Your Fall Marketing Plan

Tax Planning SeasonLast week, I challenged you to make Fall 2015 your best tax-planning season ever. I told you I would give you a complete marketing plan to do exactly that, and invited you to share your results with the rest of the TaxCoach community. I even told you I would play along myself, market and fulfill plans to my own new clients, and share those results with you.

This week I want to start laying out that plan. I’ll follow up after Labor Day with more specific task lists and procedures. However, I want to outline the plan in broad strokes so you’ll know what’s ahead.

I’ve always believed that you get your biggest marketing bang for the least marketing dollars by working with the people you already know, rather than reaching out to cold markets with tools like direct mail, broadcast advertising, or online adwords. So the plan focuses on marketing within your natural markets, and lets you skip expensive and uncertain cold marketing. (There’s nothing wrong with testing those sorts of strategies, of course – but you rarely need to rely on them unless you’re starting a brand-new practice someplace like Mars where you don’t have any contacts at all.)

Here’s your month-by-month outline featuring three broad themes for your fall tax-plan marketing. Do this and I guarantee you’ll have new revenue before the turkey’s done.

September: Referrals

Back in 1979, the brokerage firm Smith Barney featured actor John Houseman in a series of television commercials proclaiming, “We make money the old fashioned way… we earn it.”

If you’re like most TaxCoach members, referrals are already your most important source of new business. (There’s a lesson there.) But you probably aren’t doing much to generate them. (Another lesson.) So for September, we’re going to focus on generating tax-planning referrals. And we’re going to do it the old fashioned way. We’re going to ask for them.

Next week I’ll outline a three-step system that many of you are already familiar with for generating referrals: 1) Give your listener a reason to refer you; 2) Tell them who you want to be referred to; and 3) Ask for the referral in a way that invites your referrer to do the other guy a favor. Then I’ll give you specific numbers and targets that should generate at least one tax-planning engagement by the end of the month.

I’m already putting together a list of eight of my own centers of influence I’ll be meeting with in September for the specific purpose of discussing referrals. I’ll talk about my successes (and failures) more after next week.

October: Event

In October, I want you to sponsor or participate in a non-business event where you’ll meet prospective clients in a low-pressure setting.

Most of us already have a solid base of clients and other contacts who would love to attend some sort of event, if only we would give them the chance! I’m not talking about a seminar or presentation (although those can certainly be effective). I’m talking about a fun event with a social focus, where guests are encouraged to bring their own guests for you to meet and network with.

Events like Bev Stitely’s shredding party, or Diane Gardner’s barbecue, or Daniel Greene’s wine-tasting parties bring you together with clients and prospects without the pressure of a business setting. Remember, people want to do business with people they know, they like, and they trust. (We’re talking real liking here, not stupid Facebook “likes.”) Informal events create liking and trust faster than higher-pressure business settings.

If you can’t sponsor an event of your own, you can piggyback on an existing event. For example, I’ll be sponsoring an entry at the Camargo Hunter Trials, a local equestrian event featuring a jumping competition and a “Parade of Hounds” including the entire Hunt membership in formal red-and-black attire. (If you’ll be anywhere near Cincinnati on October 3rd, join me for the tailgating competition!)

Your event should generate at least one more tax-planning engagement for you in October.

November: Urgency

November will be time to follow up with the referrals you unearth in September and the leads you generate in October. The key to November will be creating a sense of urgency. Tax-planning season ends with a hard deadline on December 31. You should feature a countdown clock somewhere in your office and also perhaps on your website to reinforce that sense of urgency. (Those of you who are Wire Service members might want to put a countdown clock on each outgoing email as well. And if you’re not already sending Wire Service emails, now is a great time to add them to your marketing efforts.)

In October, I’ll reveal some specific strategies for creating a sense of urgency. Emphasizing the approaching deadline should result in at least one more tax-planning engagement in November.

Plans are great, but they don’t mean much if you don’t get out there and do it! Be prepared to share your successes with us! Let us know what works for you, and what doesn’t. “Crowdsourcing” the process will let you brag a bit about your own success and make the whole planning process more effective for us all.