Tax professionals have two distinct audiences when it comes to their content marketing needs: regular people, and other tax professionals.
Having worked in various parts of the tax field for about 10 years in practices of different sizes, a common mistake I’ve seen tax professionals make in their marketing efforts is that they are very prone to familiarity blindness. They tend to use language that is fine for other tax professionals but not the average person on the street who may be in need of their services. Then even when the content is suitable for the former, it’s often written in a very dry and boring way that doesn’t engage the reader. This doesn’t help you keep your clients interested or attract new ones.
Here’s how to create the kind of content that will go a long way towards helping your practice succeed.
When Marketing to Regular People
- The content is easy to read. Taxes are inherently confusing to most people who don’t tackle them for a living. Don’t make it moreso! Your blog, tax letter, email copy, and other marketing materials shouldn’t take that long for the reader to get through and be able to comprehend it. It’s okay to sound eloquent: just not dry, clinical, or like you copypasta’d from a Tax Court proceeding.
- Avoid calculations when possible. If you must illustrate one, have a thorough and relatable example that explains the calculation or process step-by-step.
- Do you have a specific client niche, such as real estate investors, expats, or self-employed writers, just to name a few? Create content that is tailored specially to their needs, namely the most common pains they are likely to have with tax filing (such as tax homes for digital nomads. There’s a powerful niche to capitalize on.) Cite authoritative sources like court cases and the tax code, but explain in English and not Tax why something usually works out the way it does.
- Use location-specific content if you can. State and local income and small business taxes get sidestepped so easily because federal taxes are complex enough. But local clients need to be served, and when seeking tax help they are not as apt to find answers to headscratchers such as New York City’s UBT tax or the countless income tax jurisdictions in Pennsylvania.
- Depending on your approach, something interesting and funny because taxes are anything but that. I’m thinking of MGO’s former tagline “You’ll want us in your boardroom but not at your barbecue”, and The Sex of a Hippopotamus: A Unique History of Taxes and Accounting. Humor helps put people at ease, and even if the reader doesn’t fully understand the topic they can see you’ve made the effort and being able to laugh about it makes you more approachable.
- If outsourcing to a freelance writer or marketing agency, show them IRS Circular 230 that explains what can and cannot legally be used to describe a tax professional’s (specifically an Enrolled Agent’s) services.
Your content should establish the readers’ trust in you and demonstrate that you can explain things to them in a manner that they get. It should answer some burning questions they have about their taxes but leave enough unsolved that they’ll want to book an appointment with you right away.
When Marketing to Other Tax Professionals
- Readability is definitely important, but you’re more free to use Internal Revenue Manual language if you’re marketing to your peers.
- Keep it brief. Tax professionals are busy people, especially during primetime tax season and extension season. They deal with enough long paragraphs at work and during continuing education. Make your content as brief as possible unless it’s a legal analysis or e-book that needs to be wordy.
- If the content is meant to help the tax professional with a specific tax problem, always use authoritative citations. This would be the Internal Revenue Code, Internal Revenue Manual, IRS forms and instructions, Tax Court and Supreme Court cases, state revenue codes and their publications, IRS publications, Revenue Rulings, and Treasury Regulations. TaxBook and Lassiter’s annual guides may be helpful references but are not authoritative.
- Keep practice pains in mind. Thinking back to the National Association of Tax Professionals’ “Stump the Instructor” sessions, are there any isolated practice issues or areas that other tax professionals need to be made aware of? Something that you can uniquely position yourself in? Solving a practice pain is a great way to market your services to other tax professionals.
- Be as specific as possible if targeting a specific practice area. If you’re selling tax software, what types of tax issues does your software handle better than other packages? Is it specially designed for a niche of tax practitioners? Be as specific as you can in your wording and try to catch certain keywords that tax professionals will be searching for when looking for a solution to a problem.
5-Star Writer Rachel P is an indie game developer, writer, and consultant. Her blog/consulting business is tailored to professional development for indie developers and other creative professionals. In addition to serving clients in need of professional development and work-life balance, Rachel also works with companies who wish to do business with game developers and professional sector workers who need assistance in acquiring and retaining game developer clients.