The temperature always rises in Creaseys as Budget Day approaches! The desire to absorb the detail of the announcements and serve clients consumes the firm. Accountants don't often find themselves in the spotlight and when they do it is important to maximise the opportunity. We agreed the objectives for this year's Budget to be:
- To consolidate and deepen relationships with existing clients
- To maintain and grow the respect of peers
- To start the communication process with identified new prospects
- To create a platform for positive PR.
A range of activities was designed to deliver the objectives: not all of them original, but each shaped with the objectives in mind.
With so much commentary available, there is a valid debate over whether it is necessary to produce a technical analysis for clients. We discussed this at length in Creaseys. Creaseys has many professional services contacts that refer complex cases to the firm and with maintaining the respect of peers being an agreed objective, we concluded that the overnight report was justified.A 6,500 word analysis was sent by email to 1,900 clients, contacts and prospects by 9.00 the following morning and achieved a 30% read rate by close of business. The analysis has been uploaded to the website and produced in print PDF form for use in reception where a rolling PowerPoint loop is also on display.
In the spirit of inter-firm co-operation and to help spread the PR message more widely, the analysis was shared with a fellow IGAF member firm for distribution to its own clients.
We will be conducting a survey next week to get more detailed feedback on the analysis from all recipients.
Tax cards containing details of all the prevailing tax rates are a popular collateral item in many Accountancy firms. This year, Creaseys purchased tax cards from specialist suppliers, Mercia Group. Full artwork (rather than just a logo) was provided to Mercia Group to allow the cards to be made totally bespoke to the firm and the result is very good: a far more cost effective and time saving solution than Creaseys producing cards of its own.
The Tax cards will go to all clients, contacts and prospects over the next few months, piggy-backing other communications to spread the cost.
The Budget Breakfast is the flagship event in the hospitality calendar and has been run by Creaseys for the past few years. The aim this year was to take the event and hence the brand to a new level.
The invitation and registration process started early and was run on-line for the first time. This allowed us to brand the event from the beginning and made the monitoring of responses much easier. The availability of real-time response information also allowed us to target the follow-up approach more accurately.
More than 240 guests attended the event. Local MP and opposition front-bencher, Greg Clark, gave a political perspective and the 3 tax partners covered the most important changes to personal taxation, business taxation, international tax and VAT. The MP's contribution added a worthwhile and entertaining dimension for the audience and will help with PR coverage.
Members of the local press were in attendance and press releases will be sent to all remaining local media next week.
Extensive use was made of branding at the venue. Large display graphics, branded stationery and innovative use of branding on existing installations were used to reinforce the visual brand at every opportunity: we even carefully selected the entrance and background music to create the right ambiance. A clean and contemporary slide template was used for all presentations and the content was closely managed to brand guidelines.
117 people completed a detailed exit questionnaire and we will be analysing the results next week. A prima-facie check shows the feedback to be very positive.
Limited success was achieved in getting new prospects to the event. We overlayed the email invitations with telemarketing to make personal contact with identified names and succeeded in getting 2 new prospects to attend. Nevertheless, the invitation process has established the first contact with many more and is something the firm can build on. There is a law which says that 7 contacts have to be made with a prospect to get to proposal stage and we now have 1 or 2 of these contacts under our belts.
Introducing social media into the firm is part of the marketing plan for 2009 and the Budget provided a platform for a first foray. We used Twitter to feed information into the firm on the announcements (e.g. from the Big 4 accountancy firms, the news channels and ICAEW), but decided not to enter into the process of tweeting the announcements ourselves, primarily because Creaseys only had a handful of followers at the time. Followers are starting to accumulate and we will develop an information led 'tweeting' strategy going forward.
The Budget Breakfast was videoed, largely as an experiment, and gives us material to trial on the website and YouTube. We will also use the videos to support press releases. Despite it being experimental, we employed a professional filming service to maintain brand standards.
Results to date
From the Chancellor sitting down at 1.30pm on 22nd April to the last person leaving the Budget Breakfast at 11.30am on 24th April, we helped the firm achieve face-to-face contact with 240 clients and introducers; email engagement with another 570; first contact with 56 brand new prospects and a platform for off-line and on-line PR in the days and weeks ahead. A full debriefing will take place in the firm next week, when we will look at the results of the formal measures. The results and key-findings will be posted in a further update.
Services provided by The Marketing Eye
New prospect identification
E-mail design and distribution (distribution outsourced)
Design and artwork for all collateral
Video production (outsourced)
Social media management
Creaseys' Budget Analysis 2009
Follow Creaseys on Twitter
The rule of 7