Cops and RobbersIt’d be fair to say we court controversy here at KashFlow when it comes to marketing and this blog. Setting fire to boxed software, implying the over 60’s are over the hill, saying designers are all crap at business, a public dumping letter to Vodafone,  Being evangelical and preachy about business cards – the list goes on.

But it works for us. The marketing challenge for any small business is standing out from the crowd. Our approach has got us huge amounts of coverage in the trade, national and international press and has had a positive impact on our bottom line.

Not Sexy

We sell accounting software – that’s “accounting” and “software” combined. Not exactly the source material for a sexy  action-packed hollywood blockbuster starring Liv Tyler and Daniel Craig. So a little but of fun and humour brightens things up for all concerned and stops us all boring ourselves silly.

Controversy Around Every Corner

But sometimes controversy lurks where you least expect it.

We recently improved our Settings page to make it easier to use and introduced icons for all the different sub pages. The icon we used for “VAT Settings” is the icon used at the top of this blog post – that of a masked robber.

I posted a link to this on Twitter yesterday, just for something to say,  and within minutes it was retweeted (to the uninitiated, that means other people on Twitter reposted the message to everyone that reads their posts) and was seen by tens of thousands of people. Over 5,000 other people saw it just because the Guardian computer Editor, Jack Schofield,  retweeted it.

I Can Hear The Sirens Coming

I thought that was the end of it, but then in came the cop mentioned in the title with a blog post about it. He’s essentially saying it’s a PR faux pas because VAT isn’t robbery. I’ll copy and paste my response:

I totally agree. It’s an inappropriate image for VAT for the reason you state above. The worst that can be said about VAT is that we’re unpaid tax collectors for HMRC.

I guess the reason for the image is tapping into the general feeling that people are being “robbed by the tax man” – not VAT specifically.

Regardless of how apt the image is, it got retweeted to a few tens of thousands of people on Twitter within minutes and got us free advert on AccManPro. So I can’t see it being a Bad Thing.

I only wish I’d linked to a blog post with it rather than just to the image so we could have converted more of that traffic into sales.

Inappropriate image? Yes
Harmful to anyone? No
Controversial? Perhaps
Useful free marketing? Yes!

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