How to market your tax preparation service

Consider this scenario. You’re a newly minted CPA, and you’re new in town. You’ve rented a respectable, just-big-enough office. You know the fastest way to get revenue flowing is by helping people file their business and personal income taxes. But your business college didn’t teach everything you need to know to succeed — like how to market your tax preparation service.

Effective and affordable tax marketing is key to signing your first client. Since you’re launching your own practice, it’s important to remember that your neighbors are your market. So you need to use a friendly tone in your tax marketing but also convey your professionalism and reliability. Here are some tips for how to market your tax preparation service.

Be friendly and always carry business cards

Only a small fraction of the people you’ll ever know will be your tax clients. Some habitually do their own taxes; others have someone they work with already. In order to find those who need your services, you need to get acquainted with a lot of people.

People don’t like being sold to, but you don’t really have to sell anything. Whenever you meet someone new, work the fact that you’re a CPA with a new tax preparation service into the conversation. 

That’s all you have to say — unless the person expresses any interest, such as asking a question about taxes. Always be generous with your help, give them a business card, and don’t bring it up again unless they ask.

Market to people who’ll likely need your services

As a CPA, you know the tax code is very complex. Keep in mind that most people also know this — it’s what makes them willing to pay a professional to prepare their taxes for them. Your likeliest clients are people who own businesses, rental properties, and/or significant investments. 

When you’re launching your CPA tax preparation business, meeting potential clients is crucial. Join a country club, volunteer at your kid’s school, get active with community service organizations, maybe volunteer to prepare taxes for low income clients.

Don’t just sit in your new office waiting for someone to walk in — even if you do have your name and “CPA” painted on the window in big letters (and you should). Meet people, help them, take the opportunity to tell them what you do for a living. You can be confident some of them will walk into your office when they need your expertise.

Pro Tip

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Don’t overlook bulletin boards

There’s no more local form of marketing than community bulletin boards. Bulletin boards with basic ads for local businesses are common sights in church basements and community centers and near the front doors of supermarkets in towns everywhere.

Once you’ve asked the appropriate people for permission to post your business card or flyer and you find the right spot on the board, take a few minutes to jot down the information for every other local business that has posted their flyers. They all need to file business taxes, so let them know you’ve set up shop.

Work on your website

A tax preparation business needs a website that’s responsive, easy to navigate, and professional in appearance but otherwise not too fancy. Though there’s a strong case to be made for video marketing for small businesses, you don’t need highly produced videos people might expect to find when they’re looking for a marketing firm or checkout and payment portals like they’d find in an online store.

Register your business with Google My Business, and set up a click-to-call function for the phone number on your website. Those two features make it simple for prospective clients to find your contact information when searching online for tax preparation services.

One last thing — your website needs to be mobile friendly, even if you have to hire a web designer to do it. Far too many people are using their phones or tablets as their primary computer for you to overlook this.

Use the social media platform that makes the most sense for local tax marketing

New social media platforms appear all the time, and some quickly become the go-to marketing channels for particular industries or for reaching specific audiences. But Facebook still reaches the most people. In fact, more than two-thirds of Americans use Facebook. It’s also legendary for targeting local markets, both geographically and demographically.

For CPAs, LinkedIn is an excellent channel for reaching other professionals. An active practice on these and any other channels should include original content on matters — such changes in tax law — that demonstrate your expertise. 

Webinars are excellent ways to reach potential clients. Jotform’s online webinar registration form makes it easy to organize a webinar and store the email addresses of attendees for follow-up contacts.

Focus on referrals

There will never be a better marketing channel than a satisfied customer praising your service to their family and friends. The entire purpose of all the strategies outlined above is to find people who are willing to take a chance on the new CPA so you can impress them and win their trust.

A good way to encourage referrals is to simply remind a happy customer how much you’d appreciate one. Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing. A survey by Nielsen found that 92 percent of people trust recommendations from friends and family more than advertising

Tax returns are confidential by law, so it stands to reason people demand trust from the professionals who help prepare their returns. And nothing makes a CPA more trustworthy to a new client than a referral from a satisfied current client.

Peter Page is a professional writer whose career began in print. He has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs and business leaders as an editor at and Green Entrepreneur. He is now editor for contributed content at Grit Daily News.

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