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 flyer, 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, a 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 complementary services you can offer in return. Consider providing a free service or giving them a significant discount on future services. This not only provides an 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 a 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.