AAM-MAA Winner Spotlight: BKD, LLP

Illustration spotlighting AAM-MAA Winner BKD

The Association for Accounting Marketing’s Marketing Achievement Awards recognizes outstanding achievements in accounting marketing. The AAM-MAAs are awarded to firms finding the best, most innovative ways to connect with their clients and prospects. The following AAM-MAA Winner Spotlight highlights BKD, LLP’s 2021 win of the Video and Multimedia with a budget below $9,999 award.

This AAM-MMA Winner spotlight interview is with Aaron Phares of BKD, LLP.

Firm HQ: Springfield, MO

Firm Locations: 40

Partners: 310

Last FYE Revenue: $758 million


What did you win your AAM-MAA for? Tell us about the project/initiative.

We won the Video and Multimedia award for The Missing Deduction, a 30-minute neo-noir-styled short film that blends creative entertainment with educational tax content.

What was the goal you were trying to accomplish?

The goal of The Missing Deduction was to create a unique, fun video that would also convey technical information on current tax developments to taxpayers, tax professionals, and students—to make a seemingly dry topic interesting.

A priority of the project was to aim for high production value and add some “punny” moments without being too cheesy.

What feedback did you receive from your intended audience?

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from clients, prospects, colleagues, tax attorneys, educators, students, etc. Many have appreciated the information and others have commented on the top-notch quality of the production, the humor, and the unique idea/concept.

Why was this project/initiative a success?

We consider the video a form of content marketing, but one that sets itself apart due to the unique style and high level of quality. This uniqueness has organically attracted attention. The Missing Deduction has been assigned viewing for tax coursework. It is used as a team-building activity by tax professionals. It also stoked interest in the accounting community (via other podcasts, the AICPA, and more). Those who see it want to share it. Basically, we managed to create a film about tax that wasn’t cringeworthy and also provided valuable tax insight to clients and prospects.

Is there anyone else who lent a hand in this project/initiative you’d like to recognize?

Damien Martin, host of the Simply Tax® podcast, developed the concept and technical content, and he worked with Aaron Phares to create the story for the The Missing Deduction. He is the spark that lit the fire.

Aaron Phares tackled the producer role, taking charge of the script, cast, locations, and other logistics to bring this project to life.

Garret Layman was very instrumental, taking on the role of cinematographer, video editor, colorist, and VFX artist.

What one thing did you do as part of this project/initiative that other marketers should emulate?

We took a step outside the norm … WAY outside. Who says an educational tax video cannot also be entertaining? We don’t. Other marketers should be encouraged to try something new, even if it seems too “crazy”. It’s okay to have some fun while delivering needed information to clients.

What benefit has winning an AAM-MAA had on you, your team and/or your firm?

The award is an additional motivator for the team to continue producing unique videos like The Missing Deduction. It is very rewarding to receive additional feedback that all the team’s hard work was worth the effort. BKD garners recognition as a great firm that values and supports innovative ways to serve our clients.

What are you working on now?

We are percolating on a new video project for Simply Tax—nothing ready to share quite yet, though. Simply Tax recently started a new video segment called “Beyond the Numbers” where Damien Martin asks the guests some fun questions “beyond” the professional/technical realm. Those videos can be found at or on the Simply Tax YouTube channel.

View more 2021 AAM-MMA Winner Spotlights here.

Be sure to attend the 2022 AAM-MMA Awards at this year’s Association for Accounting Marketing Summit on May 2, 2022 at 6:00 PM ET.

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About Katie Tolin

Katie Tolin is the president and chief growth guide at CPA Growth Guides. She’s a former in-house marketer having spent time at regional, super-regional and national accounting firms. Today she helps CPA firms drive top-line revenue and profitability through data-driven marketing strategies. She’s a past president of AAM, a former marketer of the year and was inducted into the Accounting Marketing Hall of Fame.

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