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The Hero’s Journey

I’m currently engaged in a personal academic study of Homer’s classic Greek works, the Illiad and the Odyssey.

What? What??!!??! It sure beats my other recent academic inquiry into Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga. Yeah, you read that correctly.

Hey, I’m a twice divorced, middle aged, American, male. I…I….I kinda like the idea of an attractive, female werewolf that could rip my head off. Team Leah Clearwater, FTW!

Didn’t see that coming, did you? Actress Julia Jones, 38, is of Choctaw, Chickasaw, and African American descent, studied ballet from age 4, and is a graduate of Columbia University, for any of the other 54% of readers that are men. She recently portrayed the character Kohana in the HBO show Westworld, and currently appears in the Liam Neeson flick Cold Pursuit.

Ahem. 🙂

Wait, what was I talking about?

Uhhh, let’s see… Team Jacob, Team Leah, Team Quielute, Greek literature, Sirens, right, right…

At their core, both the modern literature of Twilight and the 8th century BC literature of Homer are about the hero’s journey.

That epic journey from nobody to somebody. From worthless to priceless. From peon to super-hero.

The generic story is as old as recorded history itself. It’s the basis of entire movie franchises, and, at risk of offending countless readers, the basis of entire religions.

From Abraham to Odysseus to Jesus to Muhammad to de Broglie, The Hero’s Journey is an integral part of what makes us human. In truth, it’s the very story of the human condition. And, it’s a story that will play out into the future as we colonize the Moon, Mars, Proxima Centauri b, and encounter extraterrestrial species that throw our entire concept of being into utter chaos.

But here’s what excites me: No matter what changes in the world around us, you, too, can have your own hero’s journey.

Maybe you want to pull a Jassen, and rise from American poverty to the American 5%.

Maybe you want help ensure a drought-free future to thousands of Eritrean farmers.

Maybe you want to ensure the economic survival of your rural town of 50 people.

Maybe you want to ensure your own child receives a college education.

Maybe you want to ensure that your own family has a meal tomorrow.

No matter where you start, and what your objective may be, there is a Hero’s Journey to be had.

I obviously don’t know who you, dear reader, may be exactly. I may not know where you started, or where you’re headed.

But I can assure you of this: If you’re a tax professional in America, and you’re willing to make the necessary commitments, you can embark on The Hero’s Journey.

You can be a hero to yourself, your family, your community, your clients. You can be a hero to those closest to you. You can create an impact far beyond yourself, in whatever target market you choose, simply by embarking upon the journey.

Do you accept the challenge?

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The Complete 30-Day 941 Tax Resolution Marketing Challenge, All On One Page

Many readers have requested that I consolidate links to all 30 days of the 941 Tax Resolution Marketing Challenge on to one page so that it’s easier to find them all.

Well, here they are! Indexed by day and the general category of each challenge task.

These 30-day marketing challenges consist of steps that help you set up your marketing systems. This is the polar opposite of a Daily Marketing Checklist, which is helpful once you have marketing systems already created.

Also bear in mind that a task list such as this doesn’t have to be completed in order, or in it’s entirety. There sure to be a bunch of things on here you just refuse to do — kind of like me with social media and being on camera, it just ain’t gonna happen. If that’s the case, then just pick the 10 or 15 tasks that you are willing to commit to, and add them as recurring tasks on your calendar. Heck, double up and do two a day once you get going. Or, got totally wackadoodle crazy and do FIVE a day, since so many of them are pretty quick once you actually do them a couple times.

In other words, this isn’t just a one-shot, 30-day challenge. You can use these challenge tasks in a variety of different to support your practice goals.

Without further ado…

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941 Marketing Challenge Day 30

You made it.

Day 30.

Pat yourself on the back, my friend.

Over the course of the past thirty days, even if you haven’t completed all the tasks, you’ve accomplished more to move your practice forward than 99% of your colleagues in private practice.

I want you to reflect upon this accomplishment. Soak it up. Feel free to be a little smug about it, even!

With that smug sense of satisfaction in hand, let’s move on to today’s challenge task: Creating your new Daily/Weekly Marketing Checklist.

During this challenge, you’ve surely seen tasks that you thumbed your nose at. You may have seen tasks that gave you so much anxiety that you would never touch them with a ten foot pole. But hopefully, you also saw tasks that you had fun with, that you were excited to engage in. All the tactics work, but there’s a broad continuum of the marketing tasks that you are and are not willing to do on a regular basis.

For example, I hate being on camera. Absolutely despise it. You can count on one hand the number of on-camera appearances I’ve made on my various YouTube channels, and I also rarely post to those channels. I know that I should do more with YouTube, but I just can’t get over my abhorrence to being on camera. As such, video marketing just isn’t a regular part of my marketing matrix.

You need to be honest with yourself about what you’re willing to do on a consistent basis. This is part of the business success process that most “gurus” either don’t understand or intentionally gloss over, but it’s a vitally important part of the equation.

So today, I want you to reflect back upon the tasks in this 30-day tax resolution marketing challenge. Catalog them all, and assign them one of three markers. Perhaps mark them as either coolio, meh, or nope. Or maybe use loved it!, so-so, or that sucked!. Yes, no, maybe probably also works. Whatever terminology floats your dinghy.

After assigning these “tags”, take the tasks that you were fondest about, the love it! list, and write them out together.

Congratulations, comrade, you just wrote a marketing checklist.

Some tasks are best suited to a weekly schedule, whereas some can be done daily. Assign the weekly tasks to a day each week on your calendar. Enter the daily tasks to a specific time slot.

Then, stick to schedule.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get from practitioners is, “What do I need to do in order to run my practice from a beach like you used to do?

This. This is what you do. Find a small number of marketing tasks that you can commit to doing on a frequent, scheduled basis, and then just do them. Week in, week out.

Seriously, that’s the secret to success, at least with 941 tax resolution. This is how I grew my own tax firm, and it’s how you’ll grow yours.

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941 Marketing Challenge Day 29

At the very end of 2013, I made a significant change to how I sold my IRS Collection representation services.

It was a change that forever altered how I approached tax resolution clients.

In short, I stopped selling the service on a 1:1 basis, and started implementing what is called one to many selling.

Instead of scheduling one-on-one consultations that soaked up time I wasn’t getting paid for, I moved to a webinar-based sales process. I started doing weekly webinars for business owners that had tax debt problems. I was running Facebook ads, doing direct mail, and directing inbound leads from my book and other sources to a webinar registration page. Instead of a special report download, I started offering live education to consumers to make them aware of their options. On these webinars, I would offer attendees a low-cost research and analysis service, from which I would upsell them to full service representation. I called this the split sales model, since it split the process of account research and financial analysis away from the full representation process.

This is an example of a process that improves efficiency and profitability.

It’s also a process that I think tax resolution practitioners should all give a try.

This is a more complicated process than most of the things we’ve discussed over the course of this month, but it’s transformative if you start doing it.

To make it work, you simply need a webinar platform, a presentation, and to start directing your lead flow to the webinar registration.

For purposes of direct to consumer webinars, I recommend using Zoom. It’s affordable, simple to use, and for folks that are likely to attend a webinar, they’ve probably used the platform before.

So here’s your challenge for today:

  1. Sign up for a basic webinar account with Zoom (or use whatever you already have if you have something else).
  2. Pick an evening or a weekend afternoon about two weeks from now, and schedule a webinar.
  3. Create your registration page with the webinar provider’s system.
  4. Email your lead list, post on social media, post on your blog, post a video, etc — incorporating all the 941 marketing channels you’ve created over the past month — and get word out about your webinar.
  5. Present a webinar on your scheduled date, educating attendees about the basic tax resolution options and offering them a low-cost Investigation of Liability (marketing term) service.

This webinar need only be 20-30 minutes in length. Your first one doesn’t need to be super polished, and it won’t be. What matters is that you start the process and have the experience doing one-to-many selling for the first time.

Would you like a Done For You PowerPoint presentation for delivering on such a webinar? Diamond members have access to both my original 2013 edition, and the “prettier” 2015 version of my consumer webinar presentation for their own use. Become a Diamond member here.

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941 Marketing Challenge Day 28

Now that you’ve had your hand at converting a written piece of content to video, let’s do the same thing but turn it into a podcast.

Yep, today I’m going to show you how to launch a podcast in under half an hour. It’s really not that hard, and you’ll be taking advantage of the growing trend in audio marketing content.

First, if you’re handy with certain software tools, like Audacity or VLC Media Player, you can simply open your video from yesterday and rip out the audio. The specific of how to do that are far beyond the scope of this post, but if you have either of those tools, amongst others, you can just open a video file and save it as audio.

Alternatively, just re-record the video you made yesterday, except do it with audio only. The voice memo app on your smart phone is perfectly adequate, but if you have a headset, you’ll get better audio quality using the default recording app on your computer.

Either way you go, you’ll wind up with an audio file that’s the same as what you recorded to video yesterday.

Now, what to do with it?

There a many ways to set up podcast feeds. You can do it with WordPress plugins, via Amazon Web Services, or a 3rd party podcast host. The latter option is the easiest, and the easiest of those that I have found is called Buzzsprout. Buzzsprout offers a free plan that is adequate for our needs, but their lowest price plan is only $12/mo, and is the plan I’m on.

Just create an account, fill in basic details, and upload your file.

They will then give you a podcast feed address, which you can then submit to Stitcher and iTunes (within Buzzsprout).

Boom, you’re a podcaster!

Of course, there’s more to building a podcast audience than this, but it’s a start. Be sure to post your new episode on your own blog, and email it out to your leads and prospects as a touch point.

As we wind down this challenge, and with Thanksgiving sale season coming to a close, don’t forget to take your 14-day trial of Gold membership.

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941 Marketing Challenge Day 27

Yesterday, we discussed a simple way to convert your audio and video marketing content into text. Easy peasy.

Today, we’re going to discuss the opposite direction. Maybe a bit less obvious.

Referring back to the content inventory you took a few days ago, consider your existing written content. This could be blog posts, lead magnets, books, etc.

Take something relatively short. E.g., not your entire book, just a couple pages. A sub-sub-topic. Single blog posts work great for this.

Then, whip out your smartphone, put on a smile, hit record, and start reading.

Yes, indeed. It’s that easy. And yes, you’re going to record yourself reading your own words.

Is this a bit more awkward than recording yourself reading out of Pub. 15 like we did a couple weeks ago? Maybe.

But it works.

Do one take. One and done. Post it to the YouTube channel you created a couple weeks ago. Be sure to make the appropriate settings to this video, as before.

This should all take less than 20 minutes. Other than creating the video itself, it’s also a simple task to hand off to a staff member.

Tomorrow, you’ll get to hop on the podcasting bandwagon, also in just 20 minutes.

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941 Marketing Challenge Day 26

In case you’ve missed any of the challenges in this series, you can always review them at:

Yesterday, I suggested that you conduct an inventory of the marketing content you already have. We’re talking videos, blog posts, books, PowerPoints, presentation recordings, audio recordings, and anything else that you’ve created for your practice.

For the next few days, we’re going to look at specific processes for converting content from one format to another. It’s easier than you’d imagine, and it makes the task of creating marketing content much easier and faster.

Today, take any piece of audio or video content you’ve created. Tax-related, obviously.

Take that file, and head on over to either or These are simple, cheap online transcription services that will convert your audio/video into text. They are owned by the same company. Personally, I prefer Rev, as a human will transcribe your audio, producing a better end result. The downside is that it comes at a higher cost than automated transcription, which is what Temi does. The cost difference is a factor of ten, at $1 per minute versus 10 cents per minute.

With the Temi output, you’re going to have to do a lot more cleanup than you do with Rev. It’s one of those time vs money trade-offs that you’ll have to decide upon for yourself.

Even with the Rev output, you’re still going to want to spend some time rewriting certain things in order to make it more “article-ish” rather than appearing like a transcript. Other folks have different attitudes about this, but I don’t like putting out material that is obviously a transcript. I’ve done it, but I cringe when I do. So taking the time to polish up your content is worthwhile, from a perception standpoint, in my not so humble opinion.

But either way, once you have the transcript, you get to do a few things with it. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Post it to your blog as an article.
  • Feed it through a tool like Missinglettr in order to use it for social media marketing.
  • Post it to Medium as an article, and include an inline link to something else back on your website.
  • Send an email to your lead/prospect list as a touch point.
  • Include a copy in your monthly client/prospect print newsletter.
  • If it’s a video that you’ve posted on YouTube, upload the transcript to YouTube in the transcript tab.

Recycling your content like this is an example of working smarter rather than harder. In addition, it’s an SEO strategy, since content on the Internet is still indexed based on text. Yes, search engines still have to rely on words, not audio or video.

Tomorrow, we’ll discuss going the opposite direction.

To start doing more content marketing without having to spend much time on it, become a Diamond member today.

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941 Marketing Challenge Day 25

Article marketing. Content marketing. Educational marketing. Info-first marketing.

Whatever term you want to use, it’s all the exact same thing, and it’s worked well for decades.

One of the challenges with content marketing, however, is constantly coming up with new content.

That’s where content repurposing comes into play.

Content repurposing is the process of using a piece of marketing content in a different way. Recycling, if you will.

For example, the transcript of a video gets edited into a blog post. The audio recording from your recent presentation at the Board of Realtors becomes a podcast episode. A series of blog posts becomes your next book.

Today’s marketing task: Take an inventory of your content marketing assets, and create a plan to repurpose content you already have.

Take a look at what you’ve done online and offline over the years. Do you have blog posts? Facebook posts? LinkedIn articles? YouTube videos? A book? Articles you wrote for trade journals?

You have far, far more marketing content than you think you do.

Don’t believe me?

Try this one on for size: Your sent email folder is a treasure trove of content you’ve already written.

Those tens of thousands of emails to clients answering tax questions? Yep, that’s all content YOU created that you can repurpose.

So today, take an inventory of what you have available. Make a list, check it twice.

Tomorrow, we’ll delve into actual processes for content repurposing that can drive new leads.

Need articles for your blogs and emails? Diamond members receive eight articles per month to use in their content marketing efforts. Click here to learn more about Diamond Tax Resolution Coaching.

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941 Marketing Challenge Day 24

We’re down to the final week of this 941 tax resolution marketing challenge. We’ve covered a lot of ground over the past three weeks, and you’ve laid the foundation for ongoing marketing campaigns that you may otherwise never have considered.

I’m sure that, by now, you’ve noticed that marketing isn’t always sexy or fun. Some marketing tasks, especially the ones that require manual labor or spending a lot of time on the phone, aren’t necessarily fun, depending upon your personality type. But, that’s the nature of being in business for yourself.

But today, I want to focus on something that might be a bit more fun. Or, at the very least, a marketing task that will give you warm fuzzies.

Most of us have causes, organizations, or events that we care about. I have several causes that I support regularly, including animal shelters, scholarship funds, and figure skating. These are very disparate causes, but each of them provides unique marketing opportunities if I were inclined to take advantage of them.

What cause or organization are you most passionate about?

Most people have an automatic answer to that question. What was the first thing that popped into your head?

That’s what we’re going to focus on today.

With your cause or organization in mind, start asking some questions and doing some online reasearch:

  • Does this organization do fundraising mailers that I can sponsor/piggyback on?
  • Are there online, print, or public display advertising/sponsorship opportunities they offer?
  • Are there events, mixers, fundraisers, etc. that I can attend? Volunteer at? Exhibit? Sponsor?
  • Is there some way I can get involved that will further the cause, but also allow me to “rub elbows” with my target market?

I would never recommend volunteering as treasurer of any organization (that’s always what they want us to do, but don’t, for liability reasons), but there are definitely ways that we can get involved and mix business with our interest in the cause.

I’ll give some quick examples from my own interests:

  1. Due to recent humane society donations, I now find myself on the regular fundraising direct mail lists for a few different puppy/kitty shelters. These organizations send fairly elaborate fundraising mailers, and the big fundraising organizations are very good marketers (keep their marketing materials, btw, many lessons can be learned). Since these mailings are going out to other above-average donors, I might start to wonder how many of those donors are business owners. I might also start to ask myself if I could directly sponsor a mailing. If I cover the cost of a mailing, can I get an insert added to the mailing that thanks my tax resolution firm for doing so? I’m sure something could be worked out.
  2. Scholarship funds. Hmmm. No B2B exposure there for doing 941 marketing, right? Wrong! Do any of the scholarship funds I donate to hold an annual fundraising gala? Can I rub elbows with business people there? What about a silent auction? Can I donate a $5,000 representation package to be auctioned off, thus automatically telling that small world that I do representation? Indeed!
  3. Figure skating (and hockey) are expensive sports. Like, really expensive sports. People that put their kids into such sports are either high income earners, or they’re working multiple jobs and exhaustive overtime to pay ice time, gear, and coaches. It’s an excellent demographic to target. I would estimate that roughly 1/4 of all figure skating parents I’ve ever met are small business owners. I already know I could put advertising up on the boards at an ice rink. That’s the obvious one. Gotta make sure it’s a short, compelling call to action, though. With a real offer. Not just a name and number. But what else is there? How about banner ads on the rink, team, or club website? Can I sponsor the figure skating club’s monthly email blast? Can I throw a small service package into the annual fundraiser? This would be something unique and different, compared to the standard assortment of used gear that kids have outgrown that is getting auctioned off.

These are just some ideas off the top of my head. What does your cause or organization of choice do that you can piggyback off of?

Give that some thought today, and then this afternoon or evening, make that phone call to the right board member or other volunteer and get the ball rolling. Not only will you be supporting the cause you care about, you’ll also be doing something different to help grow your business.

Ready for even more “outside the box” ideas to grow your tax resolution practice? Start your 14-day trial of Gold membership today.

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941 Marketing Challenge Day 23

Today’s post is short, but the challenge task important.

You’ve spent time over the last two days gearing up for this.

Now, rubber meets road. Hammer hits nail. Probe hits Mars atmosphere.

Task: Take the information you gathered yesterday, and send email AND place a phone call to the appropriate contact at the organization, media outlet, or website (or two) that you identified as good candidates for your online advertising dollars.

In that conversation, you want to specifically inquire about two things: Remnant space and agency discounts.

“Remnant space” is an advertising term for unsold inventory. There’s actually an entire sub-industry built around buying and selling remnant ad space. Why? Because once airtime has gone unused…once a trade journal has gone to print…once a day goes by without a banner ad occupying a piece of screen real estate… It’s gone. Opportunity lost. Thus, huge discounts can be had on remnant space, including digital ad space.

“Agency discounts” are exactly that: Discounts that publishers give to ad agencies. This is incredibly common practice, and it exists to incentivize ad agencies for buying media. The ad agency pockets the discount for themselves as profit in a lot of traditional advertising situations. For companies that aren’t using an ad agency, like you and me, we are serving as our own ad agency. And that’s exactly what you tell the publisher or organization you’re dealing with: “We operate as our own in-house ad agency. What is your ad agency discount?” Boom, just saved yourself some dough.

A very typical agency discount is around 15%.

The whole point of today is for you to have one or two serious conversations with a publisher, organization, or web site to get discounted ad space in their publications, event sponsorships, or web site/email advertising. Never, ever pay “rate card” rates for advertising — hardly anybody actually does, and you shouldn’t either.

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