The DustBuster and the Shark; or, a sales story

KLR note dustbuster shark sketch

Once upon a time there was a human who owned a hoover.

It wasn’t a particularly amazing hoover, but it more or less did the job. She’d run it round the house from time to time and it would pick up most of the dirt and mess, and sometimes she had to run it back and forth, back and forth for ages to get it mostly clean. It still never picked everything up.

At one point in time this human (let’s call her Karen, because that is her name) broke her ankle.

This meant hoovering was out of the question for a time. Unfortunately the dirt and dust of Karen’s house did not take a break from their daily work, so it rather piled up a bit and Karen was in a quandary.

She asked a friend of hers what hoover she had. Her friend said she had one of those cordless Dysons, which were much more expensive but rather amazing actually.

“It’s more expensive,” said her friend, “but it really does the job and I love it. Saves me loads of time too.”

Karen was intrigued. Sounds good! She thought. She’d paid about £100 for her run of the mill hoover, so she figured the expensive one would be in the £200 or £250 range.

When she looked it up, she was shocked to discover they were more in the range of £450 to £500 for a new one.

“That’s an incredible amount of money to spend on a hoover,” she thought. “Surely I don’t need that level for myself and my little home. Hmm…what else could I do? What’s another solution to my problem?”

“I know,” she thought, “I’ll buy a dustbuster! One of those little mini handheld hoovers I can run round the carpet quite easily, without troubling my ankle.”

So she did. She went to Amazon (as you do) and she also googled “best dustbusters for home” (as you do) and gathered her data and worked out she could spend about £55 for a half decent handheld, and that would tide her over.

Now Im set,” Karen thought. “I have my regular hoover for running round the whole house, carpet and wood flooring, and I’ve got this little handheld for when I need to clean something quickly” – or, you know, with a broken ankle.

Her dustbuster arrived. The solution was here. She opened it and charged it and went to use it on a carpet and it was…terrible.

The extra effort required was significant – she ran it back and forth, back and forth, and almost nothing happened, and honestly she could have picked up the pieces of dirt and dust and lint with her hands faster.

Now Karen was in a quandary. She had something decent, which sort of worked. She had a cheaper option which didn’t work at all, which now needed to be returned. And she had an extremely expensive option which required an entire mental shift to adjust to the cost – but would likely solve her problem, which was feeling discouraged about a dusty and dirty house, and the struggle to deal with it.

So what did she do?

She started asking people. IS the Dyson that great? What else is out there? What do you use and why?

She asked all 18 members of the PF team, who weighed in with intense and passionate responses.

She put the question to LinkedIn, and received 45 more enthusiastic responses.

Everyone had an opinion.

Some people loved the Dyson. Others said no, not the Dyson, it’s rubbish, but the Shark. That’s what you want. There were votes for the Henry, and against the Henry. There were people who almost wept over the state of their carpets and their resistance to buying “the good hoover”. People who said they invested five years ago and never regretted it once.

(No one mentioned a dustbuster, because it’s not really a true solution to Karen’s problem.)

And although there were loads of opinions, they all came down to these truths:

  1. If you want good results, you have to spend big money. Often more than you expected.
  2. If you buy the cheaper option, you’ll get an okay result but it will be frustrating, and you’ll end up paying more in the long run.
  3. If you buy the cheapest option of all, you won’t solve your problem AND you’ll be out money

At the same time, Karen had a call with an accountant who was considering working with PF. He had never really “done marketing”, he said, and he had gotten along okay, but as he looked ahead to what he wanted in his business, he had a suspicion his current approach wasn’t going to get the results he wanted.

We (yes, it’s me, Karen is me) talked about PF’s approach to this problem. Our approach is structured. It’s based on years and years of working exclusively with accountants and seeing what kinds of things work, and what don’t. It involves an entire creative team, from content writers to web developers, and it’s relational instead of transactional. We spend a lot of time getting to know our clients and we work with them for the long term (at least two or three years).

So therefore it’s expensive.

We’re the Dyson. We’re the Shark.

When it comes to marketing, you have the same three options as with the hoover:

  1. If you want good, long lasting results, you have to spend big money. (Or a lot of your own time, which is worth a great deal of money.) And when you get a quote, it can often appear far more than you originally expected.
  1. If you go with a cheaper option, spending four or five times less than that, you’ll get some results. You’ll spend a good bit of time yourself or will try lots of different suppliers and you’ll bounce around trying to figure out what’s working and what isn’t and why.
  1. And if you go with the cheapest option of all, investing nothing at all, or a few quid here and there on random things like templated marketing plans or generic content or The Full And Final Blueprint For Marketing Which Will Make You A Billionaire And It’s Only $19.99, you’ll have kept spending  money in little ways over a period of years and not solving your ultimate problem.

Now, when I asked for opinions about the hoover, some people really didn’t like the Dyson. Or insisted it wasn’t worth the money.  But even in my short amount of research, I started to see the patterns. If you really want your dirt gone, you need a Shark, a Dyson, or a Miele, and they’re going to cost a lot more than you originally thought was possible for a hoover.

The same is true for getting customised, one to one marketing support. If you really want the long term results of the drip feed of the best kind of clients for your firm, it’s likely going to cost more than you originally thought. You might even gasp and fall off your chair.

It’s how I felt when my friend first told me about her amazing hoover and then I looked it up and saw the £500 price tag. I was like THIS IS RIDICULOUS THERE IS NO WAY I AM SPENDING— but now, now that I’m considering what I spent (ten years ago) and what I got (or didn’t) and what everyone else is experiencing and how they bit the bullet, I’m realising as with most things, you tend to get what you pay for.

This is also how your buyer feels when they come to you as an accountant.

Most of the accountants we work with at PF are those of you who know your own worth, know who you serve, and have experience and stories to tell about it.

So you can be what we call “reassuringly expensive”.

Your buyer has often never realised there’s a Shark accountant option. They’ve been getting the cheap version, or doing it themselves, and when they discover your fees are several hundred a month, or a thousand a month, this can shock them and they say there’s no way they’re spending that.

And this is where your content, your experience, your stories, and other people’s stories come into play.

Your prospects are going to ask other people what they think. Gather opinions, look for patterns, raise expectations.

And they have options.

They can stick with what they’ve got. They can buy the dustbuster. Or they can finally invest in the Shark (or the Dyson or the Miele). And when they do, their expectations are higher. They’ve spent a lot of money and that thing damn well better pick up the—oh! Wow! Look at it go!!

Here’s what some of the accountants in my LinkedIn post said about the (expensive) hoover they eventually settled on:

  • “If a hoover can make you happy, the Dyson cordless sure can”
  • “This year I shall be treating my precious lungs to a luxurious Miele Complete C3 powerline – the BMW of vacuums. Each internal part is hand crafted by German experts who were genetically engineered to hate dust from birth.”
  • “So much thought has gone into the usability of this thing – it’s worth the ridiculous price.”
  • “Shark is definitely the way forward! My better half runs a cleaning business and she swears by her Shark 🦈”

Everyone has an opinion and what works for one person doesn’t always suit another. We also have people for whom PF isn’t the best fit, and that’s okay. There are different options for the person who is looking for marketing services, or a hoover, or accounting, or whatever.

So the next time you’re quoting a prospect for your services and they are shocked and amazed or even horrified, that’s okay. You’ll either build a relationship with them and they’ll see and begin to believe the value, or they’ll decide they’re not ready and will go elsewhere. They might buy the equivalent of a dustbuster. They might buy nothing at all. They might try another brand which suits them better. They might do all of these things and eventually come back to you.

Either way, your job is to be who you are.

Be the Shark.

Follow me


Puffin day!! 

Took the boat out to two different islands and as always puffin therapy came through. As well as a surprising bright sunny day! 

#100dayvideochallenge #100days #puffins #isleofmull #staffatours #scottishislands #puffintherapy #isleoflunga #treshnishisles #staffa #boattour #birdwatching #beautifulday #sunshine #costadelscotland 

Day 80/100 Video Challenge
Today’s thoughts on adventures and how there is no such thing as a perfect adventure (because sometimes things go wrong). More of the concept that fails and brokenness are part of creativity. 

Here’s to adventures and here’s to choosing to be in your happy place …and sometimes you do that in your ACTUAL happy place, like me in the sea on Mull. 

#100dayvideochallenge #100days #isleofmull #seaswimming #coldwater #sunnyday #adventures #family #roadtrip #islands #scottishislands #liveyourbestlife #wildswimming 

Day 79/100 Video Challenge
Road trippin through the highlands! 

Driving, hiking, swimming, walking, resting, exploring, and collapsing! In that order. 

#100dayvideochallenge #100days #highlands #glencoe #wildswimming #pools #roadtrip #northballachulish #watersedge #bluebells #sunnyday #keeponthesunnyside #justkeepgoing 

Day 78/100 Video Challenge