2008 Marketer of the Year, René Stranghoner used an integrated marketing and branding approach resulting in her firm achieving a 28% increase in net revenue for fiscal year 2008, taking the firm to a record $51 million mark. How did she do it? By taking a 360° approach to marketing, Stranghoner simultaneously executed a variety of strategies, all with a common objective – grow the firm and build the brand. Efforts included telemarketing, public relations and direct marketing to name a few.
Stranghoner joined Weaver and Tidwell in 2003 as Director of Practice Growth, working in the Fort Worth, Texas, office.
At Weaver and Tidwell, L.L.P, Stranghoner’s marketing responsibilities include, among other things:
- Strategic planning and budgeting
- Direct marketing
- Marketing communications/public relations
- Sales support
- Electronic media
Prior to recommending and developing specific marketing strategies, Stranghoner performed an in depth SWOT analysis and gained an understanding of the firm’s goals and market position. She also worked diligently to familiarize herself with the accounting industry, and buyer mentality. The information gained from this analysis would guide Stranghoner’s recommendations and decisions.
Stranghoner spent a great deal of time meeting with leaders of the firm to gain a deeper understanding of specific goals they hoped to reach, and with this information, she devised plans aimed at effectively meeting the goals. As part of the planning process, Stranghoner created key performance indicators (KPIs) in order to measure each strategy’s effectiveness. The marketing plan and KPIs were accompanied by a budget and ROI analysis as well. The planning process provided an opportunity to manage expectations of the partners and to define success, in an effort to produce predictable results.
Stranghoner understands the importance of creating a culture that embraces a positive value system that helps the firm deliver its brand promise – A Better Experience. After all, in a professional services firm, she emphasizes the service providers are the brand agents.
In 2005, Stranghoner worked alongside Lawhon in order to clearly define the firm’s core values/behavioral standards that would help the firm deliver its brand promise. Together they created A.C.T.I.O.N. which stands for:
- Accountability for our actions
- Commitment to client service and the firm
- Overriding commitment to respect
- Never-ending learning.
Multiple media were used to communicate what ACTION means including: a logo to give it visual identity, ACTION awards designed to recognize people who live the values, wTV ACTION news – a broadcast “by the people, for the people” that ties in the ACTION values and brand statement into the scripts, new hire orientation, annual firm meetings and brand training conducted by marketing.
In addition to branding and corporate culture initiatives, niche marketing tops the list of notable accomplishments. In fiscal year 2008, the energy niche grew an impressive 113%. The effort began with in-depth client segmentation and analysis, as well as the development of a very specific target client list. Taking the aforementioned 360° approach, an integrated marketing plan was constructed and executed. Leads were generated through advertising, participation in trade shows, published articles, direct mail and a 20 week telemarketing campaign that reached out to 162 decision makers, resulting in a 46% contact rate and 15% lead conversion rate. In addition, seven bylined articles were published in leading trade and business journals.
René believes her best result was the amount of growth across many dimensions of the business, achieved through diverse marketing strategies. "The firm has experienced a 162% growth rate since 2003, partially attributed to mergers but primarily attributed to organic growth. We were able to accomplish this growth through implementing effective strategic marketing and branding initiatives.”
Stranghoner identifies the single most effective marketing strategy as public relations. “Editorial coverage is more credible than paid media. The fact a ‘middle man’ – an editor or reporter – sees Weaver and Tidwell’s professionals as a viable business information resource is critical. It relays to our target market we understand our business, and more importantly, we understand and care about their business and the issues they face. It has been the most effective strategy since I have been here.”
René lived the firm’s culture and strove to uphold their brand promise of A Better Experience. “My personal mission as a marketer is to help the firm understand, embrace and live a marketing culture. This requires long-term vision, perseverance and patience. It also happens in incremental steps,” she said.This post courtesy of Lauren Daley of Konicek & Dillon, P.C. in Geneva, IL.