What I learned from Apple about marketing accountancy firms

January 13, 2020

Liza RobbinsBy Liza Robbins.

What makes Apple products so compelling and so popular?

After all, they’re just computers, phones and smartwatches…

Yes, they’re stylish – but there are other companies producing attractive computers and phones and smartwatches.

And yes, they work well – but so does the tech produced by many of their competitors.

There’s one way in which Apple products stand out, though.

When their rivals talk about their products, they tend to describe what they do and how they do it. (“We make great computers, which are very user-friendly and well-designed.”)

But Apple talks about itself differently….

Its messaging focuses on why it creates its products.

Again and again, we hear that Apple always aims to challenge the status quo and – as its slogan puts it – to “Think different”.

That’s the reason its products are so user-friendly and beautifully designed….

…But that’s not really what customers are buying (or what motivates staff).

They’re buying into a vision, an attitude and a mission statement – which is far more inspiring!

As Simon Sinek, whose TED talk on this subject went viral several years ago, says: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Read that sentence again, because it’s key!

Every great leader and every great company, he says, starts with a strong sense of “why”, and communicates that both to customers and to employees.

Only afterwards does it get into the relatively dry details of “what” it does and “how”, because while they are important, they are never as emotionally compelling as “why”.

If you have never watched Sinek’s TED talk – which has over 47 million views – you should check it out here.

But before you head over to watch his talk, let’s apply his idea to what we do.

Last week, I gave you a deep, compelling reason why we are auditors: We help society function smoothly by creating trust in businesses, financial institutions and financial transactions.

What about your firm?

Why does your firm exist?

What is the inspiring vision, which clients and staff will want to be part of and buy into…

…And which will make your firm the obvious choice, even if what you do is actually not that different to your competitors?

Finding a good answer is not always easy.

Following Sinek’s process, you should think about the origins of your firm, the defining moments in your history, the most significant moments of impact you have had on your clients, the people who have influenced you, your highs and your lows…

…And try and find connections.

“As the process unfolds, one or two of those nuggets will seem to shine brighter than all the others,” he writes in Find Your Why, the book based on his TED talk.

“They will feel bigger, more important. They will shine so brightly that you’ll point to them and say, ‘That’s me—that’s who I am,’ or ‘That’s us—that’s our team.’”

Finally, you will be able to narrow these themes down to a single statement, summarising how your firm contributes to the life and success of others, and the impact of that contribution.

That vision can revolutionise everything you do.

I mean, who would you rather buy from, and who would you rather work for……

The firm which says it prepares your year-end accounts by reviewing your bookkeeping records?

Or the firm which says it “Empowers CEOs to understand their numbers, so they can grow their business faster and with more confidence” (And one of the ways it does this is by providing excellent year-end accounts)?

And which firm, do you think, will inspire you to come up with better, more innovative ideas about how to serve your clients? Which will have the more engaged, enthusiastic staff?

The one with the clear mission, obviously.

But of course, empowering CEOS is just one of infinite possible “whys” for your firm.

Early in 2020, make it a priority to gather your team together – and find your “why”.