It’s tax season (In the UK, at least.)
Whether you’re in the UK or joining us from some far-flung country, tax season is a major issue for accountants. You’re busy – too busy – and marketing is just going to have to take a back seat.
Here are a few tips for rising above tax season and not allowing it to prevent you from progressing with at least some of your marketing plans for 2015 (before the year is too far gone).
Now, a few good principles:
1. Remember that tax season is prime marketing time.
This is a perfect example of something we’ve talked about before – that following what your competitors are doing is not the best way to plan your marketing. This is prime time because:
– You’re talking to your clients more
– Your clients are coming to you with questions
– You have more information available on your clients, their issues and needs and questions
– Prospects are thinking about taxes and accountants and accounting and everything you’re good at
– There is an urgent need for your services
– Some other accountants are doing a terrible job, and you have a chance to prove how amazing you are
All these are reasons to step up your marketing in tax time, not back off.
2. Don’t allow tax season to be an excuse.
Tax season, like holidays and Christmas and weekends and summer, is often something accountants grasp onto thankfully as an excuse to ignore things. Tired of putting off that decision about your CRM system? It’s January – everyone will understand. Not sure how Google ads work? Leave it until February.
As with most excuses, if you don’t allow it as an excuse for yourself, it often won’t be. Push yourself to have that meeting, anyway. Take a break from tax and spend a half hour on your email marketing. And if you’re genuinely too swamped and it doesn’t feel physically possible, read on.
3. Use tax season as a starting point for future conversations.
If you’re genuinely too busy to use your tax meetings to discuss other areas, or you’re even too busy to have a proper meeting, use tax season as an excuse to arrange another meeting when you’re less busy.
Example: “Hi client, your tax return reminded me that it might be good to talk about your retirement plans which we discussed a few months ago. I’m pretty swamped during January, but are you free in early February for a chat?”
4. Make delegation or outsourcing a priority for 2015.
One of the reasons you’re far too busy is that you’re still doing too much of the tax and accounting work yourself. Unless you absolutely love it and want it that way, it’s time to kick that delegation plan into high gear.
The key is to identify which aspects of the work can be done by “anybody”. Not necessarily anybody in the world – but anyone in the firm, or even someone who isn’t an accountant. I had a client once who had a non-accountant do 80% of a tax return simply by following the step-by-step instructions the firm had created. A manager did the other 15%, and the accounting partner’s 5% was to review it. Job done.
Now, let’s look at some practical tips for marketing in tax season.
Add something extra to every communication you have with your clients.
You’re talking and communicating more with your clients than any other time of the year. Even if it’s a quick email or text message, much of the time they’re coming to you. Plan for an extra note or comment or link or free download that will encourage future conversations once marketing season is over.
Step up your Google adwords or SEO work.
This is when everyone is searching for what you have and what you’re doing. I’d highly recommend some kind of competitor analysis – there’s no point in competing with terms that HMRC has locked you out of by their sheer size and budget – but you could get a few extra leads by paying attention to this during tax season.
Change the home page of your website.
It’s always a good idea to make changes to your home page from time to time, so it’s not boring or outdated. Tax season (just like holiday time) is a great time to highlight some feature or service or resource that you provide. Change a slider, add some new images, switch it up a bit. (Remember to switch it back after tax season is over.)
Run a webinar.
So few other accountants are actually doing any marketing work that if you do something like running a webinar you will definitely stand out. It’s not a live event, so it takes less time and effort.
Bear in mind that running a webinar for the very first time can become a massive undertaking – it’s an economy of scale once you’ve done it a few times running. Either get help with it so it doesn’t require much of your time, or start planning a webinar for tax season 2016.
Get more active on social media.
There are so many people out there on Twitter saying things like, “My accountant is so rubbish!! Need a new one!” or, “Didn’t realise I’d need a tax return – anyone know a good accountant?”
Remember to be helpful, relevant, and non-salesy if you are engaging with these kinds of conversations. Just casually mention that you’re sorry they’ve had so much trouble, and if they’d like to get in touch you’d be glad to help.
Make tax season easier on your clients, too.
If you’re swamped during tax season, think about how your clients must feel. Many of them are swamped with their own business, and they haven’t gotten you the right information or downloaded bank statements or provided fuel receipts or whatever it is you need.
Think about the kinds of things that you’re constantly asking clients for, and prepare worksheets or forms or online systems to make tax season easier on them. They’ll love you more for it, and that’s always a marketing win.
Use tax season as a reason to encourage clients to use Xero (or some kind of cloud accounting software).
Following on the previous point, you can use your clients’ lateness and behind-ness as a reason they should be using Xero or some other cloud accounting software. It means you’ll have access to the information you need earlier, and they won’t have to do as much. It will help them realise that Xero is not just beneficial for you, but primarily for them.
Well, that’s probably enough, since you’re….oh wait. Never mind. Thanks for reading.
Now off you go and implement these!