The Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) recently held its three-day networking summit in Portland, Oregon, with the theme “Think Fresh.” The event was attended by marketers and business developers in the accounting industry looking for refreshing ways to integrate disruptive innovation into their marketing strategy.
As one of three Skoda Minotti Strategic Marketing employees in attendance, I came away with the following four insights:
Understand Disruptive Innovation and its Impact on Marketing
Changes will disrupt the accounting profession in the very near future. By 2020, accounting tasks will be fully automated using artificial intelligence (AI)-based technologies, providing a powerful medium to quickly and simply gain insights from results derived through automation capabilities of cloud-accounting solutions like QuickBooks and Xero. The anticipated integration is expected to disrupt the accounting industry in a way it hasn’t seen in years.
Blockchain, another technology disruptor, is a new way to store and share data with a transparent structure used not only to support bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but also to track and measure assets. While integration of the new medium has been slow-going, interest is increasing, and it will impact auditing, cybersecurity and the way we access, store and interpret information.
As a marketer, knowing what terms like blockchain and AI are is not only necessary but important in understanding how to create value for a firm through disruptive technologies. To be up for the challenge, firms need to think and act differently than they have in the past. By doing so, they will provide a competitive advantage that allows them to build stronger advisory-focused relationships with clients.
Stand Out from Accounting Stereotypes
Do you have the confidence to stand out from the crowd? Let’s face it—the accounting and consulting industry can be perceived as boring. You can stand out from this stereotype by differentiating yourself.
Everyone has a passion or hobby that gets them excited and makes them an individual, but these are often considered “outside interests.” However, these outside interests make us who we are and can be career accelerants, allowing us the confidence to have better connections with clients. Ultimately, a business is a human-to-human transaction. Bringing your work-life balance with you helps inform the type of human you are or want to become in your professional life as well as personal. This is not only important to achieving your goals, but it also helps separate you from your peers, allowing you to develop stronger relationships with colleagues and clients. Having confidence is just the first step.
Establish Meaningful Connections
Keeping our personal and professional lives separate from one another has long been an unwritten rule as a key to success in the workplace. Today, vulnerability can be just as important to forging meaningful business connections by including our own personal anecdotes. Marketing provides a variety of vehicles for vulnerability through storytelling in content marketing, video marketing and social media. Each of these vehicles provides opportunities to reach clients on a level beyond typical business needs, opens the door to deeper conversations and leads to discovering needs a client may not have known they had.
Learning to Navigate Firm Change
There are challenges in getting everyone on board with disruption. At times, you may have challenges with partners who are too busy or too focused on compliance to be aware of the gap between skills and abilities within your firm and the benefits of disruptive technology. Marketers and business developers can play a critical role in communicating the benefits of disruption for your firm. By focusing on results, insights, growth, honesty and teamwork, you can help align your firm for success and create discernible ROI engaged with those efforts.