Firms don’t always consider technology in their strategic planning process, but that’s a mistake. If you’re looking to update your strategic marketing plan, look at how technology and data-based marketing can help position your firm to partner with your clients — especially younger ones — and build your high-growth services.
Step 1: Improve data
Data-based marketing requires good, complete data. Gather email addresses, create mailing lists, and clean up your database because technology tools can only work well if data inputs are accurate. This step may seem basic, but you’d be surprised how many firms are working with less-than-stellar data.
To help manage their data, some firms rely on a client relationship management (CRM) system. Many use their practice management system as their CRM. CCH Axcess™ Practice offers email lists and tools to do some light lead tracking. Others may need a more robust tool for complete pipeline management. Whether to move to a full-blown CRM system depends on your firm’s strategic plan. But one thing is clear – every technology and every new service should be intentional and tied back to a line item in your firm’s strategic plan.
Step 2: Plan and communicate
Once you have good data in place, use it to reach out with your important messages. Develop a digital marketing plan that includes one-to-one emails, email newsletters, blogs, and other thought leadership communications.
The more personalized these tools are, the better. Barry C. Brown, CPA, CITP, MCP, of Moore Stephens Tiller learned the power of personalization when the firm revamped from general to targeted email blasts. “Now instead of hitting clients with general basic accounting emails, we are sending targeted industry-specific blog posts every quarter,” he says. “My phone rings within 24 hours of these going out. It didn’t ring in the old days. When we moved to this targeted marketing to each particular vertical, we get a much better response.”
Step 3: Track and measure
Determine who your most profitable clients are so you can tap into high-growth areas like wealth management, placement, and strategic advisory services. Also, find out which business development channels work best for your firm. You likely need to use a combination of two or more of the tools below, and track their effectiveness so you can tweak your growth strategy:
- Digital marketing
- CRM system
- Business intelligence
- Content marketing
- Social media
- Predictive analytics
- Email marketing
- Market research
- Creative/Ad agency
- Sales training
Step 4: Analyze and evolve
Gone are the days of waiting for a client to request something and then reacting. You need to become more proactive and leverage predictive intelligence technology so you can anticipate what clients want and need before they even know to ask. A predictive intelligence tool like CCH Axcess iQ allows you to search client data and proactively and seamlessly reach out to clients who may be affected by changes in tax regulations, for example.
“For years, we have been finding which clients are impacted by regulation changes by doing a labor-intensive search. CCH Axcess iQ will identify the clients for us by constantly mining our client data,” Brown says, “and help us proactively communicate with these clients, positioning us as their strategic partners.”
Tap into technology
Learn more about data-based marketing: download the new ebook, Embracing Business Development in Accounting Firms.