Getting specific

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Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.
-George S. Patton

Last week was a bit of an interregnum in our “going back to the basics” series, for your firm marketing. Frankly, I felt last week that you needed to get above the day-to-day of building your business, and remember what really matters.
Well, we’re picking the ball back up today, as I share with you some of the “behind the scenes” techniques we employed in the tax firm which, in a few years, grew from $50K to $4.3 million in tax season revenue (alone). Today’s topic is, again, getting your marketing message right.
+++ Client Story of the Week +++
“We have gotten a lot of feedback-all positive about our email marketing. The clients, of course, think that I or Dan are the ones creating the bulk of the copy so they appreciate the effort. You are doing a great job. Keep it up.”
Rita M. Weiss, Operations Manager
Daniel P.Vigilante, CPA
Morris Plains, NJ
Get started with the service Dan & Rita use…

You Must Be Specific

If you want USPs that are extremely effective — if you know what your clients want and you are trying to develop an irresistible offer(s) that will make the phone ring off the hook — then no matter what you do (if it’s online or in other advertising media), say it (write it or show it) using meaningful specifics, not the same, numbingly-vague generalities everyone else is using.
(This is one of the easiest ways to stand out from the crowd, because most ads in the tax industry I see talk in very “vague and general” language.)
When tax & accounting firm owners promote this way, their words and phrases actually have little meaning because they could be talking to anyone, seemingly about anything.
Frankly, many tax & accounting pros are a little chicken about coming across too “sales-y” … so they resultingly rob their advertising of any kind of effectiveness. They mistakenly believe that they shouldn’t “sell” too hard, so when they DO get a little edgy…well, it’s just the same pabulum people see all the time.
Here’s a sampling of phrases I see attempted in tax firm ads:
-reasonable rates
-guaranteed satisfaction
-prompt and quality service
-fast refunds
OK. What sort of thing did we do differently in the tax firm I saw grow from $50K to $4.3 million? [Remember–it was this approach exactly which exploded our growth. So if you care about results, read on. If you are content with mediocre results…well, feel free to move on.]
How about …
– “You’re satisfied with our tax service or I’ll give you ALL your fees back, plus a $50 bill for your time and trouble — GUARANTEED!”
– 1 Day Tax Service and a guarantee the return is correct …”Or you don’t pay me a dime!”
– Quick Refund Loans In 29 Minutes! (for those that qualify)
– Lowest Price Guarantee: “We’re cheaper than H & R Block or we’ll prepare FREE!” (Not that I would actually recommend this approach! Being the “cheapest on the block” is a sure-fire way for no client loyalty, and short term gain–with long term pain.)
So there are just four examples of how you can beat the pants off your competition if they STILL insist on promoting vague and general phrases in their advertising.
When you are deciding on what kind of meaningful specifics are best for your firm remember these three techniques:
First, make sure you know what your MAIN competition is offering and promoting. Then, as you put your ads together, make sure your message clearly differentiates you from them as a better option for your target market.
Second, be gutsy and give your clients a way of holding you and your staff to a high level of service. Guarantees with specific “time tables” usually scare off regular tax practitioners not interested in taking their tax firm to the next level. Once you “lay it on the line” in your promotions, you will make it a priority with your staff to follow through with the higher standard of quality and service.
And third, be bold. Make a bold promise! When a tax or accounting firm owner says something like:
“You’re satisfied with our tax service or I’ll give you ALL your fees back, plus a $50 bill for your time and trouble — GUARANTEED!” …
Well, believe me — and believe the very real results that came from this approach — using THAT as a headline (with your picture off to the side) for a sales letter will get some attention. You are making a specific promise that is bold and gutsy. Your clients –and your prospects–will like that.
Or maybe that’s not something you’re interested in?
PS– I don’t know what it is about Fridays, but I was again derailed this morning by a family’s story. I was pointed to it by a friend, who wrote:
Ben and his wife, Kim, live in Michigan.  Ben is a bicycle sales rep for Giant Bicycles, and he has a giant family.  I’ll save you the counting.  There are ten children, ages 10 and under.
I’ll pause while you ponder that. It’s been a while since I looked at a family portrait that made me go “Whoa — that’s gotta be crazy!”
Benjamin (10), Parker (9), Kya (9), Caleb (9), McKenna (7), Eli (7), Madisyn (5), Klaire (5), Liam (3) and Isaiah (2), come from places like Korea, China, Liberia and the US.  Some are special needs; all are special.
Thursday, the Green family heard about a little girl born a few days ago.  The birth mother had been planning to place the baby for adoption all along, but when the baby was born essentially without a brain, the original couple felt they were unable to care for her and declined to complete the adoption.
CHASK, a registry that tracks families who are willing to step into these situations, contacted the Greens and asked if the would take this little one. They quickly decided they would. They are naming her Selah Hope.
Baring a miracle, Selah Hope will live less than a year, but as Kim says “Every child deserves a family, no matter how long they are here on earth.”
The Green family will incur about $5,000 in adoption and legal expenses in adopting Selah Hope. What Kim did not say — although I’ll say it — is that unless a family steps up, Selah Hope will go into some sort of foster care at best, or perhaps a state institution.
I think Selah Hope deserves more. Go to the family’s blog. You will find a DONATE button on the right sidebar which I told Kim to put there. Let’s give this little girl the dignity of being well-loved. And help the Greens by spreading this around.
I hardly post this kind of request, unless it’s truly worth it. You can judge that for your self.

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