Category: Get More Tax Clients

Using Audit Protection Plans & POA Monitoring to Boost Bottom Line Profits

Chances are you’ve already heard of this offering, but perhaps never given much thought to it. It goes by various names, such as “Audit Defense Service”, “Audit Protection Plan”, and probably the worst possible name, “Audit Insurance”.

Quick tip: Do NOT call it insurance. State insurance regulators will have a field day with you.

Pricing for this service can range all the map, from as little as $30 through services that Block and TurboTax offer, to $200 and up from bigger audit protection plan companies and bigger CPA firms.

What exactly are we talking about? Audit Protection Plans.

Firms have been offering some variation of audit defense, either packaged and sold directly with tax return preparation or as an add-on, since at least the early 90’s. Typically, an audit protection service offered along with return preparation applies to that return only, and provides a certain amount of work that will be done on the client’s behalf in the event they are chosen for an IRS or state examination of the return. Plans typically impose one or more limitations, such as to the number of hours of representation that are included, or excluding certain credits such as EITC.

By offering audit protection plans to all or most of your tax preparation clients, you are essentially spreading the cost of audit representation for whomever needs it across a large number of people, akin to an insurance program (but again, never call it insurance!). Since the IRS audits less than 0.5% of all tax returns, the overall odds of being selected for examination are about 1 in 200. Additionally, over 70% of examinations are correspondence audits, meaning that the representation work is actually done asynchronously (not in real time with an IRS employee), making it far easier to schedule such work around the rest of your day.

If you have 200 tax prep clients that each paid $99 for an audit protection plan, just as an example, that’s an extra $19,800 coming in to your practice from your existing clients. If only 1 in 200 requires audit representation, on average, then you can easily see that just offering the protection plan becomes ones of the most profitable services within your practice. In addition, you can charge different prices based actual audit risk. For example, since Schedule C filers get audited at a higher rate, your audit protection plan rate for that kind of return can be higher, just as your prep fee is.

For your clients that opt-in to the service, they simply need to notify you when they receive a notice from the IRS that challenges any item on the return, and you handle it like any other audit. In such situations, I definitely recommend doing your normal time and billing, and then presenting the client with an invoice showing the value of the service you provided, even though you’ve zeroed out the invoice with a credit for being an audit defense member. If you’re imposing a limit on service, such as 5 or 10 hours of representation before a discounted hourly rate kicks in, this also allows you to show the complimentary hours covered by the plan.

How Negative Option Selling Works

There are typically two ways to sell this particular service to your existing clients:

  1. By offering it separately to your clients after filing their return, on an opt-in basis.
  2. By including it with all returns by default, and clients have to opt-out of getting it.

Most practitioners are more comfortable with the first, but the second yields much higher revenues. This latter technique is called negative option selling.

Let me give you an example of the success rate of the two different approaches.

Diamond member Dan Henn, CPA uses the first method, offering the service as an upsell after the fact. He tells me that about 30% of his clients take him up on it.

Ernie Neve, CPA, also a Diamond member, uses the second method. He puts the audit protection plan fee on his invoice, and goes over it with the client when the invoice is presented. If they want to opt-out, they have to sign a form ackowledging that they are opting out and explaining the fees they will pay if they are selected for audit. He has 70% of his clients just take it, drastically increasing his per-client revenue.

Audit Protection’s Distant Third Cousin: POA Monitoring Service

In the tax resolution world, best practices dictate that we revoke our 2848 after the conclusion of an engagement. If we don’t, both the IRS and the client may erroneously believe that we are still actively representing the client, when in fact we are not being paid to provide any additional services. If something negative happens, the client can (and has) sued the practitioner that didn’t revoke their POA, and your E&O provider probably won’t pay out on the claim.

So, if you’re going to be “on the hook” with an active Power of Attorney, be sure that you’re getting paid for it.

That’s why I created the POA Monitoring service in my own practice. This is a service that, depending upon the volume of tax resolution work you’re doing, could quite easily add $20,000 to $100,000 per year to your practice, and it’s extremely profitable.

In some ways, it works similar to audit protection. Basically, after a tax resolution engagement, you will keep your POA active. Occasionally … Continue reading

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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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Why you should become a Certified Taxpayer Representative™

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 RTR™ and CTR™ 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 Representative™ (RTR™)

  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 Representative™ (CTR™)

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 RTR™ or CTR™ today!

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The Value of Client Reviews In Your Tax Firm Marketing Efforts & How to Get Them

Having your happy clients post positive online reviews of your practice have become an essential component of online marketing for your tax firm. In our crowded online marketplace, consumers may still find it difficult to ascertain whether your accounting firm, tax office, or tax resolution firm is a legitimate company. Intelligent consumers frequently read Yelp, Google, and BBB reviews to evaluate your company. Potential clients want to find out if your business provides mediocre, poor or excellent customer service.

Take Advantage of Known Marketing Strategies

If your tax practice has received unfavorable published reviews, a reputation management strategy via sound search engine optimization (SEO) techniques can make a difference. Establish the future success of your company by using strategies that promote your business online. Positive reviews enable consumers to know if your company is a reputable business and that you’re a competent practitioner. The following blog post will provide you with helpful information about the significance attributed to positive reviews posted by your satisfied clients. If you want to know how to impress your client base enough to warrant a sufficient amount of five-star reviews, study these helpful techniques.

Do not Underestimate the Views of Contemporary Consumers

If you are a CPA, EA, or attorney, you need to be aware of how prospective clients become aware of your tax practice. Today’s enlightened consumers have ways to check out your company before deciding whether they want to buy your products or subscribe to your services. Reviews make it easier for potential clients to make decisions. Restaurant reviews are good examples. With the help of websites that include Yelp reviews and Google reviews, consumers can read opinions of amateur food and wine connoisseurs before they make reservations at their local restaurants. Prospective customers want to know more about the menu selections and prices. Accordingly, people do not want to waste their time eating at restaurants with negative reviews. The same principle applies to you in your tax resolution marketing, tax prep marketing, bookkeeping marketing, etc.

Positive Reviews Enable your Business to Grow

Consumers do not look favorably on your firm if they are unable to find any reviews. A lack of reviews looks as though your business is either unknown or fails to make its mark in the online marketplace. People want to know whether other consumers are familiar with your services. Plus, the American public is anxious to discover whether your business practices yield poor, average, or excellent results. There is no question that 5-star reviews offer you a better chance to achieve a top search position in a sea of hopeful competitors. As a self-employed accountant or lawyer, you obviously need to ensure that your website takes advantage of the best content marketing techniques, but as Christian Jones explained in our local SEO crash course earlier this year, you can only do so much with “on page” factors. It is important to learn how to get clients to write impressive reviews about your tax firm. Since the online marketplace is populated with numerous CPAs and attorneys, your best bet is to obtain reviews that make your business stand out from the competition.

Reviews Appeal to Sophisticated People of all Ages and Genders

Potential customers no longer need to ask relatives and acquaintances about their opinions regarding businesses. It is also becoming less and less common for people to ask their friends and family for referrals, especially among younger consumers (yeah, Millennials, I know, I know). Instead, informed consumers choose to read online reviews because comments offer a complete gamut of opinions. Although reviews about your company may occasionally seem contradictory, they help consumers recognize your business as a distinct entity differing from other similar businesses offering tax and accounting services. People can even find online opinions written by others who reside in their own neighborhoods. Reviews open wider doors for consumers who have grown accustomed to gleaning more information about businesses before they agree to part with their money.

Let People have Access to More Information about Your Services

Reviews offer a wide array of opinions in a short amount of time. Plus, reviews posted online are more plentiful and varied than taking the word of one neighbor or a trusted uncle. An online review may provide consumers with greater detail about a particular service, such as tax resolution, which helps them evaluate the appropriateness of that service for their own needs. Furthermore, due to the local search and geographical relevance of online reviews, positive reviews may assist you in gaining more clients who live near the location of your business.

Try to Attain High Rankings on Google and other Search Engines

You improve the search engine positioning of your website when your business has favorable reviews. Gain new clients when consumers post online Yelp reviews and Google reviews about your tax practice. With the right SEO techniques, your website has the ability to attract new visitors in growing numbers. Benefit from techniques used to generate organic traffic to your website. When people are searching for specific services, they will see your website without having to search through dozens of pages. Online reviews give you the chance to merit higher SEO rankings. With consistently high rankings, people tend to write positive reviews pertaining to your business.

Google Favors the Merits of Positive Reviews

Google pays attention to client reviews because these comments reveal whether or not consumers appreciate your business. Google takes note of … Continue reading

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Tax Resolution Marketing: 2018 Tax Lien Marketing Update Series

It’s 2018, and my tax lien marketing plan that generated $3.3 million in 2010 just ain’t cutting it anymore.

Why? Basically, two factors:

  1. There is now three times as much competition in the tax lien marketing game.
  2. There are now HALF as many federal tax liens being filed.

Don’t forget that the IRS files a Form 668-Y, Notice of Federal Tax Lien, on only about 5% of all tax debtors. There is still a statutory tax lien in place, as per 26 USC 6321. But due to budget constraints and kinder, gentler IRS procedures, the public notice tax lien just isn’t filed as frequently. In fact, take a look at these tax lien filings by year:

2009: 965,618
2010: 1,096,376
2011: 1,042,230
2012: 707,768
2013: 602,005
2014: 535,580
2015: 515,247
2016: 470,602
2017: 446,378

As you can see, lien volume has dropped by 59% since the peak.

These factors have contributed to a substantial shift in how one must do tax lien marketing. It’s still highly effective, but HOW you do it has changed.

To keep you abreast of these shifting marketing patterns, I’ve put together something a bit different: The Tax Lien Marketing Update Series.

This program will be a rolling series of webinars and print updates on what’s working now in the world of tax lien marketing. As I re-launch my own tax lien marketing efforts, mine data from my tax lien database service, combined with what I hear from my connections within the industry, I’ll be able to report back to you on the shifting changes in this critically important marketing channel for tax resolution.

This series will be complimentary to Diamond Tax Resolution Coaching members, and available for a modest annual fee for all others (the annual fee will NOT be auto-recurring, like a subscription, which I think will be more convenient for a service like this).

Click here to enroll in the Tax Lien Marketing Update Series.


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Why I’m Moving to Utah and Getting a Real Estate License

This weekend, I’m packing up my worldly possessions and departing for the long trek to Salt Lake City. I’ve mentioned this in passing on webinars and emails recently, along with the fact that I’ve been studying for both the real estate agent exam and the Series 65 exam. This has caused a fair amount of confusion amongst viewers and readers.

To catch you up to speed, after leaving my day-to-day role at my software startup, Prolaera, last summer, I decided that I would reboot my tax resolution practice and build another boutique firm. I spent an entire month doing nothing but evaluating various business models, service options, and other important considerations for starting a new business. What I ultimately decided on was to integrate my personal real estate investing strategy into a tax practice, and build a hybrid tax/real estate brokerage/financial advisory practice all centered around a specific strategy for acquiring rental properties.

The tax resolution aspect focuses on doing only lien withdrawals, subordination, and discharge work to help facilitate real estate transactions (the lien work only model).

Moving to another geographical areas wasn’t originally part of the concept. However, as I started the search for my next rental property purchase, the local market conditions, driven by spillover from Seattle’s blazing hot real estate market, started to look less and less desirable to me. I’m not a fan of rapidly increasing prices, low inventory, and multi-offer situations. That’s just not a game I like to play when it comes to real estate. So I started contemplating a relocation.

As you may have seen last week in the market area selection video I unlocked for a few days, I think it’s very important to be strategic about the decisions you make in your tax firm. Since I happen to have the flexibility to change my geographic location without disrupting anything else in my life, I made the choice to do so. After researching several other markets, including Vancouver, WA, Klamath Falls, OR, Boise, ID, and Bozeman, MT, I ultimately decided that the Salt Lake City area was the best fit for me for the next few years.

Why Salt Lake? I have a long laundry list of reasons. Here is a short sampling of the bigger reasons:

  • A balanced real estate market with plenty of inventory in “blue collar” neighborhoods with homes priced well under $300,000 – my preferred type of rental property.
  • An incredibly active tech startup scene, providing opportunities for angel investing and startup advising in exchange for equity.
  • A highly educated but relatively low-cost labor force, with a high concentration of successful inside sales personnel in particular.
  • Referral relationships from the prior incarnation of my tax resolution practice. These relationships are now cold and stale, but it’s better than nothing.
  • Year-round sun and excellent outdoor activity opportunities will help with seasonal mood issues associated with Seattle’s gloomy skies and make life better for Pearl, my dog.
  • Untapped potential for growing the real estate brokerage brand I’ll be joining.
  • Excellent tax resolution market potential.
  • Multiple ice facilities that support all ice sports, including curling, speed skating, and luge/bobsled, which simply are not available in the majority of cities, but are super fun!

…and on and on. Once I started evaluating the options, Salt Lake became the only logical choice for me to spend the next three to four years before I retire.

There is obviously a lot more that goes into the choice of business model, and a lot more details on exactly how I’m going to implement various aspects of the model. In August of last year, a dozen elite tax professionals gathered in Los Angeles for an early, insider’s sneak peek at this new business model. These tax professionals came from as far away as Maine, Florida, and Washington, DC, and paid up to $1997 each to attend the day and a half workshop (plus their travel costs).

At this workshop, I explained precisely why real estate agents and real estate investors are such a great target market for tax resolution and other services. I provided a step-by-step blueprint for how I’m going to launch my new practice, including what staff and systems I’ll add in, when, and why. Attendees also received an early version of the marketing system that I’ll be using to launch the business with (click here for a preview of what’s to come in Salt Lake; here’s the more established Seattle version with 183 members).

Of greatest interest to many attendees was my explanation of how I was going to work with real estate agents and mortgage brokers to help them get paid. See, if a real estate transaction fails to close because either the buyer or seller has a state or federal tax lien against them, then nobody gets paid their commission. It behooves the loan officer, title rep, buyer’s agent, seller’s agent, and everybody else that gets paid at closing to do what it takes to make sure that a closing actually occurs. Bringing in a tax professional to clean up the occasional tax issue helps them all get paid.

Think this isn’t a big problem? Combining IRS data with US Census household data, we can estimate that somewhere between 7% to 11% of American households have a tax debt problem. Combine that with real estate churn, and approximately 3% to 5% of real estate transactions per year have a Continue reading

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5 Reasons Every Tax Professional Needs To Write a Book

Write a book

Struggling to bring in new clients? Not sure what to do next in your marketing plan? There’s one simple answer you probably haven’t considered:

Write a book.

It’s true. This one thing—especially if it’s an actual printed book rather than a Kindle or eBook—has the power to grow your business beyond your expectations. You’ll experience a whole new world of opportunities simply by having your name on the cover of a book.

Writing and self-publishing my first book, Tax Resolution Secrets, back in 2012 enabled me to create an entire new marketing process that brought in leads without significant effort or expense. Inbound leads, while usually slower to come in and of reduced quantity, will usually be of better quality than outbound leads.

Writing that book, and becoming an Amazon category best seller in the process, created a special kind of leverage that helped me to grow my tax resolution practice. A book, by itself, is a great lead generation piece. But even more than that, it becomes an excellent lead magnet, conversation starter, and unique addition to your “shock and awe” box.

Here are five specific reasons why you should write a book.

Authority

Imagine you’re at a conference or local networking group and you meet two consultants who both specialize in practice management efficiency — something you know you need help with right now.

One consultant says all the right things. She’s been in business for years and has worked with several top-notch accounting firms in your area. She has great ideas for how she can help you operate a more efficient tax practice.

The other consultant has a similar history and story, with one added bonus: She’s just handed you a copy of her latest book. It’s a professionally printed, substantial publication that practically exudes confidence.

Which consultant do you think shows more authority in her field? The one with the book, of course. There really is nothing better when it comes to establishing your authority than having a book with your name on it.

Expertise

Why does a book speak so highly of you and establish your authority so well? Because it gives you a platform to show off your expertise. It’s like being invited to present on any topic you choose on the world’s largest stage.

Not only that, but your readers are a captive audience. They’re listening—in that moment—only to you. That’s a powerful position to be in, and one that gives you an opportunity to clearly demonstrate that you’re the expert that can help them with their tax issue.

In addition, the general public still believes that writing a book is a Herculean task, and that in order to have enough to say on a subject to write a book, you must be an expert. While this belief no longer necessarily reflects reality in this day and age, the perception still exists, and you should take advantage of that.

Market Reach

No matter how many readers Google sends your way, no matter how much traffic your YouTube channel receives, nothing will ever compare to the number and type of targed, engaged readers that Amazon and other booksellers can bring your way.

Positioned correctly, your book can reach thousands of new readers, many of whom could become clients. When people buy your book and read it, they have entered the top of a unique and powerful marketing funnel that you’ve created. Combine that with the expertise and authority we know comes with being a published author, and that’s a recipe for success that can’t be beat.

Better Than a Business Card

If you’ve ever been to a conference, you’ve no doubt collected a stack of business cards. You get home and toss them in a drawer, and six months later you throw them out, without ever having contacted the people who gave them to you.

But if one of those people handed you a book instead, what happened? You’ve likely read it (or at least leafed through it). You almost certainly didn’t throw it away. And you remember it—and the person who wrote it.

I have personally never had business cards in my entire tax resolution career. After writing Tax Resolution Secrets, I developed the habit of always keeping at least one copy in my backpack or in the saddlebags of my motorcycle. If I was attending some sort of networking event, I would take two or three copies in with me, because they are far superior to a plain ol’ business card.

Press Opportunities

Turn on your television to any interview show, browse through Huffington Post, or listen to any of a number of popular podcasts, and you’ll quickly see that most of the guest speakers and interviewees have written a book.

The fact is, interview shows depend on interesting, insightful guests to keep their audiences listening, and there’s no better applicant than an author. Writing a book will open up many, many opportunities for appearances that you may never have without your name on that cover.

By the way, I’m not just talking about big, national shows, either. Every city in the world has local media outlets that are just as hungry to fill air time with interesting guests as the syndicated shows. These local radio, TV, and other media outlets are easier to get booked on, and most of them enjoy showcasing local experts.

Do you have to write a book to be … Continue reading

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Free Tax Resolution Kindle Book Week

This week, through Saturday, all of my titles published on the Amazon Kindle platform are available at no charge. Whoot, whoot!

For the rest of the week, the following titles can all be downloaded to your Kindle reader, your smartphone, even your computer (Amazon has apps for every platform).

Tax Season Profitability Guide: 8 Big Ideas For a More Profitable Tax Season (all 8 ideas also apply to every other service you offer)
Effective Copywriting for Accounting Professionals
Tax Resolution Secrets (written for consumers, not tax pros, 2011)
How To Build A Million Dollar Tax Resolution Practice In 12 Months Or Less
The 80-Hour Workweek: A Practical Guide to Escaping the Bonds of Mediocrity and Getting More Out of Life (not really about tax resolution, but it has some useful ideas if you’re interested in a non-traditional, virtual, or semi-retirement type of practice)

In addition to that, I’ve temporarily dropped the prices on all print books in my Amazon catalog by 50% or more, including The Tome:

The Complete Tax Resolution Practice: Uncovering the Lucrative Opportunity Hiding Inside Your Tax Practice (released in 2013, but not much has changed)

If you don’t already have these, I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity. Again, the Kindle book promotion ends on Saturday (Amazon has a 5-day limit on these). After reading, I’d appreciate you taking 30 seconds to leave a review on Amazon.

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SEO Bare Essentials for Local Tax Firms

I’m a big fan of the Pareto Principle, which says that 80% (or more) of your outputs are generated by 20% (or less) of your inputs. The 80/20 rule is well known and has been demonstrated to be true across many arenas, from the income gap to agriculture to marketing results.

One area where I have long espoused an 80/20 rule viewpoint is in the field of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is a marketing strategy in which you seek to be at the top of the Google search results for a particular search term. For example, this blog floats around the top five in the search results for keywords such as “tax resolution marketing”. Today, I’m at #2 for that term, and #1 is an article I wrote for Canopy.

This ranking is not an accident.

At one point, my tax practice site ranked in the top three on Google for many search terms related to tax relief, tax resolution, and the IRS Fresh Start program. I gave up those positions several years ago when I stopped doing the activities that maintained the position, but I’m confident I could reclaim them with a little bit of work.

SEO in particular is one of those marketing strategies that has a well defined Minimum Effective Dose (MED). This is a Tim Ferriss term, and describes the bare minimum work you need to do in order to see the majority of positive results. Note that this isn’t about being lazy, but rather about being efficient.

Now, while I encourage tax professionals to utilize a service such as TaxProMarketer for your complete website, SEO, and social media marketing, there are plenty of people that either don’t want to commit the financial resources to a service provider, or that just enjoy the process of doing this stuff themselves. So, from an 80/20 perspective, here are the things you should focus on for achieving top search rankings for your local practice.

Website Content

Users are always on the lookout for unique and appealing content. And as has been proven over and over, quality content is the number one trick to improve your SEO ranking. People think it doesn’t take much to come up with content but on the contrary, it’s quite difficult. You want to add content that is helpful and is interesting. Your users will much appreciate your effort to create original content, and that will greatly increase the traffic on your website.

You also want people to know about your content and spend time on the website. This will increase the time people spend on your site, which is a signal of quality to Google. If your website contains useful information, users will visit your website more and tend to stay longer. You’ll further have to identify a keyword for each page; keywords that you think users will search for. Once you’ve included the relevant keywords on the webpage, just wait for the traffic to flow in. Just make sure you don’t ruin your content by adding too many keywords, a practice called “keyword stuffing” that can actually get your site blacklisted by Google. SEO ranking is important but not at the cost of losing your readers.

With time, it’ll become vital to update the content regularly. In this fast paced world, users are always on the lookout for recent data and to stay relevant, you have to adhere to this trend. When you regularly update content, your site will be viewed as relevant; a label which definitely affects the SEO ranking of your site. I suggest posting new articles to your blog at least every other week (yes, I know I’ve been slacking here on this blog for two months).

Business Listings

In order to gain relevance in local SEO rankings, you have to make sure that your business is listed on other local websites. The availability of your business listing means that locals will be able to find you more quickly. Search engines are always on the search for local businesses to improve the experience of local users. Over 28% of searches for places nearby result in a purchase, so you need to be prepared to capture this.

Make sure that all local listings websites have your complete and updated information. If any changes are required, make them immediately. Your business should be listed in the appropriate categories. It’s also a good idea to add photos, videos and your website URL to the listing wherever such is supported. This way, you offer more information to the users, making things easier for them. Website visitors hate seeing incomplete profiles and listings.

Online Reviews

What your customers think about you is an important factor that influences your SEO ranking. Always try to provide the best services to your clients and then prompt them to give you online reviews. Businesses with online reviews gain relevance in the SEO rankings and make a good impression on potential future clients.

The more authentic and positive reviews your business receives, the higher the chances of your business expanding. Search engines just love reviews; they show that the business is known and loved by the locals. You can also encourage your clients to use social media to post their reviews.

All these reviews will do you no good if you fail to respond to them though. Your engagement in responding to these reviews and queries is vital in increasing your SEO … Continue reading

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Why I Nuked My Twitter Account

If you’re one of the few people that followed me on Twitter, you may have noticed that my Twitter profile has been wiped clean.

As in, totally obliterated.

Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

I can hear the collective gasp now. How could he do such a thing? This is bird abuse!

Let me outline five simple reasons why I decided to do this:

  1. I hate social media, and always have. Since the dawn of MySpace, I have hated social media with a passion. I’ve always found it to be a complete waste of time, a false substitute for genuine human interaction, and an utter annoyance and intrusion into my life. I consider social media to be the worst thing to ever come out of the Internet boom. Thus, when I saw other simple indicators telling me that Twitter was no longer relevant for communication with the people I care about communicating with, it was easy to pull the plug.
  2. I’ve been testing Twitter ads, and they suck. As a marketing guy first and foremost, I believe in testing extensively before making a decision about the utility of a marketing medium. I’ve been testing Twitter ads on and off for about 18 months, and despite my best testing, tweaking, and targeting, I just can’t get them to yield results. So, I’m done throwing good money after bad. No advertising, no need for a profile
  3. Tweet engagement is super weak sauce. For the past 10 months, I’ve been “engaging” on the major social platforms — Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. I bought a social media management software system, loaded it up with thousands of things to post, and monitored conversations. I replied where I could, tried to be helpful to folks, did the liking and retweeting. I followed the right people, and maintained a healthy ratio of content posting to promotional posting. Bottom line? According to Google Analytics, the resulting web traffic to my sites from all that Twitter activity was so low it was almost unmeasurable. The ROI for all that time just wasn’t there.
  4. Thousands of bots and spammers started following me. Somewhere along the way, the bots that run spam Twitter accounts in the “get rich quick online” world made note of my increased activity, and started following me and direct messaging me. It became a hassle to sift through and block those bots (and some real people). My block list literally has over 3,000 Twitter accounts on it. It just became not worthwhile.
  5. The number of people I care to follow on Twitter is rapidly shrinking. Twitter actually started to die a couple years ago. While it’s still a hotbed of activity, most of it is activity I don’t care about, and don’t want to pay attention to. Sorry, but I have better things to do than waste brain cells trying to follow some politician’s barrage of hate speech. Most of the figure skaters, accounting/tax news outlets, and standup comics that I care to follow have either left Twitter entirely or are just as active on other social media platforms. Heck, many of them auto cross post to Facebook or LinkedIn. I can get my tax fix on LinkedIn just fine, and that’s also where all of YOU — readers of this blog — are registered and more active, not Twitter.


  6. Running ads on both Facebook and LinkedIn can be profitable, something I’ve never seen personally with Twitter. LinkedIn is far more business-oriented, has far fewer arguments, and has a great publishing platform (where you’ll soon start seeing me write more, as well as on Medium and CPA Trendlines). LinkedIn has groups I like to participate in, and Facebook has all my favorite figure skaters and comedians.

    So at the end of the day, I just don’t need Twitter. In fact, I never have, so I’m applying my time elsewhere.

    If you’re disappointed to see me disappear from Twitter, I’ve got a solution for you: Connect with me on LinkedIn.


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