Meet a Member: Allison Schlegelmilch
Name: Allison Schlegelmilch
Title: Director of Marketing
Years of Experience: 10 in the professional services industry; 22 years total in marketing
College Name & Degree(s):Indiana University of PA, B.A., journalism with a concentration in public relations
Firm Name: RKL LLP
Firm City & State: Pennsylvania and beyond (we don’t have a designated “headquarters” city)
Firm Size: 600 team members; 58 partners; $97M revenue
Email Address: [email protected]
Professional Memberships: AAM, American Marketing Association
Community Involvement: Executive Committee, Board Member and Chair of Grow committee, Leadership Lancaster
LinkedIn Profile: linkedin.com/in/allisonschleg
What types of marketing strategies does your firm employ?
RKL’s marketing strategy comprises a full spectrum of strategies and tactics to grow new relationships and build upon existing ones. We are focused on supporting the full client journey and lifecycle – from brand awareness tactics like targeted digital display advertising, PR, and SEO to engagement tactics like webinars and thought leadership to client engagement strategies, such as client events and tools to support cross-selling and a deeper understanding of our clients’ evolving needs. Our industry groups and geographic markets serve as the primary method for collaboration around our business development efforts.
What is the structure of your marketing department?
We have nine total team members dedicated to marketing. Myself serving as Marketing Director with three managers overseeing three core functions: marketing/digital, communications, and events/sponsorships. Under those managers, we have several very talented individuals in roles including sponsorship/event coordination, graphic design, intranet administration, communications, and general marketing.
What have you learned the hard way?
I’ve had the good fortune to learn tons of valuable lessons in my career, and I’m honestly so grateful for those learning opportunities. “Take the yes” is a lesson that repeatedly cropped up early in my career. There were definitely scenarios where I had buy-in, but felt the need to continue to justify and over-sell the solution. These days, when I get the yes, I just get to work.
What is a “must know” for new accounting marketers?
Be sure to uncover the “why” behind new projects and initiatives. As a marketer, you bring a unique set of skills and talents to your role. Understanding the expected outcome of an initiative – whether it’s driving new leads, expanding existing relationships, promoting new services, etc. – positions you as an advisor rather than a tactician. With a greater understanding of what is driving a request or need, you can draw upon the right set of strategies and tactics to make a meaningful impact.
What are your special skills?
Empathy drives nearly everything I do in my role. Being able to put myself in someone else’s shoes and understand the perspectives of clients, prospects, and stakeholders is something that is both natural to me and something that I continually hone through active listening and reflection.
What is the biggest benefit you receive from your AAM membership?
The opportunity to build relationships with other marketers in our profession is the most significant way that AAM has positively impacted my career. There are so many amazingly intelligent, talented, and strategic-minded people that comprise this community, and learning from those who have walked similar journeys has immeasurably benefitted my career.
Share one marketing tip.
“Show, don’t tell” has been a long-held mantra that I’ve abided by for many years. Today’s buyers are savvy and see through empty promises and marketing bravado. Look for opportunities to support your marketing assertions through client testimonials, case studies, social media engagement, brand advocacy efforts, and other strategies that demonstrate authenticity in your brand’s value proposition.
What do you feel the biggest issue is facing accounting marketers today?
From my perspective, the issues and the opportunities facing accounting marketers today are one in the same. Changing consumer behaviors, commoditization, competition for talent, technology adoption, and diversity and inclusion all represent opportunities for marketers to help their firms adapt and advance. By leveraging our much-needed marketing, communication, and client experience expertise, we can respond to these disruptions and keep them front and center in driving the firm’s brand, culture, and strategic initiatives.
What would you be doing if you had not become a marketer?
If I hadn’t become a marketer, journalism would have likely been my chosen career path. Writing is a lifelong passion for me, but beyond that, I admire the integrity and tenacity of those who dedicate their careers to a free and independent press. Journalism is almost a calling, and while I didn’t answer the call, I have a profound amount of respect for it.
What is the biggest project you are working on right now?
We have several high-priority strategic initiatives underway including the continued elevation of our CRM and marketing automation practices, onboarding of a new proposal generation platform, and implementing a new client survey process and platform. We’re also setting the stage for improving upon our client onboarding practices, and I was grateful for the content at this year’s Summit around the client experience. It was definitely reaffirming to know that other accounting marketers are also recognizing the opportunities to impact this area.
What books have you read recently that you feel would be beneficial to other AAM members?
“The Marketing Rebellion” by Mark Schaeffer, while not necessarily a recent read (published in 2019), probably has had the most profound impact on my career as a marketer. The concepts of creating and nurturing communities influenced and informed our firm’s response to the unprecedented challenges of COVID. By keeping our focus on human connection, we fostered trust and community with business owners and professionals from across the country, leading to a new level of brand engagement and opportunities for the firm.
What blogs/social feeds do you subscribe to that are helpful?
My go-to sources of great marketing content include MarketingProfs, Gartner, and of course, AAM. I also have a print subscription to the Harvard Business Review, which challenges me to think beyond my core marketing function.
Lastly, since this issue is all about AAM Summit, can you share any of your takeaways with us from this year?
My big takeaway from Summit was the rapid expansion of the role of marketing in our industry. It’s exciting to see how marketers in the accounting and professional services industry are taking leadership roles in driving client experience – from onboarding to engagement to advocacy. The opportunities to influence service design, bring AI into strategy refinement, and drive collaboration across business functions make it an exciting time to be in this profession, and I’m grateful that AAM is taking the lead in initiating and fostering conversations around these topics.
Allison Schlegelmilch was interviewed by Rachel Pompeani
Rachel Pompeani is currently the Growth Marketing Manager at ClearyRated, a satisfaction survey program designed for B2B service firms, and has been in this role since July 2021. She has an array of responsibilities at ClearlyRated, including digital marketing, content management, email communication, graphic creation, and more.