Meet a Member

Jennifer Cantero

Name: Jennifer Cantero              

Title: Marketing Manager

Years of Experience: 19 Years

College Name & Degree(s): California State University, East Bay | Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphic Design & Photography

Firm Name: Sensiba San Filippo LLP

Firm City & State: Pleasanton, CA (San Francisco Bay Area)

Firm Size: 22 Partner/Principals | 140 Staff | 6 Offices

Email Address: jcantero@ssfllp.com

Professional Memberships: Association of Accounting Marketing, Tri-Valley Women’s Leadership Group, Tri-Valley Professional Women’s Alliance, East Bay Manufacturing Group, Manufacturing CPAs

Community Involvement: Alameda County Salvation Army Advisory Board (Executive Committee & Marketing Chair)

Twitter Handle: ‪@JennCantero

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifermcantero/

 

What are your thoughts on a marketer’s role in succession planning?

There is so much a marketer can do to assist in succession planning for their firm and department too. It is important to document the basic operating processes to help pass that knowledge down. You should work with your human resources team to build a career and professional growth track for younger staff, develop programs for senior staff to share their knowledge and experience with younger staff, and encourage partners to mentor and train protégés. Many partners heading for retirement have not built up their bench strength within their firms to allow them to retire.

 

What is the structure of your marketing department?

My department is two people. I am the manager and handle strategy, sales, graphics, web activities, and event planning. My amazing marketing coordinator handles content development, social media, newsletters, community development, and event support.

 

What is your proudest career accomplishment?

I don’t think it is just one thing; it’s getting where I am today. I am proud of the journey I took in my career knowing the hard work I put in has paid off.

 

What have you learned the hard way?

I learned marketing the hard way. Since I started my career as a graphic designer, I had to learn all my marketing knowledge on the fly by trial and error. To survive the 2008 economy, I had to diversify my skills from just graphic design and become invaluable to keep my job. I taught myself web coding, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and basically everything digital. I never had the time or money to go back to school to study marketing strategy and tactics. Instead, I rolled up my sleeves and dug in – I learned through the school of hard knocks and taking a few risks.

 

What is a “must know” for new accounting marketers?

Be patient with yourself, as it can take a while to learn the industry. Professional services, and accounting in particular, is very different from any other industry. It takes a full year of working at an accounting firm to understand the “flow” of how it all works. I’ve seen many people, myself included, who pride themselves on being able to hit the ground running in a new position and quickly get up to speed. However, they join an accounting firm and feel like they keep hitting walls, can’t catch a breath, and have a hard time getting their feet under them. From my years in accounting and watching newbies, this is completely normal. Welcome! Be patient, hang in there, and you’ll get it before long.

 

What are your special skills or what is something people may know about you?

I find my graphic design skills come in handy quite a bit. Another fun fact – I was a fire eating and breathing instructor for many years.

 

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

The biggest benefit for me, by far, is access to fellow accounting members. Having people who understand the trials and tribulations you face and can cry with you over drinks at the AAM Summit has been amazing. I love being able to call someone to discuss an idea or gain insight into a project you are beginning that they just completed. I also enjoy mentoring young marketers and watching them grow. The people are truly the biggest benefit and why I fell in love with accounting marketing.

 

Share one marketing tip.

Never stop learning. The field of marketing is always changing so we need to continually learn and grow to keep up. Try to make the time for learning and set aside a couple hours each week.

 

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

Having enough time in the day! Can I get an Amen? Seriously, many of us are wearing several hats, managing under staffed departments, and already work long hours. I know I’m in this boat. I absolutely love what I do, so I work hard on the everyday stuff. That leaves very little time to keep in the loop of “all the things.” We are asked to be innovative, creative, and bring fresh ideas to the table, but it can be hard to do that and maintain our current workload. I feel the biggest issue is not having enough time to learn more. To learn about the latest advertising trends, changes in social media or SEO, or how to effectively use the new version of whatever software your IT department just installed on your computer.

 

I try to listen to as many podcasts and audio books on my commute and during my workouts as I can. I also look for one marketing conference each year that is outside the accounting and professional services industry to gain a fresh perspective.

 

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

I was actually pre-med when I first started college. I still sometimes dream of getting my doctorate in nutrition and wellness.

 

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

I am working on implementing Symphony CRM and Act-On marketing automation system. Our firm has been using VPM, which is part of the CCH practice management system. VPM is not a true CRM and we are now in need of a robust CRM system. This will be the first time our firm has had a system like this, so we are building not only the system, but all the sales processes to put in place with it. Then in tandem, and because apparently I’m a masochistic, we are implementing Act-On. Our firm also has never had a marketing automation system. This is a massive undertaking, and I’m thankful to have a great team at my firm coming together to help move the process along.

 

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

I would hire more people for my department. I would love to have a person on staff that could create videos and take all the web and graphic design off my plate. That would free me up to do more strategic work and work at a higher level for my firm.

 

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

I highly recommend “Traction” by Gino Wickman and the companion book “Get a Grip.” While they are written for implementation for an entire firm, there are great insights that can be implemented on a smaller scale within a depart