Meet a Member: Jeshanah Fox
JUST THE FACTS:
- Name: Jeshanah Fox
- Title: Marketing Director
- Years of Experience: Over 9 years
- College Name & Degree(s): Penn State University – Bachelor of Arts degree in English
- Firm Name: Brown Schultz Sheridan & Fritz
- Firm City & State: Camp Hill, PA
- Firm Size: More than 140 team members among five offices located across Pennsylvania and Maryland
- Email Address: [email protected]
- Professional Memberships:
- LEA Global
- Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM)
- American Marketing Association (AMA)
- Community Involvement:
- Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania – Board Member, Executive Committee Member and Strategic Planning Committee Member
- Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts – Board Member and Marketing Committee Member
- United Way of the Capital Region – Women’s Leadership Network Advisory Committee Member, Communications Committee Member
- The Foundation for Enhancing Communities (TFEC) – Fund for Women and Girls Dream Team Member
- LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeshanahfox/
- Bio: Jeshanah Fox is the Marketing Director at Brown Schultz Sheridan & Fritz (BSSF). In her role, she focuses on aligning the strategic vision of the Firm with marketing initiatives and being the custodian of the BSSF brand. She also oversees the Marketing Department at BSSF. Beyond her marketing responsibilities, she is also a key part of the leadership team at the Firm, assisting with the Firm’s strategic plan and culture initiatives, as well as being a champion of increasing the Firm’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives to drive change in the Firm and the industry as a whole.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU:
Describe your level of involvement with your firm’s strategic plan.
My current role is to help develop the Firm’s strategic plan – not just the Marketing portion, but the full strategic plan for the Firm as a whole. I work with a small BSSF Strategic Plan Committee to take feedback from our Executive Committee members and create the strategic priorities and goals for our strategic plan, identify key champions to take ownership of those goals, monitor accountability of those champions and communicate regular progress to the Firm.
In your opinion, what is the value of a strategic plan – both to the firm as a whole and to the marketing department specifically?
In general, a strategic plan is a roadmap for the growth of your firm. Your strategic plan allows your leaders to identify the goals they want to achieve, regardless of how lofty they may be. This roadmap allows all departments and team members to develop a clear path, aligning their unique talents, strategies, and tactics in order to help achieve those overarching firm goals. This is important because you don’t want to just be developing paths without having a clear goal in sight; otherwise, you’ll wind up going down a road forever but not reaching any destination of significance.
In terms of marketing specifically, each and every marketing initiative should align with one of the goals of your strategic plan. Two primary responsibilities of marketing are to grow the firm and create awareness, and you must understand the goals of your firm in order to achieve those in a meaningful way for your firm.
How did you go about getting involved with your firm’s strategic plan?
Several months after I started, I was invited to join the strategic plan committee, which was comprised of a large number of team members spanning across various levels, departments, and offices. However, the committee was far too large and did not necessarily include the right key people to be effective. The strategic plan at that time also only included a few marketing-related tactics that were specifically assigned to me. I took the time to sit down with the plan and really understand everything the Firm was trying to achieve. Then, I highlighted all the areas that I could potentially get involved with and discussed furthering my involvement with goals pertaining to growth, growing industry niches, new service lines, etc. In some cases, there were goals that may not have entirely been marketing, but stepping in on those also helped to establish the trust I believe our leadership team has in me to continue to increase my involvement with the strategic plan.
Then, a few years ago, we changed the format of the committee to its current iteration, which includes far fewer committee members who develop the plan and then work with champions to carry out our strategic priorities. If I hadn’t inserted myself into the process and taken the time to understand the goals of the firm beyond even the strategic plan goals, I’m not sure I would have had the opportunity to be as involved as I am now.
What research or resources did you use in developing your firm’s strategic plan?
I serve on several nonprofit boards and have been involved in developing their strategic plans. Getting to see their processes for developing their strategic plans was invaluable in helping me understand best practices for how to develop an effective plan. I also made it a point to understand which reputable accounting industry resources my leadership team turned to and went to those platforms directly for resources to support our planning initiatives. Namely, I turned to the AICPA, AccountingToday, and the accounting alliance of which our Firm is a member. Beyond external resources, I also relied heavily on talking to our leadership team internally, and understanding pain points, which ultimately led to developing some of the goals under our strategic priorities.
Is there a unique value or perspective that you feel marketers can bring to their firm’s strategic plan?
Regardless of your industry, the function of a marketing department is to grow its organization. This is generally also the purpose of a strategic plan. Marketing is fundamentally about strategy, and marketers are used to creating strategies for growth and developing creative solutions to problems. That perspective is vital when it comes to a strategic plan because goals are nothing more than problems you’re trying to solve. So, marketers can lend their natural problem-solving skills and apply that same strategic way of thinking to their strategic plans.
Another fundamental perspective that marketing can contribute to the strategic plan is the voice of the client. In marketing, we hear a lot of feedback from our clients, and so we are in the unique position to be able to take that feedback and make sure our clients have a voice in the room. This allows us to advocate for goals that are tied to the client experience. Of course, happy clients are crucial for the ongoing success of your firm, and so this unique perspective really differentiates marketers and can be a great way to get a seat at the table.
What advice would you give a marketer who would like to get more involved with their firm’s strategic plan?
For starters: if you are in a position where marketing does not currently have a seat at the strategic planning table, I would recommend being candid with your leadership team and respectfully exerting that, in order to be a contributing factor in the firm’s success, marketing must be involved in setting the firm’s goals and understanding the firm’s vision for growth into the future. If being involved in setting goals is not a comfortable area for you, then initially, it could just be a request to be present at the table when goal setting is happening to better understand incorporating those goals into a marketing growth plan.
Secondly, I would say to be very intentional about developing your marketing strategy around your firm’s strategic plan. You should be able to tie every single webpage, blog post, sponsorship, event, proposal, advertisement, social campaign, etc. to one or more goals on your strategic plan. Part of your job as a marketer is to demonstrate how marketing can tie into the firm’s goals, which is how your leadership team will come to value your department. If there are certain events or campaigns you’d like to do in marketing, figure out how to execute those initiatives in a way that will contribute to the goals of the strategic plan. Also, don’t be scared if you set a goal and then don’t fully accomplish it. Not setting goals for fear of not meeting them will only put you at a disadvantage; you’ll never be seen as a valuable department if the things you’re doing don’t tie into the overall goals of the firm.
Lastly, I would recommend that you find your champion within the Firm – a leadership figure within your firm who you can bounce ideas off of and trust their opinion. When I started at BSSF, I would have meetings with our Director of Business Advisory and Development. He would listen to my ideas, and his responses, specifically his questions, would help me to navigate presenting those ideas to the committee and/or our leadership team. It helped me to feel prepared walking into a meeting because I felt that I could anticipate the feedback and have a response to it. That was vital in helping with my confidence levels in the early stages of my career with BSSF. Now, it’s second nature for me to anticipate responses before I walk into a meeting, which always helps me to feel prepared.