Marketing your tax firm online

The past few months, we’ve mostly been discussing direct mail, telemarketing, and sales topics in this newsletter. For the next couple months, I’m going to be delving into another media: The Internet.

In case you didn’t catch how I phrased that last sentence, let me rephrase it: The Internet is just another marketing media. The rules for targeting your ideal prospects, copywriting, market to message match, and all the other factors that apply to direct mail also apply to the Internet.

There’s really nothing special about Internet marketing. The specifics change a little bit because of the technology, but the reality is that it’s just another method for people to learn about your business, become educated in the same way you’d educate prospects via direct mail, and to purchase your services directly.

Given all the buzz these days surrounding social media marketing, I feel compelled to state that, again, social media is just another media: It’s nothing special in and of itself, the fundamental rules of marketing still apply.

So what are the most basic components of an online marketing strategy that all tax firms should have in place?

I believe that most Internet marketing gurus overly complicate what is required to properly market yourself online. In addition, with the never ending stream of “new” Internet marketing strategies being touted, if you bought into everything being sold by the gurus, you’d be changing your marketing strategy every two months and never make any actual headway on anything.

In order to effectively market yourself online, you do need a few basic things. These things are literally just Internet analogues of their offline counterparts, and there is actually overlap and cross-communication required between your online and offline marketing tools. Here are the basic components:

  • A informative, educational web site that is updated frequently and includes a list registration mechanism.
  • An active email list that you use to regularly communicate with your prospects and clients.
  • Active participation in the online communities where it makes sense for you to belong.
  • An active search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
  • Paid online advertising when and where it makes sense to do so.

Note that this list does not include a mandate to have a Facebook page. There are plenty of successful tax firms that market exclusively through the Internet that do not have a social media presence at all — because it doesn’t make sense for them to do so.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll delve into the mechanics of many different pieces that make up this big picture. If you have an active interest in marketing your tax practice online, please stay tuned, and be sure to email me with any specific questions you have, and I’ll answer them here in the newsletter.

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