Lead Generation: Farming your local neighborhoods

For the topic of lead generation (which I’ll be spending a lot more time discussing from now on), let’s start close to home: The area immediately surrounding your practice.

Unless you work from home and live in a pretty remote place, you’ve got a neighborhood that you can get business from. That “neighborhood” is going to cover more physical territory if you’re in rural Kansas compared to downtown Los Angeles, but it’s still a neighborhood.

It should be noted that working your local area, or “farming” as it is called by real estate agents, is one of the most time tested and proven ways for building a business. If you think about it, there was a point in human history where it was really the only marketing vehicle available for any business, and in some parts of the world, it still is.

The quandary to me is that so many people resist doing this one thing that is so basic and simple. I have consulted with small business owners in a number of other industries, and they’re always looking for something big and grandiose to spend their marketing time and money on. The simple fact of the matter is that most businesses are very local in nature, and most of your clients are going to be local to you. This is especially true if your business focus is primarily on one practice area, such as 1040 preparation, bookkeeping, or payroll processing.

There is a wealth of business in your local community — you just need to reach out for it. According to the IRS, about 60 percent of individuals still use a paid preparer to get their tax returns filed, which is double the percentage of people that use tax software (these are numbers just released from the current filing season).

This means that more than half the people you see walking around your local area are potential return preparation clients. See all those cars driving by them? All the folks at your local supermarket? All potential clients.

The very tiny percentage of real estate agents that follow the farming mantra just so happen to be the most successful real estate agents in any given area. These are the agents that are sending newsletters and neighborhood sales data to every homeowner in a neighborhood each and every month for years on end.

Using Click2Mail, the US Postal Service’s online retail partner, it costs about 32 cents to print and mail a postcard when you do so in small quantities. For $100 per month, you can send over 300 postcards to the 300 hundred closest homeowners surrounding your office. Every month, you’re informing people about the latest and greatest tax benefits that they can obtain. You’re reminding them of important deadlines, and inviting them to small informational get togethers.

Over time, even the people that have never met you will come to think of you as their neighborhood tax guru. When January and February roll around, and they receive the info from you that they are used to consistently receiving, but this time it includes an offer to come in and get their tax return prepared by you, guess who they’re going to in order have their return prepared? YOU.

This same method applies to business owners, you’re just sending them slightly different marketing messages each month. This also applies to tax debtors in your area, you’re just sending them a different message, and they’re a little bit more spread out.

The key to making this work is consistency of contact. Without consistency for a long period of time, you’re just wasting money by doing it a few times.

This one tip alone could potentially bring you in all the business you need, especially if you are a solo practitioner. The question, however, is whether or not you’ll actually do it.