It is very common for a new client to say to me at an initial meeting “We’ve been trying several things in marketing but nothing seems to work. After trying it on our own, we hired this PR guy who really couldn’t do what we wanted, and then an advertising agency, but again, we didn’t really get any results. We then heard of your firm and your expertise in overall marketing and strategy. What are we doing wrong?” This scenario points out the importance of strategic marketing to any firm. Without a strategy, you essentially are wandering aimlessly in your search for revenue and profitability.
The Big Picture
In business management, strategic planning is essential to success. Just ask the 9 out of 10 businesses that fail in their first 5 years! The reasons for their failure are many but typically boil down to a lack of effective planning and business management knowledge, combined with insufficient or poor use of resources. Too many business owners launch and run a company without these basics – and most of those who fail lack an education in business management. To the contrary, every good undergraduate and graduate-level business program places a strong emphasis on strategic planning.
Without a strategy it is highly unlikely that your practice will achieve your goals. Establishing a Strategic Marketing Plan (SMP) gives you the foundation that is needed to guide your decisions. It provides a “big picture” perspective of how all the individual activities are coordinated to achieve the desired result. Combined with your drive, desire and core competencies, you will now be in a much stronger position for success.
As Applied to Marketing …
Strategy is equally in important in marketing, which is the most diverse business discipline. I often point out in my speeches Brown’s Rule for Marketing StrategyTM: “It’s very easy to be busy in marketing but difficult to design and implement programs that actually work. Know what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how it will be done before you start your marketing efforts.” That is because there are innumerable ways to market your practice, each consuming resources of time and money. Therefore, it is critical to have an SMP to guide and direct your efforts.
Some firms errantly think they don’t do much of any marketing. Au contraire! Whether you realize it or not, marketing is the “life-blood” of your firm. If you don’t think that you do any marketing, think again – marketing is defined as “Everything your organization does to identify and satisfy the needs of its market (clients and prospects).” So, if you are performing excellent client service, you are marketing. If you are pricing and delivering your services in a cost-effective manner for your clients, you are marketing. If you are selling your services, you are marketing. And, of course, if you are engaged in advertising, promoting and publicizing your firm, you are marketing. All of this takes strategy in order to be optimally effective.
What does Strategic Marketing Planning Involve?
It is the process of analyzing your market and internal capabilities, identifying marketing goals and objectives, and creating strategies and action steps to achieve them.
A SMP combines the unique effectiveness of different marketing tools. These methods might include professional management of advertising programs, effectively designed publicity programs, business development training, a wide range of web-based programs, branding, and a variety of other marketing tools. It is important to realize that there is no such thing as an effective “canned program”; a successful firm will have a strategic marketing plan written specifically for its unique parameters. The entire marketing process should be considered before determining the appropriate combination of methods to utilize. Each firm will likely use different approaches, depending upon your firm’s culture, service capabilities, target market and other factors. Qualified marketing professionals are an imperative to developing an effective SMP.
Putting It All Together
A professionally-designed marketing program is founded upon a systematic approach to short and long-term strategy. At The Specialists in CPA Marketing, we assist clients through strategic consultations and formal Strategic Marketing Plans. We apply proprietary marketing management techniques to improve the results of your programs. Our emphasis is to maximize your investment in marketing programs, producing greater results at reduced expenditures. Through engaging our firm, you can enjoy these benefits:
- Minimizing costs, from the outset
- Keys to selecting your most profitable markets
- Selecting the best marketing tools for your particular marketing program
If you need assistance in targeting markets, selecting the right marketing methods, and developing productive strategies, contact us for further information on our Marketing Planning & Analysis services.
About the author:
Kevin W. Brown, M.B.A. is president and founder of The Specialists in CPA MarketingTM. He has over 25 years of experience in marketing for CPA firms and is the former Director of Marketing at Deloitte in Orange County, California. Mr. Brown is author of dozens of articles published nationwide and is a frequent speaker to CPA associations. He specializes in strategic planning and implementation of marketing programs for small to mid-size firms. Copyright 2018.