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What Do Super Bowl Commercials and CPA Marketing Have in Common?

Super bowlI don’t know about you, but my favorite part of the Super Bowl isn’t the first kickoff or the half-time show, it’s the commercials. They are known as being some of the best, and definitely the most expensive, in the industry. In fact, thirty second spots for Super Bowl 50 have sold for as much as $5 million apiece. Companies spend months developing commercials that will capture the audience’s attention during the game and be remembered long after the last touchdown. Brand recognition is key. However, what good is it if the viewer has a good laugh but can’t remember the product being promoted? This year’s ads are rumored to feature the likes of Christopher Walken, Alec Baldwin and Amy Schumer. Given that the Super Bowl is the most watched television event each year, it is no wonder that companies like Amazon, Budweiser and Doritos return with commercials time and time again.

The Super Bowl advertising phenomenon got me thinking about CPA marketing. Although CPA firms do not often have $5 million to spend on a thirty second commercial, there are several techniques firms can implement to raise awareness of the services they provide. In order to learn more about CPA marketing efforts, I spoke with two experts: Kari Schott from Inovautus Consulting and Brian Swanson from FlashPoint Marketing. Below are some tips on how to enhance your firm’s branding and marketing.

Personalized messaging is key. Some of the best Super Bowl commercials leave the viewer feeling as if they are being spoken to directly. Research has found that communicating 1:1 is more effective than communicating 1 to many. For CPAs, this might mean creating ads that speak to a specific audience, such as those placed in an industry association publication, and having personalized messages designed exclusively for that audience.

Know your audience. While the Super Bowl might be widely viewed, savvy advertisers know it probably isn’t the time to show ads for products that only interest a tiny percentage of the potential audience. You can apply the same logic in your marketing. Don’t spend your limited money and time on efforts that won’t reach your audience. Look for options that give you the “biggest bang for your buck.”

Do not underestimate the power of referrals and testimonials. Super Bowl advertisers employ all kinds of celebrities to endorse their products with the idea that the general public will think, “By using this product, I can be just like George Clooney.” The same goes for CPA referrals. Potential clients are much more likely to select your firm if you come recommended by someone they trust or “endorsed” by companies like theirs. Develop relationships with bankers, attorneys, insurance agents and others who may interact with prospective clients. Additionally, request client testimonials from clients in industries where you’d like to grow your business.  Make the most of relevant testimonials by placing them on industry specific pages on the firm’s website and in proposals.

Understand the importance of strategic content. There’s a reason so many ads that run during the Super Bowl are for beer and snacks: they are products that resonate with the audience and go along with the event. In order for a CPA to reach their targeted audience they will want to zero in on topics of interest to that particular group. For instance, if you are looking to reach non-profits, you might want to write articles on common challenges encountered with Form 990s or best fiduciary practices to protect non-profit filing status. Remember, you want to connect with prospects and demonstrate you understand their issues and challenges. You can post these pieces on LinkedIn or on your website.

Post and advertise on social media. Super Bowl advertisers in the modern age can post their commercials across a broad array of social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Additionally, consumers are likely to share ads they enjoyed on their own social networks. For CPAs, social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are great platforms for publishing your message. It is fairly simple to set up your own firm pages and post on them.  There are also some paid advertising opportunities that make sense for CPAs.  For example, LinkedIn-sponsored updates allow you to reach your target audience by filtering information to people based on relevant fields of study, job titles, interests and more. You can set your own budget, gauge the success of your campaign and adjust variables mid-campaign if needed.

While you are taking in Super Bowl 50 (and the commercials) consider ways your firm can harness some branding and marketing techniques of your own. But remember, raising awareness and increasing your client base does not happen overnight. It takes time to develop and build a brand, implement new marketing strategies and determine if your efforts are successful.

The AICPA has many valuable resources available to help firms promote their services. Visit the CPA Marketing Toolkit for tools on effective advertising, creating awareness and more.  Additionally, the Tax Practitioner’s Toolkit’s “communicate your value” page features tips for firms of all sizes. Furthermore, you may be interested in checking out the 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy “advertising a business” webpage.

Alexis Rothberg, Communications Specialist, American Institute of CPAs. 

Cam Newton image courtesy of Shutterstock


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