Who's Better at Marketing? Lawyers or CPAs?

Is the question ludicrous?

by Bruce W. Marcus
Author of Professional Services Marketing 3.0

Looking at the question from a different point of view, the international consultant Patrick McKenna, said, “If you're trying to determine which of the two professions (lawyers or accountants) are the more advanced in their marketing prowess, I'm sorry but I think the very question is ludicrous. Be it accountant, consultants, architects or lawyers, it really doesn't matter. My experience confirms for me that when you think of marketing prowess you can divide any of the individuals or firms, in any of those professions (not by profession but by mindset) . . . into three categories: hawks, doves and ostriches.”

Bruce W Marcus
Bruce W. Marcus

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Silvia Coulter, head of the Legal Sales And Service Organization, and a pioneer in selling legal services, agrees with McKenna. “That having been said, if you seek an answer on one side or the other with the assumption of Patrick’s response, then I will say accountants, in general, are more in touch with reality — because of the numbers. Therefore, whether they choose sexier marketing approaches than lawyers, may not matter. It’s who knows the client best and who can best retain and grow client share. Lawyers have all the answers in front of them and yet still after all this time, spend countless dollars on marketing people who know little about marketing, ignore those clients who make up 80% of their firms’ revenues only to chase new business which we all know is far costlier to acquire.

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Bruce W. Marcus

About the Author

Bruce W. Marcus remains a pioneer in the modern practices of professional services marketing even after his death in 2014 at age 89. He is the author of the seminal work, Professional Services Marketing 3.0, published by CPA Trendlines. he Association for Accounting Marketing named a lifetime achievement award in his honor.

In 1951 (with a degree in Economics and Philosophy), he joined the then-Big Eight accounting firm, Peat Marwick Mitchell to establish the firm’s library, where he developed an article writing and seminar program that successfully promoted the firm’s reputation.

He has served as a public relations and marketing executive or consultant to most of the international accounting firms, and many large and small law firms.

His book, Competing For Clients (1986) was one of the first to delineate the new practices of professional services marketing, followed by more than a dozen books on professional services marketing, real estate marketing, investor relations, and international accounting standards.

His first newsletter, The Marcus Report (1986), was followed by the award-winning www.marcusletter.com in 1995 — one of the longest running letters on marketing for lawyers and accountants.

He served on the editorial boards of several leading professional services publications, a contributor to many publications, and has been a keynote speaker at major conferences.

He taught one of the first courses in professional services marketing at the Fordham University Graduate School of Business, and lectures frequently at the Fordham University Law School.

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