Updated: Oct 15, 2018
Marketing With Limited Resources
Chances are, you can’t compete with the vast marketing budgets and sophisticated mass-media advertising campaigns of national tax firms. Therefore, you must find a way to mar- ket effectively with limited resources. Someone once said, “I know half of my advertising budget is wasted; I just don’t know which half.” The key is to spend your limited market- ing dollars effectively. Mass media advertising is not feasible for most independent tax firms; targeted advertising is the alternative. To ensure the effectiveness of advertising, test each ad campaign before fully rolling it out. A direct response ad is usually desirable so that you can measure results.
Many advertising options are available, but not all are effective. If you find one that works, great! If not, business development may generate more business than advertising. The key to being successful with small-business marketing is to use options that may not be available to large-scale firms, including direct selling and networking. Some low-budget marketing tactics include:
Group Tax Service. Consider arranging employee-dis- count tax service programs with major local employers (or member organizations) to generate new clients. Present the idea to an employer as an inexpensive employee benefit. Ide- ally, the employer will provide you with an office to meet with employees on-site by appointment. Donating some portion of the fees to the company’s favorite charity could enhance your firm’s image and increase participation.
Seminars. If your business caters to upper-end taxpay- ers, conduct seminars as an effective method to recruit new clients. Consider partnering with a financial service profes- sional to conduct joint tax and financial planning seminars. Often the financial service professional’s broker-dealer will pay the entire cost, including lunch or dinner.
Public Relations and Publicity. A good use of public relations can be the most cost-effective marketing strategy. A feature article in the major local newspaper on a tax firm could produce more business than an expensive ad campaign. Getting such an article published rarely happens overnight; it takes planning, preparation, and persistence. As a member of NATP, you have pre-written news releases at your finger- tips in the Online Marketing Kit at www.natptax.com. If you haven’t used them yet, there’s no time like the present; if you have, you know how valuable this member benefit is.
Networking. Many employees at national tax firms don’t take the time to capitalize on networking opportunities. Take advantage of the many options available to meet prospective clients. Attending chamber of commerce networking func- tions and joining a tips club like Business Networking Inter- national (BNI) can also provide the opportunity for new
business development through cross-referrals. Of course, membership with NATP offers many opportunities to network with your peers. Take advantage of them.
Bartering. Trade associations are cropping up in many communities and can serve as brokers for small businesses to legally exchange goods and services. The value of services or goods provided by a member to another member is credited to a member’s account and used to buy products and services from other members. Essentially, this is a monetary exchange and the trade association receives a percentage (10 to 15 per- cent) of all exchange purchases. The association helps to match purchasers with providers. This, in turn, benefits members by marketing its products and services to those who might not otherwise buy them. It also helps you conserve cash.
Traditional Advertising. You can also take advantage of traditional advertising methods. The key is to determine the methods that work best in your community and to devote more resources to those effective marketing strategies and tac- tics. Remember, no matter how effective you are at advertis- ing, your rate of client retention greatly impacts growth. If only 65 percent of last year’s clients return, you must replace 35 percent before showing any growth. The most effective way to grow is to provide true value to clients.
Client Refer-A-Friend Program. More new clients come from referrals than from any other source, including advertising. Facilitate the client referral process by provid- ing an incentive for clients to make referrals (or simply by asking clients to make referrals). The idea is simple; give each client a few client referral forms and ask the client to refer a friend or relative. The referral form includes spaces for the client to enter his or her name and address. When the referred client brings in the card, which provides a spe- cial new-client discount, the card is turned in and the client who made the referral receives a “fee rebate” check for $10-$20.