No Accounting for Some People

by David Sattler on June 29, 2009

Most advertising and marketing seems to talk to itself, with companies touting things only of interest to themselves.

For example, I recently had a meeting with a business owner who was complaining about the time he’d wasted that morning listening to a presentation/sales pitch from an accounting firm that wanted his business. He’d seen them as a favor for a friend of a friend, and was regretting his charity.

First, the majority of the presentation was a PowerPoint, the best meeting killer around. (Honestly, have you ever been impressed with a PowerPoint presentation?)

Second, the presentation was loaded only with facts of interest only to the accounting firm: how long it had been in business. How many partners it had. The certifications of each. And on and on.

Has anyone ever said, “My accounting firm must have at least 20 years of experience”?

My current accountant’s sales pitch was all of five minutes. He asked me a few questions without ever talking about himself. He learned that I was most concerned with putting money away for retirement. “What if,” he asked me, “I could show you how to put more money away for retirement without increasing your out-of-pocket expenses, with everything paid for with tax savings?”

“How could I do that?”

In three minutes he described a different way of setting up my business — very legal, common, conservative and above board, by the by — that would save me thousands of dollars a year in taxes, all of which could be allocated for retirement. I’d still have the same amount of money going into my bank account every month.

He set it up, and it worked exactly as he said it would. That was in late 1999, and he’s still my accountant. (In fact, he’s since moved several states away, but he keeps up on my state’s regulations because he has several clients here.)

I happen to know how many partners his firm has, because his firm is just him. How long has he been in business? What are his certifications? To this day I still have no idea.

If he’s ever done a PowerPoint for himself, I’ve never seen it. But I’ve recommended him to several other people, and they all switched their business to him.

Does your marketing spew scattershot information that impresses no one but yourself? Or does it identify your prospects’ real needs and show how you can fulfill those needs?

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