Every year, while directing the marketing for a multi-million dollar tax firm, I broke down our marketing plan in 3 key areas:
1) Existing Client Retention
As you no doubt have realized, you CANNOT “assume” that your existing clients will come back to you this tax season. That’s especially true if you don’t have any system in place to build, seal and develop relationships.
Yes, you can send a “tax planner”. That’s a basic step, but not nearly enough.
Every year, we’d send about five direct mail pieces to our former clients, incentivizing them to come in EARLY (which dearly helped our operational systems), and encouraging them to refer their family and friends. These ranged from full letters (conversational, friendly), to postcards.
The point is — you’ve gotta make every effort to “remind” your clients that they made a great decision last year to trust you…and to keep them from being seduced by your competitors and the ever-exploding amount of “free” online options.(I just started using Mint.com to manage our family’s finances, and I’m amazed by how *easy* — and compelling — they make TurboTax to be. Mint is now owned by Intuit, and it’s a major competition for you, if you haven’t yet figured that out!)
So don’t miss the step of reaching out (regularly) to your existing clients!
2) “Lost” Client Win-Back
Did you know that the most common reason you had clients NOT come back to you last year wasn’t because of anything you did wrong?
But see — there’s this place inside of each one of us that just assumes that clients who “move on”, and off of our current client list, did so because we screwed up somehow.
That’s plain false.
How do I know?
Simple. Each year, we’d pull the list of non-returning clients (stretching back the last three tax seasons), and we’d send them a couple direct mail pieces.
Our “lost” client campaigns were consistently the MOST responsive direct mail campaigns of each season.
But you’ve gotta do it right. Rather than simply sending them your normal stuff, you really must directly address that they didn’t come back last year, and give them a good reason (read: a real offer) to come back!
3) New Client Acquisition Campaigns
Obviously, this was a large focus. Each year, we served 20,000+ clients in our 23 offices, and even with the power of our existing and “lost” client campaigns, there was always a certain “churn” of clients who moved, passed away, etc.
So we had to spend a fair amount (multiple six-figures) each year to go out and strike while the iron was hot during tax season for new clients.
Display advertising, yellow pages, online marketing, signage, “guerilla” methods, local joint venture partnerships, etc. etc., ad infinitum.
The main point I want to communicate to you here (I simply don’t have time to cover strategy for each media) is that we did it ALL. Or, rather … as many as we could reasonably implement. Contra-“gurus”: There is NO one “magic bullet” when it comes to marketing your tax business.
I don’t know “one” way to get 40 clients. But I DO know 40 ways to get 1 client.
And that’s how you should focus yourself in this area. Don’t be seduced into “building a brand”. That WILL come as you employ smart, direct-response marketing–but it’ll come as a by-product, and should NOT be your first goal.
I sure hope this helps you — it’s a simple template by which you can frame your marketing efforts.