A new marketing paradigm for your tax firm

Over the course of the next few months, I’m going to be writing and speaking extensively about a topic that may be new to you.

It’s a simplified, holistic way to approach the entire subject of client attraction — from lead generation to prospect follow up to conversion to client to upselling and cross-selling of additional services.

The marketing philosophy, business growth paradigm, or practice growth dogma — whatever the heck you want to call it — is pretty simple. Here’s the basic 3-step formula behind database marketing (yet another term for it):

  1. Choose a specific industry or profession + a geography.
  2. Build a list of people that know, like, and trust you.
  3. Send educational information to that list, along with occasional solicitations for your services.

To put it in shorter marketing parlance for any business school folks in the audience:

  1. Define your target market.
  2. Build a prospect list.
  3. Make offers.

Easy peasy, extra cheesy.

Now, just to be clear, this is no different than how you’ve seen me talk about marketing in the past. All the same concepts apply. I’m just giving you different packaging.


Because defining a simple paradigm to work from makes all other conversations about growing your tax firm easier. It gives a starting point of reference. A place from which to start conversations, anchor initiatives, narrow our focus, and align our strategic objectives. (Can you tell I’m working on MBA coursework? Hmm.)

In reality, all we’re really talking about is direct response marketing. There’s nothing new about that.

But, I want to give you a new structure from which to view it. A structure that will hopefully make it easier for you to implement and profit from.

Let me give you an example. When I was running my tax resolution firm, about 70-80 percent of my marketing was to small trucking companies, with 5-10 trucks, in five states (e.g., my target market). Through a variety of marketing media, including direct mail, telemarketing, Google ads, Facebook ads, and the like, I generated leads (e.g., a list of people that knew me). Some of those businesses moved from the lead list to the prospect list by having a consultation with me. Some (not all) of those prospects became paying clients. So, I was creating three separate lists within my database: Leads, prospects, clients.

All of my follow up marketing to those leads and prospects was … Continue reading

Narrow your target market, but expand your service offerings

I received several emails in response to yesterday’s missive, and there was a brief conversation ignited in the Academy, as I predicted.

Let me first address the obvious: Yes, tax liens are the most obvious indicator of a tax debt. Absolutely. Thus, with federal tax lien filings dead in the water, the clear “rip and replace” for those marketing campaigns is to switch over to state tax liens. Easy peasy.

But this doesn’t address the bigger issue: Even when NFTL’s are being filed, you’re still missing 95% of the market, on the federal side. Sure, you might sweep up quite a few of them in state tax lien mailings, but not all of them. How do you reach everybody else?

My suggestion yesterday was to substitute other lists. Specific industries, specific professions.

But doesn’t that create waste? Absolutely, very much so — if you are focused solely on tax debt resolution.

Now, there will be far less “waste” if you are focused on one of the four big industries that make up a disproportionate percentage of tax debtors. Those mailings can clearly be all about tax debt.

But, the missing piece of my message yesterday was this: Think beyond tax resolution.

If you are going to niche down your marketing to a specific target market, which is something that I’ve been advocating for years, then you also need to thinking about offering additional services.

Obviously, I’m the “tax resolution guy”, but I also frequently discuss the other services you need to offer that are in support of, ancillary to, or fed from tax resolution. Personal finance coaching, tax planning, expense reduction consulting, and advisory are just a few examples of additional services you can, and should, be offering to your tax resolution clients.

So let’s pick a random profession: K-12 public school teachers. That’s a mailing list you can obtain quite easily.

Do some of them have a tax debt? Yes, of course. Do all of them? No, of course not.

But what else can you offer them?

And please, don’t just say “tax return preparation”. That is the least important answer.

Do teachers struggle with personal budgeting? Do teachers struggle with understanding the options available in their state pension plan? Do they need to think about balancing retirement savings with not getting Social Security? Are they engaged in proactive tax planning?  How many teachers work a second job or run a side … Continue reading

Success loves speed

For pretty much any rapidly growing business, the secret behind that success is speed of implementation.

This mantra is most commonly associated with the Silicon Valley tech bro culture. In the early days of Facebook, for example, it was common for new feature releases to break something else on the rapidly growing social media site. Mark Zuckerberg famously embraced this concept, saying, “Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.”

Speed breeds success in other ways. It means launching new services before your local competitors do. It means implementing marketing campaigns in new types of media before your competitors do. It means accelerating your prospect follow up efforts so that you close new clients before your competition does.

Speed implies taking decisive, immediate action. The tax firm owner that attends a conference and purchases a marketing widget, but leaves it sitting on the shelf, would have been better off not buying the marketing widget at all. In contrast, the tax firm owner at the same conference, buying the same marketing widget, but that implements it right then and there, before even leaving the conference, will be the winner that sees the results.

If you’re the tax firm owner, you need to move fast, and not be timid about taking action if you want to grow your business. As Zig Ziglar once said, “Timid sales people have skinny kids.” (And yes, if you own the tax firm, you are a sales person, whether you like it or not).

This is why I created my 60-day tax resolution firm startup plan.

It guides you step-by-step, through specific actions, each day for 60 days. At the end of that 60 days, you have multiple marketing campaigns going on at the same time.

And even if you don’t like a specific marketing tactic I mention in the 60-day arc of things, that’s fine — swap it out with something you do like. Heck, the core of the whole 60-day plan is tax lien marketing. Since ACS isn’t recording NFTL’s right now, it’s kinda hard to implement the low hanging fruit new lien marketing tactic. OK, fine, do something else (such as mining the PTIN list for professional referral sources).

Point is… Do something. Do it every day. Implement. Quickly.

The sooner you start…the faster you implement…the more you do in parallel… The faster you’ll see results.

All of … Continue reading