Becoming a tax preparer and “hanging up a shingle”, as they say, is one thing. Getting people to trust you to prepare your taxes is another. Sure, your client base will start off with friends and family and their extended network, but if you want to be successful, you’ve got to go beyond that. Establishing yourself as an expert and authority is going to require a little branding and marketing work. The good news is, there are some great tools and resources out there that can help!
You know how physicians and lawyers always have their degrees hanging up on the wall? It’s to reassure patients that they have the education necessary to practice medicine. After all, your health is in their hands.
When it comes to the tax industry, the only certifications you can achieve are as an Enrolled Agent or as a Certified Public Accountant. So how do you reassure clients that their finances are safe in your hand if you haven’t earned those titles yet?
The Income Tax School’s Chartered Tax Certificate Programs help you work towards furthering your tax knowledge, help prepare you for the EA Exam, and are nationally recognized. Once you’ve passed our test, we send a certificate to display proudly.
The IRS Annual Filing Season Program is a voluntary IRS tax training program for return preparers that aims to recognize the efforts of non-credentialed return preparers who aspire to a higher level of professionalism. While you don’t earn a certificate, your name is added to the IRS directory each year, showing that you are proficient in basic tax preparation.
Any of these certifications are valuable to add to your website, business cards, and social media and marketing.
Another great way to establish your brand and share your expertise is through blog writing, article contributions, and speaking engagements. By demonstrating your knowledge and offering advice, clients feel more confident in their choice to hire you as their trusted tax advisor.
Ways to establish thought leadership include:
- Publishing helpful posts on your business blog or your LinkedIn profile
- Contributing to other tax publications as a guest author
- Building a rapport with local press so you are quoted and consulted for articles
- Connecting with other business associations and speaking at their events
- Holding webinars and Facebook Live sessions focused on consumer needs or concerns
Thought leadership takes time but if you do the work, you’ll further your brand. Be authentic, credible, and offer value. That’s how you establish yourself as a go-to tax pro.
Establish Yourself in the Industry
In addition to becoming a thought leader in your community, you want to make sure you establish yourself in the industry. It says a lot when you’re the one other tax pros turn to for industry insight.
- Join tax associations and get involved
- Become a mentor
- Join the board of a tax association
- Contribute to industry publications
- Become a curriculum developer
One great way to show you know your stuff? Become a curriculum developer with The Income Tax School. Being able to market yourself in that way can have a huge impact on your credibility, like it did for ITS Curriculum Developer, Monica Brewer.
Leverage Review Sites
The first thing consumers do when they research service providers is look at reviews. Making sure you have good reviews and ratings online is important! How do you do it? Ask your best customers to write reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB). You could even incentivize them. The more good (authentic) reviews the better.
The BBB is a great resource for businesses because they offer accreditation and rating badges to trusted businesses to display on their websites and in marketing. BBB ratings represent the BBB’s opinion of how the business is likely to interact with its customers. It’s based on information BBB is able to obtain about the business, including reviews and complaints received from the public.
Branding is about more than logos and fonts. It’s about making a name for yourself and setting yourself apart from your competitors. As a tax professional, your brand should be your voice, your professionalism, and your expertise.