Back from overseas, with kids–and thoughts for you–in tow

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“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”  – John Wooden
Last weekend, my wife and I returned home from a long-planned trip to Italy and to Ethiopia. We came home with a bunch of incredible memories, stories and observations (some of which I’ll be sharing over the next few weeks).
Oh, and a couple of new children too. Eden Meskerem (4 year-old girl) and Caleb Asnake (2 year-old sibling boy) are now *official* members of the Hagerty family, and we’re over the moon. They’ve already bonded pretty incredibly with Mommy and Daddy, and our life at home is full of Amharic singing and dancing, giggles and, of course, bodily liquids and such :).
Thanks for the many, many kind notes I received–I even got an incredibly kind note from an old client and friend, Barry, who sent two checks made out to my children as a start for their college education. Yes, we’ve been inordinately blessed–and by many people like you, as well.
(There’s pictures, and further, more personal, thoughts on my wife’s blog–including some pics:,  if you’re interested).
But on to you and the increasing opportunities in your tax business. I noticed some universal marketing truths you can USE while we vacationed on the Amalfi Coast in Italy (a little “babymoon”), and while in Africa…and upon returning, there’s been some news items worth you taking advantage of.
I write about them in this week’s Tax & Accounting Business Strategy Note…
“Yes, But What Do They Want?”
The Amalfi Coast is freaking spectacular. As a vacation spot, we couldn’t have picked something better…clear-blue water, incredible hiking, old world charm and restaurants worth the trip in and of themselves. There’s a collection of small towns and cities dotted along this mountainous coast (Amalfi, Positano, Maiori, Salerno, Sorrento, etc.) which are CLEARLY not showing too many ill effects from the worldwide downturn.
But some merchants certainly were, and they were easy to spot.
You see, Amalfi was one of Italy’s great city-states until a freak tidal wave wiped out the city in the 1300’s…and then, it re-emerged as a capital for paper production (of all things). Amalfi paper is (apparently) legendary.
But right now, people are NOT coming for the paper…they come for the scenery, the beaches, and the restaurants. I spoke with a bunch of business owners while strolling down the cobblestoned streets, and there were a great many who were thriving with tourist-oriented fare–in former paper shops. Those started dying decades ago.
But there still were some bitter-clingers who, frankly, were MAD that I didn’t want paper. One even went so far as to mutter as I walked away: “You turisticas don’t appreciate great art any more!”.
Now, what does this have to do with your tax business?
First, recognize that your clients desires and concerns are NOT necessarily aligned with what YOU *want* to offer. Like the paper merchants in Amalfi, clinging to the “tradition” of what THEY wanted to sell, some tax businesses still present themselves in the same old way…no relationship-building, no direct-response copy aimed at speaking *directly* to what clients are looking for. They don’t want to get drowned in accountant-lingo and arcane code details–they want peace-of-mind in this economy, they want to keep the governments (greedy) hands off their hard-earned income, and they want to know that they’ve got a “port in the storm” they can turn to when times are tough, or flush. These, and other things.
You know this–but the question is, does your marketing reflect it?
When I directed the marketing for a multi-million dollar tax firm, we had made a “shift” which created immense surges of clients and revenue when we changed from the glorified-business-card marketing to focusing on what our target demographic really cared about.
Second, identify the “hot” items for your clients and offer THAT. Smart Amalfi-an merchants re-jiggered their offering to items tourists cared about, and that’s what tax pros can do NOW.
My Print Newsletter and Email Marketing Revolution clients have used the month of July to promote “Return Review” (through “soft” relationship-oriented marketing pieces), and they’ve been reporting fantastic results. Of course, we simply just did this all for them through these two powerful platforms on their behalf.
But the point is, that with all this media clamor about increasing government roles, etc., their clients (and just as often, their clients’ friends!) wanted to make sure that their previous returns were right–they wanted peace-of-mind. And, fortunately, the IRS still allows contingency fees on amended returns!
That’s just one strategy you can (and should) be using.
I’ll be back with more thoughts from my trip next week.
Until then, God bless you–and your tax business!
Nate Hagerty

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