Moving From “Internal” (House List) Media To “External” (New Client Acquisition) Media
Let’s Talk About Acquiring New Clients
Now, you’ve mailed your existing clients multiple sales letters. You have reminded them and re-sold them on the fact that your tax business is their best option AGAIN this tax season. You even have given them incentives to find you more new clients. So you’ve got the INTERNAL media covered for now. Now let’s look at the EXTERNAL.
What is an INEXPENSIVE MEDIA? Well, to you, inexpensive may be one price for an ad and to someone else, inexpensive means a totally different figure. Inexpensive is not a relevant term because we all are in different situations and different phases of our growth.
Remember, I use easy to multiply round numbers in my examples to make my points. I obviously want you to charge MUCH more than $100 for your tax services.
Another way to look at it is COST vs. SALES. If you ran a new ad and the price was $1,000, but you got nine new clients (or $900 in revenue), the COST of that ad was basically $100 bucks. Now if every time you run that ad, you lose $100, but you pick up nine new sales, some tax practitioners are going to call that an EXPENSIVE AD and others will say it’s inexpensive.
The tax business owner that can lose money every time he runs an ad and is happy to pick up new clients has a good back end system working for him and he knows he’ll turn a nice profit down the road. (Most tax business owners I talk to don’t want to do that. They might not have the money to carry them for a few years or they just haven’t tested out their numbers for what they can count on with regards to their back end sales.) That’s OK.
So where should we start with in our external advertising? In my opinion, depending on how much money you have to invest, you should test as many “low priced” media vehicles as you can (that make sense for your target market) and find out which ones break even or make you some money on the front end. I’d also find one or two “more expensive” media which have the potential to attract larger numbers of clients to your office.
Once you’ve done both the small and the large “tests” track your results, count your money when the dust settles and plan accordingly for your next wave of ads.
My Favorite “First” Media For a New Office
When we expanded into a new location in a new city, I liked to find out ahead of time what media options were going to be available to me. (Remember: If you can’t REACH your target market with your message, what good is it?)
When I speak to tax business owners, one of the most-asked questions is “What are the best ways to advertise a tax business?” Or, “What are the most effective advertisements that get you the most new clients?”
Do you see the problem with their question? They are asking about MEDIA first! (They should be asking about that last! (with MARKET and MESSAGE ahead of what kind of ad you should be using.) You and I know that, but they don’t have this Crash Course at their disposal!)
But since I can’t tell them ALL of these “49 Lessons” ahead of time and answer their questions properly, I give them somewhat of a correct answer. It goes something like this:
(For the purpose of this example, I’ve done my research and I know my target market exists in this town and I think it’s a pretty hungry market, but I won’t find out for sure until I start my test ads during tax season.)
If I’m starting out brand new, going into a city for the first time and opening up a new tax office, I want to know a couple of things about the media.
First, I look for are local and national coupon book or magazine direct mail vendors. Historically speaking, they can get me in a group of homes (usually selected by zip codes) for about a dime a piece (or less than .06 cents if I do volume). You usually have to mail a minimum of 10,000 homes and sometimes more if it’s a local vendor, but overall this is extremely inexpensive compared to your potential return on investment.
If the city has two or as many as five or six different coupon vendors competing in that market, that’s even better. More options for mail dates, different sized sales pieces for varying messages and best of all more competition brings cheaper prices for the consumer — you and me!
So basically, I’d tell those tax business owners that are asking, use media advertisers like Val-Pak, Money-Mailer, Mail Marketing, Creative Publishers etc. You’ll get more bang for your buck and usually a high number of new clients to boot!
Sometimes when I give this answer, one of them will say, “Oh I’ve tried that kind of advertising before. It never worked for me.” To that guy I say, maybe the problem is NOT with the media. Maybe it has to do with your market or message.
He’ll say, “What do you mean by that?”
And I say, “You’ll have to join our membership group.” (I can’t give out free advice forever. ☺)
Then another tax business owner will chime in saying, “Well, I target high-end taxpayers and they never use those cheap coupon mailers!”
To him I say, “You do what you want. I can only talk from experience with my own tax business and helping other tax business owners in my membership group. If I’ve used this form of media to land high end clients for our Executive Tax Service business and I’ve helped others do the same, I can more than likely do it for you.”
(Some become members and some don’t. It’s a free country.)
A Media “Check-List”…
When I sit down to plan my marketing strategy for the coming year, these are the media options I look at first (to see what’s available) for each individual market where our tax offices are located.
In order of priority, the media vehicles are:
- existing client sales letter (w/ referral slips)
- existing client follow up sales letter (w/ more referral slips)
- existing client reminder post card
- thank you note and cash reward letter
- yellow page ad (updated) … and of course new GOOGLE ads
- direct-response (not “brand-building” or brochure style) website
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Pay Per Click (PPC)
- Banner Ads
- Internet Endorsement
- Email Marketing
- banner, your business’ sign (other “attention getting drive by” ideas)
- national coupon book (or magazine) vendors
- local coupon book (or magazine) vendors
- w-2 coupon inserts into company envelopes
- newspaper inserts (daily paper)
- news “rag” paper insert (weekly paper)
- register tape coupons (grocery stores near our location)
- new homeowner sales letter
- new business owner sales letter
- coupon fliers (target niches)
- posters & flier coupons (high traffic locations)
- newspaper classified ads
- newspaper display ads (advertorial only)
- press releases (newspaper, TV, radio)
- TV ads
- radio ads
- bus ads
- billboard ads
This list gets me started. Different towns will have different kinds of vendors with different opportunities to use some, part or none of these media options listed. Some markets I know certain media will work better than others because I’ve been testing for years. You’ll learn the same about your market and what media are more effective in your neck of the woods in due time.
This list will help “check” to make sure you are not MISSING anything major!
Chauncey Hutter Jr.
Tax Marketing Expert
Chauncey Hutter, Jr, is a best-selling author and leading marketing consultant and success coach to the tax industry. Mr. Hutter grew his father’s $50,000 per year tax preparation business to a multi-million dollar empire with 24 locations, 400+ employees and over 27,000 tax clients all coming from his marketing campaigns.