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941 Marketing Challenge Day 13

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. -Desiderius Erasmus (1500)

Translated into marketing-speak: She who bothers to be even slightly better than average wins the business.

Since we now live in a world where average equals mediocrity, it doesn’t take much effort to be better and do better than your peers. A lot of people are very uncomfortable with this assessment, but I stand by it.

Another way of looking at it, through the lens of another common expression, is that “80% of success is showing up” as Woody Allen put it.

So that’s what we’re looking at for the next few days. Take an inventory sometime:

  1. Where do you show up now?
  2. Where should you be showing up?
  3. What are some things that YOU do in your practice that makes you better than average?
  4. What else can you do in your practice move beyond being seen as “mediocre”, e.g., just another practitioner?

For the next few challenge tasks, I really want to focus on that second one: Where should you be showing up?

Even better, let’s break it up into a few more pieces:

  • Where should you be seen digitally?
  • Where should you be seen physically?
  • Where should you be seen in media?

Let’s start with your digital footprint. Again, if you’re not showing up in the right places, then the right people won’t be able to find you. Since we’re talking about 941 work, there are certain places online that you should be.

First among them is probably LinkedIn. Have you looked over your LinkedIn profile lately? Is it complete? Do you have a photo? Do you have a bio describing the kind of client you’re looking for, and an offer for a lead magnet? Are you posting occasionally? Do you write articles on the LinkedIn “blogging” platform?

Take a few minutes to spruce up your LinkedIn profile today. Don’t end the day without at least a photo and a link back to your website in your bio. While you’re on there, post a single status update offering a lead magnet to your B2B connections that might have 941 problems. For what it’s worth, your elevator pitch makes a great bio or status update item.

The other place that you absolutely, positively need to be seen online is Google Maps. I guess more appropriately it would be Google My Business. At this moment, there is no more important online listing for you to grab. Without it, you’re probably not showing up on Google Maps, which is an incredibly common place for people to look for local service providers such as yourself. In addition, if you haven’t claimed your Google My Business listing, you’re missing out on the #1 SEO “hack” that exists.

So go do those TWO things today. Spruce up your LinkedIn profile, with appropriate 941 tax resolution verbiage and an offer. Then go claim your Google My Business listing if not already done. These two things should take less than 30 minutes, so are good to combine into one day.

If you’d like more guidance on the Google My Business portion, watch this training in the Gold/Diamond Video Vault. If you’re not yet a member, start your 14-day trial of Gold membership.

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941 Marketing Challenge Day 12

In yesterday’s challenge, you did some research in an effort to find bigger companies to do special marketing initiatives to.

Over the rest of the month, we will revisit this super-short “hit list” a couple times, but today, we start in a meaningful way.

First, do a little bit more research on Google, perhaps even LinkedIn. The goal: Find out who is in charge overall, and who is in charge of the accounting, finance, and legal functions. Yes, that means up to four people. If not people, find out who their accounting firm is, what local law firm they utilize, etc. You may need to pick up the phone for this leg work.

Once you know the names and addresses of the folks in charge, here’s what you’re going to do:

  1. Print out copies of any “financial turmoil” media articles you found yesterday.
  2. Type up a cover letter on your letterhead saying you came across the attached news items, and provide 2-3 specific suggestions for how you could help based on what was publicly reported.
  3. FedEx or courier this entire stack to the people you found in your research. Not email. Not fax. Not USPS. FedEx or courier. Don’t be a cheapskate on this, it’s worth the extra few dollars.
  4. Add to your calendar a to do to follow up via telephone in 48 hours.

In this day and age, showing even the tiniest demonstration of competency and tenacity goes a LONG way. Frankly, it’s frightening how low the bar has become for impressing people. This makes it easier to get a meeting with some local corporate mid-wig than you think it is. By taking the time to research a company, try to understand their problems, even with incomplete external knowledge, and offer possible solutions, you’re probably being more proactive than their controller or CFO.

That’s how you land whales.

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941 Marketing Challenge Day 11

Today, we’re going whale hunting.

Or, at least the research required to go whale hunting.

First off, what’s a whale?

One of the nice things about 941 work over 1040 work is that the cases are much more diverse and interesting. Over 90% of 1040 tax resolution cases are just the same thing over and over and over. Most of them are Streamline or, as they are now called, “Expanded” Installment Agreements. Same thing, over and over…

Not so with 941 cases. 941 case work is much more varied, making it inherently more interesting, at least to a nerd like me.

One little factor that makes it more interesting? You’re much more likely to land the occasional mid-sized business as a client.

Depending upon whom you ask, a mid-sized business is defined as one with more than 100 employees, but less than 1,000 employees, or that has revenue in excess of $10 million per year but less than a $1 billion. The US SBA definition is much more complex, based on industry.

Medium-sized businesses are excellent clients for a number of reasons that are really beyond the scope of the challenge. From a strictly tax resolution perspective, they’re great because they can afford to pay you higher fees, and also because the root cause of their payroll tax problem is usually a short-term problem. Lastly, they can cash flow their way out of the federal and state tax debt. Oh, and for-reals lastly, they generally don’t have unfiled returns or mountains of accounting work to be done.

In other words, they’re pure representation clients. For somebody like me that doesn’t like doing tax prep, and isn’t an accountant, I love cases where all I’m doing is the representation!

Identifying potential whale clients is fairly simple, but marketing to them can be a different story. Today, we’ll talk about identifying them, and over the next few days we’ll talk about marketing to them.

Finding whales starts with having the right boat. For our purposes, the main boat you need is Google.

  1. Start by Googling phrases such as “your-city business in trouble” and “your-city company financial issues” and “your-city business faces losses”, etc.
  2. Find your local business journal, and start scouring for news articles and reports of businesses in trouble.
  3. Look online for your local “Book of Lists”, usually put out by a business journal publisher. Scour that list for year-over-year declines in staffing.
  4. If you have access to a prior year and current Chamber of Commerce directory, compare the two. Knowing who the larger companies are in your area, look for those businesses that dropped their Chamber membership.
  5. Since many mid-sized companies in local areas are in the construction and real estate industries, look for commercial construction projects and real estate developments that are behind schedule, over budget, or otherwise receiving negative press coverage locally.
  6. If you completed some of the earlier challenges this month, you’re now more connected to your local business community than you used to be. Let’s leverage that! Select two or three recent business connections who are themselves well connected or have the pulse on the business community, and send them a quick email asking if anything is coming through the grapevine about possible layoffs or other negative financial indicators at local companies.
  7. If you belong to a local niche industry association (which you should), such as your local Home Builders Association or Board of Realtors (as an associate member), ask around for the same thing.

Get the idea? You’re looking for local, larger businesses that might be facing some financial difficulties.

This challenge task is a bit more difficult for me to give you exact instructions on, since your local resources, news sources, connections, etc. can vary so widely from location to location and reader to reader. But hopefully I’ve given you enough here to start your sleuthing, and you’ll be able to find at least one or two companies that have been mentioned in the local media or through the grapevine.

Tomorrow, we’ll discuss what to do with this information.

While we’re talking about marketing to businesses, it’s worth mentioning that most of this marketing also applies to growing the 1120S/1065 side of your tax prep practice, also. In the members portal, I have a 2-hour training plus a complete marketing plan that can help you accomplish this. If you’re not yet a Tax Marketing HQ member, then what are you waiting for? Click here to get on it!

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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. πŸ™‚

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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. πŸ™‚

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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! πŸ™‚

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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