Are you riding solo on the tax firm highway?
If you are a licensed tax professional (EA, CPA, attorney) in private practice, then this is the article you are going to want to save. Bookmark it, print it, star it.
As a solo practitioner, you are on your own. You are the marketing department, sales department, client services department, all wrapped up into one person. Building your practice is going to take work, and you must also successfully manage your time between case work and marketing.
In general, I would suggest you plan to spend at least one to two hours per day working on your sales and marketing.
Marketing is not a 10 minute per week activity. In fact, most business consultants will tell you that you should spend at least half your day on marketing…even more if you are just starting out. With the simple, yet effective, marketing plan I will outline here for you, you’re going to need to commit one or two hours per day. However, using the plan outline here, you will be successful and make a living, as long as you commit to following the steps.
Do note that I am not addressing fee structures, technology setup, list building, and other such concerns in this post, I am simply addressing the marketing and sales plan. So, here we go…
Step 1: Write a weekly article about a topic of interest to your target audience. This article should NOT be your typical “tax tips” sort of thing. Your prospects and clients comes to YOU for handling their tax matters — they don’t care about how to do it themselves. Think more along the lines of:
- Client success stories related to tax planning, real estate investing, tax debt resolution, etc.
- Your personal analysis of Congressional and state legislative action, IRM updates, etc. Let people know the gist of what’s going on, why they should care, and how you can help.
- What you’re doing to increase your own knowledge and improve your skills for your clients. Write about the CPE/CLE courses you take and how that will help your clients.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Take that article and use it in as many places as you can:
- Post it to the blog section of your web site. If you don’t have a blog attached to your web site, one of your highest marketing priorities should be to get one set up.
- Re-write the introduction a bit, and post it to your LinkedIn account. If you don’t have Publisher access on LinkedIn, request it.
- Send it to your email list. You do have an email list of your prospects and clients, don’t you?
- Link to the blog post on both Twitter and Facebook.
- Add the article to the next edition of your monthly print newsletter.
Step 2: Every day, preferably first thing in the morning, make 15 cold calls to purchased lists that match your target market, depending on what service area you’re focusing on growing. You can rotate through service offerings through the week.
For example, on Monday, call 15 people from a new homebuyer’s list to offer them a tax planning session.
On Tuesday, call 15 small businesses from a new entity formation list to offer them bookkeeping services.
On Wednesday, cold call 15 tax liens to solicit tax resolution work. These can be old liens or new liens (our customers have equal success with brand new liens and also 3 to 9 month old liens), they can be local to you or geographically dispersed. You may want liens of a certain amount that will justify higher fees, or you may want smaller liens that will produce cases that can be turned around faster. You may want to sift through lists and find certain kinds of companies (such as restaurants, construction, etc.) and have your sales system specifically set up for them.
There are many possibilities of lists to call to offer services. The choice is yours, but don’t overthink it. Don’t spend too much time worrying about the “perfect” criteria or trying to find the “perfect” list (it doesn’t exist), just get it done and CALL.
Step 3: Send a letter or postcard to… your 15 new prospects, every day. If you reached them on the phone, then send them a thank you card to thank them for their time. If they were interested, send them your marketing package or proposal package. If you didn’t reach them, got their voicemail, number was disconnected, etc., then send them a letter inviting them to call for a consultation, or inviting them to an informative free local seminar or a webinar. Mail them something!
Step 4: You probably already know that the IRS works on a 30 day notice cycle. As such, you should be, at a minimum, on the same followup cycle. Within 30 days of your initial contact via telephone and mail, you should make another contact. Make another phone call, send another letter. Again, 30 day interval is a minimum. Also, you should go through a minimum of 5 followup cycles, but preferably 12 or more.
You can use CRM software, spreadsheets, or index cards to track activity and know when to follow up with people. How you track it doesn’t matter — doing the activity is what matters, because that is what gets clients.
Is this going to cost some money? YES. Is it going to take time? YES. Calling 15 new people per day is going to take 30 to 90 minutes, depending on how long your conversations go (but remember, the purpose of the call is to sell the consultation/proposal, NOT sell your services!).
At 15 people per day, you are adding 300 people per month to your mailing list. If you do the 5 month minimum followup, that means you’re eventually going to have an 1800 person per month mailing list (1500 followup, 300 new). That is a $600 to $1,000 per month direct mail budget, plus the time for follow up calls.
Remember, you are running a business here. As such, you need to realize that it will take an investment of your time and money to grow a practice. However, this marketing cost is incredibly small compared to the amount of money you’ll be making from new clients after just a couple month of doing this.
I will reiterate: Making this work simply requires DOING IT. You’re not going to build a practice sitting on your butt, but by working a plan, no matter how simple it is. This plan is about as simple as it gets, but requires you to take the actions to make it work.