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Take Your Marketing Online! by Sarah Warlick, Kelly Lucas, Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk

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CHAPTER 1

A Long and Winding Road

Accounting marketing has an interesting, albeit fairly short, history. Many firm partners still remember the days when it was against AICPA rules to advertise, market, directly solicit, or even participate in competitive bidding. Virtually non-existent for most of the 20th century, the practice has evolved at a rather slow pace even since the rules were changed. In some cases, any increase in firm marketing has been despite the objection of firm leadership because longer-standing partners recall the earlier proscription. Although the reluctance is slowly dissipating, some baby boomers who cut their teeth in the 1970s still have a bit of an aversion toward the whole idea of marketing their services.

Like kids who could suddenly pick out their own school clothes after years of wearing a uniform, most firms found the change a bit overwhelming when the ban was lifted. Suddenly adding marketing to the mix of firm operations created an atmosphere where thinking creatively was an asset, and the shift cast most accounting professionals into a sea of uncertainty. What should we do? Who will be responsible for it? Isn’t it just tacky to advertise? Who will pay for it, and how much should we set aside for it? Can’t we just wait for referrals to come our way like we always did? The questions were endless and drove more than a few firms and practitioners to simply put off the decision and stick with the status quo.

It’s strange to think that there was a time ...

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