Monday, December 18, 2017

How Some Practices Achieve ROIs of 2,387% and Others Fail


The following article is a guest blog post by Joy Gendusa of

There’s ONE main factor which differentiates successful direct mail tax preparation campaigns from those that flounder and end up being a waste of money.

But before I tell you what that is, I want to show you 3 tax practice marketing campaigns from real clients of mine.

We keep track of successful campaigns when business owners share their results with us, so that we can use that data to help other business owners succeed at marketing.

We base all of our clients’ postcard designs (and campaign targeting) on our database of 2,000 tax clients’ marketing results collected from over 20 years in business. That way, we aren’t GUESSING what works — we’re only doing what we KNOW has worked based upon solid numbers.

These campaigns are all very different from each other, yet each one experienced incredible results with a return on investment of 1,422% and even 2,387%!

After you see these postcard designs and campaign numbers, I’ll give you my final take on them at the end.













Mailing list: Local single-family residences with average annual incomes of $40,000 or more

Mailing schedule: 3,000 mailed twice with 1 week separating the mailings

Campaign results: 15 new clients, generating $2,000 in revenue

ROI: Lifetime revenue estimated at 597%

I love how the headline jumps out at you from the upper left hand corner. Who doesn’t want to get the MOST money back from their taxes?! Plus, blue communicates fiscal responsibility — another smart reason to call this practice!













Mailing list: Residences with average annual incomes of $100,000 or more

Mailing schedule: 10,000 mailed one time

Campaign results: 265 responses, generating $60,000 in revenue

ROI: 1,422%

I love this design because it’s SO eye-catching. Plus, the bold headline really communicates to most people who want to be smart with their money (Don’t gamble with your taxes!) Not to mention a sweet 30%-off special offer… I’d call for that!

But, I saved the best for last…














Mailing list: A house list of previous clients and current prospects

Mailing schedule: 2,500 mailed to just one time

Campaign results: 358 responses, 180 new clients, generating $62,000 in revenue

ROI: 2,387%

Here is a design that a client of ours provided and insisted on sending. While this is not a design that my creative department would ever compose for you, who can argue with $62,000 generated??

And although this postcard design may not win any design awards, it got the best results of all 3 because:

  • They targeted people who knew and trusted them already
  • They used a larger postcard (6”x 8.5” vs. 4”x6”)
  • And they wrote their copy in Spanish for their clientele.

Did you notice anything about all 3 of these campaigns? It’s a bit of a trick question because each one is vastly different from the others, but here’s what I really want you to know:

KEY TAKEAWAY: There’s NO one-size-fits-all approach with your marketing. All of these campaigns were different, because they were tailored to that practice.

But here’s that ONE BIG TRUTH I promised at the beginning of the article that all of these campaigns have in common…

They did this:

Segment your market and target, target, target!

The truth is:

Your services can help everyone. We all have to file taxes. But a blanket approach may not be the best use of your marketing dollar.

PostcardMania has helped over 2,000 professional tax preparers and CPAs with their marketing, and what we’ve found from those who have had success is that targeting is the #1 differentiating factor between campaigns.

Here’s what else our proprietary data tells us:

There are 3 existing markets that work best for tax preparation targeting…

  1. High Income Consumers
  2. Low Income Consumers
  3. Your Client Data Base

And here’s what works best for each of those markets.

  1. High Income Consumers: This is the most difficult group to get a response from, but successful campaigns focus on a moderate discount and the quality of the tax preparation. Here are a couple good examples of what I mean:
  • Messaging such as “get the guaranteed highest legal amount of deductions possible!”
  • 15%-25% OFF Professional Tax Preparation
  1. Low Income Consumers: These consumers are the most price sensitive and respond better to higher discounts and offers, as well as refund-heavy messaging. Here’s a few ideas:
  • Headlines like this one: “New tax laws have been passed —don’t miss out on new savings/deductions!”
  • 25%-50% or $30 OFF Tax Preparation
  • Scratch-offs also work well
  1. Client Data Base: Any of the above will work, depending on who your database consists of. Sending a reminder postcard to file taxes with you and a single offer will work well to reactive these consumers.

What’s important is that each campaign is appropriately targeted and timed.

If you’re targeting your own list but mailing through a USPS-certified bulk mail house like PostcardMania (because you can save on postage that way), make sure any mailing list vendor you work with scrubs your list of bad addresses and relocated consumers. You don’t want to waste marketing money on mailing to bad addresses.

If targeting new prospects and potential clients, it’s important to verify that your list provider ensures 90% deliverability on your postcards. If they aren’t willing to guarantee 90% of their addresses, it likely means that they don’t trust their list vendors — so why should you? At PostcardMania, we guarantee 90% deliverability AND refund you whatever amount over 10% is not deliverable.

I also advise that you work with a direct mail specialist directly. There are so many moving parts in a postcard campaign that it’s easy to get one wrong and blow your entire budget!

That is always one of my worst fears… a business owner finally tries postcards, gets it wrong and declares, “Postcards: been there, done that — they don’t work!”

That’s why PostcardMania works off of direct business owner consultations. We work with each of our clients personally to make sure every campaign is tailored to their business, their location and their ideal market.

If you really want to market above your competition, consider running coordinated ads online and on Facebook. This gives your prospects the perception that your tax practice is on-the-ball and EVERYWHERE — which is exactly what you want!

Because when your marketing reaches key prospects everywhere —

  • in their homes with direct mail,
  • on MILLIONS of websites worldwide with Google follow-up ads
  • AND on their Facebook news feeds,

— your prospects won’t forget you anytime soon, and they’ll be MUCH more likely to choose you when they’re ready to file their taxes.

We can help you achieve this massive multi-platform marketing with our Everywhere Small Business program so you don’t have to lift a finger, but instead, you can focus on filing taxes and helping all your new clients.

Here’s what an Everywhere Small Business Campaign could look like for the second campaign above:

Regardless of whether or not you use PostcardMania, I want you to use this information to market your tax preparation services effectively!

That’s why I’ve shared all of PostcardMania’s own proprietary data with you — so you can use it to bring in new business and expand YOUR business. That is my ultimate goal, because small businesses growing and expanding helps all of us.

If you reach out to us, you’ll receive a personalized consultation tailoring your marketing campaign to your practice, your area, your goals, and your ideal clientele. And it’s FREE. There is no obligation to buy from us to receive this personalized consultation. I have 35 trained direct mail specialists that can assist you. Call them anytime at 855-549-1313.

You can also take a look at our gallery of tax preparation postcard designs for inspiration.

Here’s to a profitable and booming 2018!



Friday, December 15, 2017

2018 State Taxes Not Deductible in 2017

Tax reform will likely result in individuals not able to claim an itemized deduction for all of their state taxes.  It looks like the final bill will only allow up to $10,000 of a combination of real property taxes and state income taxes. Some practitioners and taxpayers have wondered if individuals can prepay their 2018 state income taxes by 12/31/17 and claim a deduction in 2017 before the new law kicks in on 1/1/18 (assuming enacted).

The answer, I believe, is no.  At 12/31/17, you have no 2018 state tax liability because 2018 hasn't started yet. In contrast, if your property taxes were assessed in 2017 but you can pay them over installments in 2017 and 2018, you can pay the 2018 installment in 2017 and claim the deduction because it is truly a 2017 liability. Also, your fourth quarter estimated payment for your 2017 state income taxes is usually due 1/15/18, but can be paid in 2017. That is still fine and people will want to consider doing so, but must consider the 2017 AMT effect which might result in no tax benefit.  That 4th quarter estimate needs to be reasonable. That is, you can't make a very large 4th quarter payment for 2017 knowing you'll get a refund of it in 2018 (see Revenue Ruling 82-208).

We have AMT in 2017 and for many individuals, they won't get a state tax deduction because they will owe alternative minimum tax where you don't get to deduct your state taxes.

For a great explanation of the tax technical reasons why individuals can't deduct 2018 state tax estimates in 2017, please see the following article by Kip Dellinger and Chris Hesse, CPAs:


Mileage tax deduction rates for 2018 bumped up a bit

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Are You a Connector?

Have you heard of the philosophy “Givers Gain”? It’s a BNI principle based on the law of reciprocity. Networking should be an important part of your business. It’s a tried and true way to build your network, spread the word about your company, and essentially gain new clients.

You’ve likely encountered a number of different approaches to networking. Some people work the room in an attempt to get business cards in everyone’s hands, some people focus on meeting and talking to certain people, and some people just go with the flow. While there are different approaches to networking, there’s one approach we’ve found to be extremely effective – being a connector.

A connector is someone who always has a recommendation and is always willing to offer up an introduction to someone who might help your business grow. They have a huge network of people and are always willing to help.

Not only is helping people awesome. Helping other people helps you, because generally, those people will reciprocate your generosity. 

5 Benefits of Being a ConnectorBe-a-connector

1. You have a big network

Connectors are always developing relationships. They have a huge network of people which means LOTS of people know who they are and what they do.

2. You are THE person

When someone needs a referral, they come to you. That makes you a trusted advisor and someone who is always at the forefront of people’s minds.

3. “Givers Gain”

When you adopt a giving philosophy and focus on giving business to your fellow networkers, people naturally become eager to repay your kindness by sending business your way in return.

4. It makes networking easier

If striking up conversation makes you feel uneasy, take the connector approach. It’s easier to introduce two people who may not know each other but would be good connections for each other.

5. It’s good for you

Studies show that giving is good for the giver. It boosts your mental and physical health, it makes you more mindful and appreciative, and it’s fulfilling.

Try being a connect and you’ll reap the benefits!



Tax bill's $10,000 deduction cap to include state and local income and sales taxes, too