New Study Offers Ideas for Retaining and Developing Marketing Talent

Many of the changes within accounting marketing in recent years are reflective of the evolution of the profession as a whole – teams are becoming more specialized, retaining talent is paramount and more formal compensation and career advancement opportunities are needed.

These are some of the findings in a new compensation survey of over 200 top marketing and business development (BD) leaders across the U.S. and Canada. The survey, conducted by Ingenuity Marketing Group of Saint Paul, Minn., for the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM), shows the growing influence of marketing and BD on firm growth and suggests strategies to keep young professionals on an upward career trajectory.

Overall, the outlook is positive. The study, conducted every other year by AAM since 2010, revealed a growing number of marketing and BD professionals becoming partners. Salaries and wages have increased 7% on average since 2020, ranging from $53,000 for marketing coordinators ­– the most common job title – to $208,000 for chief marketing officers.

As strategies for driving firm growth become increasingly complicated, marketing leaders are adding experts in social media, content development, SEO strategies, client experience, communications and many other functions. “You just can’t be a generalist anymore,” notes Ingenuity principal Dawn Wagenaar. To bolster their expertise, more marketers are pursuing MBAs or credentials such as Professional Certified Marketer from the American Marketing Association or an Accreditation in Public Relations from the Public Relations Society of America.

One of the biggest surprises of the report was the average tenure of 11-plus years among top marketing leaders, says Ingenuity’s lead communications consultant Christine Nelson, who analyzed the survey data and wrote the final report. Experienced marketing professionals and specialists are in demand, and there’s no shortage of opportunities to work elsewhere. This wealth of knowledge in marketing leadership could be lost without better planning. “We’ve talked a lot about succession planning for firm leaders,” Nelson says. “We haven’t talked about it in marketing, and it’s time.”

Wagenaar believes a clearer path of career advancement could aid retention. She says her husband, for example, works in banking and knows exactly what he needs to do to make it to the next tier and how much money he’ll make when he gets there.

Nelson seconds this notion, adding that more frequent promotions and bonuses can nurture emerging leaders. “If you’ve got accounting marketers in your team of five to 10 years’ experience, you’d better be talking to them about their leadership or specialization potential and what that could look like in the firm. Otherwise, they may leave for other firms or start their own enterprise if they don’t see a clear future with you.”

The report says 66% of firms have one to four people in their marketing team, or 4-5% of total headcount. It may be time for firm leaders to reconsider those numbers, Nelson says. “What it says to me is they’re observing the traditional size of marketing teams and may not be looking at the changing needs and challenges of marketing with the digital environment we’re in.”

Final analysis? Marketing leaders and their business development peers can influence the size, structure and compensation of their in-house teams more than ever before. “It’s a new value proposition,” Nelson says. “Build a team that makes sense and also delivers results.”



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