Why one-shot direct mail is marketing suicide

Here’s how most people do marketing, particularly their direct mail.

They get a list, such as our tax lien lists. They print a flyer, brochure, postcard, coupon, etc. They send it to this list ONCE. Then, no matter what happens, good, bad, or ugly, they never touch this list again.

I received an email last week from a reader saying that direct mail doesn’t work. He went on to explain that last year, he had obtained 2,000 tax liens from us, then sent them all a letter. He got ZERO responses.

For one, getting absolutely zero responses out of 2,000 letters definitely tells me there was something wrong with whatever he sent them (which I happily would have critiqued for him at no cost if he had attached a copy to his email). But secondly, the biggest problem was that he only sent them something ONCE. It simply doesn’t work like that. You can’t send something to a group of people one time and one time only and then say, “Direct mail doesn’t work.” Direct mail DOES work…you’re just doing it wrong (sorry to be blunt, but the truth hurts sometimes).

Woody Allen is quoted as saying that “80% of success is showing up”. This is just as true for marketing as it is for performing artists. Statistically speaking, study after study shows that over 3/4 of all customers buy a product or service after the 5th contact from the salesperson or company they buy from.

Here are some other statistics: About 48% of sales people never make a follow up contact with a prospect. Less than 25% of sales professionals make two follow up contacts, and less than 12% make a third follow up attempt (e.g., a 4th contact).

If less than 12% of people make a 4th contact, and over 3/4 of sales are made after the 5th contact, then guess who’s getting those 3/4 of all sales?

That’s right: The company getting all those clients are the ones making the multiple contacts!

Let me phrase that another way: The secret to success in marketing is repetition.

I’m sure that you are fully aware of what battery company uses a cute little bunny rabbit banging on drums to sell their product. However, did you make that association the very first time you ever saw their commercial? Highly doubtful. Chances are, it took dozens of repetitions for you to make the mental … Continue reading

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 … Continue reading

How To Successfully Market Your Tax Practice With Direct Response Marketing

Utterly confused about where to begin with marketing your tax practice?

If you’re on this page, then you’re not as confused as you think. Being here is recognition that you need a real marketing plan for your firm.

However, in order to get started with properly marketing your tax practice, you need a solid foundation in marketing concepts. While shiny new marketing ideas (really, just new “media”) with gurus materializing out of nowhere are constantly popping up, fundamental marketing is fundamental marketing, whether it’s 1812 or 2012.

Fundamental marketing is smart marketing. When you’re just getting started with a real marketing plan, there are really only two fundamental rules you need to follow:

1. Every bit of marketing you do, no matter how small, must be held ruthlessly accountable for measurable results.
2. Test, track, and measure everything. If you can’t measure it, see rule #1.

What do we mean by measurement? This means that no matter what your marketing message says, no matter what media you use to get it out there, and no matter who your target market is, you should be able to track every lead, every client, and every dollar of revenue that comes from that marketing.

For example, if you send 2,000 letters to tax liens in your state, you should know precisely how many phone calls you received, how many appointments you got, how many new clients came in, and how much money they spent with you.

Look at the flip side of this equation: You should be able to track precisely where every dollar of revenue in your practice comes from. When you look at a particular client, you should be able to look up what marketing piece brought them in and through what medium.

This type of marketing is called direct response marketing. The basic idea behind the concept of direct response marketing is that no marketing should be conducted if you can’t track the results that it gives you.

To get you started with direct response marketing, I have created this course titled How To Successfully Market Your Tax Practice With Direct Response Marketing. In this course, you will learn the following:

  • An overview of the most important direct marketing concepts.
  • The two major direct marketing focuses of your practice.
  • The value of a list.
  • Using niches to market your practice more efficiently.
  • 4 ways to build your tax practice via offline networking.
  • 7
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