What is marketing?

Yesterday, I wrote about growth and expansion in your tax firm.

Today, let’s discuss the critical thing you need to have in place in order to execute on most growth and expansion strategies: Marketing.

For many accountants, marketing is the pink elephant in the room that they don’t want to talk about. It’s outside their comfort zone, and something they want nothing to do with.

But not you. You’re an entrepreneurial accountant, so you understand that marketing is the thing that drives the growth of your business.

But what exactly is marketing? What does it encompass precisely? For that, we go to the textbooks:

Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, and services to satisfy customers.

There we go, nice and simple, eh? Plan, execute, price, promote. Got it. Easy peasy, right? 🙂

Are you surprised to see that pricing is a component of the definition of marketing? You shouldn’t be. Remember back to macroeconomics, and those supply and demand curves? Pricing is clearly one aspect of how you influence demand, but it’s not the only aspect.

Marketing is more than just the activities that drive sales. Rather, marketing encompasses all the activities that seek to identify what consumers want and how to promote and deliver those goods and services.

Before you ever even make the decision to start offering a particular service in your tax firm, you should first spend the time to determine if there’s even a need or adequate demand for that service within your target market. If not, you either need to expand your target market, or not offer the service. If there is a demand, then you need to figure out how to offer that service to the prospective clients that want it, how to tell them it’s available, and how to price it such that they’re willing to pay for it (and leave you a profit). This is all part of the marketing process, and really should occur before you ever launch the service itself. Unfortunately, many tax pros fail to do this analysis, and wind up wondering why XYZ doesn’t work when they try to offer a new service to their existing clients or to a broad local market.

In more common usage of the term, “marketing” is often seen as only the promotional aspect of a product or service that is already available. This part of marketing consists of making people aware of what you’re offering, and convincing them to buy it. There is a tendency in corporate environments to separate the marketing and sales functions into disparate departments, which is often a mistake. The purpose of the promotional element of marketing is to drive sales, and therefore the two functions are intricately connected.

Consider, for example, your social media presence. Is it something you just do because you think you have to, or is directly connected to your appointment setting process to bring in new prospects? If they’re completely disconnected, you have too much separation between your marketing and sales functions within your tax firm.

See also  Tax Firm Entrepreneurs & the Entrepreneurial Continuum

Sadly, many business owners don’t understand the importance of marketing. Because of this, they fail to plan for rough spots in the business cycle, such as off seasons, economic downturns, and other events. Think about all the other tax pros you know that make 80% of their income during filing season, and have minimal revenue coming in the rest of the year. Unless it’s intentional, for lifestyle purposes, that’s a significant problem, which boils down to not having a better plan.

As the cliche goes, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” Every business should have a marketing plan of some sort, and it should be in writing. Companies that don’t “do” marketing will invariably fail.

In short, without marketing there are no sales. And without sales, there is no revenue. And without revenue, there is no business.

Marketing is clearly one of my favorite subjects to talk about. I love discussing it, strategizing about it, creating marketing collateral, the whole nine yards. Heck, I spent several hours yesterday volunteering at a Seattle tech startup event, mentoring female founders on their go to market strategies.It was an absolute blast!

If you have a similar love for marketing, or at least recognize the fact that you need to learn more about it in order to grow your tax firm, then I invite you to join me inside the new  TaxFirms.com community. We’re going to be talking a LOT about marketing in there, including strategies, tactics, and toolkits for implementation. To learn more, just visit https://TaxFirms.com.

Ready to increase the profitability of your tax firm? Get your copy of my new book, Profit Optimizers: 12 Big Ideas for a More Profitable Tax Firm