainmaker in the accounting world has changed significantly, and it’s never going back. As a result, the firms that embrace this and work to pioneer digital transformations will be the most successful.
Recruiting and nurturing the partners of tomorrow is a long-term strategy. On the other hand, a more immediate approach to driving success is investing in relationships with external partners. Start building the digital capabilities your firm needs to be successful by working with Winding River Consulting: we’ve got the talent you need to drive growth at your firm.