Are you looking to grow your tax practice this busy season? Here are some quick tips to help you attract tax prospects for your tax practice.
Check your listing in the IRS Directory of Tax Preparers
Make sure you’re listed in this directory so that when people check on your credentials, they will find you. It’s called the Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications, and people can search by zip code and credential to find you. https://irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf
Differentiate your marketing message
There are a lot of tax professionals out there. What do you bring to the table that’s different? Are you fun? Fast? Do you actually answer your own phone? Are you a teacher at heart? Make sure your message says something different compared to other tax preparers in your neighborhood.
If you’re a little lost on ideas, look in two places:
- Read your client reviews to see how they describe your benefits.
- Check out your competition and what they say about themselves to get ideas about how you’re different.
Help clients choose wisely
Write a blog or FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page that explains the different credentials for tax preparers: CPA vs EA vs PTIN-registered. Also explain any tax memberships you might have, including your CPA state society, NATP, NAEA, or another professional association. Make a list of things people should look for in a tax preparer and post this widely. This helps you build credibility.
Get listed in Thumbtack and / or Upwork
Thumbtack is a directory where professionals seeking work can bid jobs that customers post. We have a few clients who do very well gaining tax work via Thumbtack. Upwork is another, more generic job matching site to try.
With Thumbtack, it’s free to join but to be matched with customers, you need to buy credits that can be used to purchase the privilege to quote a job. You only pay to quote; there is no commission or subscription fee.
Get started with Thumbtack here: https://www.thumbtack.com/pro
And Upwork is here: https://www.upwork.com/
Optimize your website to rank in Google search results
A lot of individuals and businesses will be searching online to find tax preparers now through April 15. The best thing about Google search is that when people are using it, many of them are ready to buy now, so the sales cycle will be shorter.
Terms like “tax preparer near me” increased substantially, so be sure your webmaster has you ranking for those trending phrases. Getting your site to rank in Google search is part art and part science, so hiring a professional is a good idea.
Check with your local CPA to see if they have overflow work
If you’re solo and work out of your home, you may be able to pick up work from larger firms around you. This idea can be very profitable because you don’t have to market much. Just be sure you let the CPA know you won’t poach any of their clients; they’ll need to trust you if there is overlap in your services.
Increase your online reviews
Your competitors are already doing it. Many tax professionals have reviews listed on their Google My Business (GMB) page, Yelp, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others. Encourage your current and past clients to leave a review for you so future clients can see how you are to work with.
Claim your free directory listings
There are four “biggies” you should get listed on: Google My Business, Yelp, Bing, and Yahoo.
It’s free to claim your business listing on Google and huge for better search results. If you google your business name or find your business on Google Maps, you can claim your business or set it up here: https://www.google.com/business/
If a large part of your business is preparing 1040s for individuals, Yelp is a great place to be listed and is also free. Get started at https://yelp.com
Yahoo has partnered with Yext, so getting your site listed on Yahoo for free is a little tricky but can be worth it. Go here: https://www.yext.com/pl/yahoo-claims/index.html and get set up, but when they present the paid options, look for a link that says “Claim your basic listing only on Yahoo.” You may get upsell pitches from Yext.
Bing (actually Microsoft sites) handled 22.8 percent of the search queries in the U.S. in 2017, according to Statista.com (Source). That’s too much market share to ignore. Get started building your profile at https://www.bingplaces.com/.
Educate your prospects
Every tax professional I know has a horror story about how a client previously used one of those tax franchise services that are only open part of the year or they used tax software to do their return and it was done wrong and now they have a big mess.
To differentiate yourself from low cost tax prep options, tell these stories (anonymously, of course) or provide a list of reasons prospects need a professional instead of a box chain or a do-it-yourself option. Write it up and post it to your blog, newsletter, and social media.
Buy Google AdWords
A great way to expand the volume of leads from search traffic is to run Google Ads. They’re easy in that you don’t need graphics like you do with Facebook ads. And Google’s simple platform, AdWords Express is a nice improvement over the bulkier AdWords platform. Get started here with AdWords Express: https://www.google.com/adwords/express/ or for best results, hire a professional to set up and manage the process for you.
Be everywhere with social media
Set up or update your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts at the very least. If you’re bold, also try YouTube. Staying active with social media increases your reach and helps you rank higher in search.
Maximize this season’s specific opportunities
This season is one-of-a-kind. Big form changes. Many new laws. Many deductions that are no longer available. Big changes in itemization. The 20% pass-through. New depreciation options. Possible customer service slowdowns if the government shutdown continues.
You can be the hero this season with the right services and messaging. Think about what kind of help that clients will need this year compared to other years and be there for them. They will be confused and unable to get help from the IRS. You can sweep in and save the day. Or maybe I just watch too many super-hero movies on Netflix.
Which of the 12 tips do you like best? Which ones will you implement this season? Create an implementation plan for yourself so you can easily find new tax clients this year.
Author Bio: Sandi Leyva, CPA, CMA, MBA, and founder of Accountant’s Accelerator, has helped thousands of tax and accounting professionals earn more, work less, and serve their clients better through her innovative marketing, training, and coaching services. Author of 30 books and hundreds of CPE courses, Sandi has won 12 awards for her thought leadership. Visit her at accountantsaccelerator.com and acceleratorwebsites.com.
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