30-Day Tax Firm Challenge: Day 2

First of all, thank you for all the feedback on yesterday’s challenges. I’m happy to hear that many of you find these challenges useful and are already seeing some results.

One quick example:
Premium member Renee Sieradski from Phoenix, AZ posted in the private Facebook group last night that she received not one, but TWO, opportunities to guest post on small blogs. By doing so, she’ll not only end up with two organic, non-forced links back to her own website that help with SEO, but she’ll also be starting to build a “portfolio” of short, published work that she can use to later obtain bigger promotional opportunities, such as with her local business journal or daily newspaper.

Just remember, the purpose of these daily challenges isn’t to score massive PR opportunities with a single blow. The objective is for you to develop a daily marketing habit to grow your business by doing small things every day that inch you forward. The reality is that most business owners don’t take ANY steps forward in any given quarter — let alone monthly, weekly, or daily. By taking an inch per day, you gain a yard per month.

While a yard at a time may not sound like a lot, it rapidly starts to snowball once you develop the habit. Daily inches and monthly yards soon become daily yards and weekly touchdowns.

Wow, look at that, Mr. Non-Sports over here managed to eek out a sportsball analogy! 🙂

On to today’s challenges…


Online Maketing

Post an ad on Craigslist.
Estimated Time: 10 minutes

Most readers will already know this story, but it’s worth repeating: The single biggest upfront fee I’ve ever received from a client was a $25,000 check from a Texas hotel developer that found me on Craigslist.

Craigslist is by no means a digital panacea. In fact, it’s probably dropped in usage and popularity over the past few years. However, it’s still the #1 online classified site in the United States, and is still the go-to place for people looking to buy and sell certain things locally. There are several tech startups trying to change that, but Craigslist is still dominant.

What I used to do was post one ad each in the financial services, legal services, and small business sections of Craigslist. Each ad needs to be completely different. Create yourself an actual Craigslist account, and every 72 hours, delete and repost ONE of the ads. This moves your post to the top of the listings. The 3-day rule is per the Craigslist terms of service. So what you end up with is a daily task of deleting and reposting one ad per day, and cycling through them forever. Over time, you’ll tweak and improve the ads, change offers, etc., but this literally becomes a 10-second per day component of your daily marketing checklist once you get it set up.

In some parts of the country, there are local classified ad sites that are far more popular and widely used on a local level than Craigslist. For example, if you live within the greater Salt Lake City area, you’ll actually want to post on KSL classifieds instead of Craigslist if you’re only going to do one (bonus points obviously for doing both). So if such a thing exists where you live, post there instead.

For the ad, follow the same guidance from yesterday regarding elevator pitches: One target, one service. Keep these ads short and simple — treat them exactly like a newspaper classified ad, even though you’ve got more space online.

Example Ad: Do you owe $5,000 or more to the Department of Taxation & Finance? Frustrated with trying to deal with the knuckleheads in Albany? Get professional, affordable assistance right here in Murray Hill. Visit something.com to schedule a complimentary Tax Debt Settlement Analysis, or give us a call at 212-555-0000.


Offline Marketing

Define your marketing persona.
Estimated Time: 30 minutes.

Bob Newhart is known for being the deadpan straight man. George Carlin was known for his observational satire. Dane Cook built his career by finding the buried humor in mundane daily life. Mitch Hedberg delivered his surreal one liners at a monotonous pace. Amy Schumer has risen to fame with her unique brand of insult comedy.

Unless you study standup comedy for fun, it’s rare to find people that genuinely like all five of these comics. Different styles, different subjects, different deliveries. Amy Schumer definitely isn’t for everybody. Neither is Bob Newhart. And neither are you.

For this challenge, I want you to think about your target market:

  • What do they value?
  • What character traits do they look for in a service professional?
  • What ideologies do they hold?
  • What kind of words do they use?

Write these things down, and start thinking about how you can incorporate them into your marketing and sales.

Now, I will state the obvious: People can tell when we’re being fake, and you shouldn’t be somebody you’re not. However, you can intentionally emphasize or de-emphasize certain elements of your life and personality in order to better resonate with your target market.

For example, back in my early 20’s it was brought to my attention by many people that my normal, daily mode of conversation comes across as condescending. I have no idea where this came from, but once people told me and I was aware of it, I did start catching it myself. It was bizarre at first, knowing I had this rude quirk and trying to fix it, but over time I’ve been able to work on it. Since I’ve spent most of my adult career in some form of sales role, I just can’t come across as condescending to people. It just can’t happen if I want to make a living.

Another example: While growing my tax resolution business, I was active in two very different sports: Figure skating and competitive marksmanship (shooting). Do you think I talked to rural truck drivers about my figure skating? Absolutely not! Did I frequently slip into my marketing communications such things as “last weekend at the range” and “let me tell you about this tax protester I met last month at an NRA meeting…”??? You bet I did!

Last example: Does it really matter all that much that I was in the Navy? Nope, not really. When I was marketing my services in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, etc., I never mentioned it. But what about when I moved to Port Orchard, WA at the end of 2014? Did I start mentioning it then? You’re damn right I did! Naval Base Kitsap is the 3rd-largest Navy base in the United States.

What things from your personal life can you mention to your prospects that will help them to know, like, and trust you? What experiences, family stories, and more can you pull together to help brand yourself to other people?

Start making an inventory. It doesn’t need to be complete, but at least start. See what things you can add (or subtract) to make YOU resonate better with your target market, and start including these things in your marketing.


Practice Management

Adopt the paradigm of paperless.
Estimated Time: 10 minutes

For this task, I want to challenge you to take ONE small baby step towards becoming paperless (if you’re not already).

I don’t think I need to expound upon the virtues of running a paperless office. Less clutter, greater efficiency, reduced operating costs, etc.

Some really simple suggestions to get started:

1). Stop printing paper returns for clients.
If they want a paper copy, impose a Document Processing Fee. Instead, start using a secure client portal (available through numerous vendors), or give clients a USB drive with all their information on it. These can be purchased in bulk on Amazon for $2 each.

2). Start scanning client documents the moment they come in. Don’t keep paper copies of ANYTHING. This goes for W-2s, 1099s, IRS notices, etc. Get a scanner and start using it.

3). Start using digital workflow products. I did tax returns by hand, on paper, for my first full year in tax resolution because I didn’t know I could obtain tax prep software for prior years (most companies will provide it for free if you buy their current year product). You already use software for tax preparation, so why do you do other things manually? Software exists for nearly every service you offer to your clients. There’s tax planning software, financial planning software, tax resolution software, accounting software, audit software, valuation software, expense reduction software… You name it, it probably exists.

Start looking at these products as equally important to your business as your tax prep software. You wouldn’t go a tax season without your software, right? Then why do you slog through tax resolution season without software? Why do you do non-profit audits using pen and paper? Technology is your friend.

There you have it: Your challenges for today. If you’re a Premium member, please post about your progress in the Facebook group.

If you’re not a Premium member, well… Become one so you can join the discussions in the Facebook group. 🙂