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June 1990

14 ways to build an international CPA firm through public relations and advertising.

by Granat, Jay P.

    Abstract- Firms interested in establishing international CPA businesses can achieve success by using suggestions which address the proper utilization of public relations and advertising. Fourteen proposed guidelines include: targeting industry groups in which firms already have credibility and prestige; making sure that senior partners, firm members, and rain-makers with international contacts play important roles; and determining unique selling points.

The following suggestions and guidelines were developed for building firms' international business. Since many CPA firms are concerned with attracting more international clients, these ideas should be helpful to firms of all sizes throughout the United States.

1. Select Industry Groups in Which Your Firm Already has Prestige, Clout, and Credibility as Your Target Market

For instance, if your firm currently provides services to an Italian clothing manufacturer, develop marketing, advertising, and public relations strategies to attract other companies in the same industry in a neighboring country. Similarly, if your firm has provided services for the securities industry, you may want to reach other brokerage firms or perhaps related industries like international law firms, insurance companies, or investment banks.

2. Develop a Well-Focused Mission Statement for Your International Practice

This statement or document should define your firm's global strengths, goals, and objectives. Moreover, the mission statement can serve as the foundation and guiding force for your international marketing efforts.

3. Make Sure that Senior Partners, Rain. makers and Firm Members with International Contacts Play an Active Role

In the formulation of the firm's international mission statement the key personnel in your firm must feel invested in the global marketing effortS, or the program will probably fail to accomplish its objectives.

4. Determine a Unique Selling Point

Develop one or several unique selling points that can be highlighted in your firms's overseas marketing efforts. For example, if you have expertise in international or in immigration tax matters, you can develop a campaign around these areas. In some instances, you will have to do extensive internal research in order to determine your firm's most marketable area of international expertise.

5. Use Public Relations Techniques Effectively

If you are going to use public relations techniques in an effective manner, you must create some excitement about your firm. For example, if a powerful German corporation has become a client, publicize it in the trade press and business publications. Similarly, if one of your associates has developed a new tax shelter with advantages for foreign investors, have the associate write an article about the discovery. If you have developed a new data management system for importers and exporters, demonstrate it at conferences and trade shows. If one of your professionals has defeated the IRS on an international tax matter, send a concise press release to the editors of prestigious international accounting and legal journals.

6. Universities, Trade and Professional Associations have Intensified Their International Educational Efforts

In order to help people function more effectively in today's global economy, universities, trade and professional associations have intensified their international educational programs. Consider offering a seminar on international business in conjunction with a college, university, trade association, or publishing company. If the seminar is sponsored by an outside source, it will have more credibility and better attendance than if it is conducted by the firm independently. Also, be certain' that your presenters are dynamic, well-prepared, articulate, and when necessary, bilingual.

7. Implement a Direct Mail Campaign

Implement a direct mail campaign that will reach decision makers including investment bankers, government officials and key executives. Try to reach these decision makers four times a year with your mailings.

8. Develop a Firm Newsletter Addressing International Tax and Financial Matters

9. Create Firm Brochures Outlining the International Tax Capabilities of Your Firm

10. Develop a Slogan Connoting that Your Firm Provides Services to international Clients

11. Implement an Advertising Campaign

Investment bankers, big six accounting firms, and prestigious law firms have placed dignified ads in trade journals and business publications to attract more clients. Implement an advertising campaign to enhance your firm's image in the international business community.

12. Carefully Consider Cultural Preferences and Differences

When you develop promotional materials directed at foreign decision makers, be sure to carefully consider possible cultural preferences and differences that may exist. Realize that potential clients from different countries are apt to respond differently to your firm's marketing efforts. Do not assume that what works for a French industrialist will work in the case of the japanese entrepreneur. Consider doing extensive market research in order to be certain that your campaign projects the desired image to your various target audiences.

13. Set Quantifiable Advertising and Public Relations Objectives

Quantifiable advertising and public relations efforts can be measured several times a Year in order to determine the overall effectiveness of your firm's promotional efforts.

14. Utilize a Marketing Consultant or Marketing Director

Since the globalization of your firm will require a substantial amount of time and energy apart from your domestic marketing efforts, consider utilizing a marketing consultant or hiring an in-house marketing director to manage your international promotional efforts.

The CPA Journal is broadly recognized as an outstanding, technical-refereed publication aimed at public practitioners, management, educators, and other accounting professionals. It is edited by CPAs for CPAs. Our goal is to provide CPAs and other accounting professionals with the information and news to enable them to be successful accountants, managers, and executives in today's practice environments.

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