“I like to watch.” This iconic line from the classic movie Being There was ahead of its time. While humans have always been drawn to the visual aspects of life on earth, the media world is in the early stages of a serious surge from text-based content to a heavy visual emphasis. In marketing especially, video and other visual media are taking over, leaving many accounting firms and other businesses behind the curve.
Accounting and accountants aren’t traditionally associated with vivid imagery or artistic impulses, making this leap toward graphic-centered communication styles particularly challenging. It’s still possible, however, and today’s audience demands it. You probably have more resources at your disposal than you think, all of which can help you bridge the gap from facts and figures to compelling visual messages. Call on the talent already within your firm to get started:
- Build a visual history. You almost certainly have a few hobby photographers on your team. Invite them to take and share pictures of the firm’s people, activities, property and products. It’ll be fun to get the various views and some of these will probably be just right for use on your website or in your marketing.
- Involve native users. Your younger hires and certainly your interns will no doubt be adept with the popular visually oriented social media platforms that are becoming more and more popular. Encourage them to share both their skills and their ideas for promoting the firm using Vine, Instagram, Periscope and all the others they use and love. Working with older, more traditional team members is a great way to strengthen internal relationships while expanding your messaging options (and making sure what gets published has been vetted by senior staff).
- Seek out Pin-heads. It’s a sure bet that your firm employs at least a few serious Pinterest fans. They’ll probably be thrilled to share what they know about the platform and their skills at thinking in terms of visual communication as well as their ability at finding great images to use.
In addition to those internal experts, you can take some creative approaches to helping the entire firm go beyond charts and graphs. The more people you have who are connecting to the visual side of their jobs and firm messaging, the stronger your messaging can be. Try these strategies to boost awareness and stir things up:
- Ask your team to start thinking in pictures. What images describe what you do and illustrate your differentiators? What work of art would you compare to the firm itself and the work product each person most enjoys? These are tough – even silly – questions but it’s a useful exercise nonetheless. It’s also entertaining to see art critics emerge where they are least expected.
- Use video in a variety of ways. Using video on your website and in your marketing is easier than you may think. This versatile medium can be informative and personal, as with short videos that describe particular services or video case studies. It can also be pretty darn funny, even for accounting firms. If you’re doubtful, check out Withum, Smith & Brown’s wonderful 40th Anniversary Secret Video Files, their latest State of the Firm video or any of the firm’s always entertaining videos.
- Unmask the inner artist. Make your next firm meeting different by holding an art event. It doesn’t matter whether you go for etching or sketching, pottery or pastels. Just pass the wine and take an hour for everyone to create some art. The result may not include a masterpiece worthy of MOMA but you might well unleash some creative power that can help drive a more visual communication style for the future.
Shifting your thinking to encompass a more visual approach isn’t easy, and it won’t happen overnight. Some people won’t be willing or able, and there’s no need for every member of your firm to become a graphic artist. Still, it’s important to embrace the new emphasis on visual marketing in order to continue your firm’s positive growth. With these strategies, you can expand your creative messaging power without losing your focus.