Over the years, I’ve encountered many situations that were either amusing or bemusing when trying to complete projects. I’ve learned that many people don’t grasp the basics of marketing … and others seem to have missed the most basic lessons of — well, life.

For example, there are several folks who have asked me to add more information to copy while simultaneously making it shorter. Graphic designers know them as the people who want the type size larger and the type to take up less space without cutting anything.

But one of the most bemusing conversations I’ve had came when I was doing work for a CPA firm. They had hired a former federal bank examiner to counsel their clients about how to get better at handling those all-important federal examinations.

To promote the new consultant’s services so they could cover the cost of his salary, they asked me to ghostwrite a two-page trade magazine article on that subject under his byline. I called him to get the raw information for the article. The exchange went like this (if it’s not completely accurate, it’s darned close):

ME: So what do bankers need to do to prepare for the examiner’s visit?

HIM: The FDIC publishes a booklet that spells it out.

ME: I understand that, but what steps do you think that should they take?

HIM: They should read the booklet from the FDIC.

ME: Okay, so suppose you were sitting down with the president of one of your firm’s bank clients. What advice would you give him?

HIM: I would tell him to read the booklet from the FDIC.

When his bylined article appeared, it went into considerably more depth. I simply concocted the entire article from common sense, and the editor said it was well-received. The same couldn’t be said for the man’s counsel, and you probably won’t be surprised to learn that his consulting career came to a quick end.