In accounting, staying on top of current trends and looking for ways to leverage them as part of your firm strategy is crucial. Each year, the consultants at Boomer Consulting discuss our forecasts for the coming year in five areas critical to a firm's success: process, talent, leadership, technology and growth. We develop these forecasts based on what we see while working with firms, attending industry conferences, and meeting with our community members.
Today, I'd like to share the growth trends we identified for 2023, so you can begin planning how they may impact your firm and clients.
Revenue replacement strategy
No firm leaders I’ve met say they have too many ideal clients. On the contrary, most have too many clients who aren't a good fit for the firm, yet letting go of all those clients is scary.
Rather than focusing on client filtering, we're changing the conversation to revenue replacement: devising strategies to replace the revenue from non-fit clients with revenue from right-fit clients.
A revenue replacement strategy starts with identifying your ideal clients. You're excited about working with these clients. They value your expertise and services and are happy to pay your fees.
Next, decide what mix of services you want to offer and how you'll price those services. Ideally, you'll have three core packages with a mix of tax planning and preparation, monthly accounting, financial statements, KPIs, strategic planning, and more. Bundling several services and charging a subscription fee makes revenue predictable and gives your clients peace of mind.
Next, create a marketing strategy and business development process that will get you more of these clients. Compellingly frame your messaging by discussing the client and their problems—not you and your expertise.
Once you start bringing in right-fit clients, filtering out non-fit clients becomes much easier. You'll soon find yourself working with organizations and individuals who value your work, ultimately leading to growth and increased profitability for your firm.
Growth leadership in the C-Suite
In our Circle communities, we've had a front-row seat to the rise of Growth leaders in the C-Suite. Just a few years ago, there were only a few Chief Marketing Officers and Chief Growth Officers in accounting firms, primarily at the Top 100 firms. Today, we see firms of all sizes giving marketing and business development professionals a seat at the table.
Marketing and business development are functions that absolutely belong in the C-suite. How your firm decides to grow can either make your life easier or harder. It can make your clients happier or less satisfied. So having growth leadership in your firm ensures you're being strategic about growth from the top down.
AI-augmented marketing operations
AI-augmented marketing can help your firm automate mundane tasks and streamline workflows. Here are some key ways your firm can leverage AI in its marketing operations:
Content creation. AI can identify topics that resonate with a given audience, increase the efficiency of creating content, personalize content for individual users, and optimize the flow of content for better engagement and outcomes. While I don't recommend letting AI write your content from start to finish, it can speed up the process.
Search engine optimization (SEO). A lot of time in marketing departments is spent on routine SEO tasks like writing social media captions, meta titles and descriptions, and researching keywords. Leveraging AI for your firm's SEO can provide a way to optimize your search engine rankings quickly and efficiently.
Social media marketing. AI can help automate and optimize your social media marketing by tracking conversations, monitoring user sentiment, suggesting content ideas, analyzing the performance of past campaigns, and even creating customized visuals for social posts.
Client service. You can leverage the power of AI-driven chatbots to provide clients with an efficient and personalized client experience. For example, you can use AI tools on your firm's website to quickly answer basic client queries, schedule appointments, provide information about your services, and direct clients to the right resources.
AI-augmented marketing analytics. Your firm can access AI-augmented marketing analytics to provide insights and actionable recommendations. These tools can help you analyze client behavior, identify trends, optimize campaigns in real time, and measure the success of past efforts.
Marketing professionals should ask themselves how they can leverage the power of AI-augmented marketing to improve their operations and remain competitive.
Positioning to clients and prospects
Most firms have done a ton of work to build out their service lines, but few people in the firm have a clear idea of how the firm can holistically work with clients. Instead, people in the tax department focus on tax services, auditors focus on assurance services, and all departments are siloed.
For too long, accounting professionals have been order-takers, allowing clients to frame the services they'll provide and how the relationship will work. As a result, firms have too many non-fit clients, charge too low fees, and don't have enough capacity to pursue right-fit clients.
It's our responsibility to position the relationship with clients, packaging and positioning services to show them what we do and how we can work together. Of course, it's possible to make tweaks to fit an individual client's unique needs. But if we're not taking the opportunity to show clients how we can holistically help them, we're missing out on tremendous opportunities.
Pricing as a center of excellence
Firms recognizing pricing as a center of excellence don't let individuals use arbitrary pricing methods. Instead, there is a logic behind every pricing decision, a system for pricing services, and a process for reviewing them.
Pricing is a skill set that's honed and developed over time. People don't become pricing experts when they get the CPA letters after their name.
Often, when professionals price their services, they price themselves much lower than a colleague would because they bring emotional baggage to the decision-making process.
Firms that see pricing as a center of excellence have a centralized pricing committee and various pricing models for different service offerings.
Staying on top of trends in growth can be intimidating, and it's not uncommon for firms to feel the pressure of change fatigue. However, with change comes opportunity, so getting comfortable with change as a successful firm is essential. Starting with a strategic plan can help you understand what needs to change, garner stakeholder support, make changes and continuously improve.
Do you want to fast-track your firm's success in the areas of marketing and business development?
The Boomer Marketing & Business Development Circle is a peer group of top marketing and business development leaders in the accounting profession who are committed to aligning marketing and business development initiatives with firm strategy. Apply now to get plugged into the Circle and start growing your firm.
Jon Hubbard, Shareholder, Consultant, at Boomer Consulting helps accounting firm leaders find success in the areas of leadership, talent and growth. Jon is a facilitator for the Boomer P3 Leadership Academy, Boomer Talent Circle and Boomer Marketing & BD Circle. He also guides firms to grow and be more effective in the areas of client service, marketing and business development.
Jon speaks at various industry conferences, user conferences, state societies, and associations. He is a Storybrand Certified Guide and Certified Kolbe Consultant.