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How can online and offline marketing be integrated to meet changing customer needs?

May 11, 2018

Online and offline…that’s the perfect combination.

It’s absolutely right to focus on all the online marketing opportunities for your accounting firm – website, social media, video, live chat, and on and on.

It’s the standard these days, you need to be doing it daily, and many of you are.

You’ve also as accountants have a great opportunity to build those ‘offline’ relationships with clients and prospects. Meeting someone in person. Speaking at events. Doing old-style networking. (Not my personal favourite, but that’s because we work globally and with an exclusive niche, so most general networking events are fairly useless to me.)

In your marketing, you’re building trust. You’re building relationship. And offline marketing moves trust forward faster.

So how do you combine online and offline marketing? What do your prospects need?

Know your audience and how they prefer to communicate

This is the first and most important element of any marketing effort. A small campaign, a full-scale content marketing plan for the firm, an event – always look first to who you’re focusing on. What are their needs? What do they care about? Why are you talking to them, and why would they listen?

You’ve also got to know their communication preferences. Are you working with plumbers or construction businesses who prefer to meet in person, drop by your office, or ring you on the phone? Or web developers who use Slack and prefer text messages?

When you know their preferred communication preference, it helps you determine how you craft online and offline marketing to suit them.

Ask yourself: Where in the buyer journey does my buyer need offline connections?

Look at your audience again. When will they engage most closely with you in an offline environment?

  • Is it at the prospect level, where you want to build trust quickly, and so having physical presence and tone of voice and body language and a handshake will help that?
  • Is it at the new client level, so once you’ve started to build an online/offline relationship you enhance that with in person events or connections?
  • Is it at the higher client levels, where they’ve been clients for a long time and you’re stepping it up?

It may be a combination of all of these, and your customer journey can be sketched out to include an offline element at every stage of the journey. It could be a group event, a one on one meet, a client coffee date. For example, every time I go down to my accountants in Manchester, I have breakfast with Paul. It’s a bit of a tradition now and it’s one of my favourite parts of being down there. We chat about our businesses and books we’re reading and blogs we’re writing and our teams and hiring and all those entrepreneurial things.

Offline marketing suggestions

Here are a few ways you can build ‘offline’ into your online marketing:

  • Run small focused workshops

Xero training. Pricing strategies. Tax planning. Pick a topic that you know your clients want to really sink their teeth into, and invite them round. It doesn’t have to be more than a few people to be worthwhile.

  • Regular in person meets with clients

Arrange an in person meet with your clients on a regular basis (monthly for some, quarterly for some, annually for others).  Make sure you have a system for this, so it doesn’t drop by the wayside – or worse, get done once and then never again.

  • In person meetings for prospects

At whatever stage is right in your unique buyer journey, invite them round to your offices so they can see where you are, and meet the people they’re working with, and feel what it’s like to be a client.

If you don’t have offices, go to theirs. Or invite them to a nearby coffee shop or other cool meeting place.

  • Put on a bigger event

Whether it’s for clients only, or you’re inviting every person you’ve ever met, a large-scale event is a powerful way to build connection.

Pick a topic. Hire a great speaker. Book out an incredible venue. Make it a really big deal, and let them get to know you and your team.

  • Hold Mastermind or invite-only groups

Invite a select group of clients or prospects (or both) who have specific characteristics. Everyone in a particular industry. Business owners of a certain type, or size. People with one particular issue.

Really work it through in a practical way – you’re not lecturing or presenting, you’re facilitating.

  • Send actual printed stuff in the post

Because so many people use online marketing, actually sending something through the post can really help you stand out. Letters, cards, postcards, leaflets, brochures, newsletters, magazines – these are all hugely valuable. Especially if you include a link to a unique website page so you know what people are doing with the printed stuff.

 

Use all your online marketing to get people offline

Any of these options still require that your audience knows they exist. How will you tell them? Use one or all of these ways:

  • Send an email (or a series of emails)
  • Put it on your website – on the events page, in a blog post, in a pop up box
  • Create a unique landing page that’s used in a leaflet or printed material
  • Write a blog post about it – what’s happening? Why? Who’s invited? How does it work?
  • Share it on all the socials (multiple times, in different ways, with text and images and video)
  • Record a video explaining it – or even a series of videos. Why you’re doing it, what you did, how it went
  • Use ‘social live’ options to share what you’re doing offline – setting up the room, talking with clients, getting feedback, giving the top key points of your presentation

Whether online or offline, stay focused on what your audience wants. It won’t let you down!