Marketing season is well underway for preparers readying for Tax Season 2013, and a recent discussion on the LinkedIn Tax Business Owners of America group revealed several pointers for preparers.

Distribution of material should be most intense before the end of February, and mailings must be targeted as tightly as possible to such audiences as local businesses, as otherwise the marketing is shotgunned and may only pull results by chance. Among other points about mailings:

Target mailings to existing clients on such special occasions as holidays and birthdays;

  • Mass marketing may also work better for financial services than for tax prep;
  • Blanket direct mail is most effective at creating awareness of new office locations and might not attract middle- and upper-income clients, as half of all taxpayers do their own returns and most of the other half already have a relationship with a tax preparer;
  • Consider mailing to newcomers who recently moved away from their tax preparer and mailing to taxpayers that have had a life-changing event (i.e., marriage, divorce, death of a spouse, a new job or new business).

Considering other popular categories of preparer marketing:

  • Word-of-mouth: Referrals remain one of the best marketing avenues for preparers. Tap the co-workers of family members. Visit small businesspersons one on one. Keep cards on each desk in your office and encourage clients to fill one out with the name of someone they know who should be using your services (clients are often eager to do this).
  • Materials: Consider putting your picture on flyers. Postcards are cheaper and more effective than flyers, letters or brochures. Shotgunned flyer distribution requires steady manpower to cover large areas and only works well with good discounts.
  • Promotions: Speak on tax matters at civic-type groups and even little local clubs or anybody looking for a program speaker.
  • Discounts and pricing: Key discounts around promptness, such as $50 off if a client comes in by mid-February. Offer veterans discounts year-round. Do not combine discounts: Each client should only get one.
  • Advertising venues: Consider Craigslist and church bulletins. One preparer did well with a coupon at a local liquor store. Don’t forget the advantages of a big storefront sign.