Not killing your tax firm's budget on marketing

Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.
- Dale Carnegie

First off, some news--on a personal level.

Call us gluttons for punishment, but my wife and I have decided to initiate another adoption, this time from Uganda. Of course, "punishment" is the wrong way to put it--this is a deeply joyful move for us, and if you're interested in my wife's perspective, she maintains (in my biased perspective) a beautiful little blog about the process, and wrote about this decision here: http://everybitterthingissweet.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/why-were-adopting-again/ .

Feel free to check it out, and come back here when you want to get back to the business of growing your firm...

Because what I'm going to share with you today will save you a BUNCH of money...and a lot of pain.
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This service is terriffic. The email program is a must. The emails go out weekly...you can edit them before they are sent.  I have received more comments, and referrals in the past few weeks than the sum total in all the years we have been in business from this service...This is a complete package designed to drive traffic to your website and ultimately to your cash register.
Tom Bass, EA
Santa Rosa, CA

Here's the service Tom is referring to.
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How To Ensure Your Advertising Doesn't Drain Your Budget

Here's the deal: Marketing can be expensive, sure.

That's why you do NOT want to "come huge" right out of the gate.
Instead, it's a very good idea to "test" small, and then continue to tweak and improve what works. Even before I get into technique, I want to get this in your head right out of the gate...it's a big mistake made by many accountants and tax pros (actually most marketers, period!).

Here's how you do that:

Start with a small list of about 300 prospects. Anything less than this isn't a very good sample size for a test. Frankly, even this is a bit small--I usually prefer at least 1000 names on my list for a test...but it'll do on a budget.

Send out at least 2 steps before you consider it a failure. I'll address this more another time.

Include a true tracking mechanism. This can be a specialized 800 number, or local number from this particular mailing. It could be a special appointment request form, requesting a specific Free Report, using a particular mini-website to gather information--it actually doesn't matter a LOT. What matters most is that you have a way to separate out any respondents from this particular mailing AWAY from other kinds of inquiries from yellow pages, referrals, etc.

Measure results by ROI. You can spend a lotta dough to get high response rates, and when the economics are there...it's actually not a bad idea. For write-up work, each client is worth a good deal of money, so you can do more creative strategies (lumpy mail, unusual items to get things opened and read, etc.)...but the main thing to track is ROI, not "response rates", because it's the only consistent "across the board" metric.

Try to beat your best. In direct response circles, your current "best" piece is called a control. Everybody is always trying to "beat their control" in this arena...but first you gotta HAVE one! Once you've established the best test results, it's now your job to tweak small elements (NOT the entire piece) to see what works better. This is where it gets fun! You see, you get to see instant feedback about what's really working. Forget, even about what I say...you've now got test results to back up your TESTED opinions!

Follow these steps, and you won't blow your budget on unproven marketing.

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