Meet a Member

Meet a Member: Irma Zaldivar

Name: Irma Zaldivar

Title: Director of Marketing

Years of Experience: 13

College Name & Degree(s): University of California, Irvine (UCI) | Bachelor of Arts in Economics

Firm Name: ELLS CPAs & Business Advisors (ELLS)

Firm City & State: Santa Ana, California

Firm Size: 40


Email Address:

Professional Memberships: Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM); Firm Member of CPA Associates International (CPAAI), Fresh Produce Floral Council, Commercial Real Estate Women of Orange County, Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce, & Anaheim Chamber of Commerce

Community Involvement: Big Sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County & Greek Advisor for UCI’s Pi Beta Phi Fraternity

Twitter Handle: @ELLS_CPAs

LinkedIn Profile:

What are your thoughts on using research in marketing planning?

Market research can help remove ‘unknowns’ from your marketing plan. The data you collect throughout the process will help you develop a strategy that best meets your overall objectives. In addition, it tells me what is most important to our clients and prospects, thus allowing me to pursue (and invest in) the most lucrative growth opportunities.

What is the structure of your marketing department?

Our marketing department consists only of myself, so I am very lucky to receive marketing support from our administrative department. I also strategize with our managing partner and have great support from him.

What is your proudest career accomplishment?

My proudest career accomplishment outside of ELLS, is branding an environmental company from start to finish. It was my baby, and I was extremely invested and loyal to the brand. My proudest accomplishment at ELLS, is surviving my first partner marketing retreat. I led a four-hour marketing strategy discussion with six partners plus our managers and supervisors. At the time, I was new to the accounting industry and wanted to prove to myself and the firm they made the right decision by hiring me.

What have you learned the hard way?

During busy season, it is difficult to have much access to partners and staff, and I have had to learn the hard way to not take it personally. So, I have made it into a positive and now welcome the opportunity to catch up on a lot of work I may have ‘put off’ during busy season.

What is a ‘must know’ for new accounting marketers?

New accounting marketers should network with other accounting marketing professionals. I have become friends with people I met at the AAM Conference and local firms. It has been a blessing to be able to pick up the phone and ask someone, “What do you think about this marketing idea?”

What are your special skills or what is something people may not know about you?

People may not know that as an adolescent, I took Shotokan Karate classes for six years. I was an extremely shy kid, and my dad was adamant karate classes would bring me out of my shell. He was right – it did!

What is the biggest benefit you receive from your AAM membership or what affect has AAM had on your career?

Using the discussion board on the AAM website has been the biggest, and my favorite, benefit to my membership. It is one of the first things I read when I get to work every morning. Being able to read about or share marketing ideas with fellow accounting marketers has been invaluable.

Share one marketing tip.

One marketing tip is prepare your team for meeting with a prospect. Meet with them beforehand, research the company and people they are meeting with, prepare talking points, practice how they will answer questions and what questions they will want to ask the prospect. There is no such thing as over-preparing.

What do you feel is the biggest issue facing accounting marketers today?

I think the biggest issue facing accounting marketers today is keeping up with technology, such as cloud technology, etc. Identifying the right technologies based on your needs is crucial.

What would you be doing if you had not become a marketer?

I really enjoy the event planning aspect of marketing, so I would definitely like to be an event planner for weddings, etc.

What is the biggest project you are working on right now?

ELLS’ 50th anniversary is next year, and I am currently working on how we will promote this milestone via our website, letterhead, advertising, and so on.

If you had an unlimited budget, what is one thing you would implement immediately?

With an unlimited budget, I would implement a customer relationship management system. Currently, it is all done manually on an excel sheet. Our firm is already pretty involved with networking and meeting prospects, but it is difficult to keep it all organized. Having a centralized location to track all of this would be nice.

What books have you read recently that you feel would be beneficial to other AAM members?

This book was given to me by a good friend a few years ago but it is one that I always come back to, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero. I think this book offers unforgettable lessons for both your personal and professional life. I recently found out she came out with a new book last year, which is next on my list, You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth.