Marketing Advice from Winston Churchill

Sir Winston S ChurchillIf you’re not joining us on our Wednesday Member Call-Ins, you’re missing a big part of your TaxCoach membership. I realize it’s not always easy to reserve an hour out of your week to work on your business instead of in it. But if that’s the case, you probably need the Wednesday Call-In even more!

On this week’s call, a member from Oregon asked a great question – and a great man named Winston Churchill had an equally great answer. (No, Churchill wasn’t on the call with us – he died in 1965.)

First, a little background. Most of us begin our client engagements by sitting down with a prospect and taking a look at their most recent tax return. (Financial advisors, this includes!) We look for mistakes and missed opportunities that we can use to drive a wedge between our prospect and their current advisor; opportunities to show off our value and skills.

Most tax advisors in that situation see a problem and blurt the solution right out. For example, if they see a successful business owner netting six figures on a Schedule C, they might ask, “Have you ever considered an S-corp?” and outline how it works and how it can cut the prospect’s taxes.

The problem with that approach is that it devalues everything that goes into your finding. How valuable can a recommendation like that really be if you can come up with it right on the spot? And how can you charge for it if you just give it away like that?

Here at TaxCoach, we have a solution to that problem. Don’t just give it away. Instead, focus on the prospect’s pain. Don’t say, “Here’s how you can save $5,000 per year.” Look them in the eye and say, “Ohhhh, this looks bad… you’re wasting $5,000 per year in taxes that you don’t have to pay!” Then, when the prospect reacts in pain, keep them in pain until they agree to pay you make it go away.

So, back to our Call-In. Yesterday, a member from Oregon threw out a great question:

“Ed, how much pain should we put prospects in before we let up? Sometimes I give up too early instead of playing with them for a while and letting them sit in their pain before offering a solution for a fee. Please advise.”

Here’s where Winston Churchill comes in.

It’s June, and that means it’s graduation season. Odds are good that you’ve spent a couple of long and uncomfortable hours seated on a cheap folding chair, or hard stadium bleacher, watching some young scholar pick up a really expensive diploma. If you haven’t sat through a ceremony, you’ve gotten a graduation announcement (which, let’s give credit where credit is due, is a lot nicer than just emailing distant relatives and family friends and saying “Send me a check for $50, willya?).

Churchill is famous for so many speeches. He was so good with words, in fact, that when President Kennedy presented him with honorary American citizenship, he said that Churchill “mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.” But one speech, which he delivered in October 1941 to the boys at Harrow School, answers our member’s question perfectly.

“Never give up. Never never give up. Never never never give up.”

(Truthfully, Churchill never actually said these words. His real speech, which Professor Google will be happy to help you find, ran a whole paragraph. But why let the facts get in the way of a good quote?)

And that’s your answer. When do you give up and give your prospect all that valuable planning advice for free? Never.

This is where automated services like TaxCoach Wire Service become so handy. Drip marketing lets you touch your prospect as often as you like (we suggest weekly) until their pain becomes great enough that they’re finally willing to pay you for your valuable advice.

Sometimes it takes a long, long time. We’ve had Wire Service members tell us about clients who languished literally for years on their contact list, with no contact other than those weekly emails, who’ve finally felt enough pain to pick up the phone and call. But it happens, often enough that we know it’s not a fluke. Here at TaxCoach, we’ve had members languish on our email list for up to seven years before finally signing up. (My reactions run the gamut from “What are we doing wrong” to “What took you so long?”)

I can’t tell you how long it will take for your prospect’s pain to drive them into becoming a client. But I can guarantee that it won’t happen at all if you just give up. Winston Churchill would not be proud.