Final steps to bring in more biz in tax season

When a goal matters enough to a person, that person will find a way to accomplish what at first seemed impossible.   - Nido Qubein

11 days left.

And still time to bring in more tax business. I'm keeping this short to get to the good stuff. If you're looking for an additional surge--try this. When I ran the marketing for our regional tax firm, this was always in our "bag of tricks"...and it works like a charm.

It *does* take some work, but it's work which can be hired out for cheap.
Read on...

Quick Method For Bringing In Procrastinators

I hear it all the time from tax professionals: 

"It sure looks like you are used to spending a lot on marketing...I can't do that. My marketing budget is small."

Leaving aside the false assumption in that statement, there is a way to go about bringing more clients in the door on a shoestring budget. We used it yearly as just one of the elements of our "media mix." It's called: Shoe Leather Marketing.

It's simply getting out there and pounding the pavement, wearing that ol' shoe leather down. It's cheap but can be very effective when done properly. You see, say you do this...well, too many people run around town trying to drum up business, but they forget the basic principles that are necessary for any kind of marketing campaign to be successful (in order): 1) Market 2) Message 3) Media.

Identify your target client. It is shocking to me how some clients call me and cannot tell me *exactly* what kind of client they want in their tax firm. But among those who can, it runs the gamut from to the bank product "I-want-my-money-fast" market, to the corporate, or higher-end, more complicated return. Each of these clientss can be reached through shoe leather marketing, it just depends on...

The Right Message. In the beginning of the tax season, the clients that are most eager for tax preparation are going to be the ones who want bank products. So that message revolves around speed. Later in the tax season, however (like NOW), clients tend to have more complicated circumstances and the message should be: peace-of-mind, accuracy, avoiding the IRS, etc. But you must match your message to the market. Once you've established this, what's the best way to get that message to clientss (on a shoestring budget)?

Media: Discount Gift Certificates. Because of time constraints (and possible--budget), you won't be jumping into coupon paks, newspapers, broadcast or direct mail (you'd be missing the boat, if so). So what's the next best thing? Well, we hired temps (or high school kids on spring break) who traveled to every single market area in which we had an office and carry "Free Gift Certificates"--with the purpose of getting them to merchants who would put them out (for free) to as many of "our" kind of clients as possible.

These certificates should be small, obnoxiously visible, have a concrete offer (a reason to pick one up) and the right message. This is the first step. The next involves actually getting them to the right places. Some quick tips on this process:

-Identify the kinds of businesses that your clients will come through and go there. You should taregt high-traffic businesses and don't waste too much time in stores where your clients won't go.

-Approach the manager with an offer. I have found that we got a much better response when my first question to a manager or owner of one of these establishments was "Can I offer your employees a special discount to our tax services?" When they say yes, then you can follow-up with: "By the way, could I leave some for your customers as well-- by the register?" When you've already got ONE "yes", it's much easier to get another. You could even have different coupons for the employees and for the customers.

Sometimes the opposite tactic works very well, when you can put the person in a place of obligation by asking them for a big favor. You can say something like "I work for ____ Tax Firm and we're trying to knock down the big boys by offering a much better service...would it be possible for me to leave some gift certificates for your customers by the front?" This often depends on the temperament of the manager.

-Range out widely. Again, you can hire a high school kid to do this whole thing for you, but you need to get as many gift certificates out there as possible. The more you put out there, the more people will see them. Don't just rely on a couple businesses with your gift certificates to create a big response.

-Go back multiple times. Often managers or owners will say "yes" to putting out your stuff, but the next day everything is "mysteriously" gone. So, go back a couple times with more gift certificates. This will emphasize to them that you're hustling, and will also ensure that your message gets to their customers.

By the way: It's never too late to start. Many tax professionals are looking for cheap, effective ways to get a "bounce" in their numbers in early April, to finish strong. This can be a great method.

Let me know if you have any questions, and I'll be happy to provide feedback.

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