Beware the marketing bullies

Jun 18, 2013 | Business messaging and branding

Regular readers will know that on this blog I share, what I hope is, constructive unbiased advice for accountants in practice.

After I spoke at the recent Accountex exhibition and conference I was touched to be complimented a number of times on the style and content of my talks – which echoes the approach I adopt here. I have no ulterior motive, no desire to encourage you to spend thousands of pounds on my services and no ambition to be retained as a consultant to your practice.

One lady said she found my approach very refreshing as compared with that of most other speakers at the conference. “You were very different and so much more believable,”  she said. “You have inspired me to do a number of things that I will take forward when I’m back in the office. So many other speakers tried to persuade me I needed to do something that would involve me spending a lot of money with them.  And, quite frankly I wasn’t convinced that they were being objective.”

More recently I was chatting with an IT supplier who shared his views of such marketing focused suppliers. “Some are just bullies in pinstripes” he said. “They often employ very persuasive salespeople who attempt to scare accountants into spending far more money than necessary. Quite often the accountant is simply being forced onto a ‘me too’ bandwagon, the benefits of which are yet to be proven. But when a strong salesperson keeps on and on, a lot of accountants simply give in – and the salespeople know this is likely; so they persist until it happens.”

I was shocked as, in my experience, accountants are generally reluctant to invest in new marketing ‘solutions’. I would like to think that no one agrees to spend significant sums before creating an effective plan to secure a decent ROI. And bear in mind that there is NO simple quick get-rich formula for accountants looking for new clients.

My advice, as ever, is to avoid spending money before identifying your marketing strategy (and ideally picking a niche which enables you to stand out). As part of your strategy you should determine your objectives and the metrics that will determine whether or not your new activities are successful. Then you can judge any new solution objectively against the criteria you set.

There are many ethical salespeople out there and many of the marketing related services and products available to accountants are well worthwhile. But YOU need to choose which is best for you and your practice. Or, if not ‘best’, then which is going to be cost effective and appropriate for your practice? That may not be the first one you look at or the one with the most persuasive sales patter and follow up system.

Remember that a salesperson’s assertions are not proof, are rarely objective and are not necessarily reliable. What else could you do, or have you done, to protect yourself from the marketing bullies?

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