Marketing lessons from a 310-million-year-old fossil.
Tax season is almost here, even if the IRS has delayed the official post-time to February 12. For most of you, that means a long three months of gathering numbers to put in boxes, supervising staff putting numbers in boxes, and maybe even putting numbers in boxes yourself. I understand tax season can be overwhelming, and you may not think you can do any “marketing” until you come up for air on April 16.
But tax season is actually the best time of year to market, because you’re in some form of contact with every one of your clients. That means 1) opportunities to upsell, and 2) opportunities to ask for referrals. It would be a shame to waste those opportunities.
I’ve been saying since 2006 that tax season is a great time to market tax planning services. Simply define which clients you’re going to target (Schedule Cs, Schedule Es, etc.). Take a quick look at the return before you discuss it with the client. Let them know that you’ve added formal, proactive tax planning to your service and you think you can save your client some money. “Plant the seed” that you’ll be contacting them after April 15 to talk about those opportunities.
Remember the “magic question” we teach you to ask every business owner you meet? “When was the last time your tax preparer came to you and said ‘here’s an idea I think will save you money?’” This is your chance to head off that question and delight your client!
This is an especially good year to set up those conversations. “With the Democrats in control of the White House and Congress, it looks like taxes are going up. We need to get ahead of those changes so we can adjust to whatever Washington throws at us.” Easy peasy.
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This is also a great time of year for those of you who want to add financial services. Here’s an email I got last week from a TMN Elite member who’s joined the first FATE (Financial Advisor Technical Education) training cohort:
“I had 2 client contacts yesterday that could lead to the establishment of financial planning relationships.
I had a client who I have done legal and accounting work for, who contacted me in a panic because she thought someone had stolen a 401(k). We did Zoom and screen share where I requested remote-control of her MacBook and traced the funds from the original Fidelity account to a new custodian, and located her $500,000 account. The account was reasonably invested, but I suggested that we review the investments in connection with a review of her goals, which included a discussion of whether she could cut back on working, when she would retire, etc.
I had another client who I set up on QuickBooks for an outside consulting entity, and she shared her bank accounts and how much was in each, and asked for my advice. She’s a 500k earner at google… young…
In both these cases, at the appropriate time, I will suggest that my paraplanner get their information so that we can analyze their situations.
As I go through my tax interviews, I’m going to insist, basically, that I get basic wealth information, on the correct theory that if I know their assets, I can give them better tax advice. Where the situation warrants, I would offer my paraplanner to get their information and do an analysis for them.
I believe if I follow this procedure that I can create two to three dozen new accounts during tax season from my existing 250 client tax list.”
Martin Eisenstein, JD CPA
Two to three dozen accounts should be enough to generate a six-figure recurring income, with a lot less effort than generating the same amount of revenue from tax-prep or accounting services. It’s really that simple. And if you have a book of tax-prep clients, you already have the most important thing you’ll need to get started. Again, why waste the opportunity?
Tax season makes it way too tempting to put your head down and ignore anything besides the flood of returns. It’s also one of the most expensive marketing mistakes you can make. This year, take advantage of the extra two weeks before the IRS starts accepting returns, and use it to make a plan to pull your head out of your . . . box!
The Briefs is a weekly column on marketing and business planning for tax professionals and financial advisors looking to better serve clients and grow their business.
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