Why This Accounting Firm Prefers To Tell Their Clients’ Stories

By David Martin

There’s a good chance you’ve seen Market Street Partners’ Why They Succeed campaign pop up in your social media feed lately.

It’s a great series featuring professional insights from a handful of Chattanooga’s up-and-coming business success stories. But one thing is missing, or at least it seems to be missing, among the collection. It’s that Market Street Partners doesn’t tell their own story.

Why is that?

It all has to do with a book co-founding partner Kyle Bryant swears by.

Customers are the heroes, not us

If you talk marketing or PR with Bryant, you likely won’t get out of the conversation without him mentioning the book "Building A Storybrand" by Donald Miller, the New York Times bestselling author of "Blue Like Jazz" and other well-known works.

Miller’s 2017 publication, Bryant’s favorite, makes the case early and often to resist the urge to don the hero cape when engaging customers. Instead, Miller says, let your clients wear it. This notion flies in the face of conventional thought, but it’s a perspective rooted in the human condition.

Think about it: we are all the protagonist in our own daily lives. I wake up in the morning and it’s the Me Show. You wake up and it’s the You Show. And that’s totally natural.

This reality drives Miller’s suggestion that businesses would be better suited if they positioned themselves as helpers, not the stars of the show. Actually, Miller uses a term slightly different than “helper:”

Channel your inner Obi-Wan

He uses the phrase “guide,” instead of helper, and points to the story arc of countless movies to illustrate his point.

Hollywood hit after Hollywood hit follows this pattern: A hero (the protagonist) faces two possible outcomes, one good and one bad. Then there’s a guide who helps the hero reach the preferred end.

Using a Star Wars example, Luke Skywalker is faced with either defeating the Empire or the Empire snuffing out the rebellion. Skywalker plays the hero, no doubt, when he and his fellow rebels beat the Empire, but he wouldn’t have been able to win without the training of his mentor (read: “guide”), Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Miller tells businesses to be more like Obi-Wan, helping their clients triumph.

From Star Wars to spreadsheets

So when Bryant and his co-founding partner, Kevin Rose, were thinking up ways to publicly discuss their accounting firm, they naturally gravitated to telling their clients’ success stories and how Market Street Partners has played a part in helping each one achieve their goals.

“We know full well that our clients are the most interesting thing about our firm,” Bryant says. “We’re lucky to work with some really successful businesses — businesses lots of people recognize in the area — so we decided to highlight them.”

Yet, they wanted to do more than merely point to accomplished groups.

“We wanted to highlight what, exactly, our featured partners are doing to be successful,” Rose says. “It’s one thing to say, ‘look, they’re doing well and we work with them,’ but we thought other business people would benefit more from learning what specific things each group does to earn their successes.”

Sure enough, each business featured in the Why They Succeed campaign revealed a unique nugget of business best practices. Here they are, in series order:

Dynamo VC — The Value of Empathy

Chattanooga Whiskey — The Significance of Situational Awareness

Majestic Stone — Challenging the Status Quo

Lanewood Studio — Saying “No” to Say “Yes”

Reliance HCM — The Importance of Intentionality

“We thought it would be a huge ask to have our clients do the traditional client testimonial,” Bryant says. “Through this campaign, though, we got to shine the spotlight on some incredible businesses, hopefully give other business leaders some food for thought, and showcase the various ways Market Street Partners can help drive success.”

It’s a smart play.

One that benefits the rest of us.


David Martin is the founder of Heed Public Relations.