New Accounting Marketing Budget Benchmark Study

Lee W. Frederiksen, Ph.D., Hinge


If you are looking for a better way to market your accounting firm, you probably have a lot of questions. How do I get more quality leads? What’s the best way to spend my limited marketing dollars? What techniques actually work? And what are my competitors doing?

As any marketer knows, answering questions like these can be a real cranium scratcher. The only way to get intelligence like that is to survey the entire industry.

Which is exactly what we did.

For the third time, our research team at Hinge has partnered with AAM to bring you the industry’s most comprehensive and up-to-date study of accounting marketing budgets. To get at the answers, we surveyed 100 accounting firms representing $3 billion in annual revenues. The firms ranged from small practices with revenues under $200,000 to $900+ million firms with national reputations. To sharpen the lessons learned even further, we broke out the high-growth firms — those that grow almost 10X faster on average than their low-growth peers — to see what they do differently.
 

So what did we learn? There is a wealth of insights in this study, but in this article we will focus on three key takeaways.


Top Marketing Expenses

Not including staff salaries, here are the top five techniques where your competitors are investing their marketing dollars:

  • Sponsorships
  • Memberships & Dues
  • Networking Events, Trade Shows & Conferences
  • Charitable Giving
  • Advertising


Note that with the exception of networking events, trade shows & conferences, these are passive techniques. High-growth firms, however, prioritized their marketing spend differently — often (but not exclusively) in more active techniques. For instance, high-growth firms budgeted to spend over 6X more on educational events (such as in-person seminars, webinars, etc.) than low-growth firms. Why? Educating your audience is an effective way to demonstrate your expertise to new audiences and build trust. (See the complete high-growth vs. low-growth list of marketing techniques in the full study, which you can purchase here
.)

 

Marketing Budgets

A few years ago, there was little correlation between the size of a firm’s marketing budget and its rate of growth. Today, that has changed. In fact, high-growth firms typically spend a greater proportion of their budget on marketing than no- and low-growth firms.

And where are they allocating this spend? One key area high-growth firms outspend low-growth firms is on digital marketing. And high-growth accounting firms devote almost 42% more of their marketing budget on these tools than other firms. Now, they aren’t putting all their eggs in the digital basket, but high-growth firms are making heavy use of online channels.

 

Service Offerings

Do the specific services a firm provides affect a firm’s growth rate? While the study doesn’t provide a definitive answer, it does show that high-growth firms are more likely than their low-growth competitors to offer advisory and information-security services. These are high-value, non-commodity services, so it makes sense that they would contribute to a firm’s growth potential and success.

For more insights like these, check out the 2019 Marketing Budget Benchmark Study — and start spending your marketing dollars with greater confidence!