MIA: Partner Bios on Accounting Firm Sites?

I just gave a talk at the Chicago chapter of the Accounting Marketing Association and noticed an unusual thing. The presentation was on "Web Marketing That Really Works" and in my research had discovered that few accounting firms put their partner bios online.

Research shows that 96% of accounting firms have Web sites, so I was mystified why this key information was left offline. This is true for the major accounting firms like RSM McGladrey, www.rsmmcgladrey.com. With more than 600 offices in 70 countries, it's nearly impossible to find a partner bio online. Oh sure, if you deliberately conduct a search for "partner bios" on the Web site, you'll get a link to Leadership Bios and waaaay down on the page, some bios of individual partners. But there are no links to bios in "About Us," or any other logical place.

I'm not just picking on McGladrey. Take a look at the Clifton Gunderson site at www.cliftoncpa.com. There is no link to partner bios on the home page, nor in "About CG." And this is for the 12th largest CPA and consulting firm in the country, with offices in 14 states and Washington, DC.

There are many more examples.

I asked the audience of accounting marketers why this was so. One marketer said her firm didn't list partners because they were afraid that headhunters would cherrypick their talent. I asked her if she really believed that. She said "no." She's right, this argument is pure horse puckey.

I think it's crazy for accounting firms not to make partner bios easy to find. After all, clients hire individuals. Corporations don't hire accounting firms, the connection comes in a person-to-person connection. So why not put the faces of the people online?


Managing Partners' Forum Awards

The awards ceremony of the Managing Partners' Forum was a spectacular and elegant event held last night in London. More than 200 managing partners, all decked out in tuxedos and evening gowns, turned out to see honors bestowed in the 2004 European Practice Management Awards.

The partners came from accounting, law, consulting and property management firms worldwide. The venue was elegant Gibson Hall in the central City of London. It was an awesome hall of marble, gilt and Corinthian columns, plus a high-tech sound and light show.

The third annual event is the brainchild of Richard Chaplin, Executive Director of the MPF. It's purpose was to honor the "unsung heroes" at professional firms: the marketers, finance directors, human resource directors and IT directors. Here are the winners in the marketing categories:

BEST MARKETING CAMPAIGN -- sponsored by Martindale-Hubbell

The Pinsents law firm won the award for the most innovative, best articulated campaign with the clearest aims -- for their Reaching Solutions dispute resolution and litigation campaign. The firm took its ADR practice and promoted it as a product. With 3 billion pounds worth of disputes under management last year, there were only two trials and many happy clients. The product was subsequently tailored for a public sector client, and Pinsents solved more than 35 million pounds worth of contract problems in 12 months. Clients included Vodafone, Logica, Pace Micro Technology and Defra -- each of which sent in strong testimonials.

The law firm pursued a textbook marketing process -- from diligent research, investment in new product development and focused B2B direct communications. "They generated spectacular results and very high satisfaction for its clients and outstanding commercial benefits for itself," said the MPF judges.

BEST BRAND IN PRACTICE -- sponsored by Legal Week.
The Smith Partnership law firm won for a brand with distinct value that was relevant to clients and delivered results consistently. This regional law firm successfully migrated from a primarily criminal practice to a civil practice -- using a butterfly as its logo. "We wanted to appear approachable and friendly," said partner Graham Dean of the firm.

The firm succeeded in creating a brand that drastically changed client perception in addition to repositioning itself as a key player in the commercial marketplace. The branding campaign began with a picture of a caterpillar with the caption "We're moving on!" They continued with a butterfly -- appearing by itself and in groups, each emphasizing the new position of the firm.

"The success of the new identity and the repositioning of the brand have increased the profile and the scope of the firm. The initial success in local business forums is highly impressive and certainly a strong indicator of future successes," said the MPF judges.

The evening was led by sparkling and hilarious comments from the M.C. Nick Davies, a barrister from Scotland and director of a speech training company cleverly called Kissing With Confidence. The event included videos from the professional firms topped off by the screams of delight from the audience as the winners were announced. It was an electric event. Other winners included:

BEST BUSINESS CASE FOR DIVERSITY -- sponsored by the Commission for Racial Equality

BEST MANAGED FIRM -- sponsored by Royal Bank of Scotland

BEST MANAGEMENT OF KNOWLEDGE - sponsored by Financial Times Corporate Solutions

BEST H.R. INITIATIVE -- sponsored by First Counsel lawyer and management recruiting

BEST MANAGEMENT OF WORKING CAPITAL -- sponsored by Barclays Banks
TLT Solicitors

BEST USE OF TECHNOLOGY -- sponsored by Satsuma Solutions
Berwin Leighton Paisner law firm

BEST CRM STRATEGY -- sponsored by Jaffe Associates
Eversheds law firm

MOLD-BREAKING FIRM -- sponsored by Words & Pictures design agency
DLA law firm (soon to merge with a major US firm!)

BEST MANAGEMENT OF FACILITIES - sponsored by OCS facilities management services
Cushman & Wakefield Healey & Baker

For more details, see upcoming issues of Professional Marketing magazineand the PM Forum NA Web site at www.PMForumNA.org.


JD Bliss Online

There's a new blog on the Web and it's JD Bliss -- and it's all about balancing life and law. See http://www.jdbliss.com/. The blog is the brainchild of Joshua Fruchter, Esq. of New York; he is the President of Envoy Messaging and eLawMarketing.

The blog reviews books like Transforming Practices: Finding Joy and Satisfaction in the Legal Life: "Spirituality and law practice may sound like an oxymoron, but a quiet quest to find deeper meaning in life and work as a lawyer is well underway."

It promotes events like the 5th Annual Networking Forum of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals on October 22-24, 2004 at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in Boston. The forum is dedicated to exploring the many ways that conflict can be managed in the domestic realm, the business world and the larger community using the collaborative process.

Showing its humorous side, the blog includes "Lighter Side of Law: Humorous Courtroom Dialogue," which notes that the law firm of Fein, Such, Kahn & Shepard, P.C., of Parsipanny, New Jersey has dedicated a page on their site to humorous courtroom exchanges between judges, attorneys and witnesses.

Lastly, I'm flattered to say they have a "Success Story: Larry Bodine: From Law to Journalism to Marketing to Technology." Read it and find out what an "ESTJ" is. It's online at http://www.jdbliss.com/e_article000299024.cfm?x=b11,0,w


Steve Barrett will join Testa, Hurwitz

Steve Barrett will join Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault in Boston as their new Chief Marketing Officer in mid-October. The firm has 275 lawyers serving emerging growth companies, and the venture capital and private equity communities.

Steve worked since 2002 as a marketing consultant based in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. Earlier Steve was the Client Relations Director for Perkins Coie LLP in Seattle. Until Steve moves he can be reached at (310) 541-5824 and sdbarrett@cox.net.


"Will a Company Really Decide to Hire Us Based on Our Web site?"

I was addressing the partnership of a professional firm and emphasized that a bad Web site will disqualify the firm from getting new business. We were discussing the strategic marketing plan I had written for them.

One skeptical partner spoke up to ask, "Oh come on. Will a company really decide whether or not to retain the firm based on our Web site?"

Yes. Absolutely. Definitely.

Don't just take it from me. I've heard in-house corporate counsel say that when they are searching for a new law firm, they first peruse the Web sites of law firms on their short list. A mediocre Web site conveys that the will also give them mediocre work product. In-house counsel have told me that a bad Web site will disquality a firm from further consideration.

The new issue of Law Office Computing states: "Firm Web sites also have become the first point of contact for both clients and...recruits. 'To have a truly useful and informative site, you need to have more than just an online brochure,'" said John J. Buchanan, Heller Ehrman's acting chief marketing officer. This is on page 65 of the October/November 2004 issue of the magazine.

A professional firm's Web site is its public face to the world. The Web site is speaking volumes about the firm while the professionals are at work, on the phone, at home, on the road, on vacation and fast asleep. It's marketing the firm 24 by 7 by 365. Or else it's saying terrible things about the firm and turning away business.