Medill IMC alumni Andy Bosman and Sara Webber Laczo have implemented the IMC approach in an industry that rarely uses marketing communications. At RSM, the fifth largest audit, tax, and consulting firm in the United States, the two have humanized financials and analytics using the IMC approach. Andy, Chief Marketing Officer, and Sara, Corporate Communications Leader, evolved their business from solutions-based (i.e., pure technical services) to issues-based marketing: foreseeing the challenges and issues a company might face, and effectively and holistically responding to it.
While at first blush the marriage of audit, tax, consulting, and IMC might seem a bit unusual, the detail with which they have managed to incorporate what they learned from their graduate program is astounding. What differentiates RSM from all of the large- and small-scale firms is the customer base that they serve, what Sara and Andy refer to as the “middle market.” While the middle market may seem less lucrative than that of larger clientele, the power that the middle market holds represents 40 percent of the country’s GDP, one-third of jobs, and encompasses roughly 200,000 businesses. It represents a largely untapped and ripe marketplace.
The first change that Andy and Sara implemented was a strategic internal structuring: hiring a well-rounded team that could adeptly address each and every concern from the clients. They hired a Bloomberg economist to share economic perspectives with global middle market executives, and began RSM’s monthly publication, The Real Economy, a unique recurring piece of content that approaches middle market issues with anticipatory advice and analysis. Following that, they introduced the RSM US Middle Market Business Index (MMBI) with strategic partners Harris Poll, Moody’s Analytics, and the US Chamber of Commerce. The research team performed and published client loyalty research to understand what was top of mind for the middle market – everything from changing buying patterns to regulatory change. They also established the RSM First-Choice Advisor Center to educate the company internally and created programs that allowed everyone in the company, regardless of position, to experience what was involved in delivering on RSM’s brand promise – the Power of Being Understood – in every client interaction.
Internal communications and structure have played a large role in guiding their business in the direction that supports growth, meets clients’ needs, and creates internal harmony. Andy and Sara stress that RSM prides itself on having a concise and clearly articulated strategy that starts with knowledge and vision from within. All employees are fully immersed in the company vision, purpose, and strategy through internal leadership initiatives. Consequently, employees who are the primary line of contact with clients, are able to function as brand ambassadors.
Andy and Sara are quick to point out that RSM’s evolution stemmed from its shift from solutions-based marketing to issues-based marketing. Solutions-based marketing implies that the clients know exactly what it is they need. Now with the integration of research, resources, and internal development, RSM puts the onus on themselves to educate clients on the latest happenings in the market and uses foresight when sharing insights and solutions that might not have been top-of-mind for the client, but would work best to achieve a client’s end goals. Artificial Intelligence, for example, is one such tool that clients may not request directly but fills a need that has been unmet for some time.
By staying true to a client-centric approach that lies at the core of integrated marketing communications, Andy and Sara have allowed RSM to deliver holistic service to an otherwise untapped marketplace.
Sara Webber Laczo is Principal and Corporate Communications Leader at RSM US LLP, and Andy Bosman is Chief Marketing Officer at RSM US LLP
Profiles by Monique DeZarn, Medill IMC Class Of 2018