Back In My Young Life Days...

There's a good chance you're looking at the WRONG problem in your business

You see, before I worked with service professionals (about ten years ago), I hung around with a bunch of high school kids. No, I wasn't trying to relive the HS "glory" days! I coached lacrosse and football, and did a bunch of mentoring at the local public school for an organization called Young Life. Like any non-profit, fundraising was a big component of my job. And we used to KILL it with this "crazy" fundraiser.

It was a golf tournament which, when we started it, was called the "100 Hole Golf Marathon". We'd get people to sponsor us for the number of holes we could play in one day, and it usually would take players about 12 ½ to 13 hours to finish all 100 holes. It was fun, a little crazy, and the whole event raised a ton of money.

However, a couple years after I left -- after years of doing the "same thing" -- the new organizers of the tournament decided to change the format. They said not enough people were willing to participate and play 100 holes in a day.  Now, they decided to play 54 holes until early afternoon, then a separate 18 hole tournament which started for the folks who didn't want to participate in the full day marathon. (These players just paid a smaller entry fee to participate in an 18 hole fundraiser.)

Well, Guess What Happened ...

The beauty of this whole golf tournament was "the hook" - 100 HOLES IN ONE DAY!  And, as soon as you cut this out, now your golf tournament looks like every other fundraiser. Fewer people participated in the 54 holes in the morning. They got some (but not nearly what they hoped) to play in the 18 hole part.

Remember: The purpose of the event is to raise money for the charity. So, the players playing in the morning raised less money and played fewer holes. The afternoon tournament hurt the morning numbers because it gave a few key fundraisers a "way out" to only write a small check and still play 18 holes.

These changes were made, but the "problem" was NEVER properly defined! The organizers heard some players complain: "Oh, 100 holes is too much to play!" So, they decided that the format was wrong and so they changed it.

However the real problem was poor recruiting of players -- not finding the right kind of golfer who would kill for the chance to play 100 holes of golf (for free, because their friends and family were sponsoring them) and have cocktail party and country club bragging fodder!

So, my question to you: Did you tackle the right problems in your tax business this past season? How did you come up with your solutions list? Or, better yet, How did YOU come up with your problem list?

If you let a few people (who are not your target prospects anyway) define how you do something, chances are pretty good you were trying to fix the wrong problem.

Referrals down? Maybe it wasn't a lack of incentives (though that's often an issue), but rather a lack of a stay-in-touch, relationship-building system.

Poor client retention? Maybe you didn't give them a reason to stick it out with you (lack of communication) -- leading to a lack of a sense of a real relationship with you.

A little further application: Don't let the fear of a vague idea of communicating "too much" (which isn't based on actual, proven marketing test results) deter you from doing what actually *works* in your business--or what could be doing so.

The bottom line: don't apply the wrong medicine in this economy.

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