*Customer Spotlight* Lumsden & McCormick LLP Knows Small Touches Make a Big Impact on CPA Firm Marketing
We’ve all heard the jokes about Buffalo and snow. But what can snowflakes teach us about CPA firm marketing? A lesson that Maria Gambacorta, Director of Marketing at Lumsden & McCormick LLP, has learned very well:
Small touches can add up to make a big impact.
We don’t do big sponsorships or splashy billboards,” Maria says. “Instead, we do a lot of small things to get the right message to the right people at the right time. Our marketing is individualized and relational, based on a favorite saying of our founder, Charles Lumsden:
‘Your friends don’t become your clients, but your clients become your friends.’
Our approach is targeted, and we strive to be consistent with our messaging and the image we project. There is a perception that audits have become commodities; it’s our people who differentiate us. So we think it’s just as important to go skiing with a client or attend a client’s wedding as it is to get the numbers right.
Also, we’re very involved in the community, thanks to our ‘Making a Difference’ Committee (MAD), an employee-driven initiative started in 2012 to support local causes. MAD volunteers have helped with such activities as book drives, money and supply collections for charities, and a shoreline cleanup for the Niagara River, to name a few. We believe our strong record of community service is truly a differentiator for our firm.”
Balanced, Year-Round Practice
Since its founding in 1952, the firm has grown by providing a wide range of services to a diverse clientele. In addition to traditional auditing, accounting and tax services, Lumsden McCormick offers internal audits, business consulting, business valuation, estate planning, investment management, forensic accounting and litigation support services, as well as implementation of and training in accounting and fundraising software used by nonprofits.
The firm serves many individuals, commercial businesses, governmental and tax-exempt organizations. As a result, its business is year-round rather than seasonal.
We’re constantly looking for ways to expand, and startups are one market segment we’re focusing on,” says Maria. “In addition to promoting New York State business development incentives, we hold monthly ‘Lunch on Lumsden’ seminars at dig (design innovation garage) Buffalo, a business development incubator on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC). We staff an office at BNMC three days a week to answer questions and provide business consulting services to these entrepreneurs.
Business process outsourcing is another growth area for us. In addition, we offer investment management services through our subsidiary, Lumsden & McCormick Financial Services, and valuation and litigation support services through another subsidiary, Brisbane Consulting Group. When you combine all this with the services available to clients through our membership in the BDO Alliance USA — you can see why comprehensive is the lead word in our tag line: Comprehensive, Proactive, Accessible.”
While the firm’s main office has always been in downtown Buffalo, in 2012 it moved to the historic Cyclorama Building at 369 Franklin Street. This round brick structure was built in 1888 to house large panoramic art displays called cycloramas. After later use as a roller rink, livery, taxi garage and library, it was converted to an office building in 1985. As one of only three cyclorama buildings left in the country, it gives Lumsden McCormick a very
In line with its diversified services and clientele, Lumsden McCormick has a diversified marketing program that uses a variety of media to connect with its target audiences. These touches include email newsletters, videos, social media, open houses, golf sponsorships, lunches, educational seminars, client sponsorships and old-fashioned networking.
We try to do different and ‘fun’ things to engage clients and prospects,” says Maria. “For example, we had a contest to guess how many candy bars were in a jar, and used time-lapsed photos to show the jar at different stages of being filled. To wish clients a happy Thanksgiving, we created a YouTube video that showed us filling in a balance sheet comparing the staff we are thankful for with the giving-back we have been honored to do. And we created another video that was part of a local campaign to bring the Jimmy Fallon show to Buffalo in connection with a rescheduled Justin Timberlake concert. We had a lot of fun with that one.”
To stay in touch regularly with clients, prospects and referral sources, Lumsden McCormick emails them its ‘Numbers First’ email newsletter every three weeks. In the top part of some issues, Maria puts excerpts of firm news or Timely Opportunities Articles. For each excerpt, she includes a photo of the firm member whose practice relates to the article content. The firm member’s photo, bio and contact information also appear at the end of the full article to encourage and facilitate contact.
The e-newsletter is a great way for us to keep our name top of mind and position our firm as a thought leader,” Maria says. “Including photos of our people builds a sense of personal connection that helps develop and deepen client relationships. I love all the flexibility in content that the email newsletter platform gives us. It’s an essential part of our marketing program.”
The firm also posts the email newsletter on its website, which was updated in 2014. Instead of using stock photos, the website exclusively features photos of the firm’s people, as well as of the Cyclorama Building, so you get a real sense of what it’s like to work at and with the firm. The Resources section of the site also presents a Federal Tax Rates card and Tax Planning Guide, as well as a number of industry and technical reports and newsletters that the firm gets through its membership in the BDO Alliance USA.
Lumsden McCormick is also big on social media and last year hired a marketing communications coordinator to manage its Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages. The firm has seen exponential growth in followers and engagement since the development of its social media plan.
On Facebook, we post mainly information about our people, events and activities,” says Maria, “while on LinkedIn we post more about tax, accounting and financial subjects, as well as about our people. On Twitter we have a mix of all of that, with an emphasis on relevant news items. I think Twitter is the best choice for posts you want to reach a wide audience, because it’s so easy for people to share what you post.”
For Maria, social media is a powerful tool for promoting the firm and engaging potential recruits, both experienced professionals and recent graduates.
Our combined social media touches — regardless of whether they show our technical knowledge or our fun side — reach current and future employees, as well as current and prospective clients. So they help us attract people who resonate with our brand.”
Continuous Improvement — And Fun!
Our people like each other and like working together,” Maria notes. “As a result, we’re a very employee-driven firm. Just as our MAD Committee takes the lead on our community involvement activities, our volunteer Business Development Committee looks for ways we can add value to clients and do things better. It’s a combination of an engagement debriefing, cross-selling efforts, and a team that looks for ways we can improve our efficiency, client service and success. It’s very effective, because the input and energy comes from throughout the firm, not just the leadership.
These two committees embody our core values of being caring, responsive, trusted, proactive and excellent. And while it’s not exactly a core value, I would add the word fun to this list. It’s one of those little things that adds up to become a big thing and one of the reasons why our firm is not only a great place to work, but also a great group of people to do business with.”
When it comes to CPA firm marketing, Lumsden & Mccormick LLP knows that small touches can truly make a meaningful impact on clients, prospects, and even staff.
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