As a professional services firm, SVA is used to dealing with its client companies’ most closely held and protected information. Confidentiality has always been part of SVA’s business.
Ren Patterson, who took over the reigns as Director of Marketing in 2005 (he’s now Creative Director for SVA), says that at one time consulting/accounting firms like SVA simply didn’t advertise. “It just wasn’t considered professional.” The fact that SVA is based in the Midwest, and does business in an atmosphere that has a unique Midwestern sensibility, has always made marketing its services something of a challenge.
In spite of the marketing obstacles, SVA celebrated it 40th anniversary in 2014. In fact, what started as an accounting firm in 1974 has now grown into one of the Midwest’s largest diversified professional services companies. SVA employs more than 400 people in four offices, with team members in areas of expertise such as accounting, business consulting, healthcare, and technology. While attitudes about advertising such a company have lightened considerably over the past 40 years (even in the Midwest), SVA continues to find innovative ways to create & maintain awareness and to market its services.
“Oh Wow, I Didn’t Know They Do That!”
Ren says that Mind The Gap’s on hold messaging system has fit perfectly with SVA’s non-traditional approach to marketing. “SVA’s culture has never been one of shouting or chest-thumping, and Mind The Gap’s on hold music and messaging enables us to market in a subtle, quiet, almost subliminal way” he explains.
The carefully crafted on hold messages have motivated existing clients to explore additional SVA services, and occasionally even to refer new clients. “We make sure that every time a caller is put on hold, they hear something important,” Ren says. “A lot of times there’s an ‘Oh Wow!’ factor – as in ‘I didn’t know they do that’; and that has made a significant impact on our success.”
Building Strong Relationships with its Communities
Another way SVA’s marketing has varied from the norm has been the ways in which it has built strong relationships with the communities it serves. One example is the free services it made available to non-profits during its 40th anniversary year. As part of its “40 Days of Giving” program, SVA donated 40 days of its professional services to deserving non-profit organizations. Four winning organizations were chosen from over 200 entries.
During it anniversary year, SVA also marketed itself by marketing its clients. The company developed full page magazine ads, radio spots and videos for 12 of its clients. These promoted SVA clients, but also mentioned how these clients work with SVA. In this way SVA created awareness of its services in a subtle, dignified manner, while providing major marketing support for a dozen of its clients.
SVA now does its share of more traditional marketing as well, with billboards, events, seminars, and webinars all part of its marketing mix. But thinking outside the box and finding innovative ways to accomplish goals – for itself as well as for its clients – has been responsible for SVA’s success and growth over 40+ years
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