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941 Marketing Challenge Day 10

Sometimes, even the best laid plans go awry.

Take something like, I dunno, a 30-day challenge. Yeah, that’s a good example.

Across the 30 days, things are going to come up. Family matters. Business fires. Deadlines.

And then, before you know it, it’s 3pm and you haven’t done that 30-day challenge task yet, and you just know it won’t be happening that day.

Like with any journey, one must simply brush themselves off and plow ahead the next day. I’m sure that’s what you’ve done on a 30-day challenge, perhaps even this one. It even happens to the authors of said 30-day challenges, thus explaining why this particular series will forever lack a day 9.

So my apologies for missing yesterday. I just didn’t get to it in the morning before a meeting, and that meeting became an intense 4-hour mindmeld. By the time I got home, the work day was pretty much already done for everybody except the west coast, so I threw in the towel. In my defense, the result of that mindmeld session is going to benefit YOU in a few weeks, so in that regard it was very productive. If you want the inside scoop, I recorded an interview last weekend with my friend James Orr about the Real Estate Financial Planner software that he’s programmed, and how we’re going to bring that to you to help you grow your practice. The interview is about an hour, and you can listen here.

So hopefully you used yesterday to catch up on any of the eight previous challenge tasks you missed. Today, we’re going to continue with the “Weekend SEO Warrior” short tasks that we started last weekend, so today is pretty quick.

Across every iteration of the Internet era so far, there have been some websites that carry fairly higher authority as backlink sources for SEO purposes. Back in the day, a site called EzineArticles wore the crown for a long time, until one infamous Google update totally destroyed all SEO juice gained from that site.

Today, one of the most prominent sites that serves such a purpose is Medium. Medium is a blogging and article sharing platform created by one of the founders of Twitter. Items posted to Medium rank very well, and give you a bit of SEO boost when you include links back to your own site. Your task today is to simply create a Medium account (click the “Get Started” button in upper right corner), complete your bio, and post a short 300-400 word article about payroll tax problems.

In your article, include a small link back to a related article on your own website. In fact, what I do with Medium is simply copy in posts from my main blog, slightly modified, and post them to Medium. I use a social media marketing tool called Missinglettr to automate most of that process for me.

This should take you less than 15 minutes, so hopefully this is a good task for a sunny Saturday. 🙂

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941 Marketing Challenge Day 8

Are you enjoying becoming reacquainted with your telephone this week?

I hope so, because we’re not done with the Old Timey Talky Box quite yet!

If you attended yesterday’s live training, then today’s challenge is going to sound really, really familiar. Yes, it’s tactic #2 as discussed on yesterday’s webinar.

As discussed on that training, referrals from other tax professionals is one of the best strategies to use for jump starting your tax resolution business. It’s an even more valuable technique to apply on the 941 side of things, because there is a strange presumption that 941 case work is somehow more difficult than 1040 Collections representation, and so even fewer tax pros want to do it.

Sure, it’s different, to a certain extent, with more moving pieces occasionally, and more aggressive IRS enforcement… But those are all good things to me, as it justifies higher fee. But more difficult? Something to be afraid of? Not at all!

Here’s what you do:

  1. Download the IRS PTIN list for your state.
  2. Open it in Excel and sort by ZIP code.
  3. Find your ZIP code. Just yours.
  4. Call the other other small practitioners (skip the big firms) with your elevator pitch and ask if they’d like to get together for lunch to discuss mutual business development relationships.
  5. Pick up the tab for lunch. That’s your marketing cost (and it’s still deductible!)

Easy peasy, right? Right!

To make this mini-campaign even more successful, throw in a direct mail letter. Hand addressed, real stamp. We’re talking about sending 10 or 20 letters, so the cost is minimal.

There is a sample letter of introduction in the members-only marketing library that you can use as a template. If you’re not currently a member, take a gander at our 14-day trial offer on Gold membership that is currently running.

Tomorrow will be our last heavy phone day, and then we’ll head into the weekend with some more marketing you can do without direct human contact. 🙂

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941 Marketing Challenge Day 7

In any 30-day challenge, this one included, there comes a point where the low hanging fruit start to dwindle, and the tasks get progressively more difficult to complete.

Today, we reach one such junction.

On Sunday, I promised a lot more phone work this week. We had some Monday and Tuesday, with you calling various business networking organizations, but today it ratchets up a notch.

Some readers knew that this task would come along, and were already dreading it. Others will have no problem with it. It’s a task that ends up being divisive, for sure.

But I’ll tell you this much, with absolute certainty: In the tax resolution universe, a practitioner’s willingness or unwillingness to pick up the phone and dial for dollars is the single most consistent indicator of future success that I’ve ever noticed.

I’m not saying that being on the phone is the be all, end all of tax resolution marketing. Far from it. But the willingness to do it says a LOT about you, such as how open you are to change, your coachability, and your commitment to growing your practice. It’s a very strong indicator of other things.

So here’s your challenge task for today: Cold call 15 business tax liens.

Don’t worry about your script — just use your elevator pitch.

Don’t worry about making perfect calls — just make the calls.

Don’t worry about calling the right tax liens or the best tax liens — just make the calls.

Don’t know how to find tax liens? Look ’em up on your local county clerk and recorder or website, or order a small batch from here.

Heck, you know what I’ll do? I’ll create a special $25 order option for 100 liens that will stay up for the next 48 hours only just so you can complete this challenge. Do this…

  1. Create an account.
  2. After creating an account, go here to order the “One-Time $25 941 Challenge Order”.
  3. Be patient. I have to process those manually, so give me a few hours to get to it. That means you may end up doing your calls tomorrow.
  4. After your order is processed, be sure to toggle over to “Business” liens in the system, and set “Include Phone Numbers?” to “Yes”.
  5. If there are none for your geographical area, pick a different geography. For the purpose of this challenge task, they don’t need to be local to you. What matters is that you have the experience of having made the calls.

I don’t think I can make it any easier for you. Get after it!

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941 Marketing Challenge Day 6

Yesterday’s challenge task was all about getting involved with your Chamber of Commerce.

If your local Chamber of Commerce is active, it’s likely the best place for you to “hang out” in order to meet other business owners. You want to do this because business owners are the folks that have 941 problems, or they know people that have 941 problems. By being active in such an organization, you’re able to position yourself as the go-to authority on 941 IRS problems (and state withholding issues, too, of course).

But where else can you find local business owners in addition to the Chamber? Or, what if your local Chamber is just a shell of what it once was?

Fortunately, there are other options.

Your challenge task for today is to do some quick research to find what’s active in your local area, and then hop online or pick up the phone to get involved. We’re just putting ourselves out there and getting involved. Involvement feels good, right? Let’s change the world!

Here are some other organizations besides the Chamber to check out:

  • SCORE – The Service Corps of Retired Executives (old name) mentors small businesses across the country. Volunteer or attend events.
  • Small Business Development Centers – SBDCs, in partnership with the US Small Business Administration, provide networking events, business development training, and access to all kinds of compliance resources for small business owners. See that? “Compliance resources”. Maybe you know somebody that can be a “compliance resource”? Eh? Eh?
  • Young Entrepreneurs Council – This one leans towards the opposite end of the age spectrum from SCORE, and you must be 45 or younger to join. But, essentially, they do a lot of the same things as SCORE. If you want to niche towards a more Gen X and Millennial audience, then this could be a good direction to go.
  • Toastmasters – Not a business organization per se, but a public speaking training organization that happens to attract a LOT of business people. The education is good, and reason enough to join. It’s also dirt cheap. I pay under $40 per year to belong to two clubs. Join for the education, and along the way you will meet a ton of local business leaders that can be great referral partners.
  • BNI – Really a referral swapping service, but also good for networking. Being active in BNI is almost guaranteed to get you new business.
  • LeTip – Kinda like BNI. I’ve never been a member, and I’ve heard mixed reviews, but it’s there.

Bear in mind that you may have a local organization that doesn’t have any affiliation with a national body. I’m obviously not going to know what that is, but you might. You’ll often find them referenced in local business journals or the business section of your local newspaper.

Find a local chapter or office of a group, and make some phone calls. Inquire about upcoming events, and get involved. Some of these are free, some of these are not. Even if you have to shell out $500+ a year to join (such as with BNI), then so be it.

Some readers may notice that I’ve left off some fairly large national organizations that have state and local chapters. I’m not going to name them, but they do exist. The reason I’ve left them off is because of politics. Depending upon which side of the political spectrum you lean towards, there is a large national pro-business organization that might interest you, and that could very much fill the role of an organization like I’m encouraging you to get involved with. Find that on your own, and get involved if you’d like, because I’m not touching that hornet’s nest with a 10-foot pole, especially on Election Day! 🙂

Find a center or an organization, and get out there! They likely need you, and there are referral opportunities awaiting thee.

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941 Marketing Challenge Day 5

Growing the B2B side of your tax/accounting practice obviously requires that you surround yourself with business prospects. Good ol’ networking, rubbing elbows, and generally being seen in order to become known is particularly important if you operate a local-oriented practice.

In other words, if you want small business bookkeeping clients, 1120S return clients, advisory clients, and, yes, 941 resolution clients, you need to hang out where other business owners hang out. That will be our central theme for this entire week.

First up: Your Chamber of Commerce.

Chambers of Commerce can be incredibly hit or miss, depending on where you are. Some Chambers provide an incredible value for members, are very active and visible in the local community, run great leads groups and networking events, and serve as a central B2B hub in a local area.

Other Chambers are the complete opposite, and just don’t know they’re dead yet.

If you’re in a location with a zombie Chamber, then today’s tip might not be helpful… OR maybe they need a new president, eh? Eh?

But if you’re in a location with a healthy and active Chamber of Commerce, then it’s a good place for you to be. Even if none of the members have tax problems, they probably know people that do.

  1. If you’re not yet a member, go join. Chamber memberships in most cities cost around $400 per year, and it’s a solid investment.
  2. As soon as you sign up, scour the membership directory. Are there other tax/accounting professionals? If so, call them and establish relationships, based on the fact that you’re both Chamber members. Bust out the elevator pitch, and ask if they do resolution work. 9 out of 10 will say “no”.
  3. Add the next several Chamber mixers, brunches, etc. to your calendar and show up.
  4. Some Chambers run leads groups, similar in nature to BNI. Join and attend these.
  5. Volunteer on a Chamber committee. If they have a “Welcome Wagon” or “New Member Ambassador” sort of thing that welcomes new members, join that. Those members will meet you first before other accountants that might be Chamber members.

If your Chamber doesn’t have some of the things I just mentioned, then take it upon yourself to start them within the organization. Be proactive. Be the person that makes things happen. Commit to it long-term, and business will come your way from it. Be consistent with your activity, and consistent with your marketing message (e.g., elevator pitch), and within a few months or less you’ll easily become THE go-to tax resolution person in the entire Chamber of Commerce.

Tomorrow, we’ll go loiter in some other spots where business owners hang out.

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941 Marketing Challenge Day 4

Since today is still the weekend, today’s task will be something you can do asynchronously.

Asynchronous marketing tasks are an important part of your overall marketing mix. What do I mean by “asynchronous”? When I use the word in this context, I’m referring to marketing that you can do out of sync with the rest of the business world, outside of regular business hours. There’s nobody you need to reach on the phone, nobody you need an immediate reply from.

Asynchronous marketing tasks tend to take the form of queueing things to be sent, digital marketing tasks that drive future traffic, setting up paid ad campaigns that run later, reviewing metrics to tweak copy and campaigns, etc. These are all things that can be done evenings, weekends, early mornings, at the beach, or whenever and wherever you want. The ultimate marketing luxury is to generate all your revenue from asynchronous marketing sources.

For today, I want you to start with the simplest of the simple: Start building out the 941-specific content on your website.

I’m making the assumption here that you already have a website, and that it contains a blog section. If you don’t have a blog on your website, call your website provider or local IT nerd and get one set up. I’ve also written a manual about blog setup for tax pros, which you can find here.

So here’s what you do today:

  1. Create a new category on your blog. Call it something like “Payroll Tax Issues” or “941 Tax Debts”, and use “941” as the short/stub label.
  2. Head on over to Pub. 15 and pick a sub-topic, literally any major heading in the pub.
  3. Copy and paste the text from your chosen pub section into a new blog post.
  4. With your pasted text as a guide, rewrite the pub section into your own words and post it.

For example, if I jump straight to “Who are employees?”, the pub provides about 1,030 words of text about who is classified as an employee. Condensing that into a rewritten 400-500 word blog post is within anybody’s capabilities, I think. And remember, it doesn’t need to be perfect.

Tomorrow, we will continue with some synchronous marketing tasks that require getting back on the telephone.

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941 Marketing Challenge Day 3

Since today is a Saturday, I’m going to give you the easiest task you’ll ever see in a marketing challenge.

Continuing our theme from yesterday, we are going to shift from the local mom ‘n’ pop payroll providers, to the biggest payroll provider there is: ADP.

As shocking as this might seem, ADP does not do internal payroll tax resolution for their payroll clients. Instead, this is something they work with their accounting partners on. Surprised? I’m not. It’s a classic example of “do what you do best, and nothing else”.

Here’s your day three challenge task:

1). Find your local ADP office.
2). Call them and ask to be routed to a local sales rep that works with local accountants.
3). Leave a voicemail with your elevator pitch and an invite to lunch.

ADP field sales reps are tasked with “community relations”. They commonly sponsor small, local tax and accounting seminars and small trade shows put on by state societies and local chapters. You’ve probably seen them there, but never given any further thought to what they do or how you could work together. ADP is generally pretty good about letting their field offices do what they need to do to make a buck locally.

So meet with them locally, and become part of the partner program. Ask them for local leads, or about how they go about sponsoring local seminars (maybe yours?). Pass them leads.

Boom! Another referral source.

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941 Marketing Challenge Day 2

At yesterday’s IRS-sponsored “Working Together” symposium in Seattle, the Tacoma Collections Group Manager presented material that was put together by Thomas Kramer, the IRS Collection Territory Manager for the area. In that presentation, two fascinating facts were presented that are relevant to our current line of thinking:

  • As of March 31, 2018, there were $60.3 billion in 941 balance dues, not including penalties and interest.
  • Year to date, 59% of cases that Revenue Officers resolve are business cases.

See why we’re doing this marketing challenge?

Today is pretty simple, and quite honestly should only take you 10-20 minutes, assuming you did yesterday’s exercise.

Here it is, nice and simple: Open up your telephone directory, and call FIVE (or as many as exist, if less than five) local, mom and pop payroll service providers.

Yes, payroll service providers. Small, local ones.

Look ’em up. Call them, say your elevator pitch, and tell them you’d like to discuss a referral relationship. They send you leads, you send them leads.

“Whoa, whoa, hang on a second, Jassen. If a business has a payroll provider, they don’t have a 941 problem!”

That’s what you’d think, right? Well, not so fast.

See, many small businesses with 941 debts did, at one point, have all their ducks in a row. Then, something happened. Maybe it was a loss of a big contract, a death in the family, a regulatory change, etc. All kinds of things happen that turn profitable businesses into clunkers overnight.

So, payroll service companies see this. Because one day, the total payroll + taxes debit doesn’t go through when the payroll service provider tries to run payroll. In fact, they are the first ones to see it. And maybe 1 in 200 of these kinds of payroll providers offers resolution services. So, this is your chance to build referral relationships with one type of non-competing service provider that you can help them, and they can help you.

Tomorrow, we’ll discuss how to take this little tactic to the next level. But for now, go call some small payroll providers, and get the conversation going, elevator pitch in hand.

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941 Marketing Challenge Day 1

Today kicks off the 2018 30-Day Marketing Challenge! The entire month of November, we’ll be focusing on daily marketing tasks — yes, even on Thanksgiving day — that you can utilize to grow the 941 representation side of your practice.

Most of the marketing tasks across this challenge will be short, usually 10 to 20 minutes. Some may be up to an hour.

If you actually follow through on all the activities across the next 30 days, I would expect the typical practitioner to pick up at least 2 or 3 tax resolution clients this month, equating to roughly $10,000 to $15,000 in new revenue. Even more important than that, however, if you stick with it for the full 30 days, you’ll develop the single most financially important habit a business owner can eve develop: The habit of daily marketing.

To start, you’re going to need to create a small piece of 941-specific messaging that answers the classic question, “What do you do?

Commonly referred to as an elevator pitch, this is a concept that’s older than dirt, but sadly it’s one that very few tax and accounting professionals take the time to craft. The LAST thing that should ever leave your mouth when somebody asks what you do is, “I’m a CPA.” Even though most of the general public knows what a CPA is, that answer provides ZERO information about how you can help them, or whom they can refer you to, etc.

Your answer to this question should also not be, “I do taxes”, or “I’m an accountant”, “I do tax resolution. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong!

Your elevator pitch is what you use to communicate the kind of clients you’re looking for. It should be specific, and have a purpose. It should not be generic. You want people to be thinking about who they can refer to you when they hear your elevator pitch. You want them to evaluate their own life against your pitch to determine if they’re a prospect for you. Not everybody should be your client — this is a filtering mechanism.

Over the years, I had a few different elevator pitches. My oldest elevator pitch was very straightforward: “I help mom and pop small business owners with tax debts to screw over the IRS.” This was a message that resonated very, very clearly with my intended target market at the time.

A bit later in my career, when I broadened my market a bit, I made it more professional: “I represent small business taxpayers in front of the IRS to remove the stress and anxiety of seizures, levies, and other IRS Collections action. I deal with the IRS for you, so you can continue doing what you do best, which is running your business.”

Straight, simple, and to the point.

Let’s break it down:

1). Identify ONE specific target market that you’re looking to serve. I preferred working with family owned small businesses doing a few million a year or less. Thus, “mom and pop”.

2). Identify ONE specific service that you are looking to focus on for your target market. I have always been a one-trick pony, and focused solely on IRS Collections representation. It’s really all I know how to do, and so it was easy to target the service. By saying “tax debts”, I’m specifying the exact nature of what I helped them with. In the second example, saying “seizures, levies, and other IRS Collections actions”, I’m clearly identifying the things I help prevent on their behalf.

3). Identify ONE benefit you bring to the table. My clients in rural western America were predominantly blue collar, Republican, and generally frustrated with the IRS. “Screw over the IRS” clearly illustrated the end goal, and uses language that resonated with that target market. It also clearly communicates that I’m on their level, and won’t be one of those people that makes them feel bad about being in debt to the government. In the latter version, the final sentence is a huge benefit statement: I tell them that I’ll get the proverbial monkey off their back so they can focus on what’s important.

In summary: One target market, one service, one benefit.

Additional Examples:

“I help new homeowners realize the full tax savings from their new investment.”

“I show political candidates how to sound like a genius when discussing tax policy.”

“I work with Realtors and their clients to clear up tax lien challenges so that everybody can get to closing.”

“I help [target market] to [benefit statement].”

Your challenge for today is to create this for yourself. It’s something you should already have crafted anyway, and something you’ll use quite frequently over the course of this month. It’s such a fundamentally basic building block of your marketing endeavors that it’s worth putting as much time into it as is necessary.

If you’re a Diamond or Gold member, take a moment to post your elevator pitch in our digital community to get feedback from other members.

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Why you should become a Certified Taxpayer Representativeâ„¢

You shouldn’t.

Seriously. You shouldn’t. It provides you with ZERO marketing benefit as a practitioner, because the general public has no clue what it means.

Same thing goes, by the way, for literally every industry certification that exists. As a practitioner in private practice, the vast majority of industry certifications are utterly worthless.

This is a song I’ve been singing for years, and it’s one that I’ll never stop harping on about: The only thing that matters is your license to practice. The rest is just noise.

Industry certifications were created, as in made up, by companies and trade associations to advance branding and recognition of the company or the organization. They are all fabricated — totally made up. A tiny number of them have managed to get themselves codified into statute so that they actually do mean something. For example, many states recognize the Certified Financial Planner designation as a substitute for other testing and regulation for the provision of paid financial advice to clients. That’s a result of good lobbying, and nothing else.

Since the general public has absolutely no clue what our industry certifications mean, what’s required to obtain it, etc., it has zero marketing utility. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. They are completely made up, artificial, industry-only jargon at this point. In fact, to many members of the public, the use of excessive alphabet soup comes across as pretentious, and can actually backfire. Funny British guy and YouTube star John Oliver has gone off about this a few times on his show, including this hilarious (NSFW) bit about financial advisors.

At best, the fancy certificate on the wall makes you look like smarty-smart. That might be about it.

With all that said, why on Earth do I offer not only one “credential”, but TWO?

It’s because YOU like credentials, and those fancy wall certificates.

Yes, that’s why these exist in industries like ours. It’s to make US feel like we’ve accomplished something, and to feel like we’re superior to our colleagues. It’s an ego thing, through and through. Since the general public has no clue what any of it means beyond “CPA” and “attorney”, the only rational explanation for the existence of credentials beyond our license is to make us feel better within our own ranks. That’s the only logical explanation I can come up with. Oh, right, and promoting the agenda of the organization supplying the certification.

So, for kicks and giggles, I created the RTRâ„¢ and CTRâ„¢ credentials in 2014, totally as a lark. I openly excoriated credentialitis then, and still do today. But as more people ask me about it, it has become clear that I should embrace the joke and run with it. I will call it an “anti-credential”, and put it out there into the world.

So, here are the rules…

How to Become a Registered Taxpayer Representativeâ„¢ (RTRâ„¢)

  1. Provide evidence of current licensure in good standing as an attorney, Certified Public Accounting (CPA), or IRS Enrolled Agent (EA).
  2. Successfully attend and complete all 16 grueling hours of our IRS Collections Levels 1 and 2 curriculum.
  3. Make a $100 donation to your local humane society or animal shelter and send us the receipt.

Do these things, and I’ll send you a real fake certificate suitable for framing on your wall, and I’ll grant you permission to use my trademarked phrase “Registered Taxpayer Representative” and the initials “RTR” amongst your other alphabet soup. You’ll also become an associate member of the American Institute of Certified Taxpayer Representatives (AICTR). Yep. That’s going to be a thing.

Want to take your anti-credential to the next level? Boom, I gotcha covered!

How to Become a Certified Taxpayer Representativeâ„¢ (CTRâ„¢)

Yep, you, too can make the leap from being “registered” to being “certified”. Certified by whom, you ask? Well, by ME…the exact same way all our other industry certifications work!

  1. Provide evidence of current licensure in good standing as an attorney, Certified Public Accounting (CPA), or IRS Enrolled Agent (EA).
  2. Successfully attend and complete all 32 mind-numbing hours of our entire IRS Collections criteria. Levels 1, 2, 3, and 4. Yeah, baby, see what we did there? Let’s sell some seminar seats.
  3. Make a $200 donation to your local humane society or animal shelter and send us the receipt.
  4. Submit evidence of successful case closure for at least ten (10) IRS or state collection cases on behalf of clients. Acceptable evidence includes case closure letters, such as IRS Form 433-D, or state or IRS transcripts reflecting IA, CNC, or OIC status.
  5. Make a $200 donation to your local humane society or animal shelter and send us the receipt.

Do these things, and you’ll get a fancy schmancy wall certificate, and permission to use my trademarked phrases “Certified Taxpayer Representative” and put the initials “CTR” after your name. You’ll also eventually be a founding, full fledged member of the American Institute of Certified Taxpayer Representatives (AICTR).

Doesn’t this all sound like fun? It sure does to me!

In the near future, we’ll be providing updates on the AICTR, and what this new non-profit organization can do for you. And yes, I’m actually creating it, just to keep a joke going. We have fun around here, and so can you. Become an RTRâ„¢ or CTRâ„¢ today!

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