Going back to the basics

Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.
- Abraham Lincoln

So...while I've been ravenously researching Social Media strategy for our industry, I've also settled in at home with our two African kiddos. And they are growing up FAST! Just the other day, Eden (my four year old) confronted the lady-bug on the ceiling by saying: "Mr. Lady Bug, you go home. This is Mommy & Daddy's home, not your home! Do what I say, and say 'Yes, Eden!'"

I guess she's picking up the English, eh? Three months home...and life is a wee bit different than it was in Ethiopia.

I'd like you to return to some BASICS in your outbound marketing for this tax season. You see, when I was running the marketing for the big, multi-million dollar tax company, we always put the MEDIA off to the side until we identified the right MARKET.

Too many small business owners spend all their energy figuring out different media "tricks" (and I'm all for that), but they don't have a clear picture of why they're doing it. You need to get the MARKET first.

So, I expand on what I mean in this week's Strategy Note, and would gladly hear your thoughts.

How To Find The Starving Crowd

I want to stop to remind you that the BEST kind of media will directly reach the "starving crowd" for your services. This is one of the late, great Gary Halbert's key principles: "I'll forsake EVERY other marketing advantage, but give me a starving crowd for my product, and I'll kick your tail from here to Hoboken!"

So here are some practical ways to find out which "niche groups" in your area are STARVING for certain types of tax services.

First of all, if you've been living in your town for any length of time, you kind of have a "feel" for population statistics in your area. You should know about what percentage of people are in lower, middle and higher income brackets, about where they live in and around the city and other general information.

You should also know (or have a decent idea) who your competition is and what kind of clientele they mostly service. Do they just handle mostly high-end customers? Or do they electronically file a ton of low income returns? And if you have many competitors offering what seems like a full range of tax services, look and see WHERE their offices are located and what sections of the city and surrounding county would be convenient for the different target market groups to use their offices.

Once you've done your homework (if you are not familiar with the town you're in, it will take you a little longer) you might already "see" a few possibilities for some "starving crowd" groups NOT having certain tax services easily available to them because of location or just very few tax business owners are actually offering a "particular" tax service.

But let's say you are still not sure what "starving" markets might be available to promote different tax or accounting services to (you actually never TRULY know until you test anyway), so you want to choose a few media vehicles that you feel will be reachable and affordable for your "hunches."

The media you choose should normally have a way to try and capture taxpayers who may be in TRANSITION. People who have major (or even minor) changes in their tax situation tend to become VERY EAGER to get it straight before the IRS deadline. So what media examples are the best?

Personally, I like to use inexpensive (per potential lead) media. The kind like the coupon decks that will hit a whole section of one side of the city. If I know that side is where most of the upper income folks live and I'm thinking this is a target market that is not getting serviced properly in this town by competitors, then I'll run some test ads. The same holds true for the lower-income niche.

The headlines and subheads will be the same proven ones we've been using, but the actual sales copy might talk more about the problems they may be having with other tax firms and here's a deal, come try us this tax season. If it is a hungry market, the phones will ring in our office. (Whenever you find a really hungry market, you'll know it. How? Because your phone calls and normal response rates will go through the roof and you'll see a pattern of the same calls and new customers coming from the same place.)

The more small, inexpensive tests you do during tax season, the more potential "starving crowds" you may be able to find. The more you find this year, the more money you can invest into reaching them NEXT tax season.

And if you know what groups are in a "feeding frenzy" for what kinds of tax services BEFORE tax season starts next year, you will have a huge competitive advantage over everyone else in your area!

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