Insider Tricks In Specific Media
The First Thing You Should Know About Different Media Types…
Once you’ve got a good handle on your market and your message, you’re going to want to find as many media vehicles as possible and see if you can make them work. (That’s determined by whatever acceptable sales to expense ratio you’re willing to live with and feel you can be profitable in over the long haul—a cash flow issue.)
Let’s say you have seven different ads running in seven different media outlets. In this example, the most profitable dollars and overall the most new clients are coming from two main sources. One is a local coupon magazine media and the other is a national coupon card deck.
Since you are hitting “home runs” with these two ads in these two media, take basically the same message and layout of these coupons and make them into “flier inserts” to test in other media vehicles.
The first place I’d start this “testing” would be in an inexpensive place like a weekly “rag” magazine or newspaper. They have low circulation and in some cases you can really hit certain target markets at a very cheap overall rate.
Why try inserts when you could place the same message and layout in a display ad?
Well, you can! But, from my experience, “bright colored, odd shaped” fliers get more attention (and correspondingly get read more), which in the long run brings our tax business more sales! The display ads will work especially if you are using “advertorial” techniques. I’m just saying try the inserts first.
“RECYCLING” your marketing will help see if your headlines will “pull” in other areas. Sometimes after I have tested the same ad with two different headlines and I didn’t get any change in response, I’ll recycle those same headlines and run them in other media to see if it makes a difference.
You’ll find out your “hot headlines” better this way. I’ve even recycled my hottest headlines and added them to my yellow page ad. (You don’t want to put unproven headlines or ad copy in your yellow page ad. A year is a long time to wait when it’s not “pulling!”)
Yellow Pages Ads
NOTE: Since Google is the new yellow pages, some tax pros stopped using yellow page advertising. My answer to the issue of should I continue investing in yellow page advertising is simple. They are really cheap now. So if you have an opportunity, test it in your area with a special phone number that forwards to your main tax office. Find out for sure how many leads are actually calling your tax business 12 months of the year. Then make a decision based on facts and revenue generated from these yellow page inquiries.
Many tax business owners tell me the yellow pages are too expensive for what you get these days. Or they tell me they don’t want to pay an advertising expense year round for just a seasonal business. Well, let me tell you right up front how DUMB that really is!
Look, if you think this way too, listen up. First of all, as we have discussed before, “expense” is relative. You take the price of a yellow page ad and compare that to your sales that came directly from that same ad and what do you have?
If you have a good ad, you AT LEAST break even. So again I say, “THAT AD WASN’T EXPENSIVE! IT DIDN’T COST YOU A DIME!”
Now take your total annual yellow page price (x) and then take your total seasonal sales from the ad (y), put them together and “ANNUAL VS. SEASONAL” COMPARISONS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING!
OK, now that you are on the right track, look at your local yellow page book. Go ahead and take it out now, I’ll wait. (Ready?)
All right, what are all the other tax business owners doing in there? How do they compare to you and your ad? Are you “in column” or display? How many display ads are listed? Who are they targeting? Are they going after the same target market you are? Are any of their locations close to yours?
These are just some of the questions you should be asking as you decide how large you should make your new yellow page ad before the coming tax season. Yes, in my opinion, you should eventually look to be THE dominant ad in the yellow pages under your heading. (ie. Tax preparation, accountants, CPAs, bookkeeping etc.)
Why? Well, I believe yellow page advertising for people in the tax industry is almost as important as yellow page advertising is for plumbers and people in that industry. The most dominant ad with the right message, targeting the right market; a new tax business can grow extremely fast within two or three tax seasons, from that one yellow page ad alone.
88% of the people looking under a “tax heading” will notice or look at (and hopefully read if your ad’s good) the most dominant ad on the page. Now THAT is a lot of possible prospects calling your tax office to inquire about your tax services. (If you or your staff can’t answer the phone properly and sell “getting an appointment” etc., your yellow page advertising dollars will be wasted! Don’t make that mistake.)
Yellow page advertising is like every other form of advertising. The main draw back with the yellow pages (for tax prep businesses) is you get ONE shot! If your ad stinks, you’ve got to wait a whole year to change it.
So how do you protect yourself from running a lousy ad? Use “proven” ads that have already tested out well for you and get you a high response rate.
How much should you increase your ad presence in the yellow page book? Depending on how much of a risk taker you are or if you are more conservative, that’ll be your call.
Either way though, over time have the goal of increasing your ad size and testing the response during each tax season. Eventually, you’ll be THE (or one of the) dominant ads!
Your Office Location (That’s a “Media” Too)
Every tax business has some kind of “location” (even if it’s home and you’re working out of your garage.) And every location has some kind of sign saying, “XYZ Tax Service” or whatever.
The secret to helping your location bring in more new clients is to, whatever you do, MAKE SURE IF SOMEONE COMES BY IT, THEY WILL AT LEAST “NOTICE” IT!
You could have an excellent location or a not so good location. Either way make sure whoever goes by sees you ARE a tax service business and you can offer them (blank.) ** It should be one of your short USPs.
You see, not only do you want to get noticed, but you want to be constantly SELLING or marketing yourself. A large banner with something like “Worry-Free Service” hanging below your company sign, keeps that marketing message out in front of any “passers by” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
I have a client that keeps her Christmas lights up all the way through April 15th. She says people driving by her office notice her better. She even has special lights on her banner to make it stand out even more! How does she know the lights work?
Easy–she asks new clients how they heard of her. One third of them say, “Well, I saw your lights and decided to come give you a try.” (I’d say that the lights and the lit banner do a pretty good job!)
If you feel your location just isn’t right and it may be time to make a change, here’s a few things to remember…
1) Anytime you change locations, you will lose a few clients because they will not be smart enough to find you, I don’t care how many letters you send them. (One year we moved one of our locations next door 50 feet away from our previous location and we got more phone calls than I thought from clients asking where we moved.)
** Yes we sent them letters and a big fat poster was on the door of our old location pointing right to our new office and people still got confused
2) Second thing to remember is go where your target market is. Get office space near where they live or work or around the high traffic areas where they shop. Don’t try and promote your tax services to a blue collar market from a high rise location on the 12th floor. (You’ll be fighting an uphill battle in all your ads!)
For that market, I’d go find a little strip mall near where they live with a high traffic flow visible to your office. If you can afford it, go get next to a Wal-Mart or big high volume “discount” grocery store.
But most of all, (speaking about location and targeting lower income markets) go get as close to H & R Block’s office as you can. (!)
Yes, believe it or not—that’s a SMART strategy! Why not scoop up all the folks that are frustrated by a long wait or poor service? It’s also a great shortcut to figure out office location.
Everybody knows somebody! And I know without asking you, you’ve got contacts with someone who can endorse you.
You’ve got people you know in your church. You’ve got people at your kids’ school, like the principal. You know someone with some influence who works in a large office complex. (And these people may not even be your clients. They just may be personal friends who have a little influence in their area they live or work in.)
Once you’ve written down everyone you can think of on that list, sit back with a cup of coffee and go through your existing client files. All you will have to do is look at the 1040 or the notes in the file and you’ll remember who this person was. Some of them (you’ll remember) were very appreciative of your services. A few even sent you a thank you note and an unsolicited letter saying how much they thought of you and the service you gave them.
Now take your best five or 10, call them and say you’d like to do a mailing to a group of people they know (who they have some “sphere” of influence with) and have them ENDORSE you and your tax business. Most people would be flattered you asked them. (You are putting them up on a “pedestal” and pumping up their pride a little just by bringing up the subject.)
If you want, you can even offer them a 10% to 20% cut off of whatever sales come from their specific mailing. (If they are your friend, don’t worry about offering it. If it’s someone you don’t know that well, go ahead and offer it up front.)
You will pay for the all the printing, the postage, the labor involved in putting it all together. You can even write the letter for the “endorser” to sign so they don’t have to do ANY work. They’ll read it of course and make any changes necessary, but this way the person you pick gets a “no brainer” deal. (You pay for everything. You do all the work. They get a “piece of the action” just for saying you’re a great guy!)
The mailing that will go out will be your basic sales letter changed a little to target whatever group it’s going to. The cover letter will be on your endorser’s stationary, using their envelope with their “recognizable” name on it. (And that’s the key secret.)
The direct mail letter gets opened. There friend or fellow co-worker is telling them about a great tax professional he knows. The timing hits right when everyone’s getting their w-2s and BAM! Don’t be shocked if you don’t get double digit response rates.
It happens more with “endorsed mailings” than most any other direct mail piece.
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.