Authenticity, Superior Service, Collaboration Appeal to Next Generation of Buyers

Accounting Innovation - Accounting Marketing

By: Christina Camara

When Millennials take over their family’s businesses, they won’t feel compelled to use the same accounting firm their parents did.

They’ll check out other firms’ websites – probably on mobile devices – they’ll read reviews on Yelp and Glassdoor and they’ll ask for referrals on Facebook. They’ll make sure the firm is tech-savvy, flexible and responsive to their schedule and that it’s committed to helping the community. They’ll find out whether the firm provides superior service at a good price. And they won’t be shy about ditching the firm that doesn’t deliver – and posting a bad review online.

Millennial Buying Habits

Nicole Gantz, AAM’s 2018 Marketer of the Year, encourages marketers to educate firm leaders about the buying habits of the Millennial generation and the marketing strategies that are most appealing to this group. Gantz, who is a partner and the chief marketing officer at Dubuque, Iowa-based Honkamp Krueger, was joined by AmyBell Kwallek, the firm’s senior content marketing specialist, to discuss the next generation of clients at a Nov. 14 AAM High webinar.

Millennials are now aged 22 to 37. While accounting firm leaders may feel that they have plenty of time to address Millennial client issues, controllers, on average, are between 34 and 42, Gantz says. The average age of a CFO is 42. The parents of Millennials are retiring and handing their businesses down to their children. Millennials are now making the decision on which accounting firm to use and which services to buy.

That means firms need to communicate with these prospective clients in ways that they expect, through instant, personalized emails, quick-loading websites with chat features, podcasts and texts.

Collaboration is also expected, so firms should share expertise through case studies, testimonials, story-telling, short videos or webinars that are as long as a coffee break. And it’s imperative, Gantz says, that the entire client experience be digitized. “Make sure they know how easy it is to work with your firm.”

Millennials are a well educated group, with women earning three bachelor degrees for every two earned by men. They also value diversity, as 43% of this group are not white. “This what they expect to see in the world around them. They want to see diversity reflected back,” Kwallek says.

Kwallek says Millennials are watching how businesses interact with their communities, and they’ll support brands that give back. All efforts, however, must be authentic, she warned, and part of the firm’s core values.

Firms are already shifting their focus to more collaborative advisory services and less compliance-oriented, reporting activities. In the same way, the next generation of clients is looking for a partner to consult with them. Interacting with the firm must be on their terms. “It’s not about you, it’s about your client,” Gantz says.

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About Christina Camara

Christina Camara is the managing editor of INSIDE Public Accounting, which publishes two award-winning publications: the IPA newsletter and the annual IPA National Benchmarking Report, along with in-depth reports focused on IT, HR, and firm administration.

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