Five Simple Marketing Strategies for Tax Professionals in the Digital Age

At a time when many consumers turn to the Internet to find products and services, it’s vital to have a presence on the Web. Otherwise, many potential customers may overlook you, simply because they can’t find you. Through the Internet, you can attract future clients in your area and communicate with your current clients. Here are five simple tactics to market your tax preparation service on the Web:

1) Create a functional website

According to the Yahoo Small Business survey, 70% of small businesses had a website by the end of 2004; we can only assume current numbers are even higher. Building a website is the first step in developing an online presence. There are books written on building websites and firms that can help you design and optimize your site.

Your site should reflect your practice. It should be clean, professional and informative; and make sure your contact information is apparent.

2) Register with online directories

If you go to the Google search engine and enter “Kaysville Utah Tax Preparation,” the first thing that appears in the results is the local business results for tax preparation near Kaysville,UT. This is Google’s online directory of businesses. Registration in this directory is free. Following the Google directory is a number of other online directories that list tax preparation firms. Conduct a similar search for your area and see which directories come up. Then go through the steps to register with these directories.

3) Create an email marketing campaign

An email marketing campaign will mainly target your current clients. This may be something you can implement in the future if you don’t have a list of your clients’ email addresses. Through an email campaign, you can inform your clients of special offers, promote your website or blog, and/or send a semiannual newsletter with tax tips and information. A newsletter is an excellent way to stay in touch with clients throughout the year and encourage them to come back the following tax season.

4) Build a purposeful blog

A web log, or blog for short, is one of the newest forms of communicating online. Blogs began as online journals where people could share their ideas, thoughts, stories, photos and videos. Only recently have corporations recognized the value of a blog to connect with their customers.

A major advantage to a blog is you can find free software and services that will host the blog. A CPA or tax preparer could use a blog to share insights and opinions on tax law or other tax related topics. I found one CPA’s blog where he shares jokes and comics about taxes and tax preparation. Though blogs are casual in feel, remember you are still representing your practice, so it should be done tastefully.

5) Use paid listings through search engines when cost effective

MSN, Google, Yahoo and other search engines offer paid listings as a form of advertising. Paid listings, also known as sponsored links, usually appear at the top and at the right of search results. Companies pay to have their links appear on the search results page in these areas. This type of Internet marketing can be effective, especially when you are first creating your online presence. I recommend you hire an Internet marketing firm to manage and track your paid listings account. Your ads should focus on the demographic in your area to avoid spending a lot of money on ineffective advertising.

If done correctly, online marketing is a fruitful strategy to increase your client base and well worth the time and money spent.

Visit http://www.1040works.com/ for more marketing tips and tax law information and take a look at Small business ideas that’ll make you money.

We welcome your feedback in our comments section.

Are You Experiencing Job Burnout – Part II

Overcome Burnout by Reducing the Stressors That Cause It(Part Two of a Two-Part Series)

A business woman looks exhausted.Last week you took our quiz to determine whether or not you’re experiencing job burnout. We’re guessing you’re back because you are indeed burned out and are looking for ways to eliminate both the symptoms and their causes. We asked you to consider what’s been causing various symptoms, and we hope you took the time to determine which stressors are triggering the burnout. Here’s a breakdown of common stressors and ways to reduce them:

Working Too Hard, Too Long

Are some of your burnout symptoms caused by working long, hard hours? Not taking the time to relax and unwind can lead to job burnout rather quickly. You need to achieve a good balance between your business and your personal life. And we realize that many of you are working long after your day-job has finished. Take the time to evaluate your work schedule and see how you can ensure that you’re getting enough sleep and time to yourself. This may require setting some practical boundaries. One way you can achieve that is by vowing to work only within designated office hours. For example, you might decide that you won’t work after 9pm, and you don’t go to bed after 10pm. Or perhaps it means you reserve your weekends for yourself and your family. Whatever you decide, ensure you reduce this stressor before it leads to greater physical and emotional problems.

Feeling Stressed and Frustrated

Perhaps your feelings have more to do with your day-job than they do with your small business. Either way you need to determine which is causing the stress and frustration. If your full-time job is leaving you overwhelmed and unsatisfied, it might be time to consider starting your own accounting and/or tax practice. If your stress is caused by too much work in your business, again, it might be time to consider moving your part-time business full-time. If you’re not ready to expand your business, you may consider releasing a client or two in order to reduce the workload and stress you may be feeling as a result. Or you can hire an employee to help you manage the workload in your part-time business.If your stress is associated with another aspect of your business, focus on resolving that problem. Deal with that difficult client, look for ways to better manage finances, organize your office, practice effective time management; the important thing is that you reduce or eliminate the actual stressors. Otherwise, the anxiety seeps into every other aspect of your business.

Perceiving a Lack of Reward or Satisfaction

Again you must determine whether or not this is something you associate with your day job or your small business. If you’re feeling unrewarded or unsatisfied with your business, you need to determine why. Perhaps you could set specific goals and then reward yourself when you achieve them. Having your own business is no fun if you don’t take the time to enjoy some of the fringe benefits. And waiting for your clients to praise your work is no way to live. Learn to appreciate that a client’s continued use of your services is reward enough.

Suffering from Physical Ailments

Chances are if you reduce the above stressors you’ll find yourself feeling much better physically. But you still should visit a doctor to ensure that your physical ailments aren’t caused by something completely unrelated to your job. You may be surprised to find that a simple prescription can eliminate this burnout symptom.The important thing is that you address the burnout as soon as possible. Unfortunately, if you continue to ignore the symptoms and the stressors that cause them, you may ultimately find that your health, and consequently, your business are at risk. Take the time to take care of yourself today!

Tax Season Opens

irs-news2Due to the renewal of “extender” provisions to the tax law that expired in 2013, the IRS announced that tax season will open as scheduled, and they will begin accepting the electronic submission of returns on January 20th.

The legislation extended tax breaks for individuals and businesses as well as a savings program for the disabled.  Business deductions that will now be allowed through 2014 include some of the following:

  • Bonus depreciation, allowing an additional first-year deduction of 50% of equipment costs
  • Section 179 rules which allow for $500,000 on acquired property for business use
  • Exclusion from capital gains tax of 100% of small business stock sold by an individual
  • The Word Opportunity Tax Credit for hiring military veterans and other qualified individuals
  • The Research Tax Credit
  • New Markets Tax Credit

A number of other deductions are included in the extension, which are detailed in an article by Michael Cohn entitled “Passage of Tax Extenders Contains Key Tax Breaks” on the website AccountingToday.

Before the extension of this legislation, the IRS was concerned that the elimination of those tax breaks would make it difficult for them to effectively update their systems in time for tax season.  However, at the beginning of December, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said, “We have reviewed the late tax law changes and determined that there was nothing preventing us from continuing our updating and testing of our systems.  Our employees will continue an aggressive schedule of testing and preparation of our systems during the next month to complete the final stages needed for the 2015 tax season.”

In addition to proceeding with tax season as planned, the IRS reminds taxpayers that electronic filing is the most effective way to submit a return and ensure a timely refund.  Visit the official IRS website for more information.

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.

Resources

–.  “Tax Season Opens as Planned Following Extenders Legislation.” 29 December 2014  IRS.gov

Cohn, Michael.  “Passage of Tax Extenders Contains Key Tax Breaks.”  17 December 2014  AccountingToday.com

Elevator Speech

Create an Elevator Speech and Sell Yourself in 60 Seconds or Less

So what do you do, anyway? Has anyone ever asked you that question before? If you’ve stuttered through your answer, then you need to create a striking, clear, and succinct “elevator speech.” So what’s an elevator speech, you ask? It’s like a quick infomercial about you and your business that can be delivered in the time it takes an elevator to carry its occupants to their floor. An elevator speech is something you hone and practice so that at opportune moments you can network effectively, explaining what you do and why you do it so well that everyone deserves to hear about it.

The Hook

You should begin your elevator speech with a hook that piques the listener’s interest and makes them want to hear more. Consider using a quote, sharing a quick anecdote, or asking a question.

The Conversational Tone

Your elevator speech is not a sales pitch. Occupants would opt to walk up flights of stairs rather than be stuck in an elevator with a relentless salesperson. Think of your speech as the introduction your business would give where it able to talk. It shouldn’t sound canned or monotonous. It should be exciting and engaging, communicating your passion for what you do and how well you do it. You should practice the speech so that it sounds natural and conversational. And it’s important that you not drone on and on. That’s why it should be no longer than 60 seconds. In fact, you may consider having two versions of your elevator speech: the 30-second version and the minute version. The elevator speech you deliver would depend on the given situation.

The Details

Without significant details, your elevator speech is generic and uninformative. What do you do? What sets your services apart from others? Who are your clients and what problems do you solve for them? What could you do for the listener to make their lives better?

The Request

You should always end your speech with a request. Will you ask for the listener’s business card? Will you ask them to take your card and give you a call if they’d like to hear more? Do you want them to refer their family and friends to you? You may decide to have different requests in mind so you can end your speech with a request that responds best to that particular situation.

A Sample Elevator Speech

Here’s a sample elevator speech that may help you begin creating your own:

My name’s Sharon West and I enjoy doing what most people don’t: I file taxes, helping individuals and small business owners maximize their returns. I’m a professional tax preparer. You see, many paid tax preparers haven’t received any formal training in filing taxes and working with individuals on their tax planning. That’s what I do and I’ve been trained to do it. And if business owners are concerned that my fees will eat up their profits, I can guarantee that what I charge will come back to them at least 100% in tax savings. Now how many tax professionals do you know of that come with that kind of guarantee? Here’s my business card. If you know of individuals or small business owners who could use a trusted tax professional, please refer them to me.

A Final Note

While you can always give your speech in an elevator, the elevator speech is designed for any networking situation where you can introduce yourself and your business to potential clients. This may be at a convention, a conference, the grocery store, or the dentist’s office. Remember that anyone can be a potential client or can refer you to a potential client. And with your elevator speech on the tip of your tongue, you’re ready to sell yourself in any given situation with comfort and ease.

Universal Can Help You Better Introduce Your Services to Potential Clients

There are many other ways you can introduce yourself and your services to potential clients. While the elevator speech is a great place to start, we have a CD that can enhance your approach; use it either for role playing, watching it while meeting with your client or passing them out. Order a generic version or your own personalized copy today!

Universal Helps Two Moms Fulfill Their Dreams

mom-balanceJennifer Hernan had always wanted to launch her own practice, but having a baby in 2009 was just the catalyst she needed.  Even though she loved her job at the time, she wanted to secure a future where she could work from home and be both mommy and career woman.

While she had already earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting, she needed training that drilled deeper than corporate accounting and taught practical, day-to-day accounting for the small business; she needed a complete work down on how to manage a client’s accounts from scratch.

Jennifer enrolled in Universal Accounting Center’s Professional Bookkeeper program, the premier training course in small-business accounting that helps students manage client accounts while also teaching how to promote one’s services.  She also enrolled in the Professional Professional Bookkeeper’s Guide to QuickBooks, a program designed to help students master Intuit’s popular accounting software, QuickBooks, so that they can work more efficiently while generating accurate client data.

Upon completing these programs, Jennifer earned professional designations, demonstrating her new-found expertise to current and prospective clients.

Up until a few weeks ago, Jennifer had worked as a fulltime accountant with a handful of clients on the side.  One of Jennifer’s clients recently offered her a contract position that will enable her to finally do what she’s always dreamed of doing: building a bigger business from home while spending more time with her daughter.  In addition to the freedom of self-employment, Jennifer can now also enjoy the satisfaction of helping her clients achieve greater financial success.

Jennifer credits her accomplishment to “Determination, as well as the support from UAC staff.”  She would routinely contact UAC’s master coaches for advice and encouragement, a valuable perk offered to all Universal students.

Alecia Gale was a stay-at-home mom and homeschooler, so when she became single unexpectedly, her priority was to find a job where she could work from home.  Having worked as a bookkeeper before, she knew that starting her own financial practice was a likely possibility.

12 years later, and after completing Professional Bookkeeper and Tax Preparer training programs, Alecia has a thriving financial practice with 9 regular accounting clients and even more who have her do their taxes every year.  She makes a full-time salary and only works 23-25 hours per week.

She explains, “My favorite thing [about having my own practice] is my ability to run my own schedule.  I adjust my clients so that I’m home when my kids get home; I volunteer in their classrooms, go to their school programs, drive them to lessons and …go pick them up if they’re sick at school.  I vacation when I want to, and I take every Friday off.”

Having established a successful practice, Alecia and her family are able to enjoy all the perks of self-employment, including her ability to take them on lush vacations to Disneyland, Jamaica, and Hawaii.  She lives a comfortable life supporting herself and her family as a single mom.

Universal’s Training Programs Have Something for Everyone

If you’re interested in advancing your career like Jennifer and Alecia with additional training, either to secure a better job, earn a promotion or launch your own practice, visit Universal Accounting Center to sample our online training for FREEOr see what our graduates have said about their experiences!

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