At the recent Xero Partner Conference held in New Zealand, Xero bought US based CPA, Jason Blumer to present to Australasian accountants about his view of the future of accounting practices.While he was here, and beyond the obligatory bungee jump, Blumer made a video (embedded below) discussing what he sees as the emergent trend for practitioners – social accounting.
I wasn’t at the partner conference, but I can imagine the impact the effervescent and slightly zany Blumer would have had on the attending practitioners. The video itself is interesting, Blumer identifies implicitly the changes occurring in the profession – the moves he has made with his own firm to create a far more engaged and higher value client/practitioner relationship will counter the commoditization occurring for basic compliance work.
The fact that Xero have engaged Blumer as an advocate gives us a glimpse into their strategy for their long awaited US market entry. In New Zealand (and to an extent Australia and the UK) Xero has adopted a strategy that sees them both partner with accounting firms, while at the same time growing a groundswell of awareness directly with businesses.
In the US however, there is significantly more competition for practitioners mindshare, and Xero looks set to follow a direct-to-customer marketing strategy. Aside from the Blumer connection, this strategy can be seen in Xero’s first brand-building exercise in the US, the sponsorship of the StartupBus, an initiative that sees a bunch of developers crammed into a bus for 48 hours driving from San Francisco to the SXSW event in Austin, Texas. I also note from the community site associated with SXSW that a team from Xero will be attending the event – covering the bases of importance for an event like SXSW. CEO Rod Drury from the business angle, Head of Design Philip Fierlinger from the design perspective and even GM of Marketing, Paula Jackson.
When Xero first announced a US market entry there was much discussion about what approach they’d take for market entry. Some thought they’d look for opportunities to partner, possibly with organizations like AICPA, it seems that the approach will be very much a land and expand – gain attention and credibility with design and web companies, and build scale through this sector before looking elsewhere.
Either way, the Blumer video is worth watching, Blumer has taken advantage of social media to build a personal brand to stand out from the incumbents, in similar ways to that taken by Gary Vaynerchuk. For others in industries where commoditization is occurring – there are some great lessons to be taken from his experience.