“A rock is a rock.
A leaf is a leaf.
An accountant is an accountant...right?
Let JonesLang CPAs show you otherwise.”

Above is from a firm’s promotional piece placed just below the image of two beautiful green leaves. (I changed the name of the firm.) The rest of the piece describes what is special about the firm.

I am a big proponent of marketing, but the above shows no matter how well intentioned and thought out, it won’t always insure the creation of the message that a firm intends.

I first saw those exquisitely beautiful leaves and then the statement that a rock is a rock and a leaf is a leaf. Although I expected that powerful, beautiful strong connotation to apply to accountants, the last line of the quote indicates to me just the opposite, and that you can’t trust an accountant to be an accountant.

Obviously, that wasn’t what was intended by the analogies, but I believe it is the result. More and more firms are expanding their marketing efforts, trying to effectively communicate the added value that they provide. When I see something like this, I wonder if the end result was because the firm didn’t sufficiently understand marketing and the marketer who developed the campaign doesn’t understand the workings of an accounting firm. It also probably explains why a number of firms have some bad experiences when they began spending money on marketing.

The Association of Accounting Marketing site (www.accountingmarketing.org) is great for seeing best practices in accounting marketing, but sometimes, as here, you can learn just as much when you come in contact with marketing that goes awry.     
 


----------------------Comment on earlier column--------------------
The text that follows is from two e-mails that I received commenting on my column from last week entitled “Seasoned CPAs' Back and Forth Cycling.”


The retired CPAs I have had occasion to deal with have not kept up technically.  Although very knowledgeable in tax law they are unable or willing to stay current on latest software, paperless offices etc. They are functionally obsolete.

Daniel Pilliard, CPA

*********************************************************************************

Just a thought about a pool of potential accountants.

I occasionally get to substitute teach at a local graduate school.  I get to see many of our future accounting professionals before they enter market place.  To my surprise there are a significant number of Asian students in these classes.  They also see little hope in finding a job after they complete their master's or MBA's degrees.   Since I teach graduate accounting classes, I always ask how many of the students are also seeking a CPA certificate:  about 90%.  These kids "dream" of working here in the US. 

Under current immigration laws, if a graduate does not get a job in about six months, they have to leave.  This is very sad.  These are the very candidates for jobs that we employers are begging to hire.  These young Asians are aggressively pursuing their education which they take "very" seriously. 

Although these students get very high grades in school (because they study like heck), and their books and classes are in English, most speak very broken English.  As an employer I cannot have them on the telephone with clients:  neither would understand each other.  However, in a slightly larger firm environment where the Asian employee does not have to speak to clients, many of these kids would be great employees. 

Also, there are substantial immigration costs to allow them to get hired, but these costs are much less than personnel company fees. 

I get to see dozens and dozens of wonderful young professionals leave the US because of immigration laws.  We educate these students, many get scholarships (which means we pay for part of their education), and then we send them back to their home country. 

It is very sad that the solution for many employers is in our local universities and we are not doing enough to tap this valuable resource.  Fortunately, I have helped a few find employment and I have employed a few at my firm. 

Just a thought.

Gene Sumrall, CPA  
Addison, Texas  


 

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