‘We’re Headed for Star Trek’ and Other Insights Overheard at the AAM Summit

The Association for Accounting Marketing’s (AAM) 2023 Summit covered M&A, AI, client experience, pricing, niche development, and even mindfulness, meditation and mantras. The May 8-10 conference in Salt Lake City attracted nearly 400 accounting firm marketers and 50 presenters. Here is a sample of quotes we heard from the experts:

“So where is all this [AI technology] going? Well, some people think it’ll end up like Terminator, and if so, it was nice to know you. Or we could end up like Wall-E where robots do all of our work while we get rich and fat in hover-chairs. Me, I’m a tech optimist, and I think we’re headed for Star Trek, where previously unattainable feats of physics, science and technology make the world a really remarkable place.” – Raissa Evans, senior marketing manager, Weaver, speaking on ChatGPT and other AI technologies

“It does not know facts. It knows patterns, probabilities and math.” – Evans, on the limitations of ChatGPT.

“It’s taking your clients’ needs and goals, and other external factors in the marketplace, and putting them first. That’s it. It’s pretty simple.” ­­– Chad Person, CMO and Fractional Leader, yorCMO, on the definition of an “outside-in” approach to client experience.

“There’s a lot of talk, but not a lot of making sure it’s happening.” – Amy Vetter, CEO, B3 Method Institute, on firms allowing people to set boundaries, shift schedules and learn new skills to achieve what she calls work-life harmony.

“We are naturally not present people. Your dog is.” – Vetter, on accepting coworkers as they are, and interacting with them without holding on to past stories or biases.

“If you never get pushback on price you’re pricing too low.” – Michelle Golden River, COE, Fore, on how there’s no better time to raise prices than when firms are at or near capacity to perform the work. “Ask a lot more, bump it way up. You’ll only lose a few.”

“Culture is about values and integrity. Is it not about on Fridays we wear blue jeans or on Tuesday we have tacos.” – Mark Waxman, CMO, CBIZ, who’s been involved in merging more than 100 firms into CBIZ, on understanding the people and culture above all else in a merger.

“You need to really drill down into what you’re great at. When you go in and say, ‘we do everything for everybody,’ it just dilutes the message and it just can’t possibly be true that you’re excellent at every single thing.” – Kristen Lewis, managing director, marketing, EisnerAmper, on creating and promoting a niche practice.

“It is well known in business development and sales that whenever there’s a transition in the relationship, which means there’s a transition in trust, they will shop.” ­– Katie Tolin, president, CPA Growth Guides, on the importance of retaining business when a partner retires by involving clients in succession.


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