Stirring Up Controversy In Your Tax Firm Marketing

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Well, that was interesting!
Last week, I sent out an email to a portion of my list about how you can learn from President Barack Obama’s campaign in marketing your tax or accounting firm. And
I sure ruffled some feathers!
Now, as I mentioned, I stirred up some folks with my comments in that email. (You can read it, in blogpost form here.) And to be honest, it did take me a little by surprise — and I’m actually quite used to stirring up controversy.
I touched a hot-button, that’s for sure. I received some compliments on the email, but I received equal amounts of negative feedback. A sampling:
“Bad idea to mix politics and business. I’m gone.”
“Take me off your mailing list – one of the first rules of business I learned was to keep politics and religion out of it.”
“You mix politics into tax profession. When you mention that ‘I hope Obama losses’[sic], that is already bias.[sic]
I love when this happens.
You know why? I get to clean my list.
Now, lest you think I simply ignore all this stuff, I did reply back (warmly) in each case, thank them for their feedback, and I honored their request to be removed.
Further, one kind (brave?) soul posted to our Facebook wall, and I took the opportunity to respond to her there, as well. (And she was smart enough to see that political differences
doesn’t mean she can’t discover smart marketing ideas.)
But here’s why I love cleaning my list. If a simple expression of political opinion is going to light someone’s firecracker so much, I do NOT want that person as a client, nor do I want to waste my time (or theirs) in sending emails and mailings to them.
Personally, I still stand by what I said — but I also take the time to learn from experts in a wide variety of topics, even when I know I disagree with them on matters of politics or religion. Good information and guidance isn’t about someone’s politics or religious views. But I’m not going to list the dozens of people I learn from who hold deeply-divergent views from mine, because that’s not the point.
The point is: you shouldn’t waste your time on prospects or clients who will be a drain on you or your team.
You know that client — the one who emails you five times a week, with random questions, and pesters you until they get an answer (something they could have figured out with a simple Google search). Or the one who refuses to take an extension when they brought their stuff to your office on April 13th in shoeboxes and grocery bags.
Fire them, and their problems.
Lastly, a quick note to those of you who use our email marketing service: in case you are concerned, I am VERY careful to write in a voice which invites respect from both
sides of the political aisle.
I’ve had clients who sent us emails they received in response to THEIR weekly note (which I wrote) that complimented the content because they thought it affirmed their deeply-help beliefs — and one came from a staunch conservative, and the other, a staunch liberal. It’s a tricky dance I dance when I write for our clients — creating personality which works when it’s sent from a few hundred tax professional firms across North America — but it works really well.
And I will say this — after nearly a decade of building (multiple) businesses through email marketing, I’ve learned an important fact: being fearful of showing your “true” colors to your business contacts is a recipe for bland marketing and poor results.
Don’t fear controversy and boldness. Embrace it!

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