Lessons from the High Growth Accounting and Financial Services Firms
Four Key Differentiators that Lead to Success
Hinge Research Institute conducted a study that involved 230 accounting and financial services firms. This 2020 High Growth Study includes extensive information on what sets apart high growth firms from its competitors in the study. It focused on those that had experienced 20% or greater compound annual growth in revenue over a three-year period. This article provides an overview of critical findings.
It is no secret that certain accounting and financial services firms grow faster than others. At the Hinge Research Institute, we have been interested in understanding why and howâ€”specifically, what types of marketing strategies and behaviors do these High Growth firms exhibit?
In our 2020 High Growth Study, we gathered extensive information from over 230 accounting and financial services firms, with a special focus on those that had experienced 20% or greater compound annual growth in revenue over a three-year period. Two of our key findings were that High Growth Firms are not only growing faster than average firms by a 3-to-1 margin, they are also more than twice as likely to be highly profitable.
We believe that by studying the High Growth firms and understanding how they go to market, other firms can adapt the strategies to achieve greater growth. You can download the full Executive Summary of the research here!
Some of the key takeaways from our study are that:
1.Â Â Â Â Â Â High Growth firms get much more bang for their buck from digital and content marketing.
One reason High Growth firms grow so much faster is that their digital and content marketing strategies produce as much as 25% more impact than traditional marketing approaches. Key digital and content marketing techniques produce significantly greater results for High Growth firms than No Growth firmsâ€”giving them a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
2.Â Â Â Â Â Â High Growth firms have a skills advantage in key marketing and business development processes.
As shown in Figure 1, High Growth firms have significantly greater skills in five key areas of marketing and business development than their slower growing peers.
If your firm does not currently have these skills in-house, what are your options? One strategy worth considering is helping your people develop the skills through trainingâ€”an approach that can be cost effective but takes time. Two alternate ways to acquire the skills are to hire new people or retain outside marketing talent.
3.Â Â Â Â Â Â High Growth firms conduct original research to get insight into potential clients.
Doing original research about prospective clients and their needsâ€”and publishing the resultsâ€”is the digital marketing technique used by High Growth firms that delivers the greatest impact. We also found that the more frequently firms conduct such research, the faster their growth trend. For example, firms that conduct original research frequently tend to grow 40% faster than firms that do no research.
Original research is so effective because it does two things:
- It provides valuable insight into your target clientsâ€”even (or especially) for those firms that believe they already â€śknowâ€ť their clients. By truly understanding your audiences, you reduce the element of risk in your marketing, and at the same time, improve its efficiency.
- Audience research can be converted into high-value content. Your potential clients are eager for insights into emerging industry trends and what their competitors are doing. Publishing results of your original research also showcases your firmâ€™s expertise and marketplace insight.
4.Â Â High Growth firms have different marketing priorities for the future.
In addition to identifying the strategies that helped High Growth firms get where are today, we also wanted to learn where they are headed next. To find out, we analyzed their emerging marketing priorities and compared them to those of their slower-growing peers. Figure 2 compares the strategic priorities of High Growth firms vs. their Low Growth competitors.
It is especially noteworthy that High Growth firms tend to place much greater emphasis on marketing automation and â€śmappingâ€ť their buyerâ€™s journey. Such tools and strategies can automate many of the most tedious and labor-intensive aspects of a traditional marketing program, allowing these firms to benefit from marketing strategies that are both more effective and more efficient.
Choose the High Growth Strategies That Make Sense For Your Firm
Clearly, High Growth accounting and financial services firms are doing things differently than their competitorsâ€”and they are reaping the rewards. Their strategies start with an embrace of digital marketing and having the right skill set to implement their digital strategies. They also tend to put significant resources and effort into doing research in order to not only better understand their clients and their needs, but also to create high value content that is useful in content marketing. Last, but not least, they are investing in marketing automation solutions.
By understanding the marketing strategies and priorities of the accounting and financial services firms that have sustained records of strong growth, your firm can find ways to adjust or reorient your own marketing efforts and strategies to improve your results.
Download the full Executive Summary here! Best of luck to you on your marketing journey!
Lee W. Frederiksen, PhD, is Managing Partner at Hinge, the leading branding and marketing firm for the professional services. Hinge conducts groundbreaking research into high-growth firms and offers a complete suite of services for firms that want to become more visible and grow.
Dr. Frederiksen can be contacted at (703) 391-8870 or by e-mail to LFrederiksen@hingemarketing.com.