Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Howard’s Inner Circle, No. 6: As Revenue Sources Dry Up, Experiment

In New York City there is a plethora of unused offices and underutilized event spaces which is resulting in a great deal of creativity. As to the empty offices, they are being rented out in a temporary, as-needed basis. The address is usually a prime one such as Midtown. The interesting thing is what is being rented out. You get the use of an office in a suite of offices under a plan such as one that offers office space for 12 hours a month. There is a receptionist to answer the telephone and welcome visitors, Internet access, a telephone number, and the ability to rent out conference rooms by the hour. You share the suite with a multitude of businesses and individuals.

Companies, especially those with salespersons, are renting out these offices as a cheap, cost-efficient way to have suitable locations for their representatives to meet clients. Consultants also take advantage of these rentals. Building owners are very happy as the office space would otherwise remain vacant.

With regard to event places, rather then relying on corporate parties etc., the event place owners are working out deals with networking groups. The bulk of their revenue doesn’t come from rental and catering, but from what is earned by selling drinks to the attendees. The events usually occur at off times such as Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. I was recently at a free rooftop networking event with great views of the Empire State and the Chrysler buildings. The idea is if the networking group can get a couple hundred of attendees, it will be well worth it for the event place owners. I am sure many of those owners are trolling sites like which contains lists of these networking groups.

These techniques and many others are successful in these tough economic times because suppliers understand it’s no longer business as usual and creative marketing and advertising aren’t the keys. The idea is to minimize expenses for potential customers while still meeting their basic needs. This requires creativity and a willingness to question a business model that might have worked very successfully for many years.
© 2010
The above is from the sixth issue of the newsletter, Howard’s Inner Circle, which periodically appears on the blog, “Instigator” at It may be reproduced in full if that fact is stated and Howard Wolosky is credited as the author.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Howard’s Inner Circle, No. 5: Holistic vs. Silo Business Development

When I became editor-in-chief at Practical Accountant a decision was made that shaped the editorial coverage of the magazine for the many years that I was there. The decision was to primarily focus on regional accounting firms, not just those in the various large cities, but throughout the country.

The reasoning was they were reacting best to the significantly changing business climate. Yes, the managing partners and partners of these firms provided the leadership, but what was different from years past was that non-CPAs were playing increasingly more important roles at these firms.

That is why readers saw so many marketing directors on the covers of Practical Accountant. Because of the increased competition and the need to attract business beyond traditional tax and accounting engagements, firms relied on marketers to: develop brochures and other marketing materials, create and publicize a firm brand, formalize the proposal process, get client feedback, accumulate and analyze marketplace information, assist on niche development, focus on new client and staff attraction, create sophisticated client relationship management systems, and help design dynamic firm Web sites.

However in the last few years, I have noticed a disturbing trend, many seasoned and highly respected marketing directors are leaving some of these regional firms. These firms appear to view marketing primarily as a cost center and support operation and have decided that a lower-cost maintenance mode is possible since the primary work of those marketing directors is done.

I believe that is short-sighted and CPA-myopic.

Contrast these firms to others that view and groom marketers to become business developers. They often formally make the marketer a firm principal ensuring they play a key, direct role in executive decisions. I expect these firms will also be transforming their marketing operations as revenue centers advising some firm clients directly on marketing or acting as consultants and advisors to assist in the clients’ marketing decisions.

These enlightened firms understand that the CPA-rainmaker approach is no longer enough. They follow a team approach, work at firm buy-in, and follow firm governance procedures that ensure a more holistic, although still CPA-centric, approach to business development.
© 2010
The above is from the fifth issue of the newsletter, Howard’s Inner Circle, which periodically appears on the blog, “Instigator” at It may be reproduced in full if that fact is stated and Howard Wolosky is credited as the author.