Fixing the biggest mistakes on most tax firm web sites

If you look at the typical web site for a tax or CPA firm, you’re going to notice that they all look the same, and say the same things. In fact, they usually say the WRONG things.

I just did a Google search for CPA firms in the city in which I’m currently visiting, Portland, Oregon. The very first result was actually a Google Adwords ad for a local firm, and even their ad was bad, so I’m going to pick on them. The headline of the ad was simply the name of the firm and the words “Family Owned CPA Firm Since 1972”.

It was bad enough to make me gad at first, but was precisely the kind of ad for me to click on for demonstration purposes in this article.

Sadly, their web site goes on to say the same sort of things. “40 year family owned”. “We are located in…” Massive picture on the front page of them. Photo changes to various family photos.

What’s wrong with all that, you’re asking? Does your web site sound and look the same?

Here’s the problem with it: The web site, so far, is all about THEM. It’s the single biggest mistake on web sites, yellow pages ads, newspaper display ads, and elsewhere: Making the advertising about YOU.

If you’re a long time reader of these articles, you’ve already seen my rants on this topic: Your prospective clients really don’t care about YOU, they care about THEMSELVES.

Next to “free”, the word “you” is one of the most powerful words in marketing. The words “I”, “we”, and “us” are the enemy. If your web copy or ad copy talks about “I”, “we”, and “us” — you’re doing it wrong (see the Effective Copywriting For Accounting Professionals e-book for a comprehensive discussion on this topic).

Changing the tone of your web site from “I” to “you” will go a long ways toward making your web site more effective in actually making sales. On Monday, I’ll share the next big mistake web site owners make, and how to fix it.


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Marketing your tax firm online

The past few months, we’ve mostly been discussing direct mail, telemarketing, and sales topics in this newsletter. For the next couple months, I’m going to be delving into another media: The Internet.

In case you didn’t catch how I phrased that last sentence, let me rephrase it: The Internet is just another marketing media. The rules for targeting your ideal prospects, copywriting, market to message match, and all the other factors that apply to direct mail also apply to the Internet.

There’s really nothing special about Internet marketing. The specifics change a little bit because of the technology, but the reality is that it’s just another method for people to learn about your business, become educated in the same way you’d educate prospects via direct mail, and to purchase your services directly.

Given all the buzz these days surrounding social media marketing, I feel compelled to state that, again, social media is just another media: It’s nothing special in and of itself, the fundamental rules of marketing still apply.

So what are the most basic components of an online marketing strategy that all tax firms should have in place?

I believe that most Internet marketing gurus overly complicate what is required to properly market yourself online. In addition, with the never ending stream of “new” Internet marketing strategies being touted, if you bought into everything being sold by the gurus, you’d be changing your marketing strategy every two months and never make any actual headway on anything.

In order to effectively market yourself online, you do need a few basic things. These things are literally just Internet analogues of their offline counterparts, and there is actually overlap and cross-communication required between your online and offline marketing tools. Here are the basic components:

  • A informative, educational web site that is updated frequently and includes a list registration mechanism.
  • An active email list that you use to regularly communicate with your prospects and clients.
  • Active participation in the online communities where it makes sense for you to belong.
  • An active search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
  • Paid online advertising when and where it makes sense to do so.

Note that this list does not include a mandate to have a Facebook page. There are plenty of successful tax firms that market exclusively through the Internet that do not have a social media presence at all — because it doesn’t make sense for them to do so.

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August 2012 issue of “Tax Marketing Monthly” released

The August 2012 issue of Tax Marketing Monthly is now available in your member download area. All active subscribers have access to the premium newsletter each month.

What’s so special about the premium newsletter? While here in the free weekly email newsletter I discuss a lot of the “what” of marketing your tax practice, the detailed “how to” is generally reserved for the subscription newsletter and in depth courses. In this month’s issue we discuss:

  • How to market successfully and ethically to take advantage of the IRS Fresh Start Initiative.
  • What specifically to do on Twitter each day to make it an effective part of your marketing communications.
  • How to generate referrals and additional business from your seasonal tax prep clients.
  • A compliance update regarding 1040 telemarketing.
  • A breakdown of the costs to acquire a client via telemarketing.
  • Marketing Piece of the Month: A new Offer in Compromise postcard plus analysis.

I’m sure you don’t want to miss out on all of this, and you can access the newsletter each month with a simple subscription. Membership plans include other valuable benefits as well. For further information, see the membership information page.

Over the past two months, I’ve been covering a lot of direct mail and sales topics in my daily articles. Starting tomorrow, I’m switching gears on the marketing discussion, and will begin a new series of articles that you’re not going to want to miss: Internet marketing strategies. Stay tuned!


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