[IMGCAP(1)]Given that tax prep businesses, like all businesses that depend on repeat customers, lose a portion of their client base each year, it is imperative they market themselves and attract new clients just to stay even.

Thanks to email and the Internet, tax businesses in general send a lot less print mail than they used to. Even so, print mail is making a bit of a comeback and many tax firms still use it to drive business during tax season. People get so many emails these days and many go straight to junk mail, go unread, or are just deleted.

Regardless of how you reach out, remember that you are dealing with a diminishing market, noted Chuck McCabe, president of Peoples Income Tax and The Income Tax School. “This means with each day that passes during tax season, more people will have filed. So the sooner the mailing goes out, the better,” he said. Here are four considerations to optimize those mailers to ensure they are more effective.

Target Your Mailings
“It’s important to think about your target market first, because targeting your mailings is key,” said McCabe. “For a tax business, it could be everyone who is age 18 or over, but that is very broad. The more targeted you can be, the better your chances are of getting in front of the types of clients you want. So, it’s important to think about the types of clients you have now, the types of tax returns you are already doing, and the types of clients you want to have. Have you become very good at certain types of tax returns? If so, maybe that is a niche for you and you should consider focusing on it.”

Choose a Provider
Once you have decided who you want to target with your mailing, you can either buy a targeted list to mail to or go through a company who can handle everything for you.

“A new option that is fairly effective is called Every Day Direct Mail, which is available through the USPS,” McCabe said. “It allows you to pick residential and/or business areas by zip code. It’s not going to be super targeted, but it can be based on income to some degree because you can select specific neighborhoods to mail to. If you’re looking for high-income taxpayers, for example, you might select the upper-end neighborhoods within five miles of your office. If you have more than one tax office, you might have different income levels by office.

Choose a Type of Mailer
The options are numerous. Among other possibilities, it could be a flyer, letter, newsletter or postcard.

“Creating a flyer and using a local flyer service can work depending on who you are targeting,” said McCabe. “However, not everyone has a separate box to put flyers in and some may end up in the trash. Be sure to think about who you are targeting before you choose to create a flyer. A letter requires that you open it. Same goes for a newsletter, and they can also be expensive. Postcards are great because all of the information is right there in front of you—nothing to open—and they can be less expensive”.

Once you’ve chosen your type, you need to decide whether you want full-color, two-color or a black and white mailing. “Remember, you want your mailing to get noticed,” McCabe said.

Plan Your Design
There are specific requirements when mailing a print piece so be sure to check with the USPS once you know what type of mailing you are planning to send. You need to plan out your piece in detail:

• Size of the piece
• Thickness/quality of paper
• Cost per piece
• Stamps or USPS indicia – bulk rate/first class/presorted standard
• Will there be stickers sealing the piece? If so, placement of them is important
• Return address
• How does the post office want to receive them if you are handling the mailing in-house? Sorted by zip code?

Consider adding “Or Current Resident” to your mailing just under the addressee’s name if you have a list, McCabe suggested. “That way, if the person you are mailing to has moved, the mailing can still be delivered to the address you mailed to since it is a generic promotional mailing. Otherwise, you will pay for a piece that will be returned back to you.”

Craft Your Message
“Your message is the most important part of the mailing,” he emphasized. “Why should someone choose your tax business over the others? Stick to a few main points and consider including a new client offer to entice them to try you this year. Be sure to include the obvious things like your name, logo, address, phone number and website.”

Remember, less is more, McCabe pointed out. “So don’t make your message too wordy. Be sure to spellcheck everything. You don’t want to talk about how accurate you are and then send a mailing with errors in it.”

As with any marketing effort you should carefully consider your target audience, and what your return on investment will be before putting money into any tactic.