Since June is National “Do It Yourself Marketing Month” I thought I’d take the opportunity (in the last few days of June) to talk about guerilla marketing tactics. You may be hip deep in your own marketing efforts, just starting out or may not even be involved in the marketing of your tax firm. Either way, this blog post is for you.
When you say the word “marketing” many people think of commercials, print ads, large scale promotions or campaigns. This is not all that marketing encompasses. The American Marketing Institute defines “Marketing” as: the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. But that’s a really long definition. Marketing can be summed up in a few words (credit goes to Andrea Goulet Ford for saying this): “Marketing is the bridge between a company and its customer.”
This definition makes marketing more accessible to every small business owner who doesn’t have a big marketing department or the time or money to hire an agency. Marketing is more than the ads you see on television. With that in mind, here are some DIY marketing tips (or guerilla marketing tips) that I’ve learned along the way.
Networking is Marketing
Don’t underestimate the power of networking and how effective it can be for gaining clients or referrals. Nothing beats the power of a one-on-one conversation about who you are, what you do and the services you (or your firm) provides. You should also look to attend networking events throughout the year – not just during tax season time. It’s important to build relationships so that when it does come time to think about taxes, they will think of you.
Join a few networking groups to be a member of but be strategic when selecting one. Look at who the members are. Look to see if they are your target market, and also look to see if there are lots of competitors in the group.
Embrace Public Speaking
There is a lot about the wonderful world of taxes that the general public doesn’t know – especially now that the Affordable Care Act is in effect. Any opportunity to present valuable and informative information is a marketing win. Not only will it get you in front of potential clients, it will allow you the opportunity to show how knowledgeable and helpful you are as a tax professional. And since most of us pay about 1/3 of our salaries in taxes, it’s something everyone should want to know about.
Look for opportunities to speak to business associations, networking groups, or hold your own seminar. Either way, be sure you come up with topics that answer the questions people are asking.
Start Blogging and Guest Blogging
If your tax firm doesn’t have a blog, now is the time to start one. Blogging is a way to provide continuous information to clients and prospective clients that raises awareness of your services, brings people to your website on a regular basis, and communicates your knowledge as a tax professional.
Another great marketing tactic is submitting articles to the local media and other trade organizations. This is a win-win because it allows you to grow your reach and provides the publication or website with free content.
Be Your Own PR Person
Along the lines of guest blogging, you should be building up your list of local and national media contacts and building relationships with those people. A timely article or local news appearance can do wonders for your exposure. Subscribe to HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and read it daily. HARO sends an email twice daily with lists of topics journalists need “experts” to comment on. You should also try pitching story or article ideas to your local news. Keep the ideas timely and try to be ahead of the curve.
When pitching, be sure to think about the publication’s readership and whether the information you are providing is relevant and valuable to that group. You may be denied for one story, but don’t let that discourage you. Keep pitching.
Don’t miss out on the chance to give back to the community. Whether it’s a scholarship or a canned food drive, being a good community steward is not only the right thing to do, it’s good for business.
Creating programs like “Refer a Friend” or group tax discounts is another guerilla marketing tactic that gets people talking and helps them see the value in being your client. Your satisfied clients can be walking testimonials for you. Consider offering them an incentive to refer new clients. Most of us look to friends and family when we have a need for someone we can trust. Referrals are always a top marketing tool for our tax business.
Internet marketing is very effective and more affordable than any other form of paid media. These days, Internet marketing is more than having a professional website, it also needs to involve SEO, a social media presence, and even Google advertising. Social media platforms can be extremely effective if managed properly. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus are all great social media channels to check out. For more on the benefits of Internet marketing, see the links provided in the “Further Reading Section”.
The Income Tax School also has online marketing courses that would be worth checking out:
Plus, we have a Tax Business Marketing Handbook that you may find helpful with a much more detail about marketing, plus lots of ideas and examples. Check it out here.