Lately I’ve been thinking about how business-to-business (B2B) marketers reach their potential clients, as opposed to marketers that target the average consumer. This thought train rolled into the station at a very serendipitous moment, as the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) had their annual Marketing Achievement Awards gala just a couple weeks ago. The ceremony honored the best of accounting marketing within the past year, awarding accounting firms for their efforts in the categories of branding, collateral, marketing campaigns, media relations, advertising, and websites, among others.
Now, I seem to have had much greater success with my accounting articles, so I think I’ll follow suit this week. I’ll be taking a look at several of the winners from the evening, and discussing how they’re great examples of B2B marketing from the lenses of branding, message, and creativity.
So here we go!
1. Warren Averett – Branding: Logo, New or Refreshed
Let’s take a look at the logo – it’s crisp, clean, and contemporary, which is everything a corporate logo should be nowadays. What I like about this particular logo is that it’s reminiscent of the Microsoft Word 2010 logo, seen here: https://www.tcd.ie/CAPSL/TIC/assets/img/misc/word-2010.png
Logos are incredibly important because they are the biggest piece of brand identity for the company, but they also responsible for conveying the essence of the brand in a single image. And if it’s done properly, a logo can say so much. This one, for example, may seem simple, but there’s much more than meets the eye. Its predominant colors are grey and blue. Now, according to a great article published on Business Insider last fall, blue “exudes trust and confidence”, thereby signifying a team player, and grey represents more logical, analytical, and independent qualities of a person.¹ Mix these two together, and you’ve got yourself a great accountant and advisor.
This Alabama-based firm actually does asset management and outsourcing management as well as the typical accounting, auditing, and advisory, so the use of these colors not only represent a strong business partner, but a holistic approach to a variety of professional services. Combined with a dependable sans-serif typeface, the entire logo communicates the mission of the Warren Averett family of companies – “helping [clients] make the most of opportunities to create, grow and protect value (warrenaverett.com)”.
2. WeiserMazars – Integrated Online Marketing Campaigns
There’s something fishy about this particular campaign (ba-dum-tish). WeiserMazars, based in the New York metro, won an award for their integrated online campaign, “#WhenSharksFly: Take a Bite Out of Busy Season”, and for good reason – it’s clever, witty, and fun. The concept is simple – take an inflatable shark and let him fly around various scenarios relevant to CPAs during their busy season in spring, in order to bring various “survival tips” to the firm’s followers. If you take pictures of him, you can post it on Facebook here, bit.ly/fb_whensharksfly, and there’s your Facebook portion of the campaign. Next, take the campaign to Twitter using the hashtag, and the same content from Facebook can be shared on another social media platform while the firm’s employees from across the country can intereact with the content. Then, of course, you top it off with a great YouTube video, as seen above.
Although the campaign may not do much in terms of content marketing, as is the trend with professional services organizations, it’s a great way to show a lighter side of an accounting office and connect with other firms by way of tapping into common experiences. On Twitter, the campaign trended among professionals of WeiserMazars, but there were also some outsiders that joined the fun, and that’s the goal when you implement an integrated online marketing campaign. You want to generate engagement across all people, especially those who may come in contact with your firm only sporadically. Who knows? There could be a potential client among them.
Also, one of those pictures depicts the shark floating outside one of those Halal food trucks in NYC. Like, what more could you possibly want to see on a firm’s page?
3. SS&G – Campaign: Total Spend of $25,000 and Above
The ads of the Cleveland-based firm’s “Words” campaign can be found here. http://ssandg.com/words/ The idea is this:
“Utilizing clean, eye-catching designs, a conversational voice, and playful wit, this campaign demystifies the tax, assurance, accounting, and consulting processes by turning negative notions on their heads, ultimately inviting clients and friends to experience the difference of our warm, welcoming, user-friendly service.”
If you take a look at the website, you’ll see seventeen different words on the left-hand side, each a common term in the CPA vernacular that may seem overused and meaningless. Each of the ads, that run in print format as well as digital, takes one of those words and associates it with the unique processes of SS&G as they maintain relationships with their clients, thereby bringing clarity to those words within the context of SS&G’s own unique brand image. On top of that, the ads maintain a fresh, clean look with bright, inviting colors, and an old-style serif typeface that reflects a professionalism that’s established, yet approachable. All in all, great ad campaign.
4. Freed Maxick CPAs – Media Relations: Integrated PR Campaign
Freed Maxick is a firm headquartered in Buffalo, with offices around upstate New York. These professionals make a very strong effort to stay connected on social media, and their different public relations efforts are a testament to that. With presences on all major social media accounts, as well as the production of blogs, press releases, and thought leadership initiatives, the firm stays on top of what’s happening among their clients and around the industries they serve. You can see more of what they do at http://www.freedmaxick.com.
According to an article from AccountingWeb, the firm increased their revenue by a whopping 110% from leads generated through advertising on Twitter. Their feed also has over 24,000 followers, and they’re able to engage them with trending hashtags and analytics that help determine what’s on clients’ minds at the present time.² I also checked out their media guide, and their digital media strategist, Emily Burns-Perryman, is listed as a contact, but I love how they also have regular CPAs on the contact list, too, if any member of the press has questions regarding specific areas of expertise. This is a prime example of how public relations should involve all members of the organization, because as a company needs to reach out to the public, every member of that company needs to contribute their voice in order to develop a strong brand image. After all, it’s everyone’s company, and everyone has something unique to offer, so why should they not have a say in how the company is perceived? That’s what makes PR strong.
5. Weinstein Spira – Website: Firms between $10 and $24.9 million in revenue
The last firm we’ll look at today is this Houston-based firm that won in the websites category. Take a look at weinsteinspira.com. This is a great site because all the information you need is right in front of you, and easy to access. It cuts through the clutter. Also, going back to what I mentioned about the logo, different shades of blue are used throughout, which reflects teamwork and partnership, and there’s also a lot of white, which represents organization and clarity. And every piece of information you’ll need is easily accessible through a menu, with just enough text to get the message across, in a casual, conversational tone. This is really the model for what a strong professional services site should be.
Also, I need to give a shoutout to WithumSmith+Brown once more – they won awards for their blog, as well as their awesome multimedia campaign I wrote about several weeks ago. Great job, everyone!
Well, that’s my spiel for this week. Congratulations to this year’s winners, and for a complete list of who won at the AAM-MAAs, visit http://accountingmarketing.org/UserFiles/file/2014_MAA-Release.pdf.
By the way, if you’re in accounting or accounting marketing and you want me to write about something, let me know! I’m always looking for fresh ideas. Hope to see you around!