Category: Advanced Tutorials

Tax Resolution Marketing Letter: Why it works

In marketing parlance, your most successful marketing piece, the one that becomes your lead generation workhorse, is called a control.

Over the past couple hundred years, there have been a number of marketing controls that have had incredibly impressive runs. Two of the most famous examples from recent times:

  1. The Wall Street Journal’s “Two Young Men” letter, generated nearly $2 billion dollars in sales for the Journal during it’s 29 year run. It was mailed continuously by the Journal to select household mailing lists from 1974 to 2003. It is considered the single most successful direct mail sales letter in history, and is well worth studying.
  2. Self-help guru Tony Robbins has one infomercial that ran continuously in English speaking countries around the world for 18 years. It was literally broadcast 24 hours per day, always available on at least one basic cable channel or over the air broadcast network. Although at much lower volume, that infomercial still runs today. The infomercial sells his flagship “Unleash The Power Within” program, and to this day sales from that program generate $9 million per year in net profit for him.

ControlLetter-1 The power of a control piece cannot be underestimated. Having a solid control, along with a well-defined target market to send or broadcast it to, is almost like an ATM that prints free money.
In 2012, I wrote what would become my direct mail control piece. I affectionately refer to it as the mug shot letter. This letter was the workhorse of my practice, across multiple niche tax resolution markets and a variety of different offers. It worked well for me in the western US, and it’s worked well for coaching clients from Texas to Florida to Chicago in it’s original form. Other practitioners have created heavily modified derivatives that work very well for them, including a CPA in Maine that created a version that has helped take his tax resolution business from just a few thousand dollars in 2013 to over $250,000 in 2015.

Last year, when my postcard sequence to drive people to a webinar wasn’t delivering the results I wanted, I went back to this letter, and results immediately improved.

The obvious question is: Why does this letter work?

Let’s step through it to see why. Digital Pass / Premium members can download the letter from the bottom of the blog post.

1. It shows a real human being.

The first thing most people notice on the letter isn’t the headline. Instead, it’s the photo of the practitioner. Why does this work? For two reasons:

  1. People do business with people, and financial problems are incredibly personal. By putting a face on the letter, there is an instant human connection. Psychology research clearly shows that humans have a soft side for other humans. This is also why we associate “cuteness” with puppies and anime characters: They have big eyes and round-ish faces like human babies do, so there is a psychological association. Use your humanity to connect with your target market.
  2. Really just a corollary to the first one: The vast majority of tax resolution firms, including every large, national tax resolution marketing company hide behind anonymity. People do business with people they know, like, and trust, and it’s almost impossible to trust somebody that’s hiding behind anonymity. When literally every one of your competitors is doing this, the quickest way to differentiate yourself is to put your name and face front and center. This includes on your web site, by the way. This is the single biggest problem I see with the web sites of nearly ever tax professional I work with. Compare your web site to a large accounting firm — names and faces are prominent.

2. I provide a real phone number to call.

The entire purpose of every offer you make is to generate leads. When I do any form of marketing, my real objective is to insert that lead into the top of a pre-defined sales funnel. I’m directing people to sign up for an offer on a web site, such as a special report or a webinar. In some mailings, such as to high dollar trust fund recovery penalty liens (6672), I’ll direct people to a 24-hour recorded information line (yes, even in modern times).

However… There will always be a part of the population that wants to talk to somebody now.

Thus, provide a real phone number that they can call. Less than 1/3 of my leads would come in this way from this letter, but those are leads that I would have lost without the phone number. I highly suggest using disposable tracking phone numbers for every campaign you mail out, and have those tracking numbers forward to your main number or to an answering service. An answering service is a worthwhile investment, as they can ask short screening questions and set appointments for you directly in your calendar, all for just a few hundred bucks a month. That’s cheaper than a receptionist, and is on call 24/7.

3. It uses a headline that directly addresses their concerns.

The headline is probably the most important part of any marketing message. This is true whether it’s your voicemail message, an Internet landing page, a Google ad, or a letter. In fact, for some marketing media, your space is limited, so your entire ad is simply the headline and call to action.

This post is not meant … Continue reading

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Marketing cost comparison for reaching $1 million

I recently released the 5th edition of my book about building a million dollar taxpayer representation firm, and one of the things I addressed in this edition is the concept of stepping up your marketing expenditures in logical increments.

As I was thinking about this, it dawned on me that many existing IRS representation practitioners probably think that it’s cost prohibitive to build a practice that size by using the kind of marketing that I advocate doing. Due to this line of thinking, they instead do what “tax resolution” firms do: Hire an army of telephone openers and closers to cold call tax liens.

Not only is this practice a violation of Treasury regulations, it’s also one of the practices that gives a black eye to all of us engaged in taxpayer representation. Companies use this boiler room telemarketing approach for an obvious reason, of course: It works.

This leads practitioners to think it’s more cost effective to do business this way. But is it really?

What does it take to hit $1 million in new client fees annually? Grab your calculator, folks…

Assuming an average fee of $3,500 per client (which is actually on the low side, but it never hurts to be conservative), we need 285 clients per year to hit the magic million mark.

Now, you’re going to have to take my word for it on these conversion numbers — but I can assure you they are based on real life experience in real tax firms, not just on conjecture. The average telemarketer (“opener”) must dial 60 tax liens in order to find one interested person, who is transferred to a sales closer in most boiler room operations. This closer will close, on average, 9% of these prospects. So, in order to get ONE new client, a company has to churn through 660 tax lien filings, at a typical cost of 35 cents per record to purchase. So, that’s $231 just in lead costs.

Now, the opener also typically gets a 10% commission at most companies, and the closers receive, on average, 20% to 30%. Lets’s again be conservative, and together give the sales guys 30%. Note here that we are also ignoring minimum wage laws and other costs for this sales staff, which most firms do ignore, believe it or not. So our $3,500 new client also costs us $1,050 in commissions, for a total of $1,281 that we have to spend in order to get one new client.

To hit 285 clients, that’s an annual hard cost of $365,000 in order to generate $1 million in revenue. All else being equal, that’s actually quite an acceptable number, which is why this model works so well within the “tax resolution” standard industry model. Since I started my tax career at a firm that employed the boiler room telemarketing model, it’s also the source of why I consider a 3x ROI on my marketing and sales expenditures to be the baseline target.

However, note that under the standard industry model (I’m going to start calling this “SIM” from now on), all those purchased leads are literally trashed within a week or two, with no effort made at long term follow up.

Replace this instead with the business model I advocate in the book and everywhere else: Highly concentrated, long-term follow up marketing to a selective group of target prospects.

Decades of data have confirmed over and over again a well known mantra in sales: The vast majority of sales are made after the 5th contact with a prospect. It therefore only makes sense to concentrate your marketing dollars on reaching ideal prospects that represent the kind of clients you want to work with, and contact them over and over and over and over and over…..

A long-term marketing effort, consisting of a 12 month cycle, only needs to cost between $5 and $50 per prospect per year. For lead generation purposes using tax lien mailing lists, we’re going to be on the cheap end of that spectrum, but the for the sake of argument, let’s just call it $10 per year, per lien.

The liens we’re mailing to are selected with specific criteria in mind. The list is even merge/purged against another database to select other demographic criteria to give us a better mailing list. Let’s also assume that as people drop off this list for any number of reasons, we insert a new name in their long-term mailing sequence to always keep the mailing list the same size (and keep our math easy for this example).

What kind of closing rate can we achieve with this list? It’s possible to regularly maintain response rates in the mid-teens, and closing rates in the low single digits. Let’s say we only close 1% of all liens, though.

To get 285 clients at a 1% closing rate on liens to clients, we need 28,500 liens in our marketing program. At $10 per year per lien, that’s $285,000 to generate $1 million in fees.

Hey, look at that… Even using LOW response and closing rates, we’re hitting $1 million for $80,000 less per year in marketing expenditure compared to a boiler room telemarketing operation that is breaking all kinds of laws and regulations.

Want to make the numbers look even better? Consider hitting a 1.5% closing rate, or consider an approach that gets the cost down from $10 per year to … Continue reading

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The Complete, Yet Simple, Marketing Plan For Solo Tax Practitioners

Are you riding solo on the tax firm highway?

If you are a licensed tax professional (EA, CPA, attorney) in private practice, then this is the article you are going to want to save. Bookmark it, print it, star it.

As a solo practitioner, you are on your own. You are the marketing department, sales department, client services department, all wrapped up into one person. Building your practice is going to take work, and you must also successfully manage your time between case work and marketing.

In general, I would suggest you plan to spend at least one to two hours per day working on your sales and marketing.

Marketing is not a 10 minute per week activity. In fact, most business consultants will tell you that you should spend at least half your day on marketing…even more if you are just starting out. With the simple, yet effective, marketing plan I will outline here for you, you’re going to need to commit one or two hours per day. However, using the plan outline here, you will be successful and make a living, as long as you commit to following the steps.

Do note that I am not addressing fee structures, technology setup, list building, and other such concerns in this post, I am simply addressing the marketing and sales plan. So, here we go…

Step 1: Write a weekly article about a topic of interest to your target audience. This article should NOT be your typical “tax tips” sort of thing. Your prospects and clients comes to YOU for handling their tax matters — they don’t care about how to do it themselves. Think more along the lines of:

  • Client success stories related to tax planning, real estate investing, tax debt resolution, etc.
  • Your personal analysis of Congressional and state legislative action, IRM updates, etc. Let people know the gist of what’s going on, why they should care, and how you can help.
  • What you’re doing to increase your own knowledge and improve your skills for your clients. Write about the CPE/CLE courses you take and how that will help your clients.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Take that article and use it in as many places as you can:

  • Post it to the blog section of your web site. If you don’t have a blog attached to your web site, one of your highest marketing priorities should be to get one set up.
  • Re-write the introduction a bit, and post it to your LinkedIn account. If you don’t have Publisher access on LinkedIn, request it.
  • Send it to your email list. You do have an email list of your prospects and clients, don’t you?
  • Link to the blog post on both Twitter and Facebook.
  • Add the article to the next edition of your monthly print newsletter.

Step 2: Every day, preferably first thing in the morning, make 15 cold calls to purchased lists that match your target market, depending on what service area you’re focusing on growing. You can rotate through service offerings through the week.

For example, on Monday, call 15 people from a new homebuyer’s list to offer them a tax planning session.

On Tuesday, call 15 small businesses from a new entity formation list to offer them bookkeeping services.

On Wednesday, cold call 15 tax liens to solicit tax resolution work. These can be old liens or new liens (our customers have equal success with brand new liens and also 3 to 9 month old liens), they can be local to you or geographically dispersed. You may want liens of a certain amount that will justify higher fees, or you may want smaller liens that will produce cases that can be turned around faster. You may want to sift through lists and find certain kinds of companies (such as restaurants, construction, etc.) and have your sales system specifically set up for them.

There are many possibilities of lists to call to offer services. The choice is yours, but don’t overthink it. Don’t spend too much time worrying about the “perfect” criteria or trying to find the “perfect” list (it doesn’t exist), just get it done and CALL.

Step 3: Send a letter or postcard to… your 15 new prospects, every day. If you reached them on the phone, then send them a thank you card to thank them for their time. If they were interested, send them your marketing package or proposal package. If you didn’t reach them, got their voicemail, number was disconnected, etc., then send them a letter inviting them to call for a consultation, or inviting them to an informative free local seminar or a webinar. Mail them something!

Step 4: You probably already know that the IRS works on a 30 day notice cycle. As such, you should be, at a minimum, on the same followup cycle. Within 30 days of your initial contact via telephone and mail, you should make another contact. Make another phone call, send another letter. Again, 30 day interval is a minimum. Also, you should go through a minimum of 5 followup cycles, but preferably 12 or more.

You can use CRM software, spreadsheets, or index cards to track activity and know when to follow up with people. How you track it doesn’t matter — doing the activity is what matters, because that is what gets clients.

Is this going to cost some money? YES. Is it going … Continue reading

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Creating Effective Lead Response Widgets For Your Tax Firm

When you boil lead generation marketing down into it’s most fundamental components, the thing that you offer to potential leads in order to compel them to take action will always make the top five list of such fundamental components. Perhaps even the top three.

This thing I’m referring to goes by a number of different names:

  • Carrot
  • Widget
  • Lead magnet
  • Response mechanism
  • Funnel entry point

No matter what you call it, your lead response widget plays a critical role in your marketing funnel. Offering the right lead magnet to the right person is the key to generating the lead.

What’s the difference between a lead magnet and my offer?

It’s quite common to use these two different terms interchangeably. Fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with that, as most people will understand which one you mean via context. But I do want to point out that the two actually are different critters.

The lead magnet itself, which is the focus of this month’s Action Plan, is the thing. The offer, on the other hand, is the mechanism which entices somebody to obtain the thing.

For example, let’s say that I’m offering one of my best performing special reports: 5 Things To Ask Any Tax Resolution Firm Before Paying Them A Dime.

The lead magnet, the thing, is the actual report. The physical, printed pages that are mailed to the lead, or the PDF that is digitally delivered to them.

In order for them to obtain the report, I might have them call a special voicemail number, or enter their information into a web page. An example:

Don’t get ripped off by fly-by-night tax resolution firms! Before giving one single penny to anybody that wants to represent you (even me!), be sure to read this special report outlining 5 Things To Ask ANY Tax Resolution Firm Before Paying Them A Dime. To obtain your FREE copy of this report, simply enter your email address in the box below.

This, my friends, is an offer.

In some marketing circles, you may hear of the offer referred to as the Call To Action, or CTA for short. Same thing, different name.
offer.

This brings us to an important marketing lesson:

Thou shalt always include an offer/Call To Action in all thine marketing.

I don’t care what you’re selling or who you’re selling it to. This is a fundamental rule of direct response marketing that, if violated, will result in nothing but wasted money and endless frustration.

Since the purpose of your lead generation marketing is, of course, to generate leads, then you must ask them to take an action in order to create the lead. This may seem obvious to most readers, but when I conduct critiques of marketing pieces or web sites, it’s amazing how often this critical component is simply missing entirely.

Now that you understand the important of a lead response widget, and the connection between your offer and your widget, the obvious next question is: What should my widget be?

Lead Magnet Considerations

Your lead magnet is such an important actor in your overall marketing funnel, you should give it serious thought in order to make the right casting call. Too many firms try to create an unholy alliance between a great lead magnet and the wrong market, or with the wrong end result in mind.

Remember Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? One of them is to begin with the end in mind. Here’s what this means for your lead response mechanism:

  • What are the demographic, psychographic, and geographic criteria that this particular lead magnet is direct at? (aka, your target market).
  • How does this lead widget tie in with the rest of my marketing funnel that the lead will be entering?
  • Similarly, what is the desired end result for leads that acquire this particular lead magnet?
  • What solution does my lead magnet provide to the end user?

The answers to these questions in particular will help determine several things, such as what to include in your lead magnet, and what form it should take (media format). Let’s take a look at each of these factors in greater depth.

Target Market

You can’t be all things to all people, and you shouldn’t try. All of your marketing communication should be targeted to specific, clearly identified target markets, because different messages are going to resonate with different groups.

Example 1: You obviously wouldn’t send the same letter, offer, or lead magnet to a new homebuyer as you would a new business owner.

Example 2: You shouldn’t send an offer for a booklet you wrote covering the Trust Fund Recovery Penalty assessment to a 1040 lien.

Example 3: Running Google Adwords ads with an anti-ACA message probably won’t work very well if you’re trying to attract politically liberal tax clients.

You must know who your best client is, and you must target your marketing to them. You need a complete profile of what your best clients do for a living and for fun. You need to know what kinds of cars they drive and the types of neighborhoods they live in. You need to understand their desires and motivations.

Understanding your target market, and making sure that your marketing is actually aimed at a specific market, is an important concept, and largely beyond the scope of this document. However, I have included with this … Continue reading

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How to leverage written tax articles to get more leads

Today it’s called content marketing, but the reality is that it’s one of the most effective marketing strategies in the history of capitalism.

The core idea behind this strategy is to create engaging content that entertains and educates your target market, while simultaneously reminding your prospects that you possess the solution to their tax problem.

That problem can take numerous forms, from the frustration of completing their tax return to the nightmare of owing millions in back taxes.

In my tax resolution practice, ALL of my marketing leverages the concept of content marketing, in one way or another. Everything from my free reports offered in response to letters and postcards, to 24 hour recorded information lines, to my books written for consumers — all of this is content marketing.

What’s this about writing articles?

Despite the prevalence of video on the Internet today, the fact remains that the Internet is a platform built with and for the distribution of the written word. We still use words to search for things on Google, and Google must still use words on pages to determine the relevance of web sites.

On top of that, direct mail is still one of the most effective means available for reaching new prospects, reactivating lost clients, and keeping existing clients coming back. From reaching out to new movers in to the neighborhood for tax prep season, to tax lien marketing, to client newsletters, direct mail, and it’s inherent use of the written word, is something that should be part of every tax professional’s marketing arsenal.

The written word, despite the audiovisual world in which we live, is still a remarkably valuable form of communication. Aside from being a tool for appearing high in search engine results, the written word is a vehicle for attracting new prospects and converting prospects into clients.

Why is this? Never forget that, no matter what services we actually provide to our clients, we are in the people business. People do business with other people, something that some really big accounting, legal, and consulting firms seem to forget.

Before a new client ever gives you a dime, three things in particular must happen:

1. They must come to know who you are (which is why we do marketing).
2. They must come to trust you and your ability to address their needs.
3. They have to like you (this is the step that really big companies in particular often miss).

You may have heard of these three factors before, as they are quite fundamental to how professional service businesses in particular operate. The know, like, and trust factors are so important that you will often see them abbreviated simply as KLT.

Given the importance of the written word as a communication tool, even in 2014, you can leverage written content in order for people to discover (know) you, and come to trust your knowledge, skills, and experience. Through your writing style and the personal details you choose to share about yourself, your readers will also come to like you as they become familiar with you.

As a quick aside, don’t forget that not everybody is going to like you, and that’s perfectly OK. I’ve had plenty of tax resolution prospects tell me that they won’t hire me simply because they don’t like me because of my personality, and I’m fine with that. I know that I have a bit of a “quirky” or “colorful” personality, and there are certain personality types that I simply do not get along with — I don’t want them as clients any more than they want me as their representative.

I allow some of my quirkiness to come across in my writing — I’m not trying to hide it. It’s part of who I am, and I don’t want to work with people that are going to have a problem with that. You should do the same in your own marketing, and watch as you start to get along better with your new clients because of the personality matchup. Personality plays a huge part in whether or not we like other people, or simply tolerate them. You want to work with people that like you and you like them, rather than just tolerating each other.

Now that you know why the written word is so important, let’s get into…

The Simple Secret To Writing Tax Articles

Here’s the rub… Most accountants, attorneys, enrolled agents, and tax preparers will tell you that they either dislike writing, or they’re simply no good at it. To which I say, “Donkey snot.”

If you’ve ever written an email to a client explaining an item on their tax return, then you have all the skill you need to create compelling written content for marketing your services.

It’s been almost three years since I started consulting with other tax professionals about improving their practices. In that time, I have yet to speak with a single person that hasn’t had to send such emails on a regular basis. With that said…

If you can write a paragraph to the IRS on a 1040-X explaining the reason for changes on a return, then you can write tax articles.

If you can write an email or letter to client explaining a tax planning item, then you can write tax articles.

If somebody writes a tax question on your Facebook page and you can … Continue reading

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Tax Marketing Advanced Tutorial: The one hour per day marketing checklist (with 4 hour expansion pack)

I have long advocated that marketing needs to be a daily priority within your tax practice. In fact, unless the building is burning down, it’s your absolute, number one, top, nothing-else-matters priority for running your business.

Never forget: Without marketing today, you have no new clients tomorrow.

This month’s Advanced Tutorial for Tax Marketing Premium members is actually a minute-by-minute expansion of the Tax Practice Daily Marketing Checklist that I first wrote about well over two years ago.

The point of this checklist is to provide you a tool for accomplishing your marketing tasks with laser-focused efficiency. This checklist should be completed during the time of your day when you are at peak performance. Your marketing deserves the best you can give it each day.

For many practitioners, the nature of running a busy practice makes it difficult to do these tasks during the regular work day. Certain items on this checklist can (and often should) be delegated to staff members, with you verifying their completion. But some items require your undivided attention, and I’d encourage you to consider arriving to the office before any other staff each day in order to accomplish these important revenue-generating tasks.

Do note that this is not a marketing startup checklist. Rather, it assumes that you already have the referenced systems in place, and this is your daily roadmap for operating those systems. If you are focused on doing the tasks, and have systems in place, then you can easily hit the by-the-minute markers indicated.

The “bonus points” section of this checklist, which includes tasks that can take several additional hours each day, helps you to achieve ideal tax practice growth. Finding ideal clients, creating marketing systems that feed long-term lead generation on autopilot, and tapping into more complex and lucrative lead generation channels.

One Hour Per Day Marketing Plan
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You gotta see what this guy is doing to get clients…

May 2013 Advanced Tutorial

Over the weekend, I discovered an Enrolled Agent that is simply rocking it with the simplest marketing plan on the planet.

In fact, it’s an even more simplified version of the simple plan that I’m always talking about for solo practitioners.

This EA asked not to be named, but he allowed me to share with you the details of how he’s building his practice. In short, he has the simplest marketing plan in the world, and it’s working very, very well for him.

He is a solo practitioner that does ONLY collections representation work. He doesn’t have a large practice, but more than adequately supports his family on three new clients each month.

His fee model is also simple: Hourly billing with a $2500 minimum retainer. Most of his cases exceed the initial retainer by at least $1,000.

Here’s his entire marketing plan:

  1. Every month, purchases 800-1000 tax liens for 941 debtors across the country, with debt amounts between $50,000 and $200,000.
  2. Runs the contact info from the lien through a separate data service to obtain the home address of the business owner, from which he will obtain at least 500 home addresses.
  3. Using the 500 best results, send a simple, one-page, no frills letter of introduction in a stamped, hand addressed envelope (his wife and two children help with the addressing).
  4. In the letter, he does nothing but mention how he found them, how he can help, and offers both a free consultation and invites them to sign up for his email newsletter.
  5. Every other week, he emails out a helpful piece of tax advice.

Between the mailings themselves and the email newsletter follow up, he generates $7500 per month in new retainers.

That’s it. That’s the entire secret sauce. Let’s look at his costs:

Liens: $200

Address lookup service: $160

Paper: $20

Toner: $60

Envelopes: $20

Stamps: $230

Email service: $50

—————————

Total: $740



That’s just $740 per month to generate $7500.

Of course, this doesn’t count the value of the time that goes into preparing the mailings. It’s basically a weekend project once a month for the entire family, he said.

The most amazing part of this, to me, is that he’s been doing this, month in and month out, for over 10 years. This is what he was doing when he first obtained his EA license, and it still works, so he keeps doing it.

Do note that he is using an interesting twist: He’s using an address append service in order to not just update the mailing address (tax lien debtors go out of business and move a lot) in order to minimize bounced mail, but also to send his letter to the home address of the business owner. He ends up buying more liens than he needs in order to have enough to hit his 500 minimum mailing size.

This is a brilliant twist, and it’s working very well for him. Notice that he also utilizes a long-term follow up system to communicate with leads that do no purchase immediately. Even in my own marketing system, it’s this simple long-term email follow up that is really critical to the overall success of the system.

This is a system that any practitioner can replicate. With an average 10x return on his money, this simple marketing system is basically an ATM that prints money. If he wanted to, he could expand this, and grow a much larger practice, but he doesn’t.

It should also be noted that he is mailing to the most recently filed liens available. That means that the mailings and telemarketing being done to those liens by other companies is helping to boost his own response rate, because he is much less aggressive in his approach, and thus stands out a little bit in comparison to other firms that are marketing to these same liens.

You can use this own approach in your practice. Contact a data service provider such as infoUSA, Tower Data, Melissa Data, or Accurate Append in order to obtain address updates via the National Change of Address (NCOA) system, or to get the home addresses of business owners. Then print, stamp, address, mail!

In the future, I’ll be sharing more stories like this from other tax professionals that are doing “outside the box” marketing, or have found unique twists to boost their response rates.

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Nice and simple Twitter tax marketing tips

April 2013 Advanced Tutorial

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Twitter is one of those things I just can’t get into.

To me, Twitter is just a big, random stream of consciousness on the Internet. It’s definitely not pretty, and it’s impossible to completely catch up on the global conversation going on about any particular topic.

As with all social media sites, I view Twitter as nothing but another web site. The idea of posting your random thoughts online has been around long before Twitter. Heck, remember BBS systems you dialed into via 2400 baud modems? It’s basically the same idea.

So what makes Twitter, along with all the other social media sites, so powerful from a marketing perspective? It’s the fact that they have so many users.

This concept of users interacting with each other online is not new. Methods for doing this existed for decades before “social media” came along. Online sharing, collaboration, and other things that are labelled as being a result of the social media phenomenon aren’t new, either, despite what everybody says.

Rather, what makes social media so powerful, and why this component of Web 2.0 is driving real life social change on such a massive scale, is because the popular social media sites simply have so many users.

Before, this sharing, collaboration, exchange of ideas, and ability to self-publish your message was relatively confined. Natural constraints existed, primarily a limited user base. Early BBS systems when I was a kid often only had 4 to 8 dial in lines, meaning only that many users could be online at any given time. Even AOL chat rooms had limited numbers of users at any given time.

Twitter in particular doesn’t have that problem.

In fact, there are more than 500 million Twitter accounts, and Twitter itself reports that 200 million users are active monthly. Those users send over 400 million tweets per day, and each Twitter user averages 170 minutes per month logged into the service.

Starting to make sense yet why Twitter is such a big deal, and needs to be part of your marketing arsenal?

It’s because of the shear number of people using the service. It’s a 24/7 conversation going on, one that you can participate in, offer your assistance to those with tax questions, network with other professionals, and simply contribute to the greater good.

With so many eyeballs on Twitter, it’s important to have some sort of presence on the service. Like I mentioned earlier, I have a really hard time getting into it, but I’m still there.

Here’s my #1 Twitter tip:

[DAP]

Connect your blog (you do have a blog, right???) to your Twitter feed, and make sure your blog posts occasionally get tweeted.

If you’re using WordPress, the most common blogging platform, then I recommend installing the Tweet Old Post plugin. It allows you to create a schedule to automatically send out blog posts as tweets. Despite the name, it’ll do new blog posts, also.

This is my primary method of using Twitter, which is readily apparent if you visit my Twitter account. It sends out tweets without me having to do a thing. Those tweets occasionally get seen by somebody that is interested in the topic matter at that moment, and voila, they click the link and visit one of my web sites.

Here’s my #2 Twitter tip:

Occasionally, when you have free time and feel like it, login to Twitter itself and just engage some folks in coversation. Reply to somebody else’s tweet, or pick an interesting trending topic and participate in that conversation.

Twitter is, after all, a community, and a conversation. So, you should jump in and converse once in a while. Ideally, do this for five or 10 minutes daily. But in reality, do it whenever you feel like it. For me, it’s every couple weeks, sometimes even monthly.

Here’s my #3 and final big Twitter tip:

On top of automating the posting of links to your blog posts, also automate the tweeting of tax info, jokes, quotes, and other “tweetable” short content. The single best tool for doing this that I have found is HootSuite.

HootSuite is basically the bee’s knees when it comes to social media automation. You can insert and schedule weeks or months worth of tweets and status upates that get “dripped” out to your social media network.

Premium subscribers receive access to our social media content collection, which is updated regularly. Each file contains 30 short tidbits that are applicable to a tax professional to use as tweets. They are usually tax, personal finance, and business tips, plus some good quotes and the occasional G-rated joke.

If you’re already a premium subscriber, you can find your Done For You Social Media Content in the Premium Members Area. For your convenience, I’ve also included a direct link to the current updated package below (you must already be logged in for it to appear).

April 2013 Social Media Content:

Note: For additional Twitter tips, see the August 2012 newsletter.
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Event-based marketing to grow your warm list

In the past, we’ve talked extensively about the importance of marketing most heavily to your warm prospect list (your “met database”). Your warm list contains the most qualified prospects that you have, and long-term follow up marketing to this list is really the valuable marketing you can do.

But what if you don’t have such an active prospect list?

All lead generation marketing is designed to answer this question. This blog, as well as most of our advanced courses, primarily focus on methods for converting cold lists into warm prospects, and then nurturing those prospects over time. This entire concept is sort of our “thing” around here.

Today, I want to introduce you to a unique strategy that we haven’t really discussed much, and give you an entire blueprint for putting it into action. This is going to be a long, but highly action oriented, article, so grab your favorite beverage and snuggle up to the computer screen for a few minutes.

The Power of an Event

People love events. It’s something inherent in the American culture, I think. We love BBQ’s, tailgate parties, birthday parties, our seasonal holidays — pretty much any reason to get together. Corporate cultures love their meetings, and the seminar industry just as big as ever, despite the economic downturn. Webinars are just as popular, and growing every day.

An event brings people together for a common reason. At an event, even if it’s full of complete strangers, there is usually something that ties everybody together. That reason might be an interest in growing their businesses, securing their financial futures, a passion for the a sports team, or their kids all play soccer together. Think about the last time you attended a seminar or industry conference, why you went, and what you got out of it. Those are the reasons people attend events.

Events are more than just an excuse to get together, however. Events are an opportunity for us to learn, grow, and achieve. Holding regular events is a powerful way to solidify your relationship with prospects. Your events can help people in numerous ways, not just via the tax and accounting services you offer.

What kind of events am I talking about? The occasional client appreciation party is a good one, yes, but more specifically I’m referring to educational events. Monthly seminars on various financial topics, from real estate and mortgages to asset protection and wealth management. There are scores of topics you can cover in monthly seminars. The best part is that you can invite trusted colleagues in other professions to come in and present information of value to your prospects and clients. Make sure the information is 90% educational, and give your guest presenter a few months to talk about themselves and their services, and you can get a free speaker.

Think people won’t come to an event like that? My friend James, whom you’ve probably heard me speak with on some of our other programs and courses, is a real estate broker and investor in Colorado. He happens to run the Northern Colorado Real Estate Investor group, and has for at least seven or eight years. At the latest monthly meeting of this real estate investing group, James said he had standing room only, and the largest attendance of any such meeting he’s ever held. He even had one gentleman fly in from New Hampshire just to attend. Do you think James is going to get some brokerage clients from this activity? Absolutely!

By scheduling and holding regular events, you have something powerful: Something to always be inviting people to. Whenever you meet people, and in all of your marketing, you will always have an opportunity to invite people to meet with you face to face. Since people do business with people they know, like, and trust, these face to face encounters are invaluable for getting people to know you better, and appreciate what you are offering them.

Schedule a regular event. You can hold this in your own office, a local restaurant, or in a community room (check your local library and government offices — many have public meeting space available for free or very low cost). If you want something more formal, negotiate a good rate with a local hotel for a small meeting room, and be sure to ask for a discount because you’ll be back every month.

Then, use these events as a cornerstone of your marketing. Everybody you meet gets an invite. Chamber of Commerce networking luncheon? Everybody gets an invite. Web inquiry for your services? Yes, they get an email newsletter, but they also get an invite.

Just so you know, this particular strategy was perfected within the network marketing industry. Every weekly “opportunity meeting” for an MLM company uses this principle in order to introduce new people to the income opportunity. This method has sold billions of dollars MLM products and packages over the decades, and is still used successfully today.

Now that we’ve covered events, let’s discuss the other half of this powerful strategy…

Getting At New Residents

When people move a significant distance from one city to another, they leave behind a plethora of trusted service providers. Everything from their hair stylist and dentist to their favorite grocery store and taco truck. Within certain “verticals” (niche industries), such as chiropractic and real estate, marketing to these recent movers is a time honored tradition. In other … Continue reading

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October issue of Tax Marketing Monthly now available

Lead generation should be the number one priority for every practitioner.

Unfortunately, most tax firms end up leaving this priority on the back burner because they get caught up in the minutiae of running their businesses, which is understandable.

This month’s issue of Tax Marketing Monthly presents an in-depth look at how to create an automated lead generation system. Systematizing and putting on auto-pilot all of your client and prospect relationship building, as well as cold list to warm lead prospecting, means that you will have a steady stream of new clients coming into your tax practice.

Also this month:

  • A guest article on the topic of getting sales DONE
  • My current “control” lead generation postcard
  • A simple yet effective lead capture web page (and why it works better than your web site)

This is our biggest issue of Tax Marketing Monthly yet – put this information to use in your practice immediately, and be prepared to have your best tax season ever.

Click here to access the October 2012 issue.

Note: The current issue, as well as all back issues, of Tax Marketing Monthly, is available only to subscribers. For subscription information and pricing, please see the membership benefits & pricing page.

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