The New York metropolitan area is a particularly aggressive environment for consolidation and disruption within the accounting profession, so New York-based IPA 100 firm Grassi (FY21 net revenue of $99.6 million) took an appropriately Big Apple-style approach in its new advertising campaign.
With research showing a “market hole” in and around New York, the ads target the clients of CPA firms that have been absorbed into a larger firm through an acquisition. “Has your accounting firm lost focus in a merger?” the ads ask, touting Grassi’s industry expertise, independent advice and certainty.
Sarah Cirelli, Grassi’s chief marketing officer, felt a bit uncomfortable about the ads at first, but says, “The messaging around this campaign is not about being a bully – this isn’t McDonalds versus Burger King – we have a tremendous amount of respect for our competitors. This is strategic marketing.”
Certainty is what business clients are looking for and some aren’t getting it following a merger. Nearly every day, Grassi team members are hearing complaints from referral sources and prospects – particularly within the construction industry – about service changes and inconsistent work quality, Cirelli says. Some are frustrated that they sign on with an advisor only to be assigned to someone else. “This isn’t a time to be cute, this isn’t a time to be clever. This is a very serious issue, and if we can address it clearly and simply without hurting anybody that’s the goal.”
The campaign is running mainly online in business publications such as Crain’s, NJBIZ, Long Island Business News and ROI-NJ.com, and makes up about half the firm’s general messaging ads outside of niche-specific efforts. The ads are gaining traction, and Grassi plans to expand into new channels over the coming months.
“We are noticing that there aren’t many other firms that are openly and obviously marketing about this, and it’s definitely an opportunity for us,” Cirelli says. The ads back up a recurring theme revealed in the firm’s latest client satisfaction survey – appreciation for Grassi’s consistency, customized service and individual attention. The campaign aims to speak directly to companies that deserve great service from a firm that pledges to remain independent. “We’re not going anywhere,” Cirelli says. “We’re staying this course.”