Those who are marketing managers for accountancy firms can have a tough job. In my experience, they love it, are good at it, and they can deliver far more than you may even realise (since the harvest of good marketing is often reaped years down the road).
There are a lot of conferences and events for accountants coming up (or already in progress) throughout the next month – and if you have a marketing person or team, I want to encourage you to send them to at least a few of these conferences, because it’s in your best interest as the leader of an accounting business. If you have a team, split them up and send at least one person to each event. You’ll be glad you did, and here’s why.
If you’re already sending them, read through this for ideas of how to send them so it has the biggest impact on your firm’s marketing.
And if you work in marketing for an accounting firm, when you do go to these events, make sure you do all these things! Your firm will thank you!
They’ll gather content which can be used for months afterwards
When accountants go to conferences, they learn a lot. Meet people. Take pages and pages of notes (online and offline). That’s good and I’m sure it benefits your firm when you and your team do this.
When a marketing person goes to a conference, they are thinking with a marketing head. They’re taking photos. Shooting video. Sharing your firm’s presence at the event. Connecting with people – not just at the event, but also on LinkedIn and Twitter and Facebook and all the socials. They’re capturing content, gathering loads of it so your firm can generate blogs and social posts and create all kinds of new content from this one event alone.
Think about something like Xerocon. Imagine coming back from that event with a folder full of photographs and video that can be used in blogs and content for the whole next year. Your marketing person is going to be thinking along those lines, and capturing a level of content that will be powerful and useful – and best of all, unique to you.
Naturally, if you go, you and your team can do all these things as well! But you’ve hired the marketing person to know what they’re doing with this: so i encourage you to let them do it.
They’ll be encouraged, and your marketing will be better as a result
It’s a lonely job for the marketing person, in most accounting firms. They tend to get challenged more often than they get thanked, and can feel like a Muggle in a wizard world. I know this because many of them have told me so. We have marketing managers in our PF Marketing Community group on Facebook and they were all thrilled to connect to others who knew how it felt to be a little different.
Don’t get me wrong: they love their job. They’re good at it, they see the potential, and they’ll bend over backwards to do what you need. But a conference or event is an excellent opportunity to encourage them and help them learn about the things you as accountants deal with every day: and that in turn will make your marketing better.
You’ll build loyalty because they’ll love their job even more
I have heard a few people say “well we can’t just send the marketing person on a jolly”. Because the event is fun, or there’s a party, or it’s in a really cool city.
Um… why in the world not???
First, if you’re going to send someone on a jolly, the marketing person is the very best person to go. Every marketing person worth their salt will use even a jolly, even a party, even the most fun event ever as a means for great marketing. They’ll continue to capture all that footage and content and will use it to help prospects see that your firm is fun. To help future employees see that your firm is the type of place they want to work.
Second, you’re building extreme loyalty. If you had a job which was challenging most days and you constantly had to prove yourself and gather statistics and make connections and show patterns and go into meetings with new ideas that you think might be shot down and be learning every day about something that is new….wouldn’t you need a break from all that now and then? Wouldn’t you be so incredibly grateful to your employer for sending you somewhere that will help your work be not only profitable but really enjoyable? Of course you would. It’s part of why you go to these events yourself.
I was listening to a podcast by Brian Fanzo with guest Demian Ross, and they said something fascinating which got me thinking. They said
“If you send an employee to a conference, give them two days after the conference ends to explore the city where the conference is held”.
If the conference ends on Thursday, tell them you don’t want them going home until Saturday. Pay for their hotel for two more nights – or even one night at least. Tell them to go have fun, explore, learn, enjoy, get a rest after several days of hard work.
Because no matter how fun any event is – it’s still hard work. You get up at the crack of dawn, either to travel for hours from home or to get ready in a fairly dull hotel room, take trains and buses and Ubers and trams and walk to get to where you need to, then race from one session to the next (or stand talking to people all day at an exhibition stand), with hardly any breaks and sometimes really terrible food, and then as soon as the event is over you’re catching up on emails and Slack and messages and all the communication means you missed all day long, getting home very late (or to another dull hotel room) to do it all over again the next day. You need a break. They need a break. Give it to them and let them enjoy it.
You see there’s a real old-school philosophy that’s still alive and well in relation to employees. “If I give them too many nice things they’ll get lazy and it won’t be profitable.” Or “We don’t have time for our people to go to museums and walk through autumn leaves and find a cool coffee shop – we need to be doing marketing and getting more business.”
I’m not saying you don’t ask your people to work hard: of course you do. But be sure to reward that hard work with something that makes their life and work that little bit better.
This is the beautiful thing about how marketing works these days: it’s the personal and the human which makes your marketing more profitable. When I’m traveling, I’m taking photos and shooting video and getting interviews and reading books and looking for new ideas. Your marketing person can be doing that for your firm when they’re traveling.
You’ll learn about marketing, too
If at all possible, you go with them. And don’t simply sit next to them on the plane or pay for their dinner: talk to them. Ask them about themselves, about what they’re learning about marketing, about their latest ideas, about what they hope to get out of the conference or what they did get. Ask them all those marketing questions you have swirling round in your mind (i know you have them, because i get them constantly when I run webinars and post on social) and discuss together how it applies to your firm. Talk about the firm’s offices, services, people. Read through your notes together from the event and start a list of what you’d love to do for the firm.
This could be the single most powerful marketing training you’ve ever gotten: and it will help you build a great relationship with your marketing person. You’ll encourage them, understand better what they do each day, and be more ready to do a little marketing yourself. Now that’s a good investment.
I’d encourage you not to try to see results on a one-to-one basis from the event. “We spent £x sending this person to this conference and I don’t see that we got x number of new clients within a week or a month afterwards.” I know the word investment is bandied about so much that we feel like it just means “spending money”, but in this case it really is the best word to use. You’re investing in your marketing person or team, investing in your own learning, investing in results for years to come. It’s worth doing.
Look forward to seeing you at one or more of the conferences, events, roadshows, seminars, and workshops coming up… and please do introduce me to your marketing manager! I’d love to meet them!