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.