Marketing 101 – Part 3

In Step 2, we discussed the various ‘Jabs’ you need to incorporate in your communication to your prospects. When you approach the ‘Right Hook’ message, you need to communicate your ‘Unique Value Proposition.’ What makes you so special … or valuable to your potential clients. I have inherited some clients from other preparers whose value-add consisted of a fancy binder and an inflated price for the work they do.

My UVP focuses on year-round service. I meet with a number of my clients to help them with their year-end activity, and to help them plan for the tax session. Unfortunately, some clients do not take advantage of this service. However, those that do, recognize the value it brings to the relationship. I also offer a monitoring service that allows me to identify changes in their transcript in advance of the IRS notice. I just received a notice today informing me that my clients Currently-Not-Collectible status had been terminated. We have an appointment tomorrow to begin the process of mitigating his tax debt. The phone call from me was far less disruptive to his day than a notice from the IRS.

It is important that you set yourself apart from the competition without competing on price. The book Blue Ocean Shift discusses this element of differentiation.  According to one observer of the blue ocean approach, “In the Blue Ocean lexicon, the goal of Blue Ocean strategy is known as value innovation. When a company can substantially differentiate itself from competitors and do so at a lower cost, it has created something known in the Blue Ocean vernacular as value innovation.

The innovation has to generate market value that benefits both the company and the customer. It does this by eliminating or reducing services or products or features that are less valued in the market.” Note that the issue of cost is different than the issue of price. If you can provide more value at less cost, your margins become more attractive.

The bottom line is you need to identify (or create) a unique value proposition for your business and communicate it continuously, effectively and consistently.

JAB, JAB, Jab … Right Hook!

Gary Vaynerchuk has become one of the premier social marketers of our century. His initial foray into the world of social media marketing began as he built his family’s wine business from a $3 million business to a $45 million-dollar business. While his approach is simple, it requires a considerable amount of thought and introspection to gain traction with a particular business. In Vaynerchuk’s language, “ . abs are the value you provide your customers with: the content you put out, the good things you do to convey your appreciation. And the right hook is the ask: it’s when you go in for the sale, ask for a subscribe, ask for a donation.”

In the tax industry … both the tax preparation sector and the tax resolution sector … there is an abundance of choices available to the client. To succeed in this overpopulated field of choices, the tax professional must demonstrate that he/she is, in fact, THE TAX PROFESSIONAL to meet the needs of the prospective tax professional. When you identify your unique value proposition (as described in my previous blog), you must begin to communicate your competency through a series of jabs.
As you narrow your focus of expertise, you will discover insights, techniques, and understanding that can set you apart from the competition.

You ‘jabs’ can encompass any of these elements from your experience or your continuing education. You will want to ‘drip’ this information to your prospective clients (as well as your existing clients) help reposition yourself from a general practitioner to a specialist with unique qualifications to meet their needs. Over time, you can offer soft right hooks in the form of a special report or white paper that addresses their unique needs. Your goal is to move the conversation from a one-way push to a dialogue, where they are responding back to you with feedback, compliments or questions.

I use a simple tool called agilecrm.com with is a full-featured customer relationship management tool that lets me communicate with and track the activity of my prospective clients. This tool allows me to communicate with my potential clients and identify those that desire to engage at a deeper level. As I stated at the beginning of this message, the approach is quite simple. However, the implementation will take you some time, as you identify your ‘right and perfect’ client and plan your communication … and follow through plan to turn suspects into prospects into clients.

Marketing 101 – Part 1

This is part 1 of a three-part blog on marketing your tax service. Over the next three weeks, I will be looking at three different elements of a marketing strategy that is based on principles of marketing, rather than on the techniques of marketing.

Principles, unlike techniques, give people something unshakable to hold onto combined with the freedom to take independent decisions and actions that are appropriate in their unique context. Principles are timeless, whereas techniques must adapt to meet new conditions and situations.

The foundational principle of any marketing strategy is the discovery of your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). I love the scene in the movie City Slickers where Billy Crystal’s character, Mitch, is alone with Curly, played by Jack Palance. Curly is giving Mitch some life advice. As Curly begins to share the secret of success in life, he says it boils down to ‘One Thing.’ As Mitch strives to get Curly to tell him what the ‘one thing’ is, Curly instructs him “That’s what you have to find out.”

Success in marketing your service is dependent on discovering your ‘One Thing’ and focusing your energy, training, and marketing on communicating that one thing to your marketplace. I encourage you to discover the segment of your business that you enjoy the most and produces a significant portion of your revenue stream. The Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) is the concept that 20% of the work you do will generate 80% of the revenue you earn. However, the reverse is also true. 80% of the work you do only represents 20% of your revenue. The objective, then, is to grow the 20% and learn how to deal with the other 80% as efficiently as possible by delegating or outsourcing that portion of your business to free your time for the portion of your economic engine that generates the most revenue potential.

Once you have identified your 20% you can begin to focus your attention on becoming the expert in this segment of your business. Focus your continuing education on improving your knowledge in this segment and begin to look for insights and approaches that are hidden in the tax code. Go beyond the classroom education and dig into the publications and code that apply to your niche and look for the hidden insights and approaches that are missed by the general practitioners.

As you become the expert in a given segment of the industry, you will be able to shape your UVP in a way that communicates your unique qualification to meet the needs of a specific segment of your business. Always remember, the value of specialized knowledge is far greater than the cost of missed deductions or the cost of a protracted audit.