5 Unexpected Marketing Strategies

lightbulbEveryone is looking for new and effective ways to market their businesses.  If your current approach feels a bit stale and worn, perhaps it’s time to try some unexpected promotional tactics.  Consider the following 5 suggestions:

1. Guest blogging.  Visit blogs frequented by your target market, and offer to write a post in exchange for a byline with a link to your own website.  This will expose you to new prospective clients you may not have met otherwise.

2. Enter a business award competition.  Professional and trade organizations, chambers of commerce, Better Business Bureaus and even universities often offer award competitions for small businesses.  Winning one of these competitions can greatly enhance your reputation as well as offer countless marketing advantages.  You can post the information to your website, include it in a newsletter, mention it in your advertising campaigns, etc.

3. Share your expertise with the media.  Nothing says expert like a media quote.  You can write an article or column for your local paper or issue a press release regarding any new information about your practice.

4. Donate your services to a non-profit organization.  This is another method that will enable you to contribute to the community while generating good PR for your business. Not only that, but the donation is tax deductible. And when this organization promotes an event, you can ask that your store name be displayed somewhere on their booth, products, and promotional materials.

5. Create an event.  May 10th is Accounting Day and April 15th is Tax Day.  But you can create an event for any reason. Sponsoring a free event that people can attend in order to receive promotional materials or, perhaps, enter their names in a raffle, can be a great way to generate interest in your practice.  Remember to publish press releases to let people know about your event.

There are many creative ways you can promote your practice.  By employing just two of the above marketing tips, you can grow your business without spending a lot of money.

Build a Better Practice with BizBench

BizBench is an online business assessment tool that you can use to advance your financial practice.  For example you can use BizBench to accomplish the following:

Attract More New Clients. Give potential clients the incentive to become paying clients.  Offer them a report that benchmarks their business against similar businesses and charts and graphs their strengths and weaknesses and opportunities for growth.  Let them know you’re more than just an historian; but you can help shape their future.

Retain Existing Clients. Imagine the power that a complete and comprehensive benchmarking and profitability report will give you to shape the future of your existing clients.  They will see you as a valued and trusted adviser as you quantify monthly improvements against this benchmark in dollars and cents to further increase the value of your services each month.

Save Time. It only takes a few minutes to submit your client’s key income statement and balance sheet data online, and in just a few seconds, you have a comprehensive benchmarking and profitability report to present them.  BizBench does all the heavy lifting for you, and you take all the credit with this report branded for your business.

Change the face of your business today, and become a Profit and Growth Expert using BizBench Software!  Call Universal today at 888-265-5341.

IRS Offers Online Tax Seminars

tax-tipsOn October 1st the IRS announced the availability of online seminars filmed at the 2014 IRS Nationwide Tax Forums.  Tax professionals can register for these self-study seminars and receive continuing professional education credits.

These 14 seminars can be accessed at the IRS Nationwide Tax Forums Online (NTFO) and cover the following topics:

  • Highlights of the 2014 income tax law changes
  • Overview of the premium tax credit and the individual shared responsibility provision
  • Updates to and overview of Treasury Circular No. 230
  • Improvements to the process for securing an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number 

This online training is delivered through various media, including interactive videos, PowerPoint slides and transcripts.

According to the press release, “The online forums are registered with the IRS Return Preparer Office and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a qualified sponsor of continuing professional education (CPE). For a fee, Enrolled Agents and CPAs taking NTFO seminars can earn CPE credits. To earn CPE credits, users must create an account, answer review questions throughout the seminar, and pass short tests at the end of the seminars.”

The seminars can also be audited for free.  However, those who audit the seminars will not be able to access review questions, nor can they receive credit for completing the seminar.

For more information or to see seminars from prior-year IRS Nationwide Tax Forums, visit the NTFO.

Universal Accounting’s Tax Training

UA’s Professional Tax Preparer program will help you establish yourself as a trained and trustworthy tax professional.  You can earn the Professional Tax Preparer Designation while receiving up to 60 CPE credits, depending on the number of modules you complete.

UAC’s Professional Tax Preparer (PTP) program will not only give you hands-on training in completing full individual (1040) and business returns (1065, 1120, 1120S), but it will also provide you with the following:

  • 20 hours of valuable video instruction
  • 2 instructional manuals
  • Step-by-step instruction in becoming a sole practitioner
  • One year of follow-up support from expert tax preparers
  • The opportunity to earn valuable professional certification
  • Our iron-clad, risk-free guarantee

Call 1-877-833-7909 to enroll today, and improve your competitive advantage while securing your professional standing in the tax industry.

Resource

–.  “Online Seminars from the 2014 IRS Nationwide Tax Forums are Now Available.”  1 October 2014  IRS.gov

Marketing on a Shoestring

Marketing StrategyThree BIG and Inexpensive Marketing Tools

Steuart Henderson Britt, noted author in the psychology of marketing, once said, “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark.  You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.”

Marketing is an important business function.  Without it, you can’t build a clientele; you’re winking in the dark.  That being said, most burgeoning tax professionals can’t afford to allot much money to a marketing budget.  So they must look for inexpensive yet successful techniques in promoting their practices.

The following three marketing tools have helped many tax preparers grow their clientele without, excuse the pun, taxing their budget.

1. Annual Letters to Friends, Family and Previous Clients. With income tax preparation, nearly everyone you know has an obligation to file a return.  This makes for a wide prospective client base. Because of this, you can send annual letters to family and friends, reminding them of your tax preparation expertise, with great success.  Bill Brough, Universal Accounting’s Tax Curriculum Specialist explains, “That April 15 deadline is a great motivator, and most people either expend a lot of effort to do it themselves or a lot of money in retaining someone else to do it for them. There is no reason why you shouldn’t offer your services to family and friends with the reasonable expectation that some of them, perhaps many of them, will become clients.”

In the letter be sure to state your qualifications, experience and any professional designations you have; this will enhance your credibility and make people more likely to request your services.  And by including past clients on your mailing list, you’ll be more likely to retain the clients you already have.  In the end, the only cost to you is in printing, postage and time.

2.   The Distribution of Flyers. With a thick stack of flyers and some manpower, you could connect with countless prospective clients in one fell swoop.  Be certain that your flyer is succinct yet informative, providing all the key information a prospective client would like to read (for example, what taxpayer wouldn’t like to hear that you may be able to legally lower their tax liability to more than cover your fees?).

While it is important that you design an eye-catching flier, avoid too much flash—you’re a tax preparer not a car dealership.  Consider your audience and their expectations; the flier should be simple, reflect your professionalism and include the same qualifications noted in your letter.

As important as the flyer itself is the location where they are distributed.  Where are you most likely to connect with a large population that fits within your target market?  Christi Hall, graduate of Universal Accounting Center’s Professional Tax Preparer Program recommends targeting new developments, explaining, “Many people are moving into the area, some from different states, and I have found these communities to be very successful with lots of people looking for a local tax accountant.”

3. Request for Referrals. Jim Rohn said, “One customer, well taken care of, could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising.”  If your current clients can refer more clients your way, imagine all that you’re saving in advertising costs.  These valuable referrals are worth far more than the discount or complimentary services you can offer in return.  Consider providing a free service or giving them a significant discount on future services.  This not only provides incentive to refer friends and family your way, but it gives these clients just another good reason to stay with you.

Universal’s Bill Brough says, “When I talk about asking for referrals as the third leg of my [marketing] stool, I’m talking primarily about what I say to my clients after I complete their return, and also a more general attitude of fishing for referrals in all my interactions with people during tax season, even perfect strangers. I keep a stack of business cards in my pocket and I try to be liberal in dispensing them at every opportunity.”

If you’re like most financial professional, marketing doesn’t come easily.  Your talents reside in providing tax preparation and other financial services, and trying to figure out how to better promote your practice can cause anxiety, especially if you’re concerned about cost.  However, using these three proven techniques, you will get the greatest return for both the time and money you invest so you can spend more time doing what you really do best: tax preparation.

Learn about more proven marketing techniques by watching our free video, The Art and Science of Getting Clients.  In just a short amount of time you’ll learn how to increase your annualized billings by tens of thousands of dollars!  Visit Universal now to change your professional future.

Christmas Gifts as a Marketing Tool

It’s probably stressful to consider giving your clients a Christmas gift right now.  But what if we told you that not only would it remind them of your valuable services, but it would also work as an incredible marketing tool that could increase your profitability in the long run. 

In a guest post to the US Small Business Administration’s website, author and president of GrowBiz Media Rieva Lesonsky shares “6 Ideas to Turn Your Customer Holiday Gifts into a Marketing Tool.”  Here we expound on four of her tips:

1. Give what you make or sell.  This is not only a great way to retain clients, but a good method for securing new ones.  Run a special promotion where one referral and the person who referred them can receive a free consultation or financial assessment.  This demonstrates just how valuable your services are.

2. Deliver your gifts by hand.  One of the reasons to give clients holiday gifts is because it’s a great opportunity to remind them of your valuable services.  Delivering them by hand allows you to give them a personalized greeting which demonstrates a genuine interest in their wellbeing.  And because tax season is just around the corner, now is the perfect time to reintroduce yourself to them and their businesses.

3. Give the gift of time.  Instead of giving them a physical gift, consider inviting a handful of clients to lunch.  Perhaps they share common interests and this provides them with the chance to build strategic partnerships with other small-business owners in your community

4. Give the gift of information.  We often talk about the importance of sharing valuable financial advice with your clients that can help them improve their businesses.  Consider a holiday newsletter where you share helpful year end tips that will better prepare them for the upcoming tax season.  Or, as Lesonsky suggests, “A business book or magazine subscription that’s relevant to your client’s industry, challenges and interests shows you put some thought into what will help her get ahead in the coming year.”

We understand that in December you are extremely busy with your own year-end, but you can target current and prospective clients now with holiday wishes that can enhance your practice.  Take the time to reach out and send personalized greetings before things get too hectic.

Other Ways to Enhance Your Marketing Efforts

If you’re looking for training to help you market your practice effectively, the Universal Practice Builder (UPB) Program is the course for you.  Also called Marketing on Steroids, this course was designed by our own growth specialists who know not only how to market your specialized financial services, but how to market them effectively to qualified, prospective clients.

The UPB program provides the following:

  • Flexibility You complete the course on your own time and pace.  And the online instructive enables you to return to key concepts and instruction as necessary.
  • Complete education.  This comprehensive training program will give you everything you need to build a thriving practice.
  • A qualified professional to answer questions.  For six months you will have access to our professional coaches for personal, professional guidance via phone or email.

The Universal Practice Builder Program will equip you with all the tools you need to grow your business.  If you find yourself lacking key marketing know-how, call Universal at 1-877-833-7909 to register for this phenomenal program today!!

Resource

Lesonsky, Rieva.  “6 Ideas to Turn Your Customer Holiday Gifts into a Marketing Tool.”   3 December 2013 SBA.gov

The IRS Helps Americans Plan for Retirement

The IRS is interested in helping Americans save for the future and has taken time to create some guidance that will enable taxpayers to better choose a retirement plan that suits their unique needs.

In a March 21, 2012 press release, the IRS detailed four ways they are helping Americans put their savings to better use:

  1. Automatic enrollment.  The Treasury and IRS have issued more information on their retirement and savings initiatives which enable 401(k) plan sponsors to include automatic contribution increases.  To help with this, the IRS provides sample automatic enrollment plan language and guidance to interested employers and other plan sponsors.  For more information, visit the IRS.gov.
  2. Receive tax refunds as US Savings Bonds.  While you and your clients may have received your tax refund weeks ago, it’s good to remember that IRS has enables taxpayers to buy up to $5000 in US Series I Savings Bonds with their income tax refunds.
  3. Save payments that would be received for unused vacation or similar leave.  There are some employees that can choose to receive cash payments for unused vacation, etc. when they quit or even in the duration of their employment.  These cash payments can be used as contributions to retirement plans for which the Treasury and IRS have issued guidance.  Learn more here and here at IRS.gov.
  4. Roll over retirement distributions into IRAs or other plans.  The press release explains, “A key risk to lifetime savings is when an employee spends his or her lump sum payment, instead of electing to roll over the payment to an IRA or other retirement plan.”  The IRS refers to Notice 2009-68 in explaining how the rollover option works.

It’s important that you understand all the retirement options available, not only so that you can prepare for your own comfortable retirement, but so that you can help your clients do the same.

Universal Accounting Helps Tax Preparers Succeed

At Universal, we believe it’s important to prepare for the future, and we’re interested in seeing your future success as a tax preparer. Our online tax training, the Professional Tax Preparer Program, is designed to help professionals like you master tax preparation, become efficient in the completion of individual and business returns, and establish thriving home-based tax businesses.  If you would like to learn more, visit Universal for a free video today!

Next Page »