30-Day Tax Firm Challenge: Day 30

Day 30.

Can you believe it’s been a full month?

Time for an assessment: On how many days did you actually complete challenges?

In all honesty, if you completed one of the challenges on at least 1/3 of the days I sent them out, I’d say you’re probably in the uppermost quartile of successful accountants.

If you completed less than that, or chose not to participate at all, then I would encourage you to go back through the blog archive of each challenge day and give it another go, on your own schedule. Maybe commit to every other day, or every third day. Whatever works for you to get on track with your marketing and practice management.

For myself, I think I did OK. I missed three days all told, and got them out after noon Pacific time on several days. So I’ll give myself a B+ on this assignment. But I did accomplish my objective, more or less, which was to jumpstart my writing again and forge it as a daily (or near daily) habit.

Our final challenges in this series are, quite honestly, the most important. Over the past month, I’ve shared with you a wide variety of both digital and offline marketing tactics, along with practice management strategies. Every few days, I had to brainstorm what to write about — I didn’t start with a massive list.

All told, that means I’ve had to come up with 90 things for you over the past month, including this here today. Now, it’s your turn…


Online Marketing

Brainstorm your own list of 5 digital marketing challenges.
Estimated Time: 20 minutes

Look back through the archives. Look back through other posts on the blog. Thumb through some marketing books. Do some Google searches. Get inspired.

Create a list of five digital marketing strategies you want to try or that you at least want to learn more about. These are YOUR five. Not mine, not a colleagues.

You’ve seen enough examples, and have access to a wide world of resources — coming up with just 5 should be a piece of cake.

See why this is the most important challenge? It’s because now you’re starting to think like an entrepreneur and marketer, rather than just an accountant.


Offline Marketing

Create a list of your own 5 offline marketing challenges.
Estimated Time: 20 minutes

Basically the same as up above, but offline.

Think about new ways to use different marketing media. Look into media that we haven’t talked about, such as TV, taxis, and billboards. Explore print catalogs, looking at the different things they offer. Peruse the aisles at Staples, and look for unique ways to package and send mailers that will increase open rates.

Make your list. Check it twice. Implement.


Practice Management

Find an executive, business, marketing, or life coach to work with.
Estimated Time: 2 hours

Capitalism doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

Neither does success.

I have never met a successful person that didn’t have mentors and coaches along the way. Most of them also do or have belonged to mastermind groups, which we discussed yesterday.

I’ve had mentors and coaches my entire life. From high school physics through ice dancing, coaches have always been a part of my life. I’ve been blessed to have some great mentors, and I simply wouldn’t be where I am right now in life without their influence and assistance.

When we started Prolaera last year, we knew we could use some help. That’s why, as a company, we participated in a three month immersive mentoring program for tech startups (called an accelerator). Two full days per week (Mondays and Fridays), this program put us in front of experts of all sorts, people that are leaders in their respective fields. Even nine months later, we’re still heavily benefiting from those coaching sessions and ongoing mentoring.

Some mentors can be found for free. Most are not. Mastermind groups can be free, many of the best are not.

I’ve paid as little as $150/month for professional life coaching from a licensed psychologist. I’ve also paid $700 per hour for marketing coaching, and I’ve paid every price point in between. Heck, our participation in that tech startup accelerator wasn’t free. It cost us a decent chunk of equity in the company, but it was worth every bit of it.

A coach can help you get from where you are to where you want to be faster than you can get there yourself. Coaches provide alternative viewpoints, and help you get over hurdles they’ve had to deal with themselves.

So your challenge for today is to invest the time into finding a coach. You know what you need to work on — and if you don’t, there are coaches that help you figure that out, too!

If you need marketing help, look for a marketing coach.

If you’re having challenges with organization and time managements, there are coaches for that.

If you need to work on being a better manager, get an executive coach to help you with that.

Find a coach or mentor to help you move forward. You’ll be glad that you did.

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30-Day Tax Firm Challenge: Day 29

Wow, down to the last couple days of this 30 day challenge.

I’ve missed 3 days so far, and I’ve definitely been just under the wire on other days (like today). In fact, today’s is going out after east coast folks have already headed home, so these are probably challenges you’ll work on tomorrow, I would guess. All the better – take advantage of the holiday down time to do some marketing!


Online Marketing

Write 5 emails for your autoresponder sequence.
Estimated Time: 2 hours

By now, you should have an email service provider (ESP) set up from a previous challenge.

You have a digital lead magnet that is delivered in the first welcome message.

But what happens after that? Exactly. Let’s fix it.

You want to create a short engagement series that is delivered automatically via email. This is called an autoresponder. Each email should build upon the lead magnet, due to the fact that this is the topic or area of interest they signed up for.

So just continue the conversation. Send email #2 the day after the lead magnet goes out. I then like to do emails every three or four days after that for the first couple weeks. That means, at a minimum, you want 5 emails in your autoresponder sequence.

First, write 5 subject lines. What 5 new things are you going to deliver to your new fans over the course of the coming weeks? Make these 5 things an extension of the lead magnet you already delivered to them.

Then, write each email. Just sit down and type, as if you were doing so to a friend.

Upload to ESP. Set the timing. Done!


Offline Marketing

Find local real estate investing and networking marketing seminars and flyer cars in the parking lot.
Estimated Time: 2-3 hours

Real estate investing gurus and network marketing (MLM) companies have been selling their wares through the good ol’ free evening seminar method for decades, and they’re still growing strong.

Anybody looking to get into one of these types of businesses has expressed an interest in being self-employed.

That means they’re about to have new tax challenges.

Find out about such meetings going on around you. Search on, Craigslist “community” section, and call local hotels and inquire about such meetings they have coming up on their calendar.

If you can, arrange to actually speak at those meetings. Contact the organizers and inquire about doing a 10-20 minute “tax talk” about their new self-employment tax obligations.

Alternatively, find out when the seminars are. Print up flyers. Put them under windshield wipers in the parking lot during the seminar.

Bam. Cheap, guerilla marketing.


Practice Management

Join a local business mastermind group.
Estimated Time: 1 hour

Being an entrepreneur is lonely.

You face challenges and stresses that your family, friends, and even many colleagues just don’t understand.

Being surrounded by other people facing similar challenges, that understand what you’re going through, and can help advise you on solutions, can feel like a godsend at times.

This is a mastermind group.

I try to provide a semblance of a mastermind group over the phone for members, but it’s impossible to duplicate the exact experience. As such, I highly encourage all practitioners to join a local mastermind group.

Look on our trusty friends and Craigslist. You want a legitimately unselfish group, with no agenda. Try to find something organized by somebody that does not providing consulting and training services of any sort. I realize it’s self-serving of me to say that, but it really is better to find a group with no agenda.

Ask around to other business owners in your area for recommendations into a group. If you absolutely can’t find one, then maybe you’re the person that needs to start one.

Mastermind groups can be invaluable to the success of your business, so I highly encourage you to join one and participate regularly.


30-Day Tax Firm Challenge: Day 28


Online Marketing

Delve into how to use the latest/greatest social app/site for marketing.
Estimated Time: 30 minutes

The world of social media and apps are constantly evolving. What’s popular today is displaced by something else tomorrow.

What’s even crazier, at least to me, is that a lot of these services don’t have any web capability — they function only via their mobile app.

With this world forever changing, it’s important that we as marketers keep up with the changing times. We have to decide what platforms we’re going to embrace, and which ones we’re not. We should participate or not participate on a platform by choice, not by “default” one way or the other.

For example, I have made a choice to not participate on Instagram, Pinterest, or Snapchat. I don’t believe I have anything to contribute to those types of graphic-based media, so I choose not to participate.

But plenty of service professionals have turned to Snapchat and are using it successfully for marketing. There are services such as LINE that most Americans haven’t heard of yet that have massive future marketing potential.

What I’d like to encourage you to do today is spend some time fiddling with new gizmos. Definitely play with Snapchat, but spend some time on Techcrunch, Geekwire, and other tech sites to look for these new fangled social media networks. I’m not asking you to predict the future and pick the next big thing, but dig into some resources to get your finger on the pulse. Getting in on some of these networks early is often the key to long-term success on them, so schedule some occasional time each month or quarter to stay up to date on these new developments.


Offline Marketing

Advertise in other business’ customer newsletters.
Estimated Time: 1 to 2 hours

As you may already know, I keep my junk mail. I love junk mail.

I look for patterns in my junk mail, and keep track of changes in mail pieces and frequency.

You should keep your junk mail, too. In particular, I’d encourage you to make note of the businesses in your local area that send you regular newsletters.

These newsletters that are going out to medical and car wash customers could be carrying your marketing message to doors in exactly the neighborhoods you want more clients from.

Collect these newsletters, and seek out who is sending them. Note that real estate agents tend to be significant centers of influence in the community, and often know who is doing good marketing. Ask real estate agents for what businesses are sending newsletters and doing other strong marketing in your community. Reach out to these businesses and see about advertising in their marketing that’s already going out.


Practice Management

Create a client service guarantee.
Estimated Time: 30 minutes

As a professional service provider, you should be willing to stand behind your work. Otherwise, why do it, right?

Money back guarantees are a solid way to instill trust and confidence with new clients. You don’t see such guarantees in our industry very often, and some practitioners denigrate the very idea.

But the fact of the matter is that guarantees help you sell. Most companies that implement service-based guarantees often see significant increases in both new revenue and long-term customer retention.

Create a guarantee that you can back up and hold yourself to. Guarantees can be based on turn around time, accuracy, penalty protection, etc. What can you guarantee? Especially think about those things that you already do that other practitioners don’t do.

Don’t be afraid of creating these guarantees. They are a powerful marketing device, and you risk very little. Think about it this way: If a client wants their money back, you don’t really want them around as a client in the long run anyway, right? Refund them and cut them loose.

If you already have an internal refund policy, then you might as well utilize it publicly. Some practitioners have either a formal or informal refund policy, but don’t communicate that to the public. Do so, and frame it as a guarantee.

Stand behind your work. Communicate your value proposition by guaranteeing the service you provide. Articulate this value in your marketing via the guarantee, and watch the profits roll in.