AAM Press Releases

Collaborative Research Study Examines the Marketing Expenses of High-Growth Accounting Firms

By Julie Ellis posted 07-01-2019 09:01

Collaborative Research Study Examines the Marketing Expenses of High-Growth Accounting Firms

How Are High-Growth CPA Firms Growing?: New Research Study Reveals What Is Under the Hood

July 1, 2019 (Lexington, Ky) - High-growth accounting firms grew nearly 10x faster than their low-growth counterparts and generated nearly $1 million more revenue per equity partner, according to a research study examining marketing spending for accounting firms.

The study, conducted jointly by the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) and the Hinge Research Institute, analyzed data from 100 accounting firms across the U.S. with a total annual revenue exceeding $3 billion and examined differences in spending for high-growth and low-growth firms.

High-growth firms spent 42% more of their marketing budget on digital marketing techniques than low-growth firms. While traditional marketing investments such as sponsorships, membership dues, and networking events remain top expenses at most firms, more than 60% of accounting marketers would recommend increasing spend on video, internal education and training, and search engine optimization. Low-growth firms spent more of their budget on other expenses, such as discretionary partner funds and firm events and parties. 

"Drawing on the success of our previous Marketing Budget Benchmark Studies, AAM again partnered with Hinge to learn how our industry's fastest-growing firms are marketing themselves," said AAM Executive Director Lauren Clemmer. "The high level of competition in our industry makes it essential to learn which marketing strategies contribute to significant to growth."

"In unpacking distinctions between high-growth and low-growth firms, the most striking difference came not in the size of the marketing budget, but in how differently budgets were allocated," explained Lee Frederiksen, Managing Partner at Hinge. "High-growth firms were much more likely to prioritize digital and content marketing, with a notable emphasis on educating their target audience. Compared to low-growth firms, the high-growth firms allocated an astounding 6x more to educational events, which include both in-person events and webinars.”

Other notable takeaways include:
  • Small firms spent about 30% more on marketing (as a percentage of revenue) than large firms
  • More marketing directors recommend increasing budget for internal education next year than raising compensation
  • High-growth firms are more likely to offer advisory and information-security services than low-growth firms

"Although our participating firms were tremendously diverse in their size and scope, this unique methodology creates research that's comparable, relatable, and extremely valuable for any firm in the industry," continued Clemmer. "We encourage AAM's members and all accounting marketers to take advantage of this critically important resource."

The report is now available for download on the AAM website. An executive summary is free and available to all.

The full report unveils the research data in its entirety. It offers full spending data for high- and low-growth firms, spending by firm size, spending by market size, and a detailed budget breakdown. The full report can be purchased from AAM at a member rate of $300 and a nonmember rate of $600.

Both organizations plan to continue similar research work in the future. Accounting firms interested in participating in future benchmarking studies may contact info@hingemarketing.com. All participants receive complimentary access to the full report.

For additional insights and information, contact the executive director Lauren Clemmer, at 440.840.4116 or lauren@accountingmarketing.org