Obtaining new clients and growing any tax practice requires a plan, just like success at anything else in life. Here are seven fairly simple ways to obtain new tax clients. These seven ways are not all that you want to do, of course, but they are seven of the best, and if you focus on all seven, could bring in all the business that a small tax practice can even handle.
1. Tell People About It
So, you’ve got a tax business, eh? Do your friends, relatives, business associates, poker buddies, your caddy, etc., all know that? If not, start telling them. Develop a 30 second “elevator speech” that explains what you do and why people should use your service, and use it whenever anybody asks you what you do (this is, after all, one of the most common questions people ask in our society when meeting a new person). If the people you encounter in daily life don’t know what you do, they can’t hire you to do it.
In your elevator speech, make sure that you convey a specific benefit that you provide to your clients. Remember, all your marketing, including this, should be focused on attracting a targeted type of client into your practice, not just anybody and everybody.
For example, my elevator speech used to be short, sweet, and to the point. Whenever somebody asked me, “What do you do?” my response was instantaneous: “I help mom and pop small business owners with tax debts to screw over the IRS.”
Eloquent? Nope. Professional? Not really. But in just one sentence and 3 seconds, I communicated the exact type of client I’m looking for, the specific tax service I provide, and a clear indication of the kind of people I prefer working with.
2. Bandit Signs
You know those annoying signs you see along the side of the road? Those are commonly called bandit signs. They’re most commonly used for political campaigns and by real estate brokers, but you’ll also see them for auto body centers, restaurants, house painters, and everything else, just not as frequently.
They can be bought for $4 to $8 each, depending on source and options. Ask your friends to stick them in their yards. Put them at major intersections if your local laws allow it. Put them in windows, where appropriate. They’re a somewhat obnoxious form of marketing, but they sure work, which is why you keep seeing them, even if it’s illegal in your city.
3. Smile and Dial
Telemarketing. That one word can make grown sales and marketing gurus cry. It’s amazing how many people are afraid of the phone. Even more, it’s widely known as the most annoying way to reach out to people, and thus consumer advocacy groups have been able to get numerous laws passed against it.
However, have you ever noticed that those laws don’t apply to politicians? Why, you ask? Because it works, that’s why. Most telemarketing laws also do not apply to business to business sales (plus B2B telemarketing is much more welcomed by the recipient).
You can call businesses in your local area, or purchase specific lists, such as tax lien lists, and call to offer your services. Within the tax problem resolution industry, tens of millions of dollars per month are transacted by dozens of large tax resolution firms completely by telemarketing. It’s incredibly cheap, and incredibly effective.
4. Money Mailer / Val-Pak
It may be called different things in different areas, but where I’m from Money Mailer is this blue-tinted envelope that arrives every month and is stuffed with coupons for all sorts of local businesses. It’s not uncommon for people to get this thing and go through every coupon in it, pulling out the ones they think they’ll use, and throwing those in a coupon drawer or putting them on the fridge. This is a tactic I would reserve for 1040 prep season. The businesses that use it can make a lot of money from it.
I love postcards. Postcards, in all their tiny, black and white simplicity, are one of the most powerful marketing vehicles you have access to. You purchase a mailing list, craft a message, and send it out. It’s literally something you can do inside of an hour.
Compared to letters, it’s cheap, and much less labor intensive. In fact, you can use Click2Mail.com to upload that mailing list, create your postcard online, and they’ll print and mail the whole batch for you, plus give you an incredible discount on printing and postage.
For obtaining tax clients, I would suggest three very specific mailing lists to focus on:
- New businesses — they’re new, and need a tax professional
- New homebuyers — people that just moved to town, they need a local tax pro also
- Federal tax lien lists and state tax lien filings — tax debtors need representation, and also tend to have multiple unfiled back tax returns
6. Niche Group Offers
Every community has some sort of niche group in their local area. Perhaps your practice is near a university. If so, you can send a special offer to students (their tax returns tend to be very simple, and can be done by an assistant — this is a huge profit center). Or perhaps there is one or a small handful of major employers in your area. Contact their HR department and work out something to offer a special deal to these employees, and even set up in their cafeteria or other on-site gathering area.
Also think about other groups to which you belong. It’s never a good idea to be “that guy” and always be selling, but there’s nothing wrong with making some sort of offer just to your church group, Kiwanis, Toastmasters, regular bar patrons at your favorite watering hole, book club, yoga class, etc.
I chose not to do this to avoid potential conflicts of interest because I am also a figure skating judge, but when I was an active adult ice dancer it would have been very easy for me to grow my tax practice just from people I met within the figure skating community. Coaches are always self-employed and often paid via check and cash, so these folks have automatic compliance issues they need help with. In addition, figure skating is an expensive sport, and therefore parents of young skaters are more likely to be from a high tax bracket than most folks.
What circles do you swim in that provide you with exposure to people with specific tax challenges?
I once purchased a marketing course on getting tiny service businesses launched via dirt cheap marketing. When the package arrived, the entire course turned out to be how to make flyers, where to put them, the best things to say on them, etc. That’s basically all I got for my $500.
When you think about cheap, guerrilla-style marketing, flyers are inevitably one of the first things most people will think of. However, a “veteran” business owner may not think about flyers, perhaps considering them too cheap or chintzy of a thing to do. However, a well worded flyer with a strong call to action and an irresistible offer can be a tough marketing piece to beat. They’re cheap, and you can put them anywhere: Bulletin boards, community centers, laundromats, college campuses, grocery stores, and, of course, directly on people’s doors (check local laws before doing this to make sure it’s OK).
So there you have it. Seven incredibly effective methods for finding tax clients. Some practices have been built and operated for years exclusively using just one of these methods. In marketing jargon, we refer to these seven items as “media” — each one itself is a “medium”. The medium you use to get out your marketing message is a critical component of how you market (the other two are what you say and who you say it to).