The New Way to Market Your Firm

The SmartCenter Blog

Tools, tips and insights for how to manage your tax business the smart way.

The New Way to Market Your Firm
November 20, 2014

By Chris Basom

Marketing in the new economy is more about attraction than promotion. By that I mean that in the old days (you know, five years ago) marketing was about interrupting your potential clients with advertising.

It took the form of door hangers, promotional letters, radio ads, windshield fliers, and discount coupons. Good old fashioned, blatant, wanton promotion.

We would do whatever we could to beat our prospective new client into submission. When they finally said “yes” (if they finally said yes) they did so with no idea of what they were agreeing to – they were responding to a message that they probably misunderstood and we most likely didn’t mean.

If it was a “deal” inducement (coupon or discount) we just won a battle of “reduced value” – was that a win? No matter what – we made some claim (knowing what we know) and they said “OK” knowing what they know. We basically had our work still ahead of us. All we won was the opportunity to work really hard to educate our new client about our philosophy, personality and attitudes in hopes that they agreed.

Whew!

After 33 years of doing this, I’m done trying out for the job.

I only want clients who want me. And that means they need to know enough about me to want me before we make an appointment. Remember, the new marketing is about attraction. That means they come to you – they only show up because they already want what you offer.

But how do you accomplish that?

What if you could get in front of potential clients and reveal your philosophy, personality and attitudes? What if you could show them how smart you are, demonstrate your expertise and maybe even your sense of humor? Would that allow them to decide if they wanted to hire you? Would that give you a chance to connect; an opportunity to engage before an actual engagement?

Of course.

How to Make Clients Want You

The mechanism is pretty simple, and fairly obvious. We’ve been using it since May of this year to hook you. Since May, we’ve been presenting webinars on practice management, sharing ideas to help you build the tax practice of your dreams. We’ve been showing you tools proven to get you a better result. We’ve exposed our philosophy, personality and attitudes.

It worked. You are reading this blog. You are giving up your valuable time, willingly. Wow – it really worked. You are attracted to us, and we are truly grateful.

By being attracted to us, you are predisposed to like us – and like what we have to offer. That’s what I want a new client to feel like when we first engage.

I’m not saying everyone who ever attended one of our webinars is following the SmartCenter blog. What I’m saying is that everyone following our blog is doing so because they are attracted by our philosophy, attitudes, and personality.

So, how do you build your mechanism for attraction?

The first thing you need is an audience. You need a place to present your philosophies, personality and attitudes giving others an opportunity to be attracted to them, and you. As a tax professional, you have a naturally sought-after message. You know things that the overwhelming majority of people don’t, but want to.

For my practice, I have chosen “live” audiences because public speaking has not been an obstacle for me. But you can use webinars (as SmartCenter does), or articles in local papers to gain the same voice. Because I use live workshops/seminars, I’ll focus on that in my “how-to” for this writing.

Where do you find audiences to educate?

The key to an attraction program is valuable content. Your presentation should be about education, and I recommend your topic should be tax reduction through planning.

Your audience can be found in many places. I’ve presented to service organizations like local youth sports leaders, Elks Clubs, Lions Clubs, trade and professional groups, and through the local community center.

Setting up your presentation

The length of your presentation will vary with the group and the type of education desired. Many will be one time, 45 to 90 minutes, while others can be multiple meeting/multiple hour workshops. 

There are three issues to resolve:

1)Who will you be presenting to?

2)What are the big tax issues that concern them?

3)How long is your opportunity to educate?

The more limited the variables, the more focused your presentation can be. The more moving parts, the less focused your presentation can be. Example: if you present to a plumbers’ trade organization, your presentation can be tailored to address the biggest issues they face as small business owners. Versus if your presentation is to the general public, your presentation will need to cast a wider net.

Real life example

Most recently, I approached the Adult Education Directors at the city-run community centers in my city and a neighboring city. I offered a three-session class titled “Taxes! Taxes! Taxes!” and submitted a course description and outline, using the H&R Block claim that “each year Americans over-pay their taxes by the $millions.”

The course would show participants how and why this was happening, and give them tangible tax strategies that would profit them tenfold the course cost of $35. We also noted the course cost was 100% deductible (as tax education) and that the fees would be donated by us to local youth soccer.

My goals were simple:

1)Give participants real ways to improve their tax situation.

2)Teach them how taxes work so they could plan better.

3)Find new clients for my practice.

In order to accomplish my first two goals, I had to really teach something valuable. I had to make good on the promise I made in my course description and outline. If I don’t accomplish that, then I haven’t created any trust between myself and the participants. Trust is built by delivering on promises – big and small.

My third goal is all about including my philosophies, personality and attitudes (PPA) in my presentation. That way, anyone attending who resonates with my PPA is attracted to my services and could become a new client.

We were chosen to present the class in one community in November, and in the other in January of next year. The community center promotes the class through their newsletters and resources. The community center provides the room, equipment, tables and chairs, registration services, collects the fees, etc.

To enhance attendance, we promote the class to our existing clients as a “send your friends and neighbors to find out what you already know.” We also promoted the classes on our social media, our website, networking groups, friends and relatives. (Half of our attendees at the November workshop came via our own promotion.)

Other audiences can be found through connections your existing clients have. If you have clients in the Elks or Lions, ask them how they recruit the speakers for their monthly meetings. How could that be YOU?

If you have clients in professional and trade organizations, ask them the same question. All of these groups need programming and content. All of these organizations have members who pay taxes. Everyone wants to pay less tax!

You have to pull the trigger

The hardest thing about creating any content marketing piece is starting from scratch.

You have to have the courage and aptitude to commit to holding a live event, but we want to make the content creation part as easy as possible.

Here is a template presentation you can use as a starting point for your course as well as the marketing material you can use to promote the course.

As with everything we give you, feel free to edit it and make it your own. But, having a starting point will cut down the time it takes you to put the course together tremendously.

This first piece is the general announcement you can send to your clients to get them to refer someone for your course.

The second Piece is what you can send to your attendee to confirm their registration.

This last piece is what you should send a day before your event to remind all your attendees to make sure to attend.

Make sure to add any other touch points that might be needed based on the specific course you end up presenting.

If public speaking is not your thing, then present your content in writing in the form of a “tax tips” column or “dear tax pro” regular in your local paper.

Here’s a letter/email you can use to introduce your idea to the editor.

Make sure to customize this piece to address the specific needs of that particular audience. The goal is to stress how your course will benefit the attendees and, in turn, make them look favorably on that editor’s brand.   

Key takeaways

  • Remember, you know something that others don’t, but want to.
  • You want your main public relations strategy to be one of attraction, not promotion.
  • If you find a way to share your philosophies, personality and attitudes with audiences, you will give them everything they need to know to engage your services.

Now get going, you tax magnate! Start attracting some new clients!

About Chris Basom

Chris is an avid soccer fan, sailor, and certified scuba diver. When he's not helping tax pros with practice management, he's also the managing partner of a tax firm in Orange County CA. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn.