by Bruce W. Marcus
Today’s accountants understand that, unlike most other occupations, they must be active participants in the marketing process, at least as suppliers of grist for the marketing mills, and certainly as part of the ultimate selling process.
What’s more significant is that they begin to see the professionalism in marketing, and particularly the selling aspect of it.
With the new configurations of firms evolving, accountants and the marketers who serve them have greater reason to work more closely.
Today’s marketers and accountants are each beginning to have a better understanding of the markets themselves, and the industries in which clients function.
- They know the difference between understanding the elements of a market versus simply segmenting mailing lists.
- They are more conversant with the techniques of fathoming market needs, and designing not only marketing programs, but firm structures to better meet those needs.
- They better understand how to shape services to meet client demands and needs.
Under Professional Services Marketing 3.0, more and more marketers will participate in designing new services for clients, as well as the programs to market those services. In fact, marketers are increasingly responsible for understanding the market and feeding market information back to the firm.
This new generation of accountants better understands their clients’ businesses and industries. This results in improved client service and relationships, and therefore better practice of accounting.
An increased focus on selling – both by the professionals and the marketers, has produced a new generation of specialists. While selling has always been part of the marketing process, competition has bred a new focus on its importance and skills, to the point that the specialists are trained practitioners of what is now called, appropriately, Practice Development. The thoughtful marketing consultant, Suzanne Lowe, made extensive inroads into the art and craft of the process in her recent book, The Integration Imperative: Erasing Marketing Business Development Silos- Once and for All – in Professional Service Firms.
Marketing 3.0 is emerging. It is evolving – and it gives us a better clue to the future of the profession than all the prognostication of the self-proclaimed seers. If the accountants of Marketing 2.0 misconceived marketing and marketers, the accountants of Marketing 3.0 now begin to see themselves as partners with marketers – active, contributing partners. What had been an us-them relationship is becoming an accountant-marketer partnership.