In my consulting with accounting firms around the country, I see what I saw inside my own firm — a challenge to differentiate in a commoditized industry.

It’s not easy to stand out. My sense, however, is that we are overanalyzing when we need to return to simpler times and more impactful exercises. Like the power of a handwritten note.  

There are those (Boomers) who feel nostalgic when I mention them. There are those (Millennials) who feel frustrated by them. Yes, notes take more time and thought. And yes, they have an expense. But in a day and age where so much of our communication is electronic, taking the time to write and mail a note is a tremendous differentiator. It tells the client, vendor, prospect, or colleague that you’ve taken the time to let them know how important you think they are. It’s a compelling moment to commend, apologize, thank, or console. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or verbose in order to be effective.

Take advantage of this powerful exercise and start today … write two handwritten notes a week and see the value it brings to your relationships. Really want to stand out? Implement it at your firm (one a week) as a mandatory exercise. The investment of fewer than five minutes could yield a considerable return distinguishing you in a sea of sameness.