Accounts Receivable Training

“How Would Marshall McCluhan
Collect a Past-Due Invoice?”

(Note: If you are not familiar with Marshall McCluhan,
please go to the end of this article/chapter.)

For most of us in the receivables business, there is a message we want to deliver to our customers and clients who are past-due. The emphasis will change, but in general it includes:

  • Hey! Did you know your account/invoice hasn’t been paid?
  • Please pay now
  • Can’t? Please contact us
  • …or else!

The delivery of the message will vary based on consumer vs. commercial accounts, the balance and the age of the debt. In early stages, it may be as simple as a stamp on an invoice mailed to a customer “PAST DUE!” As a debt ages, delivery may range include e-mail, letters, telephone calls and personal visits to the debtor site/location.

Typically, we tend to base the delivery of our message on cost and convenience of the creditor, in other words, how we want to contact the debtor, and what message do we want to deliver.

Marshall McCluhan would no look at it the same way. I should mention that McCluhan’s work is often debated. It was interesting when he made a cameo appearance in the movie comedy ‘Annie Hall’, telling a ‘know it all’ professor from Columbia who taught a course on media, ‘You know nothing about my work!’. It is possible I could be off the mark, but I believe if Marshall McCluhan was in charge of the receivables department he would propose that the media itself, rather than the message delivered, should be the focus.

The recipient is engaged in different ways, and sometimes barely engaged at all. Such engagement may run from ‘hot’ to ‘cold’. If I want to get in touch with some younger relatives of mine, I have learned not to call them on the telephone or send an email. If I want an immediate response, I send an SMS. Some of our younger audience is almost ‘offended’ that we try to take up their time, making contact in any other method than SMS. Also, let’s face facts. If you are a delinquent customer, do you really want to talk to your creditor? Why not give them better options? Better by the way, for you too.

Once the contact is made, make the media ‘hot’ by offering their engagement to pay by clicking a link, or contact if needed or desired.


Want your medium, smokin’ hot’?

Perhaps your firm is already deeply involved in effective media with SMS, but if not, we can help, including determining cell phone vs other for your customers, legal and best contact, scoring (don’t sent a message if they will/won’t pay, or at the very least, a different message) and when you do need to make personal contact – use the most effective collection and negotiation techniques.

Simply send me an e-mail if you would like to discuss. Or better yet, how about an SMS to (416) 702-4581.


For many of the contributors to this book via the fertile and quirky imagination of Timothy Paulsen, we did not feel any biographical information was needed. For Confucius, Donald Trump, and Jesus of Nazareth, we felt confident the readers did not need an introduction. There were others such as Dale Carnegie and Marshall McCluhan who might have been household names to an earlier generation, but to others, not so much.

In the end, we decided to include at least a short bio for each of the imagined contributors. After all, many years from now, it is remotely possible there will be readers who would say, ‘Who was Donald Trump?’ (One can only hope.)

Marshall McCluhan:

He was a Canadian philosopher, specializing in media theory. He worked most of his life at the University of Toronto. Perhaps he is best known for coining the phrases, ‘the medium is the message’, and ‘global village’. He had predicted the world wide web almost 30 years before it was invented.