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CA ad campaign: Decisions Matter

Got an email last week about an update to the Decisions Matter ad campaign the CICA has been running for the designation:

The Decisions Matter ad campaign is aimed at shifting the traditional perception of the CA designation and promoting CAs as business leaders and key decision-makers in every organization. The campaign is very different from what we’ve done in the past. It is more assertive in establishing CAs as the leading business professionals and, in its originality, has been specifically designed to break through the media clutter.

I like the direction in which this strategy is taking us. For one, it is vocation agnostic, in that it doesn’t focus on CAs in public practice more than those in industry. And I like the attention that “decisions” are receiving, but I think that execution needs to be emphasized as well. Making the right decision is great, but acting on it is critical.

As a CA you have an important role to play in supporting this campaign. You can promote the CAs’ reputation as business leaders with a few simple steps:

  • Include your CA designation on business cards and other communications;
  • Ensure your professional network knows you are a CA. This includes the organizations you volunteer with;
  • When making presentations, discuss how your CA training has powered your achievements;
  • In interviews, introduce yourself as a CA; and
  • Talk about the Decisions Matter campaign with your family, friends and business contacts.

No mention of starting a blog and establishing your online brand in concert with the CA designation, but you can’t win ’em all I guess. If there’s one area that the CICA has thus far completely ignored it’s the social media space. Excuse me though, it’s time to ring the family and discuss this campaign with them, that’ll really promote our reputation!

My recommendation is to follow up the Decisions Matter campaign with something more focused on executing great ideas/decisions. Advising is valuable, deciding is important, but executing is key. What do you think of the campaign’s message and how it’s positioning CAs?

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Marketing

Accounting firms are not marketing with blogs

Law firms continue to outpace accounting firms when it comes to harnessing the power of blogs to market their services to current and potential clients. A recent post by Michelle Golden asks the question “Isn’t Your Firm Blogging Yet?” and the answer apparently is no.

The post quotes this one from LexBlog founder Kevin O’Keefe, which brings to my attention that 53 of 200 AmLaw firms have a blog (or sometimes more than one). There is no comparable data for accounting firms, but Michelle maintains a pretty comprehensive list of accounting related blogs on her site, which includes my own.

(My views do not represent those of my accounting firm, but you can find my latest post on the BDO.ca home page as of this past weekend. In a sense, you can say BDO in Canada blogs.)

Seems like a good time to reprise an article I wrote about a year ago for Canadian accounting and finance industry publication The Bottom Line. It was titled
Blogs can be important marketing tools“, but I don’t think the title was insistent enough because the message hasn’t been heeded within the profession it seems.

Blogs are all about having more personal and meaningful conversations with an audience about a topic. When you’re an accountant or accounting firm, blogs are a way to reach people interested in your expertise, whether they’re fellow accountants interested in discussing the profession or potential clients looking for an accountant with an aptitude for technology and an ability to stay on top of the trends.

This stuff still rings true, so take mine and Michelle’s and Kevin’s advice: Get started with your blog today.

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Marketing

Develop a corporate blogging policy

There are few golden examples of corporate blogging policies that provide employees useful and necessary guidance on what they can blog about and how they should do it as it relates to company information.

Sun Microsystems logoSun Microsystems stands out as a company that actively encourages their employees to engage each other and the wider tech world in conversations about Sun’s products. They also lay their blogging policy out in clear, understandable language.

Common sense at work here; it’s perfectly OK to talk about your work and have a dialog with the community, but it’s not OK to publish the recipe for one of our secret sauces. There’s an official policy on protecting Sun’s proprietary and confidential information, but there are still going to be judgment calls. […] There are all sorts of laws about what we can and can’t say, business-wise. Talking about revenue, future product ship dates, roadmaps, or our share price is apt to get you, or the company, or both, into legal trouble.

I recommend reading the full policy. It’s not just a list of restrictions. Sun has also provided helpful tips to any employees interested in getting started blogging, but not really up to speed on the phenomenon.

IBM logoContrast Sun’s policy with IBM’s and Sun’s starts to look mighty folksy. IBM’s is much, much longer, less easily read and understood, and probably more difficult to follow for employees. If I were IBM, I would simplify. The best blogging is concise and to the point, and so should any policy governing it.

Some more examples:

The IBM policy is interesting though since IBM is now a consulting company and they handle client information as well as their own proprietary data, much like accounting firms.

Protect IBM’s clients, business partners and suppliers. Clients, partners or suppliers should not be cited or obviously referenced without their approval. On your blog, never identify a client, partner or supplier by name without permission and never discuss confidential details of a client engagement. It is acceptable to discuss general details about kinds of projects and to use non-identifying pseudonyms for a client (e.g., Client 123) so long as the information provided does not violate any non-disclosure agreements that may be in place with the client or make it easy for someone to identfy the client. Furthermore, your blog is not the place to “conduct business” with a client.

Accounting firms should be proactive about setting a blogging policy, and encourage their knowledge workers to embrace the medium.

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Marketing

Firm using Facebook to recruit in Toronto

I’ve grown a bit tired of Facebook lately. I think it’s because what originally was a torrent of friend additions has gradually slowed to a trickle. (I meet lots of new people through my job but I doubt they want the auditor on their Facebook!)

It seems I’m not the only one who is questioning the system, but for other reasons. The lack of openness is leading some to compare it to AOL.

But despite our misgivings, the beast continues to grow. My city, Toronto, is apparently the “capital of Facebook”:

As a city, we have more members than New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco combined. Thirteen per cent of Torontonians have signed up. We not only have more members than any other city – 670,038 as of this week – we have more groups within the site talking about the goings on of our town.

What does this mean? The value of Facebook to its members increases exponentially as more people join, and for Torontonians, the value of a Facebook account is much higher than it would be for someone from, say, Saskatoon (29,475 members).

I wrote about Facebook before and compared it to LinkedIn. In the post I linked to some accounting-specific Facebook groups, including one I’ll mention again today: Ernst & Young Toronto.

I searched Facebook for groups for Toronto accountants, and the search turned up nothing very good other than the above group. Why are no more accounting firms in Toronto taking advantage of the massive percentage of the population using the site?

Recruiters are taking advantage of the clustering of Toronto accountants, as this screen grab from the Chartered Accountants of Canada group shows.

How long before firms in Toronto realize the recruiting potential of Facebook, as Ernst & Young has?