Marketing legend Dan Kennedy has said on numerous occasions that he only really knows a few dozen things about marketing. He’s said this in his newsletters, at seminars, and in interviews. As a marketing nerd and a Dan Kennedy fanboy, this is a list that I have long wanted to actually see. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to find an enumerated list, and I don’t think it actually exists.
But as I was listening to a particular Kennedy seminar recording for the twentieth time recently, and heard him say this again, it made wonder: How many things do I actually know about marketing?
Even more importantly: How many ways do I know to market a tax practice that actually work?
I’ve never enumerated a list, either, and the reality is that it’s probably not a very long list. So, challenge accepted!
The difficulty in making a list like this really comes down to an issue of granularity. For example, is direct mail one “thing”, or do I separate out each specific direct mail strategy that I’ve tested and had success with?
In order to make this list actually useful to you, the reader, I’ve decided to go with the latter format. Hopefully the specificity in the marketing tactic will give you a bit more to chew on. Obviously, every market tactic has nuance, and maybe those will foster ideas for future posts on this blog.
So here we go. Please bear in mind that this list is an unstructured brain dump, so there probably won’t be any kind of order to it. Use this as a starting point for laying out your own marketing plan to grow your business, but never get hung up on one particular strategy. Also, bear in mind that I may not hit every marketing tactic I know works on the first run through, so if I think of more I’ll edit this post to add them, so you may want to bookmark this page and come back occasionally.
Alrighty, here we go: Every marketing tactic I know of that actually works for growing a tax firm…
- Inviting referrals from professional colleagues
- Incentivizing referrals from satisfied clients
- Smile and dial (cold call telemarketing to specific target lists)
- Voice broadcast to specific target lists (robo-calls, now mostly illegal)
- Fax broadcast to specific target lists (now mostly illegal)
- Lunch & learns/financial dinner seminars to specific target audiences
- Tax talks in front of specific target audiences
- New homebuyer direct mail letters
- New mover direct mail letters
- Income-range direct mail letters
- Interest/activity targeted direct mail letters
- 8-postcard sequences to tax liens
- 3-letter sequences to tax liens in sync with the IRS notice cycle (still the most successful thing I’ve ever done)
- Facebook ads targeting highly specific demographic criteria
- Facebook ads directed at custom audiences
- Facebook retargeting (pixeling)
- Google AdWords
- AdRoll retargeting
- Email autoresponders
- Direct mail newsletters to warm list
- Regularly writing on your tax firm blog
- Writing articles for newspaper websites
- Guest blogging on personal finance websites
- Writing and distributing press releases via paid press release sites
- Create YouTube videos and optimize them for SEO
- Participating in personal finance discussion forums
- Participating in niche industry discussion groups
- Exhibiting at niche industry trade shows
- Speaking at niche industry seminars/conferences
- Teach industry-specific CPE (doctors, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, K-12 teachers, figure skating coaches, hair stylists, massage therapists, etc — ALL are required to complete CPE)
- Attend leads groups (BNI, Chamber of Commerce, etc)
- Network within interest groups (Toastmasters, Rotary, Kiwanis, political parties, church, etc)
- Email and direct mail joint venture endorsed mailings with other businesses
- Coupons in ValPak/MoneyMailer
- Display ads in local Tidbits/Coffee News
- Advertorials in local business journal
- Classified ads in financial services section of local paper, Thrifty Nickel, etc.
- Craigslist posts in financial and legal services sections (to date, still the source of my largest up-front fee from a client)
- Write a book (the second most successful marketing tactic I’ve ever used)
In creating the above list, two things became apparent:
- This is actually a list of lead generation media more than anything else. As such…
- It doesn’t incorporate any of the art or science of marketing, which is actually more important.
So here’s another list of things I know about the art and science of marketing, which I believe that all tax professionals responsible for generating revenue should know.
- The importance of targeting (you can’t be all things to all people, and trying to be is a waste of time and marketing dollars)
- The principles of gaining pleasure vs avoiding pain
- The concept of properly aligning your messaging with your target market
- The three-legged stool of message, market, and media
- The importance of a good headline
- Basic headline formulas, such as numbered lists and curiosity questions
- Single hit vs multi-hit marketing
- One-step vs two-step marketing
- What constitutes a compelling lead generation offer
- Understanding the concept, purpose, and construction of marketing and sales funnels
- Focusing on the fundamentals of SEO, rather than paying any attention to the latest gimmicks or being reactionary to Google algorithm updates (Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird, etc. have always helped me, never hurt me).
- How to set up lead capture pages.
- What to put on a tax firm website to actually generate leads.
- The importance of scripts for both outbound and inbound telephone calls.
- The importance of checklists/systems for all things marketing (everything in your entire firm, actually)
- How to test and measure marketing response (A/B testing, the why and how)
- The value of automation and outsourcing, and what to or not to automate/outsource
- The concept of never-ending prospect follow up — stay in communication until they “buy or die”
- The Internet in general (and social media in particular) are not special, different, or unique — it’s just another medium
- How to structure a sales consultation to lead to the close
- How to maintain Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA) to your target market
I know for a fact that there is more to add to both of these lists, but this is everything that is currently top of mind. Oops, have to add TOMA to the list.
Even with just what you see here, there’s obviously a lot of ground that can be covered, and it can look overwhelming. The key to successfully marketing your practice is to focus on just a few specific marketing strategies – literally just 2 or 3. You don’t want just one source of business, obviously, but focusing on 2 or 3 marketing tactics that you can enjoy and stick with are the best way to get started.
Then, you simply invest the time, effort, and yes, money, into learning all of the marketing theory, art, and science that go into making those 2 or 3 marketing tactics work.