Wow – what a week! Between the excellent networking among attendees, excitement of the sessions and taking in the Bourbon Street experience, I can officially say – that was one exhilarating week at the AAM Summit in New Orleans!
One of my favorite things about conferences is listening to speakers’ presentations and letting my mind wander into all the ways I can apply their guidance to the processes and projects back at my firm. This year was no different! I have a list of innovative ideas that I’m excited to review with my marketing, HR and executive teams.
So which themes were most prominent this year? What are firms across the country focusing on? Reviewing all my notes from last week, here’s a look at my top three takeaways from the AAM Summit:
1. Innovation – It’s no surprise that innovation was a focus – after all, the theme of the summit was inNEWvation. They did not disappoint. What I realized this year is that the accounting industry is no longer content with the stigma of being “behind the curve” in terms of innovation, technology and the like. Firms across the country are finding new and innovative ways to push the envelope to differentiate themselves from competitors in their market and ensure they survive into the next generation of leaders, employees and, most important, clients. And what I enjoyed most about this – there seems to be no limit! Firms are implementing forward-thinking processes and approaches to their business every day. I was intrigued to find that some firms have even implemented CEOs (Chief Experience Officers) and Directors of Innovation to continue pushing their firms outside of their comfort zone.
2. Millennials – Related to that, millennials was a big topic of conversation. One of my favorite points that I took away from Rachael Higginbotham and Madison Field’s Millennials & the Sales Process: Driving the Millennial Generation presentation was that – not only are millennials quickly becoming the majority of our employee base, but in just 5 to 10 years, that same generation will be our clients. If we don’t find ways to deliver information better, quicker and more in line with the ways that generation wants their information, they will choose to get their employment and business advisory services from other means.
(If you didn’t catch this session, I highly recommend you watch the recap video when it’s released and share it with members of your firm.)
3. Value Pricing Versus Hourly Rates – This is certainly not a new concept. But it seems that as the years march on, the more imperative it is that we find ways to implement it. We know we need to differentiate ourselves from our competition, and firms are finding distinctive ways to add value by adding a variety of consulting services to our toolkit. We’re also packaging traditional audit and tax services together with other consulting services to provide a more comprehensive product to our clients. This creates an interesting challenge in determining how to price, effectively communicate and promote those packaged services in a way that our clients will understand and appreciate. Firms that are able to do this effectively will most certainly stand out among their peers.
Firms are continuing to struggle with a number of issues, and these topics were at the forefront of our sessions, including:
- CRM – Many CPA firms are struggling with selecting, implementing or properly managing their CRM database.
- Content – Firms everywhere understand the need for content, adding value through thought leadership and content’s role in driving traffic back to their websites to capture leads. But high-quality and consistent content is an ongoing challenge for firms everywhere.
- Sales – Yes, the ever-present battle of connecting marketing to sales was still a hot topic at this year’s conference. Through my conversations, it seems that marketing departments are bringing business development professionals and efforts in-house and trying more than ever to connect the two worlds to show the real return on investment of marketing’s efforts.
If I could sum up everything I learned last week in one line, it would be: Rethink everything. In every process and at each client touch-point or service delivery moment, there is an opportunity to rethink and innovate the way our firms are approaching our services with the goal of adding more value to our employees and clients.
I love the feeling of being energized and recharged after a conference. Now, let’s not let that energy and those great, innovative ideas go to waste! Let’s continue working hard to drive our industry forward and making a meaningful difference for our firms.
If you’re interested in learning more about the where accounting marketing is headed in the years to come, or if you want more information about Skoda Minotti Strategic Marketing services, contact Anna Marie Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 440-449-6800.