Posted by: Chris | March 5, 2008

Grant Thornton Gets Services Marketing

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This morning, I saw a commercial for Grant Thornton. The tagline was something along the lines of, “See what it’s like to work with people who enjoy their jobs.” (I knew I should have written it down right then!) Of course, I don’t make nearly enough money to require the accounting services of Grant Thornton, but if I did, Grant Thornton would definitely be at the top of my list of prospects. I don’t see companies positioning themselves based on the personal investment and fulfillment their employees receive from performing the sometimes tedious tasks required of them by their clients. A potential client who is inclined to believe television commercials might be thinking, “if the employees are truly interested in what they’re doing, surely they’ll perform the services I require with great zeal and passion.”

Of course, the question must be asked, does this positioning attempt work for Grant Thornton? Despite my devotion to services marketing initiatives, I have to say probably not for Grant Thornton’s target audience. Honestly, when people are looking for an accounting firm, they don’t give a rip whether or not their accountants enjoy their jobs. Of course, I have not done any formal research or analysis on the issue, but my gut feeling is that most of Grant Thornton’s target audience client would likely take some sour bastard who has not made so much as a type-o in the past 15 years over an exuberant neophyte who proudly dons his Grant Thornton hockey jersey every weekend but who has been known to make a keystroke error or two.

So how could Grant Thornton position itself as a company heavy on effective internal marketing? Keep the broad-based advertising focused on skill and experience. The passion positioning should (will) come via word-of-mouth—you can’t just tell people that you’re an expert, you have to prove this. This is tough and takes patience. A clear brand-oriented internal marketing plan must be implemented and assessed, reimplemented and assessed, and so on. By “brand-oriented internal marketing plan,” I mean defined, intentional, differentiated service that is performed consistently. Social media initiatives that allow passionate experts in the company to have a public voice will help too.

This a very off-the-cuff assessment, and honestly, Grant Thornton may already be practicing some of this. What do you think? Should companies that focus on high finance position themselves as passionate? Either way, I’ve got to give kudos to Grant Thornton for being sensitive to the value of customer experience management in such a widely advertised way.

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