Obama Diet Soda: Marketing Lessons for CPAs

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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

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