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Market your tax practice: make the phone ring

You've just finished a busy audit season, and things are starting to slow down. The first few days at the slower pace, you're relieved to leave the office on time. After a few days a slow panic starts to set in-if little work is being done in the office, then little revenue is coming in. If no revenue is coming in . . . well, you get the picture.

Most marketing is a long term process of finding your target audience, creating multiple marketing pieces, doing mailings or trade shows-but right now you need some short term results. One way to get people to contact you is with a classified ad.

When to place your classified ad

The lead time for publishing a small ad can be anywhere from "right now" to one year.

If you want an ad published:

  • Immediately
    • Use online ads
  • Within a week
    • Use a local newspaper
    • Use radio
  • Four to Six Months
    • Use magazines
  • Six months to a year
    • Use yellow pages/phone books

For short term results, you should place ads online or with local newspapers or radio stations.


Where to place your classified ad

1) Online ads

Most local accounting firms are just that-local. Many online publications or web sites where you might place an advertisement are national or international in readership. One exception to this is, which allows you to place your ad in a city, and often within a specific area of the city if you are in a large metropolitan area (think New York or Los Angeles ).

The best part about Craigslist is it is free to place an ad for something like accounting services, tax preparation or business consulting. They do charge for apartment rental ads and employment ads in a few cities, but for most businesses-no charge!

2) E-newsletters and blogs

With some online research, you may be able to find online newsletters or blogs that are written for your desired audience, i.e. people you might like to have as customers. Many of these newsletters and blogs accept advertising. You can usually get you ad in the next issue of the publication, so this can be a good option for short term results.

3) Local newspaper or radio

Check the rates in your area, and don't forget to check the rates for the small weekly papers that are thrown in your yard. It's surprising how many people read these free papers, and they may be appropriate if you are trying to attract individuals as customers.

Radio ads are quick to produce and get on the air. You do not need to hire voice talent-just write your ad and ask one of the radio personalities to record the ad. This professional voice talent is usually provided to advertisers at no additional charge.


What to say in your ad

Writing classified ads is an art in itself, no doubt about it. Many publications charge by the word or line for classifieds, so you have to make every word count.

Generally you want to have an attention grabbing lead in, combined with a "call to action" and your phone number.

If you use, for example, there is no limit on the size of your ad. You can also have photos or graphics in your ad, if desired.

Sample ad:

Southwest Houston accounting firm specializing in tax planning for couples considering downsizing. During our slow month of May, we offer a free 30-minute consultation and you leave with our Downsizing Planner Checklist. Call our office to make an appointment: 123-444-5555.


How to evaluate the effectiveness of your ad

Develop a worksheet to track the results of your ad. Track the number of phone calls or other activity resulting from your ad. Train your receptionist to politely inquire of callers where they heard about your firm.

One advantage of short term marketing is that it is quick and easy to make changes to your ad until it produces the result you want: more customers.

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For fun and interesting self study CPE for CPA s and other financial professionals, review our CPE Course Listing. Sign up for our free CPE course for free CPE credit.

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