What is the role of accounting firm marketers? Are they sales people? Growth strategists? Business developers? All three?
CPA firm leaders may not know themselves. Unclear or inconsistent expectations can lead to ineffective hiring practices, says Jayla Boire, the first-ever CEO of the Association for Accounting Firm Marketing (AAM). She says AAM board members have been called in to help firms focus their hiring efforts to find the right match.
This kind of education is just one example of the dramatic impact AAM can make in CPA firms. AAM members are a “vast pool of intellectual property,” Boire says. Outreach by AAM to CPA firm leaders, who are working hard at growing their businesses and may not be focused on marketing, can help solve some of these issues. “My feeling is marketing isn’t a department. Every single person in a CPA firm is responsible for sustaining and developing business,” says Boire.
AAM is the only organization of its kind in the accounting profession. It offers webinars, an annual conference, a quarterly magazine, networking and more. Boire joined AAM earlier this year in the CEO role after 20 years as a solo executive-for-hire in the corporate world.
“This is a dramatic change for the organization,” Boire says. “We’re all working hard to plan this transition and make me effective quickly.”
Boire ran her own consulting company, The Right Idea, and assisted businesses with their marketing strategy and also worked in leadership roles for a range of businesses, including credit card companies, technology firms and health care organizations. She joined AAM not only so she could focus her skills on one effort, but also as a way to give back. A professional association was a “nice bridge” she says, between working in nonprofits, which she was considering, and the Fortune 100 world where she had been working.
AAM had everything Boire was looking for: an active board of directors, a commitment to setting and meeting goals, and a group of dedicated volunteers. Boire had everything the association was looking for as well, as she was hired after an exhaustive, nationwide search. AAM president Katie Tolin says, “Jayla clearly showed us that she was the type of person we needed to drive AAM’s strategy to increase member value, develop industry relationships and grow the presence of AAM in the accounting industry.”
AAM’s board and its committees – all made up of volunteers – are impressive. “They give an unparalleled amount of energy and they really deliver the goods,” Boire says. The board meets monthly, “which is unheard of,” and the committee chairs take their role seriously. “They weren’t randomly setting up a list of goals and then going, ‘OK, we’ll see if this happens,’ ” Boire says.
Boire’s top goal is to make sure the organization is offering what the members want. To that end, AAM recently surveyed members about their professional needs. Within a couple of hours, about 130 members had responded to the web survey. “Our members are hungry to tell us what they want and we’re excited about it.” Boire and the board are analyzing the responses for industry trends to ensure that AAM provides the right mix of services and resources. “We’re putting the member at the center of our universe.”
Boire is also committed to elevating the work of these key professionals, increasing their presence in firms throughout the country, and forming new partnerships in the profession.
AAM is about growing people and practices, Boire says. “We are not limited,” she says. “We’re boundless in how we’re going to grow the influence and break down the walls of the marketing department.”