Meet a Member: Susan Gorham
Susan Gorham is the Director of Marketing for Gross, Mendelsohn & Associates in Baltimore, MD. Susan has 30 years of accounting marketing experience and serves on AAM’s Data Analytics Committee. Learn more about Susan in this month’s Meet a Member.
- Name: Susan Gorham
- Title: Director of Marketing
- Years of Experience: 30 (started in accounting marketing in 1994)
- College Name & Degree(s): Gettysburg College, Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy
- Firm Name: Gross, Mendelsohn & Associates, P.A.
- Firm City & State: Baltimore, MD
- Firm Size: $32MM / 140 people
- Email Address: [email protected]
- Professional Memberships: Association for Accounting Marketing
- Community Involvement: Board of Directors, Pets on Wheels
- LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/susangorham/
This month’s issue is all about data analytics. What is your firm’s approach to marketing data analytics? Data analytics covers a lot of ground and can be overwhelming. We try to keep it simple by focusing on a few key areas that help measure and drive the firm’s marketing initiatives.
For example, we analyze data around new business proposals. In one recent analysis, we were able to show – with data – that our strategy of being extremely selective in which prospects we pursue in a certain niche is effective. Proposal win rates went up while revenue also increased. While it felt uncomfortable for some within the firm to turn down opportunities, we proved that it was profitable for the firm.
In addition, as HubSpot users, we use many aspects of their data points and reporting. As we work on building a new website, we know which pages to put the most time and effort into based on years of history that shows which pages generate the most traffic and leads. Likewise, a regular sweep of blog post views tells us when we should produce more content about certain topics. Simple metrics like these can be quite effective
You are a member of AAM’s Data Analytics Committee. Can you tell us more about what the committee does? Part of AAM’s current operating plan includes a pillar dedicated to “Process.” One of the strategies under this pillar is to create a data strategy and strategic technology plan that transforms AAM to drive us forward. This is where the Data Analytics Committee comes in – we are working on creating a data roadmap that identifies and analyzes key data points and then determining how we can use that information to AAM’s advantage.
What is the structure of your marketing department? I’m the director of marketing, and we also have a director of business development. We have a marketing coordinator who works primarily with the accounting firm, and a senior marketing coordinator who works primarily with the firm’s technology consulting practice.
What have you learned the hard way? Hire people for character first and skills second. Someone who has all the right skills and education on paper isn’t always the best fit for your firm’s culture or team if they don’t have the character traits you value most.
What is a “must know” for new accounting marketers? Understand the business of accounting firms. Talk with leaders in your firm to learn how the firm makes money. When you present reports or project updates to your firm’s partners, present it in a way that matters to them. For example, talk in terms of revenue generated from specific campaigns (not just number of leads) that tie back to your marketing initiatives. Present proposal win rates (not just number of proposals submitted). Learn to speak in their language and present marketing updates with data to back it up.
What are your special skills or what is something people may not know about you? I’m a grammar junkie and have a love for kale smoothies.
Share one marketing tip. When you’re stuck on a writing project, pretend that you are writing to ONE person. If it’s a blog article, pick a single person in your intended audience and write the article for that person as if you are explaining the topic to them – why they should care about it and how it affects their business. It’s easy to get stuck when your audience feels big and broad, but this approach helps me write practical content that’s conversational and easy to digest.
What do you feel is the biggest issue is facing accounting marketers today? AI is obviously big, and I think accounting marketers need to figure out how to best use it as a tool to support their marketing initiatives. AI is one more item in the toolbox to tackle our firms’ marketing goals.
What would you be doing if you had not become a marketer? I would definitely do something with animals.
What is the biggest project you are working on right now? We’re in the middle of redesigning our website.
If you had an unlimited budget, what is one thing you would implement immediately? I’d work with an outside SEO expert. We cover the basics in-house, but SEO best practices constantly change and it’s difficult to keep up.
What blogs/social feeds do you subscribe to that are helpful? I’m a huge fan of HubSpot’s marketing blog. We are big HubSpot users here at Gross Mendelsohn, but I find a lot of other marketing insights and best practices on the HubSpot blog. Their blog takes me far outside of accounting marketing, and I enjoy getting fresh ideas from marketing in other industries. I also absolutely love the Marketing Examples newsletter by Harry Dry. He gives real-life, practical examples of outstanding copywriting. His examples are beautifully simple and almost always include something I can implement today.