We talk a lot about websites, mobile apps, social media presence and the importance of your digital profile. These are all critical to keeping your accounting firm high in the minds of your audiences, but they’re not enough. It’s easy to start believing that the internet is the only place that matters based on the attention marketers tend to give it – this one included. But that’s not remotely true. Equally important is your physical presence, both in person and in terms of tangible collateral like brochures, sell sheets, case studies and giveaway tchotchkes.
Face to face interactions with colleagues, thought leaders and current, as well as potential, clients is demanding but not complicated. Go to conferences and professional gatherings, attend networking events, reach out to local groups, speak wherever you can and in general do what you can to be where you’ll meet the people who matter to your firm – which means almost everyone.
That’s something most professionals understand and accept as an inarguable necessity. What’s less accepted but just as critical are the tangible collateral pieces and branded items that the most successful firms treat as a priority.
These graspable objects are sometimes viewed as extras, unnecessary clutter that costs money and doesn’t really make a difference. They do incur an expense to make, store and distribute, it’s true, but they definitely make a difference.
Adults today spend an increasing amount of their time on the internet, whether it’s for work, entertainment, education or dealing with personal needs. They receive more advertising online, but less in the mail. In an age of downsizing and decluttering, the physical objects we hold in our hands still make a big impression. They’re more powerful, in fact, than the digital images we take in all day and night. Your firm needs to invest in these objects, and here’s why:
- Holding and using an object gives it a special meaning. We relate to objects we touch in a different way than images we merely see, even if we see them often. The more senses you engage as people encounter your brand, the more deeply they will register your firm as a presence in their lives.
- Hard copy seems more believable. You can say anything online, and most people take what they read on the internet with a grain of salt. Of course, you can say anything in writing and have it printed up as well, but for some reason written materials you can hold carry more weight – both literally and figuratively.
- Sensory stimulation counts. What’s more satisfying: a web page or a glossy brochure that feels good to your fingers? Most of us would choose the printed product. It can be held, smelled, turned over, folded and slipped into a purse or pocket where it will be found again. And when it is, it’s likely to be read again, whereas a web page will remain unrevisited unless someone is looking for it specifically.
- Objects go more places than digital images. Even with smartphones in every pocket and computers in every room, the items in front of us matter more than the web pages inside our devices. Memo pads, pens, thumb drives, calendars, fridge magnets…whatever its purpose, branded stuff gives us more exposure to a brand than any kind of digital content.
- Hard copy is tailored to a specific message. Your online communications are too, but they exist in a sea of distractions and competing messages. Your flyer, on the other hand, stands out because it’s delivering information the reader needs without any other similar content to draw the eye away.
Develop and share high quality printed collateral for the individual services your firm offers. Print up some case studies to hand out, too, and a brochure that gives a good overview of the firm. Invest in some give-away items that will keep awareness of your brand at a high level. You need these things, because your audience needs to see you in the physical world just as much as they do in the digital one.