Collaborative Research Study Examines Marketing Spending for CPA Firms

Results Reveal Striking Difference in the Marketing Strategy of High-Growth Firms

RESTON, VA, May 9, 2014—The Association of Accounting Marketing and Hinge Research Institute have joined efforts in a new research study examining marketing spending for accounting firms.

“In an increasingly competitive industry, AAM members are more eager than ever to give their marketing efforts an edge,” said AAM President Katie Tolin, director of practice growth at SS&G.  “What strategies are working, and what strategies are failing to deliver a return? We partnered with Hinge Research Institute to find out.”

The marketing budget benchmark study compared marketing spending against organic growth in 30 firms.  For researchers, the most striking result was that high-growth firms actually had smaller marketing budgets than their low-growth counterparts.  They also allocated their budgets quite differently.  High-growth firms spent more on their online presence, content generation, and educational events.  They spent less in traditional areas like sponsorships, non-educational events, and individual partner set-asides.

“We were very intrigued by what we heard from our participants,” said Lee Frederiksen, Managing Partner at Hinge.  “High-growth firms showed consistent patterns in how they are managing their marketing.  They are breaking convention and making unexpected choices— and it’s working.  For companies looking to stay competitive and learn from their industry peers, these findings are extremely telling.”

The results were segmented by firm size, geographical market reach, and high-growth vs. low-growth characteristics.  The study tackled marketing budget composition, the budgeting process, and recommendations from marketers about changing marketing spending priorities.

“Until now, there was no true apples-to-apples comparison of marketing spending in CPA firms. Other surveys report what firms spend on marketing, but you have no idea what that really means – does it include salaries or charitable contributions,” continued Tolin.  “Thanks to our partnership with Hinge, we now have a valuable, well-crafted study.  They are respected researchers who bring tremendous credibility to the table.”

The report launches May 9 and is available for download through AAM. An executive summary is free and available to all.  A more detailed summary including an interactive benchmarking worksheet is open to AAM members.

The full report unveils the research data in its entirety.  It offers full spending data for high growth vs. low growth firms, spending by firm size, spending by market size, and a detailed budget breakdown.  It can be purchased from AAM at a member rate of $300 and a non-member rate of $600.

Both organizations were pleased with the partnership and plan to continue their work together.  Companies interested in participating in next year’s study may contact


The Hinge Research Institute was created to publish original, independent studies on high-growth professional services firms and their clients. Through partnerships with thought leaders and industry associations, the Institute gives professional services firms access to the information they need to grow and prosper.  The Institute was created by Hinge, a full-service firm that specializes in branding and marketing for professional services. Hinge offers research and strategy, brand development, award-winning creative, high-performance websites and outsourced marketing. Visit Hinge’s extensive library of research reports, books and other publications at

The Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) is a national organization and is the only trade association of its kind that provides resources, education, seminars, workshops, support and a global network to the accounting marketing industry. The membership includes accounting firm marketers from “Big Four” and other national,regional, local and sole proprietor firms. Others include sales and business development professionals, accounting partners, firm administrators, consultants, vendors, trade press, educators and students. Inherent in this mission is a focus on education and professional skills development to enable members to add value to their firms and act as a compass for the rapidly changing competitive environment.