Are you ready to hire a marketing professional?

BY PRACTICE MANAGEMENT

A marketing professional cannot accomplish significant results without the support and active participation of the firm's partners and senior staff. If you are considering hiring one, you first should ask yourself the following questions; if you can answer yes to each, you are ready.


Do our partners believe marketing is a necessary business function that requires the same level of attention and resources as client service, billings and employee recruitment? If your partners consider marketing a necessary evillittle more than an administrative functionthen that is all it ever will be. Your firm must view marketing as a logical extension of its mission and goalsa tool for helping it achieve long-term growth and improve profitability.

Do we recognize that a skillful marketing professional will study every aspect of the firm, seeking to make changes that will make it more client- and service-centered? A good marketing professional will analyze every aspect of your firm in order to improve client satisfaction. He or she may recommend change in areas as diverse as client billing, hallway lighting and print advertising. You need to be ready to listen and, when appropriate, make change.

Is our managing partner (or the partner in charge of marketing) prepared to guide the marketing professional's efforts? To be successful, a marketing pro requires the insights, leadership and support that only the managing partner can provide. Does your firm's already overburdened managing partner have the time?

Do we have a clear sense of what we want to accomplish? Do we have a marketing vision? Some would argue that they need to hire a marketing professional to help them through the marketing planning process. But suppose the process reveals that what you really need is an entry-level marketing person who can help you produce client communications materials. Your marketing pro will need to understand your own marketing visionthat comes from you. So, come up with the vision first and then let the pro help you develop it with a plan.

Are we prepared to invest the time, money and firm resources necessary to hire a marketing professional and to fund his or her programs? Once you hire a marketing professional, your expenditures will extend beyond his or her salary and compensation. The programs dictated by your marketing plan will require capital outlays and administrative support, such as a full-time secretary, office space and a computer.

Do we all recognize that our marketing professional will not contribute to bottom-line profits overnight? Realistically, most marketing expenditures are long-term investments in the future of the firm. Everyone in the firm, especially the partners, needs to appreciate and accept this fact. This does not mean you shouldn't scrutinize marketing outlays or ask for a statement about the potential return on investment. However, you cannot expect the marketing pro to make a direct contribution to the bottom line until he or she has been in place for at least six months to one year.

Source: A Buyer's Guide to Hiring a Marketing Director or Coordinator, by Ellen Grayce LoCurto, CAE. The Marketing Advantage: How to Get and Keep the Clients You Want , edited by Collette Nassutti. Published by the AICPA Management of an Accounting Practice Committee.

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