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Discussion:Direct Mail to Businesses

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BFStax (talk|edits) said:

8 May 2013
I just completed my first solo tax season and have been looking for direct mail ideas to reach business clients. I've searched through numerous old threads mostly focusing on those from Fletch since there is a consensus he provides great marketing advice. Most topics I read are from 2010 or earlier. Direct mail seems to be popular on this site with varying success so I want to get your opinions on topics for a letter to business owners in my area.

My target market is small business with fewer than 10 employees looking for accounting/bookkeeping, payroll, and tax work. My wife used to work in marketing and is a very good copywriter, but I'm unsure of topics. My ideas so far have been, 1. Send new businesses a 'Welcome to the area' type letter, 2. Accounts receivable tips for how small business can limit the size of their A/ (and of course if they need help to contact me), 3. Announcement that I have gone solo and am available to do various tax/accounting services.

My budget needs to be very low so I think the type of mail would be a 1-2 page letter, or postcard. I've looked at ClientWhys.com and Mostad & Christenen but don't see to much written on either of these clients here. Does anyone recommend their direct mail materials? Again, my wife is very good at copywriting so we can edit anything to sound better and fit my needs.

Thanks

AgwmTax (talk|edits) said:

8 May 2013
Direct mail typically has a less than 2% response rate in this market. You would be better off networking, developing centers of influence and good old fashioned word of mouth with some referral bonus!

Depending on your budget you could get new DBA listings and mail a short letter to try?

BFStax (talk|edits) said:

9 May 2013
Yes, but direct mail is relatively cheap compared to most other forms of marketing and even if it nets only a few clients, they pay for the mail and then some. Every year after is then gravy and helping to build the practice. I do network and the other methods you mention but have heard that direct mail can be very successful even with the low return rate.

AgwmTax (talk|edits) said:

9 May 2013
You say that your target market is small business less than 10 employees. These are mainly mom-pop type of business, small partnerships etc.

How likely are the owners of these type of businesses to read your mail and then respond? Most of them are hands on owners pulled in several directions each day. Think about the plumber, electrician, convenience store owner??

As I said you could do a test mailing and see the results.

From my experience in this market, the owners are more receptive to recommendation from their lawyers, suppliers and even competitors.

BFStax (talk|edits) said:

14 May 2013
Anyone else have ideas?

AgwmTax, while I agree that small business owners are busy, I don't believe all are too busy to ready mail. All I need is 1% (approximate success rate for direct mail) to see mail from a CPA and think, "Hey, I've been needing a CPA for a while but have been too busy to find one so I should give this guy a call". And your responses seem to imply that larger companies are best for direct mail. I don't get see that at all.

Again, I'm just looking for ideas on what to include in a letter.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

14 May 2013
What can you offer them that is unique to your firm? Why should they even WANT to read your letter? What are they looking for that your letter hints they can find by calling you? What is your offer? What is the time sensitive compelling reason they should ACT NOW and not put your letter aside for five or six months (then throw out)?

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

14 May 2013
Second, what are their fears that prevent them from calling you? How can you assuage these?

When you can answer these, you are on your way to creating a decent marketing letter.


HINT: Don't try to be everything to everyone. Target ONE or TWO problems that these people have and then tell them how you can solve these problems for them QUICKLY and at a REASONABLE (to them) PRICE.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

14 May 2013
In short, make them feel the pain of a problem, show how you can solve the problem, and then make them want to call you TODAY.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

14 May 2013
If your idea of a good sales letter is

"We are accurate and prompt and have 8 years experience and graduated in the top 10% of our class and can put together beautiful financial statements that you'll love to read after work, the same as all of the other CPA firms in town, but with a 5% discount" then you are dead.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

14 May 2013
I personally think you'd do much better to come up with a 20 to 30 minute talk to give to the local Rotary etc. luncheons. NAEA and NATP both have luncheon talks already scripted for their members' use, I imagine that your CPA society might also.

In my experience, business owners in general are put off by CPAs and other professionals. Once they meet one in person, especially one who can communicate on their level, however, they tend to call that professional when they have a need. In other words, they would rather call the CPA/EA/Whatever they've met than to call someone from a phone book, internet ad, or series of junk mail.

Learn to communicate and get out and shake people's hands. Don't stay inside behind your desk signing hundreds of letters hoping that 1% of the people who receive them will even open them.

AgwmTax (talk|edits) said:

14 May 2013
Kevinh5 you are right on the point.

Business owners listen to other business owners especially those that are in their line of business.

If I look at all the business clients I got this season and last, 100% of them were introduced to me by another business owner or a center of influence.

One piece of direct mail that may bring you a better than 1% response is the implementation of Affordable care Act (Obamacare). If you become an expert on that subject as to how it impacts small business hiring and retention of good talent, cash flow, tax credits etc. you may have an opportunity to at least get a foot in the door!

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

14 May 2013
If I were going to run with that idea, I'd either invite the business owners to a breakfast where I'd talk about the impact of the ACA on small businesses and offer a complimentary in-person consultation to talk with interested business owners about their specific concerns

OR

I'd write up a script for a luncheon talk on the ACA.


I wouldn't just send them a letter containing info they can get on the internet.

AgwmTax (talk|edits) said:

15 May 2013
Yes a face to face meeting would be far more productive

Joecpa888 (talk|edits) said:

20 May 2013
I have been to many breakfast and small business meetings but I don't feel it is as effective, also, it burns a lot of time.

BFS tax, I am on the same boat as you as I am also one year being solo. I don't have not many clients now, the referral/word of mouth does not work because of small basis.

I think direct mail would work, the key is to hit your target market again and again, repeat your mailing campaign to the same market will generate good results, it appears you have a good idea what are your target market, also only send to business within 10 miles of your office

in addition, like Kevin5 said, direct response is very important, put something in the letter so they have to response now by calling you, how about a free consultation of business performance or free tax return evaluation?

I am doing my mailing campaign, and I will be sending to the same target market at least 5 times before tax season again...

AgwmTax (talk|edits) said:

21 May 2013
If you bombard the same business owner multiple times with your direct mail I suspect it will just end up in the trash pile. How abut doing an initial mailing and then calling them or stopping by the business. You only have to drive in a 10 mile radius?

Joecpa38 (talk|edits) said:

21 May 2013
the theory behind sending few mailing piece to the same target group (i.e. 1000 business) is to increase the response rate, it is for people who is interested but not ready to make a move, so one of the mailing pieces might caught that person in the moment...

also agree mixed marketing gives the best results such as after mailing, then call or visit definitely a great idea.

in regards to 10 miles, I am in new York city, with 10 mile radius is too big of selection with more than 100,000 business will be in the circle...

AgwmTax (talk|edits) said:

21 May 2013
Now that you mention your location as NYC, I agree a 10 mile radius will not be feasible to be canvassed personally!

But for the most of us in suburbia, a 10 mile radius will give us a few hundred if we are lucky?

I think if you bombard the same business with multiple mailing they may get upset. I know I throw in the trash those pesky postcards from the same company each months. If i am looking for something then the first postcard grabs my attention.

Besides Tax preparation is a service that you generally do NOT pick based on a post card. Like most services performed by a professional you tend to go on recommendations of people that you trust. I know I picked by physician and dentist and plumber that way!

BFStax (talk|edits) said:

21 May 2013
One thing I want to start doing is the speaking sessions, such as inviting small business owners to hear about the topic du jour (probably Affordable Care Act) which will also help with networking and meeting people face to face.

In terms of mailings, I don't want to target tax preparation as the service I'm offering just as AgwmTax says. You pick on recommendation. But business services such as bookkeeping and payroll are a little less personal and I think business owners are more willing to pick up the phone when they know they need the service and wham, they get hit with a personalized letter in the mail.

On a side note, I picked up a great deal of tax clients just from Craigslist this year, and most of them are quality clients. Half of them didn't even want to meet with me face to face, even though I would be handling their most personal financial documents. Even I thought that was crazy. So don't be so quick to assume everyone finds their professionals and service providers from recommendations.

AgwmTax (talk|edits) said:

21 May 2013
That is scary that people sent you their tax return details just because you advertised on Craiglist?

This is not like buying used personal goods.


How do they know that you are not another identity thief waiting for the victim to give you all the info you need. That is scary!

How did they pay you? Are you waiting to get paid?

PollyAdler (talk|edits) said:

22 May 2013
Have an advertising plane fly over the minor league and little league games. It wouldn't hurt to have them accidentally zip over a few golf courses in the area either, and make sure to buzz all the Episcopal churches in town after Sunday services. All publicity is good publicity. Also, try to get in the local news. Donate a kidney if you're young, most people get along fine with one kidney and you'll get tons of positive media.

As a business owner myself (used file cabinets and other junk), I can remember only one day that I personally read the direct mail advertising. I came in to work on a Saturday and I got locked in my office so I had to search the trash to find something to read to break the boredom, and that was the one time I read all my direct mail. Fortunately, there was a locksmith ad in there and I did call them, but that's the only time I've done business because of direct mail.

BFStax (talk|edits) said:

22 May 2013
Scary indeed! But as I said the clients were actually good clients and many of them had Schedule C's with growing businesses. Honestly, it is not what I expected from Craigslist. And yes, they paid with credit cards and checks (and no bounced checks either).

Most of these clients were on the younger side, late twenties to early thirties and I think younger people are naive/ignorant about the world (identity theft, etc...). I asked to meet with each client but most turned me down. I won't complain. Saves me time and money if I can communicate with everyone through email/phone.

Gazoo (talk|edits) said:

22 May 2013
Well you have their street addresses I assume so send each of them a holiday card in December, put a couple of your cards in there with your Email or web address on them, and then mail your organizer out to them in January I guess.

You can go to a photography studio in your town and have them work up some fake photographs of you on the ski slopes or involved in the X games or X sports, but you'll have to look the part to some degree. Get a tattoo or something and have your hair moused and done right even if you are a man (go to a professional hair stylist for the look), have them spray some ocean water on you too. Put your photograph in the holiday card. This is a lot cheaper than having to pay for a ski or mountain climbing vacation, or flying along the beach with a kite, or buying a new skateboard. The point is to act like you are a man of action, lover of unusual sports, etc.

ZL28 (talk|edits) said:

23 May 2013
Even if response rate is 1%, that could be a 2-3k per year client...and over 10 years that's 20-30k...so it can pay off.

Kevin, you've got the makings of a tax marketing guru, have you done direct mailing?

On flip side, somehow see if you can take the advice above and squeeze into every conversation with deli owners, body shops, stores where you buy stuff the fact that you have a tax practice.

Also, if you do a direct mailing don't be shy about mailing the same list 2-3 times...sometimes people need to see the letter

a few times before they sign on. Could send something in Nov and say to business owners $100 off your tax return if scheduel an appointment within 10 days of this letter.


Almost have to push them into a decision as Kevin says....that's why Macy's has a ONE day sale and not a one week or one month sale.

Can hit on features like, Are you not getting the attention you deserve? something of that nature Good luck

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

23 May 2013
Yes, I have done a lot of direct mail and have read a bunch of books on the subject. I will not say that I am a guru at it, but I do understand that it is a pure numbers game, and you have to have several features to even get a 1% response.

ZL28 (talk|edits) said:

24 May 2013
Was impressed with your knowledge on the subject!

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