Whether serving the
needs of one professional
or an entire organization,
the Accounting Today Institute will give you the
you need to build your
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what you say accordingly. Always ask yourself: Who is the audience?
;e best way to stand apart in your business
development is to have separate social media
outposts that are buyer-niche focused. By trying to appeal to everyone at once, most ;rms
position themselves in a ;rm-centric manner.
Changing from a ;rm-centric mindset to a
buyer-centric one is challenging, but if you
nail this, you will have di;erentiated yourself
from 95 percent of your competitors.
As a resource, you’re trying to achieve
credibility. Position yourself and your ;rm
as hire- and referral-worthy through substantiating your claims of expertise: Demonstrate
knowledge, capabilities and thought leadership with evidence.
Director of practice growth, PKF Texas
To di;erentiate your ;rm in a marketplace of
any size, start by asking two questions: “What
do we do better than our competitors?” and
“Who needs to know about us?” ;en intentionally put yourself and key members of your
practice in situations that align the two.
For example, maybe you have built a reputation for helping small companies grow. So
you would want to seek out the events and
activities that draw small-business owners. If
this kind of forum doesn’t exist in your market, create it. Host small-business educational
seminars or partner with a local college to
o;er workshops. ;is lets your partners and
employees interact with prospective clients
in a non-selling environment.
At PKF Texas, we have special expertise in
serving high-tech startups. So we partner with
Rice University as the o;cial scoring ;rm for
its international business plan competition.
;e result? We get prominent positioning as
the scoring team. We meet contest entrants
and watch their business plan presentations.
We work side by side with prominent chief
executives, venture capitalists and other leaders. Our partners are at the podium when
the winners are announced. ;is allows us
to build our center of in;uence in a way our
competitors can’t touch. And when the entrepreneurs launch their businesses and need
an accounting ;rm, they already know us.
Audit partner, quality control leader, Berdon
;ere’s a direct connection between our low
sta; turnover and high client retention that
is at the core of how we stay competitive. We
give our sta; people opportunities to grow on
the accounts they serve on. ;ey don’t just
learn what to do on the account, but also why
they are doing it. No one is isolated and there
is a lot of interaction between Berdon and
clients’ sta;, so everyone knows each other
and their responsibilities.
President, Info Tech Partners North America
As ;rms transition to digital documents, it is
more important than ever to keep this “
information at their ;ngertips” — a combination
of document management, collaboration,
project status and due dates that is encompassed with work;ow tools.
For ;rms looking to replace their server
infrastructure, it is critical that they take a
holistic approach that promotes stability and
disaster recovery, which means they need to
look at server virtualization. ;is technology
allows accounting applications to run more
e;ectively, as well as giving IT the opportunity to deliver much quicker disaster recovery
options both onsite and o;site.
With all the di;culties of synching engagement binders in the ;eld and concerns about
security of data on the laptops, ;rms should
thoroughly explore using remote access
through Citrix/Windows Terminal Services
that allow this data to be housed only in the
;rm. With the rollout of 4G digital cellular
systems and the expansion of 3G networks,
availability of the Internet will be ubiquitous
in the very near future, promoting the use of
this “private cloud” technology.
Web-based applications reduce the
amount of support that both ;rms and ven-
dors have to provide, while allowing full ac-
cess to any authorized user with Internet
access. Firms should plan their transition
to whatever cloud-like technology provides
them the most functionality, stability and
support that they can reasonably a;ord.
New client niches
Managing partner, Armanino McKenna
Advocacy drives successful niche marketing.
Niche marketing is built on adding value to a
prospect’s business or career.
Armanino McKenna launched CFO Evolu-
tion two years ago and it has paid us back in
closer connections to the CFO community in
our markets, positive publicity and, of course,
in new customers and increased revenue
The initiative is anchored by our CFO
Analytical Framework and a CFO Evolution
Benchmark Survey Report, which we compile
in December and then publicize early in the
;rst quarter each year. Less than a week after
we released our 2011 benchmark survey, we
had booked more than 20 prospect meetings.
We’ve also found that CFO Evolution helps
us grow smaller accounts into signi;cant cli-
ent relationships. In one instance, an account
worth $50,000 in annual revenue grew to
more than $250,000 through the program.
Beyond publicity from the benchmark
survey, we’ve done extensive research into
the needs and speci;c interests of CFOs. For
example, we found that accounting and risk
management functions consume most of the
CFOs’ organizations and time, leaving too little time for these highly skilled strategists to
assist their companies with big-picture business decisions. ;e program has allowed us
to o;er our own services as consultants, such
as sophisticated IT architecture, products and