Hinge and AAM Release 2015 Marketing Budget Benchmark Study

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Collaborative Research Analyzes Marketing Strategy of High-Growth Firms

In a competitive industry, we learned what marketing strategies are really contributing to growth—and what aren’t.

The Association for Accounting Marketing and Hinge Research Institute have again joined efforts in a research study examining marketing spending for accounting firms.

“Drawing on the success of our inaugural Marketing Budget Benchmark Study in 2014, AAM again partnered with Hinge researchers to learn more about how our industry’s fastest growing firms are marketing themselves,” said AAM President Kerry Sullivan-Lechner. “In a competitive industry, we learned what marketing strategies are really contributing to growth—and what aren’t.”

The Marketing Budget Benchmark Study compared marketing spending against organic growth in 67 firms. Researchers focused on contrasting the marketing strategies of High-Growth firms (the fastest growing 20% among the sample) and Low-Growth firms (the slowest growing 20%).

“The most striking difference came not in the size of the marketing budget, but in how differently the budgets were allocated,” explained Lee Frederiksen, Managing Partner at Hinge. “High-Growth firms were much more likely to prioritize online and content marketing, and to call on outside and external resources. They were less likely to focus on traditional areas like advertising and sponsorships.”

“The contrast between these high and low growth firms is really where the study’s value shines. Accounting marketers can learn from their peers and look at their own budgets with new perspectives—is scarce budget space going to strategies that aren’t returning on that investment? This research could give marketers the confidence to steer their budgets in new and innovative directions,” Frederiksen continued.

The results represent an analysis of participants’ marketing budget compositions and budgeting processes, as well as perspectives from respondents on changing marketing spending priorities. This data is further contextualized by comparisons of firms’ marketing spending according to growth rate, size, and market reach. Various other indexes, such as the ratio of marketing staff to overall employees, were also calculated. A special worksheet is also included to help readers compare their own firms against these industry benchmarks.

“Although our participating firms were tremendously diverse in their size and scope, this unique methodology creates research that’s comparable, relatable, and extremely valuable for any firm in the industry,” continued Sullivan-Lechner. “We encourage AAM’s members and all accounting marketers to take advantage of this critically important resource.”

The full report is available for download at: http://goo.gl/un0ED0. An executive summary is free and available to all: http://goo.gl/8DErPf. A more detailed summary including the benchmarking worksheet is open to AAM members.

The full report unveils the research data in its entirety. It offers full spending data for high and 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 plan to continue similar research work in the future. Companies interested in participating in future benchmarking studies may contact info(at)hingemarketing(dot)com. All participants receive complimentary access to the full report.


The Hinge Research Institute is dedicated to helping professional services firms grow and thrive. It publishes groundbreaking studies on all aspects of High-Growth firms and professional services buyers. Hinge Research Institute is a division of Hinge, the leader in branding and marketing for professional services firms. Hinge offers a comprehensive suite of services from research and strategy to award-winning design and implementation for firms that want to become more visible and grow. Learn more at http://www.hingemarketing.com or call 703-390-8870.

The Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) is formed specifically to enhance the accounting marketing and practice growth profession through education, networking, and thought leadership. Founded in 1989, the association has more than 750 members, comprised of marketing professionals, business developers, CPAs, consultants, service providers, educators, and students. AAM strives to help its members become more effective and valued practitioners and executive leaders. To learn more about AAM, please call 443-640-1061 or visit http://www.accountingmarketing.org.

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Kathy Dam
Hinge Marketing
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since: 05/2009
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