Why your clients don’t care about tax updates, tax tips, and calculators

accountants using tax calculatorsAlmost every accountant I know seems to have a deep intense interest in tax updates. Tax tips. Calculators.  Tax news.  Tax strategies, schemes, calculations, reviews, conferences, webinars, white papers, e-books.

This makes perfect sense to me.

If you’re going to advise your clients, you had better know these things.  They expect it, and it’s why they hire you.

But for some very odd reason, most accountants have not made the connection that probably ninety percent of their client base does not want to hear about this.

It’s not that they don’t want to know how they could reduce their tax liability, or take the appropriate credit, or the like.  They are passionately interested in that, and sometimes practically read you the riot act because their tax bill went up since last year, even slightly.  Of course your clients want to know how it affects them.

And this is the key.  (Listen closely.)

Your clients want to know how these tax updates, schemes, strategies, credits, and everything else affects them.  Their business.  Their life.

They could care less about the ones that don’t apply.

And the trouble your clients and prospects have is that accountants in general have fallen into a pattern of making them – your clients and prospects – do much of the work that they have hired you to do.

Here are some of the ways accountancy firms do this:

–       Tax newsletters sent to everyone on the database

–       Direct mail sent blanket-approach to all clients

–       A revolving door of tax updates on your accountancy firm website

–       Generic tax updates sent by email to everyone on your list

–       Tax and other calculators on a prominent place on your firm website (mortgage calculators, loan calculators, retirement calculators, etc)

–       A Twitter feed that is full of tax tweets from the HMRC, IRS, or similar

I could go on.

My point is, if I’m a small business owner, all I’m concerned about is how any of this affects my life and my business.  If you send out a generic tax update, I’ll glance it over and only take note of those bits that leap out at me in a few seconds.

And if I’m not sure (the feeling most business owners have on a constant basis about their accounts and taxes), I won’t go on your website and spend a few minutes trying to calculate loan interest.  I won’t sit down with a glass of wine and the recent tax update newsletter and read it cover to cover.  I won’t go on Google and do a little research on the recent tax credits.

I will, as a business owner who has hired an accountant that I trust, pick up the phone to my accountant.  I will ask them what I should do.

Alternatively, I’ll miss the update, skip the Twitter updates, and lose the newsletter, and simply expect my accountant to notify me if there is something that could really benefit me and my business.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  “That’s an awful lot of work,” you’ll say.  “How can I possibly review all this tax information and send out detailed updates to the appropriate types of businesses in an on-time and updated manner?”

Ahhh, this is where the beauty of online marketing comes in.

You keep an up-to-date, current, detailed database.  You mark the ones that are in certain industries and you identify those for whom you do tax work (or don’t).  You do this for your clients as well as your prospects.  And when all that generic tax data comes in, you carefully review it (or someone in your firm does, or you outsource it), and send out specific updates to those to whom it relates.  They can be mass updates – you can have one for the medical industry, and one for property owners, and one for one-man bands, or whatever it be – but make sure it goes to the right people.

Or you could have someone look over the tax tips each month, and then send out a personal email or letter to your best clients – your A’s and possibly your B’s – and say, “Here is a tip that applies to you, would you like to talk about it?”

Yes, from time to time you might send out a blanket update, with a note to say “We don’t want to miss anything, so have a quick look over this and come back to us right away if you think something applies to you.”  But for the most part, specific and targeted and personal is much better.

Imagine the scenario.  Here I am, a dual US-UK citizen who owns a marketing business and a photography business, and gives regularly to charity.  If an accountancy firm sends me a generic tax update newsletter, I might browse through it.  But if I get an email or a letter that identifies new rules for expats and grants for photographers and new information about charitable giving, you can bet that I will sit right down and read every word of it.  And the more that happens, the higher my level of trust will go for the firm who sent it to me.

That’s very powerful for your existing clients.  It’s even more powerful for prospects.  (I’ve got a whole separate marketing tip on what it feels like to be a prospect, and that will come out soon.  As a teaser, I’ll tell you that the generic approach will fail miserably.)

Here’s the deal: taxes are your job.  Do them well, and make life easier for your clients and your prospects, and they will love you a lot more than if they have to sort through one more generic update.