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Do you know your clients better than Facebook knows them?
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When the Algorithm Fails

Facebook prides itself on collecting a creepy amount of data on its 2.7 billion users worldwide, especially the affluent ones of us in the United States who buy stuff. Facebook then sells that information to advertisers, who value the algorithm’s ability to slice and dice users into ever-more-precise segments to target ads and stoke the outrage over topics like election misinformation that keeps people on the platform viewing the ads.

(Side note: if you’re a TMN member using Facebook, and you’re not part of the TMN user’s group, you’re missing some great discussions. Having said that, if you’re not on Facebook because you believe Mark Zuckerberg is a sociopath and the platform is a scourge, I respect your choice. Carry on.)

Last night I was checking the posts in the TMN group, and I noticed an ad in the upper-right corner – prime real estate! – for Facebook Marketplace, where folks buy and sell all sorts of new and used stuff. And what was The Algorithm recommending for me? Well, for the low low price of just $500, I could buy a (slightly faded) cherry-red 1994 Dodge Ram two-wheel drive pickup truck!

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Now, with all due respect to The Algorithm, I live downtown on the 22nd floor. My apartment doesn’t even have room for cement blocks, let alone a pickup truck that’s as old as Amy Winehouse when she died.

And my last five cars have been, respectively, a Fiat convertible, another Fiat convertible, a Cadillac, a Jaguar, and another Jaguar. I don’t think those brands even make a pickup. (You can get a Cadillac Escalade in an “extended wheelbase” configuration with a rear bed, but the guys with real pickups might laugh at you. Besides, you can get an F-150 or Silverado that’s tricked out with just as much leather and luxury as the Escalade.)

Bottom line: a swing and a miss for The Algorithm. I guess Facebook doesn’t know me as well as they want their advertisers to believe they do!

Facebook has literally billions of users, so they can get away with not knowing what sort of ride I might like. But you don’t have billions of clients. You probably have hundreds, possibly even fewer. You have to know them better. The good news is, it just takes a little effort, which pays big dividends.

  • Do you send cards for birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries? (Everyone sends Christmas cards, even though not all your clients celebrate it. Send Thanksgiving cards instead.)
  • Do you send handwritten cards or thank-you notes for special occasions? (George H.W. Bush carved out time to handwrite at least 10 notes per day, including one to Frito-Lay to give “sincere thanks for all those pork rinds.” Look how far he got.)
  • Do you sit down for a quick review of a client’s file before every meeting or phone call? (Reminding them how much you’ve saved them since the last meeting is a great way to make sure you’ll keep having more meetings.)

Here at TMN, we’re happy to point out that it’s 2021 (at least for a few more months), and you don’t have to bill for your service like back in the Mad Men days. That means ditching fee-for-service engagements in favor of relationship billing. Naturally, relationship building is based on relationships – not algorithms. So make sure you’re doing everything you can to establish and nurture real relationships with your clients.

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. 

Edward Lyon

Edward Lyon

Edward A. Lyon is CEO of the Tax Master Network, where he's coached tax professionals to add planning and financial services to their business since 2005. Go here to join the network. Go here to upgrade your membership or discuss opportunities in financial services.
Edward Lyon

Edward Lyon

Edward A. Lyon is CEO of the Tax Master Network, where he's coached tax professionals to add planning and financial services to their business since 2005. Go here to join the network. Go here to upgrade your membership or discuss opportunities in financial services.

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