I was driving home from a client meeting yesterday in the rain. It was one of those spring rains where it’s bright outside, but everything on the road is wrapped in vapor. It’s mesmerizing. You kind of recede into your head, watching the traffic, listening to the radio, but somehow away from it all. What a perfect time to listen to commercials. Really. You can meet them on their own intended wavelength, the frequency of sub-cognitive influence. You can pat the little vignettes of drama or comedy on the head and send them off to play, while welcoming the value proposition and positioning statements for a nice little chat. What is it you’d like to tell me? I’m listening.
So I’m listening to the commercials in this half-hypnotized state, and along comes a message from the accountants at Grant-Thorton. The commercial was unremarkable, it just kind of floated by, but the positioning pulled me out of my reverie. I wondered for a moment if I’d really heard what I thought I heard, but then they kindly repeated it so it left no doubt. Here it is. Remember, this is an accounting firm.
"Grant-Thorton. Passionate about the business of accounting."
Passion. Accounting. D-o-e-s n-o-t c-o-m-p-u-t-e. Error. Error. Format C:
I don’t know why it struck me as so absurd. I mean, maybe businesses really do feel they’re missing something with their dour and dispassionate bean-counters. Who needs rigor if it comes with rigor mortis? Maybe what all businesses are clamoring for is Accountants with Passion. Sing to me about my balance sheet, tell me little lies about performance, make love to the numbers you prancing pony. Yeah, that’s the ticket. I can just see the chorus line.
So the whole thing got me thinking of how many times I’ve come across businesses that embrace the notion of differentiation– ~Differentiate or Die~ –but have forgotten about the notion of relevance. It’s good to position yourself in a way that is unique. But it’s a whole lot more effective to position yourself in a way that is uniquely relevant to the goals of the consumer. Grant-Thornton may be the only accounting firm with passion. But in an era of increasing financial scrutiny, new regulations coming down the Sarbanes-Oxley pipeline, and scandal seeming to lurk around every corner, who cares about passion? Give me an accounting firm that knows what it’s doing and doesn’t make mistakes, and I’ll find passion with my wife, thank you very much.