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    When to advertise?

    I'm setting up my advertisements for this tax season. When are most returning clients most active in looking to get their taxes done? Is it the first week of February when the last forms arrive or in the beginning of March? I'll spread everything out over 3-4 weeks but would hate to completely miss the boat on 1/4th of my advertising budget.

    Any help would be appreciated! Thanks.


    I would think your ads should be prior to peak season.....but to answer your question, historically my peak has been the last week of Jan. and does not let up until the second week of March. You will find your early clients may be HOH with large EIC refunds wanting a RAL.
    Confucius say:
    He who sits on tack is better off.


      Advertising Schedule

      It depends on the type of business that you are going after. The peak weeks for the EIC-Refund Loan-Fast Refund type of client is the last week of January and the 1st 2 weeks of February. I am told that HRB and JH do over half of their business by Feb 15th.

      March is a lull month. April picks up greatly due to the procrastinators.

      I would advertise heavy from Jan 15 to Feb 15; then April 1st to April 15th.

      Newspaper display ads are not nearly as effective as an insert in the newspaper.

      Val-Pack results are so-so.

      You must lead with a Great Headline, make an offer that distinguishes you from the other tax services, and offer a fantastic guarantee.

      That said, the very best advertising is word-of-mouth referrals. You should mail all your current clients a sales piece to re-sell them on your services the first week of January. Enclose with this mailing, referral coupons (I offer a $20 referral fee).

      Also enclose referral coupons with all correspondence. I find that I get about 90% of my new business from referrals; 10% from Advertising.

      Another idea for early January is to arrange with employers in your area to put your flyer with the W-2's.

      Or make a deal with the local pizza places to attach your flyer to every pizza box.


      1) Determine your target market.

      2) Create an advertising piece to reach that market.

      3) Then pick the best Media to deliver that piece.


        Dang - that's an awesome response Ohio!

        I agree with the insert - researched it this summer and for our area - it's barely more than a small ad deep in the paper. The insert will automatically be seen by the person who opens the paper - can't say that about an ad!

        Does anyone advertise in a religious newspaper? I've been told they are a better source for advertisers because you don't have the national advertising much and the readers WANT to support thelocal advertisers.

        Would you think 2500 inserts would be better than 1000 postcards? That's about the cost difference for our local papers including printing off the inserts.

        How about classifieds? Our local is running a March special for half off tax preparers - will be in that, wondering whether it's worth it for the entire tax season.


          Inserts Vs Postcards

          Who is your target market?

          What month?

          In most markets, the newspaper is only read by about 50% of the population. I find that newspaper advertising attracts more complicated returns. The EIC - Refund loan market generally does not read the paper.

          That said, I have had some success in the weekly shopper (insert) for both markets.

          The problem with 4x6 postcards is that you cannot get much message in the space.
          How about a full size (8x10) post card. This would have the same message as your insert; printed on post card stock. Postage is 60 cents (until Jan. 8).

          Good thing about direct mail is that you can target your market. (Homeowners -Schedule A; Renters with children - Sch EIC-Refund Loans; Wall Street Journal subscribers - Schedule D).

          Remember: MARKET - MESSAGE - MEDIA

          P.S. What is your USP (Unique Selling Propisition)? Figure it out and you will be 80% there.


          "Biggest and Fastest Tax Refunds Allowed by the IRS"

          "Same-Day Service on Most Returns"

          "Triple-Check Peace of Mind Guarantee"

          "No-Wait EXPRESS Drop-Off Service"

          "Fast and Accurate Electronic-Filing"

          " Refund-Loans in 29 Minutes"

          In short, why should I do business with you.


            Coming up with a GREAT USP has always been a problem. My services are financial planning, portfolio management, tax planning and tax preparaton and divorce financial analysis is offered. By providing the most personalized service at discounted rates, I'm pretty darn proud of my company and the services I offer. I offer free tax preparation to investment clients with portfolios that meet certain qualifications - not difficult for anyone with a retirement rollover.

            My biggest point is the service I provide. All appointments are offered at the clients home or office at no extra charge - irregardless of how small of a client they are. They can always come to my office but rarely does anyone want to since I'll come to them no matter what the weather is like or how busy things are. The vast majority of my clients are women for some reason - older, younger, middle aged... doesn't seem to matter. Women also seem to be the most satisfied with the service our entire firm provides.

            My pathetic USP in the past was "Your personal financial specialist" but it never seemed to really say what it should. Service (and our rather low rates) weren't anywhere in the USP and I always thought it should be.



              Remember: Sell the benefits, not the features. Very common mistake in ad copy, you want to let the client know what they get from your service, not how great your service is.

              FWIW, some marketing gurus at the big chains did surveys of tax customers several years ago and determined the 90% decide by January 25th where they were going to get their taxes done! They may not go in until February or March, but their mind is made up in January. The suggestion was to do alot of your advertising in early to mid-January before the W-2s arrive in the mail. And personal referrals are always the best way to find new clients. Make sure you ask for referrals!
              "A man that holds a cat by the tail learns something he can learn no other way." - Mark Twain


                Geeze - now you've got me all confused about benefits and features.

                Maybe I should just give a list of 5 reasons why we are better than everyone else? )

                That January 25th idea is very likely but I wonder how people are most likely to decide? Is it that the guy down the street as a sign out? Recommendations are huge I know but when your practice is small, that isn't going to help you.

                I've got referral coupons - mailing them to all of our clients with our tax preparation offer and checklist for setting an appointment.


                  Originally posted by Roberts
                  Geeze - now you've got me all confused about benefits and features.

                  Maybe I should just give a list of 5 reasons why we are better than everyone else? )
                  Listen to taxmandan and take a minute to think about what he's saying.

                  I'll be the potential customer (not trying to be antagonisitic, but customers are skeptical).

                  "You're better than everyone else for 5 reasons? Who cares? Whoopdy doopty for you. I'm glad to hear you're so wonderful.

                  "Sorry, gotta go. I'm out looking for someone to tell me what's in it for me."

                  Which would you rather hear from a prospective employee?

                  1) I'm smart, I have a lot of experience in tax accounting, I'm fast, and I'm accurate, and I work hard, or

                  2) I'll prepare your most complicated returns accurately and quickly, I'll make your job easier, I'll increase your revenue and profit, and I'll build a loyal client base.

                  (1) is a feature, (2) is a benefit. It's O.K. to state the feature, but without a benefit attached, you're going to get a "who cares" from the potential customer.

                  The "benefit" that taxmandan correctly describes as something missed by even the fanciest of marketers is simply the answer to the customers' question: "What's in it for me?" You could give 100 reasons why you're better than everybody else and it still wouldn't answer the question.
                  Last edited by Armando Beaujolais; 12-02-2005, 05:06 PM.



                    A whole bunch of excellent advertising idea's, but none mention PRICE.

                    The Sunday paper is filled with "SALES"

                    If you include prices that are even slightly below the competition, THEY WILL COME.
                    Some may feel it's not professional to advertise price. That's all the huge major corps advertise. Shop here it's cheaper.

                    If your a CPA, EA, Attorney with 25 years tax experience, the EIC, RAL crowd could care less.

                    You will get the EIC, RAL (if you want it) business if you beat the price of the competition. (H&R & JH") There is a lot of business out there for this type of client, do a good job for them at a reasonable price and the word of mouth will be your best and cheapest advertising.

                    These clients will also recommend many small business self employed individuals.

                    I have found over the years that if you deliver fast, efficient, personal and above all courteous service at a reasonable price your business will grow 10 to 20% a year just on word of mouth alone.
                    Confucius say:
                    He who sits on tack is better off.



                      Originally posted by Roberts
                      I'm setting up my advertisements for this tax season. When are most returning clients most active in looking to get their taxes done? Is it the first week of February when the last forms arrive or in the beginning of March? I'll spread everything out over 3-4 weeks but would hate to completely miss the boat on 1/4th of my advertising budget.

                      Any help would be appreciated! Thanks.
                      The boardmembers gave you some good advice--I hadn't thought of some of the things they brought up either.

                      I don't know much about the newspapers, ads, etc., but I do have a small thing you might want to give a shot. Every year I get printed up some of those wallet-sized plastic-coated calendar cards. They have my name, address, and phone number (that's all) at the top of the card on each side. Everybody really likes them and I'm asked all the time "When are you getting the new calendars in"?

                      The best thing is that they keep working for you for the entire year--everybody occasionally needs to know what date something's happening, so they carry it with them. My name's in bold, dark letters at the top--you can't miss it. When the client picks up his tax return I give him/her two (one for them/one for spouse). If accompanied by friends or relatives, I also give them some. Anyhow, it's a great way to get your name before the public. After tax season I place leftovers on the front counters of various businesses around town (I ask the owners for permission--haven't been turned down yet as it's good for their business too). Invariably, they're gone within a few days.

                      I order enough for the "tax pickup" customers and some spares for outside the office. Mine are pretty cheap, I think. I get 1,000 for $165 from a place in Memphis that mails them to you in about three weeks (National Specialty Advertising / 901-767-0992). Or, I guess you could get them from a local advertising company.

                      If you do buy some, make sure that your name and address only take up about 1/4 of the card on each side--that way it leaves plenty of room for the calendar months and dates (six months on each side) to be legible. That's important because I've seen some done by others--their data covers 2/3 of the card--and you can't see dates without a magnifying glass which defeats the card's whole purpose in the first place. The other guys said it best--"What's in it for me?" is the crucial angle. Use a modest-sized heading for yourself--it'll still work and be much appreciated. Light background colors show up better than dark ones.

                      This may seem to be an amateur ploy, but I've gotten several customers from just that and that's what we're trying to do.


                        I don't recall the exact price but will print 4 colors on both sides of 1000 cards (including the calendar) for under $100. I have bought them twice and the quality has been very good both times.


                          Where is it?

                          Went to the website, but can't find any calendars except $12.99 for 10 magnet types. What heading are they listed under (don't see any "calendars")? Thanks.


                            They don't show up until you have finished the data for the front of the card and are near the chackout stage. At that point, printing a calendar on the back is offered as an add-on option (unless something has changed recently). If you wanted to try it, you can still back out if it wasn't something you wanted since it is before you finalize the order.