Market the Friendship Bread Not the Starter

amish friendship bread

My mother in law recently gave me a 'starter bag' of Amish friendship bread. Friendship bread is a sourdough based cinnamon bread that has been a hit with everyone I have shared it with. The starter bag is a concoction of milk, sugar and flour that acts as the basis for the friendship bread. As a by-product of baking friendship bread, the starter bag multiplies at a geometric rate (that is 1 starter bag will yield 4 new starter bags after making friendship bread, those 4 produce 16, and so on). These starter bags are supposed to then be given to friends, family and neighbors so they can make and share their own friendship bread. Friendship bread may very well have been the predecessor to the chain letter or viral video. However, it always seems that you end up with more starter bags than you can give away  so you end up throwing most of the excess starter in the garbage. What makes it so hard to give away all the starter bags?

From a marketing standpoint the problem here lies with the presentation. The starter bag consists of a fermenting bag of milk, sugar and flour which to most of us would be nothing more than an unappealing bag of slop. If you try and give this to friends and neighbors, you could very likely end up with a few less friends and neighbors than you started with. Without the context of the finished product, selling the starter bag is nearly impossible. However, if you give someone a piece of the friendship bread first, you have an almost guaranteed lock on selling them on the starter bag.

This is very much true of accounting services as well. If it were not for the compliance driven nature of tax and audit services our profession would have a hard time giving these services away, let alone charging a fee for them. Yet there is value in these services, so the trick is to make sure we present the friendship bread not the starter. What do your accounting services provide over and above mere compliance? How do your services save clients money, allow them access to new markets or make them more efficient? These are the things that clients will bite into. 

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by Alex Vuchnich, CPA, CFE - Alex Vuchnich is the developer of Controlzkit an internal controls anaylsis tool and shares his perspective on how audit and accounting theory, technology and professional ethics interrelate to create forward thinking profitable firms.

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