Obama Diet Soda: Marketing Lessons for CPAs | AccountingWEB

Obama Diet Soda: Marketing Lessons for CPAs

By Allan Boress, CPA, CVA -Andrew Breitbart is a Washington Times columnist and author of Hollywood, Interrupted : Insanity Chic in Babylon. He has his own popular news portal, Breitbart.com. Andrew described Obama’s election as “we just bought a new soft drink, and we haven’t tasted it yet.”

Pretty radical, but right on the money. Unlike any other political candidate in history, BO was marketed as a consumer product. Can this apply to CPA marketing? Let’s take a look at some of the obvious tactics:

- Sell into the Pain: People vote their pocketbooks - period. The McCain campaign could never communicate how lower taxes helps the economy and raising them hurts everyone! Any econ grad knows this. Years and years of history prove it. Instead, McCain’s campaign was talking about Obama’s association with certain people. Who cares when I can’t pay my bills???

- The Look of the Package: I have maintained for years that dress, grooming, car, office, and quality of marketing materials must all be coordinated for the target niche one wants. The BO campaign certainly had this licked. Smooth, cool, and confident. People buy things they want to be associated with. The BO campaign was going for a young voter that had never participated much in politics, and didn’t know you were supposed to vote based on qualifications and experience. Rather, they marketed BO like a fancy automobile, one the buyer would want for themselves. McCain, however, is an old man and looks it. Who wants to be associated with that???

CPAs must consider the visual effects of their “package.” If the office, the people, what they drive, and how they look are not in congruence with the desired message and what you want for clients, you lose. Even Obama’s logo was cool. Do you recruit? Use their consumer product ideas for that. Also, emulate the Obama campaign for reaching targeted audiences under 30 or people in leading edge industries.

- The Message: Keep it simple and repeat it over and over. McCain never could communicate a consistent message. Obama’s was change, hope and peace. What’s yours? What consistent message is your firm sending to its targeted clientele? One of the worst things a firm – or business – can do is change its message. Once you do, all of the goodwill and awareness created by the previous campaign goes away. Think “baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet.” What’s happened to their sales since they (moronically) dropped that? It made it PATRIOTIC to buy their car!

- Avoidance of technical competence as a sales point: I’ve known for years, as supported by all of our surveys since the mid ‘80’s, that technical competence – and fees – usually rank at or near bottom for most decisions to hire CPAs, far below the human, personality and relationship side. Obviously, the BO campaign knew this as well. Perhaps someone read The “I-Hate-Selling” Book. How else to explain the election of someone to the most important post in the world with no executive experience?

- Perfectly targeted niches: The BO campaign knew exactly who they were going after, and hit them hard they way they wanted to be marketed to. How does your targeted market want to be marketed to? Have you asked?

- What’s your Obama channel? Did you know he BO campaign had its own television channel on Direct TV? (Maybe you weren’t the target market.) How ingenious is that? What are you doing that is out-of-the-box? Once had a client years ago, a sharp marketer with a degree in Psychology, who developed a CD of songs specifically targeted to college grads (they did campus recruiting). How cool is that? Unfortunately, the cheapskate partners insisted she spend next to nothing on the production, forcing her to use songs like “Nine-to-Five” from 20 years ago, instead of the brain-dead – but more expensive – stuff college grads were listening to. How dumb is that? Amazingly, it still was effective as it separated them from other CPA firms. How much better would it have been if the partners got their heads out of their wallets for a change and instead popped for the music the kids would play repeatedly in their frat house, in their car, and to their buds? “Dude! Where did you get those tunes

Lesson for CPAs? What can you do that is extraordinary to draw attention to yourself and your firm? Do you have a radio show? A published book? A video of your people being interviewed and telling how great it is to work at the firm and all the positive things they do for clients?

The Obama campaign has proven once and for all that marketing works – if it is extremely well thought out and executed for a specific targeted audience. Is yours?

By Allan Boress, CPA, CVA – author of The “I-Hate-Selling” Book, available at amazon.com

This blog

by Allan Boress, CPA - Based on over 25 years being a practitioner and consultant to the profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.


Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.


Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.


Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".


William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.


Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (www.ubcc.com), a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.


Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of TaxMama.com, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.


Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website: www.leveragestateandlocaltax.com
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.


The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.


FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.


Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.


Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of Yellowbook-CPE.com a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.


AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish AccountingWEB.co.uk share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.