How to use “widgets” in your marketing to increase response

The vast majority of the time, the purpose of any marketing you do is NOT to directly make a tax or accounting service sale DIRECTLY from the marketing you’re doing. Rather, the purpose is to elicit a response of some sort that allows you to separate out the interested people from the not interested people. Then, you can continue to market only to the interested people.

In order to get people to raise their hand and indicate they are interested, you need some sort of a response mechanism. I generally refer to these response mechanisms as “widgets”. A widget can be anything that allows you to identify the individual respondent and place them on a separate mailing list of people interested in your services.

Most of the time, a widget is an offer for free information that has high perceived value to your target market. You’ll commonly see free special reports, books, audio downloads, webinars, live small group seminars, and similar vehicles for delivering information being used as marketing widgets.

Having a widget to respond to is capable of increasing response rate to your offer by hundreds or thousands of percent. Depending upon the service you are offering, the type of widget you offer will have different response rates. This is a particular case of the “market to message match” phenomenon: What you say and offer to your target market must match what they want or the problem they are facing.

For example, offering a free report titled “5 Questions To Ask Any Tax Resolution Firm Before Paying Them A Dime” is going to resonate with tax debtors considering proposals from multiple companies. However, it’s going straight into the trash if sent to a mailing list of real estate investors.

This leads me to the most overused and ineffective “widget” used by the vast majority of tax, accounting, and legal professionals: The free consultation. In our society, the free consultation is no longer an effective marketing vehicle, and hasn’t been for over thirty years.

Why is this? Because a free consultation is assumed. It’s just a given that any service professional is going to give a free consultation. It’s just like a free estimate from contractors. The “free estimate” used to be an effective marketing widget for contractors decades ago, because it used to be the norm to charge for an estimate. At one point, it also used to be the norm to charge for a consultation.

Now, it’s the norm for them to be free, and that makes it a terrible offer to make. In addition, since everybody else is also saying it, it offers no point of differentiation between your firm and others (always be looking for ways to differentiate yourself from your competition).

If you’re going to offer free consultations, call it something else, and attach a price tag to it. For example, offer a Tax Debt Settlement Eligibility Analysis, normally $150, but available FREE to the next 15 callers. It’s still a free consultation, but sounds fancier, and does increase response rates dramatically.

However, I would encourage getting away from the free consultation in most of your marketing. Start thinking about what other sorts of information people are looking for, and start offering that information. People want to know how to reduce their tax liabilities, how to eliminate penalties, how to ensure they get every deduction they can, and want to avoid getting ripped off by unscrupulous tax resolution firms. Offer THAT information to your prospects, and you will see response rates significantly improve.

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