Got a great e-mail yesterday. A request for resources.
Hi Michelle! I am subscribed to your blog and read Golden Practices often. I am a marketing coordinator in [an 80 person office of a 600 person CPA firm located in 6 states]....We have a marketing director, graphic artist, copywriter, etc. in our headquarters and marketing coordinators in our major offices.
All that to ask...do you know of any good 'marketing professional services' training I can attend in 2007?
I am a member of the Association of Accounting Marketing, but my [boss thinks] their conference is a little too introductory and geared towards smaller firms...and would like me to do some research and attend at least one conference, but I can't find anything applicable, so thought you might have some ideas. Thanks for your help!
It's unfortunate to hear that AAM's conference seems too introductory—this is something AAM has grappled with for several years: how to appeal to the most experienced marketers when so many new marketers continue to enter the profession. I'd not heard anyone suggest that AAM is geared for smaller firms—I'm not sure I agree—the issues seem largely the same whether small firm or large, though resources for initiatives are certainly vastly different.
Still and all, AAM is a good conference for accounting marketers—I would just urge attendees and members to challenge the speakers and organizers more for new and deeper topics. And, if needed, topics that address the unique needs of larger firms. As a volunteer driven org (and conference) people like you can and should become organizers and establish things like a "large-firm track" at the conference. It is, after all, "your" organization. :-)
I really don't know of anything else specifically geared for accounting or even legal marketers that will truly get you to a much higher level than you receive at AAM or its legal equivalent, LMA. Some say they do, but I've not found that. What I have found is that looking outside the industry helps a lot.
It's really healthy to look outside of our "professional services" niche and explore teaching that is geared for the rest of the world, too. People, in general, become really good at "navel gazing" and benchmarking against each other which immerses us in mediocrity. We need to be climbing mountains, not staying comfortably in our valley.
(The challenge comes when bringing ideas back to the firm and convincing partners to try things that no other firm is yet doing! I've had those conversations—still have them, and they aren't usually easy. But when you succeed in making the case, it is awesome! And so are the results).
Not knowing what your particular job focuses are, your whole marketing department might enjoy "dividing and conquering" a la carte education such as the stuff below. Then maybe each of you can come back and share the "best of" with each other in a one day retreat or periodic half-day gatherings. As Stephen Covey says, we learn best when we teach what we've learned to others.
Some topic oriented education to explore might be:
- http://www.ana.net/about/ they have conferences and regional meetings all year long...it's one to watch and it's where the big boys play for branding/advertising and other external marketing initiatives
- http://www.prsa.org/ public relations
- http://www.iabc.com/ business communications
- http://www.iaf-world.org/ facilitation (skills for facilitating teams internally or focus groups, etc)
- http://www.womma.org/ word of mouth marketing
- http://www.amanet.org/ see just their marketing seminars here
- http://www.corante.com/ they have conferences later in the year. Here are last year's Innovative Marketing Conference, CMO Summit and Marketer's Forum to get an idea of what is offered
- http://www.emarketingassociation.com/2007/index.htm e-marketing association has 2 events per year
I'm posting this on my blog so that others can expand the list with comments! Thanks for a great question...
Commenters: if you plug a conference or source of education, please keep it relevant to accounting or law firm marketing and please indicate what type of learning will be gleaned. Please no product or consulting spam. We're looking for legitimate recommendations, preferably from other marketing types.
Appended 30 Jan:
Cameron Fuller with accounting and law firm associations TIAG and TAGLaw, respectively, recommends the Marketing Partners Forum that some of their members find to be of value in addition to their own periodic marketing director fly-ins and monthly webinars or teleseminars.
A marketer wrote in to add Society for Marketing Professional Services
Debra Helwig at accounting association, IGAF Worldwide, wrote in:
I would strongly suggest they check out their firm's general association membership to see if there are resources for marketing directors. For example, we have a robust Marketing Directors Group with a strong peer network that engages in regular email exchanges, monthly conference calls, and an intense and high level annual [marketing] conference.
Most associations provide at least some level of support to their member firm marketers. What's more, most of the time these services and offerings are at least partially included in a firm's general association dues so marketing directors may have access to these resources either free or nearly free. One of the things I've observed is sometimes association benefits stay trapped at the partner level and information doesn't get to the marketing staff who may not learn of all the things that are offered. So find out who your firm's accounting association is, and if they offer marketing director support, take advantage of it!
Organizations like Debra's and Cameron's do offer continuing education for their marketers, both in person and virtually. When I was in-house, my accounting firm's association was an enormous resource for me in many ways and, to this day, I'm still close to several of those marketers and partners though many of us have changed roles, and even professions in some cases.
Thanks for writing in!