When it comes to marketing your CPA firm’s services to clients and prospects, the discussion often evolves into a question of two alternatives: online or print?
While the decline of print is undeniable and online marketing through email, social media and websites dominates the landscape, the best value for your marketing dollar is actually a combination of all of them.
To reach all or most of your target audience, the magic is in the mix.
Of course, the key is for your client or prospect to notice the newsletter, news bulletin, brochure or other marketing piece you have sent to them, associate it with your firm, read it, and then, hopefully, act on it, now or in the future.
CPAmerica’s E-ssential$ Bulletin e-newsletter to clients, which is subscribed to by one-third of CPAmerica firms, has average open rates in the 25 to 30 percent range.
That’s 5 to 10 percent higher than the national average – but still leaves 70 percent of clients and prospects untouched.
E-mails are opened most by the clients who know you best.
But for those who aren’t as familiar with you, there is so much else competing for their attention, that your message may be ignored and quickly deleted on a busy day.
Print newsletters or mailers are best used for prospects you don’t know or clients you see less often. Almost all print mail is delivered directly to the intended recipient and, in today’s world, can stand out more than the proliferation of online marketing messages.
Print also has the advantages of enhanced readability, especially for longer articles, as well as portability and longevity.
Print publications can be taken along and easily read anywhere, and saved for future reference. Emails tend to be read and deleted. Regardless of how much we wish it were otherwise, some audience members will always prefer print, and others will always prefer online.
Newsletters, whether they are print or electronic, are a professional, subtle way of image building, of placing your firm’s name in front of your clients and prospects on a regular basis.
The publications reinforce that your CPAs are knowledgeable in a wide range of financial subjects, that they do more than tax returns, and that they care enough to regularly provide their clients with tips and expertise to help them in the day-to-day running of their businesses.
Print newsletters tend to come across to the recipient as having a higher value than email – which, of course, they do. The costs of printing and postage are one of the primary disadvantages of print compared to the far less costly, or free, email communications.
But if a print publication is able to reach the part of the market that email didn’t, it becomes a question of cost vs. value. Yes, it costs more to send print publications, but if one or two of your prospects become clients, wasn’t that a good value?
Email also has the advantage of having a far faster turnaround, especially for news bulletins and time-sensitive information. Tracking who your readers are is a real bonus too. Tracking print readers can be close to impossible short of a survey, and even then, the results can be questionable.
Sending messages through social media can certainly reach larger audiences and pull readers to your website. It shows your firm is forward-thinking and helps build relationships with other individuals and businesses who also believe in the value of social media. Targeting certain messages to specific target audiences can be more difficult, and not everyone you want to reach follows social media.
Pulling clients and prospects to your website through print and online marketing is key, and once you get them there, they should be rewarded with a website that is content rich. Keeping content current, accurate, meaningful and easy to understand is a major step in encouraging prospects to seek out your services or reminding current clients of the depth of services your firm can perform for them.
You’ll never be able to reach all of your clients or prospects through any one means. All marketing vehicles have their positives and negatives. But through a combination of strong print and online publications that catch the recipients’ attention and give them quality content, you should be able to get your firm’s message to most of them.
Judy Moore, publications director of CPAmerica International, holds an M.A. in journalism from the University of Florida. She is a former business editor of a large metropolitan daily, journalism professor and author of hundreds of business articles that have been published in regional and national magazines.
- Harnessing the Power of Your Association (cpamerica.org)