Whether you support it or abhor it, the tax reform legislation just passed by the Republican Congress and signed into law by President Trump will profoundly impact just about every American individual, business and institution, but in different ways.
For example, homeowners in high-tax states such as New York, where I live, will only be able to deduct a small portion of their state and local taxes. Lower federal income tax rates and a higher standard deduction are not likely to offset the lost deductions, which in many cases will run to the tens of thousands of dollars. I.e. my wife and I will probably see our taxes go up. In a low-tax state, such as Alabama or Nebraska, we’d probably be looking forward to more money in our paychecks.
The enormous changes under the new law create marketing opportunities for professional and financial service providers who can position themselves as knowledgeable experts by communicating about how the new law will impact businesses and individuals and how to plan for it. Among those most affected are likely to be institutions of higher learning and other non-profits. They might need new strategies to appeal to donors who, because they will be paying lower taxes, will have less incentive to give.
Because of the rushed manner in which the law was passed, many of the details are not known. Even though the President has signed the bill, which puts it into law, it will be a while before the Treasury Department and IRS issue the rules by which it will enforced. Tax professionals need to quickly learn as much as they can about the new law in order to assess what it means to their clients. Accountants, in particular, have a short window of opportunity because tax preparation season is rapidly approaching.
How can you incorporate the new law into your marketing strategy? First and foremost, don’t try to become an expert on all facets of the law. It’s too big and too broad, and there isn’t a lot of time to learn it. Focus on those sections most likely to affect youger clients and/or people or organizations you want as clients.
You will need a marketing and communications plan to let people know of your expertise. Decide who you want to target and establish objectives, e.g. raise visibility, generate leads, etc. An array of tactics is available to you. Choose and incorporate into your plan those that best reach your target audience, can deliver your message(s) in a consistent way and you are comfortable with. Here are some vehicles to consider:
Media interviews can put you in front of a large audience of potential clients. However, journalists can be hard to reach. Make yourself known to those who matter to your audience and available when they need an expert to turn to. Getting quoted in Tier One media outlets such as “The New York Times” or “Wall Street Journal” is a tremendous coup, but if your market is a specialized field, an interview with a respected trade journalist can be just as influential.
Writing for the media
Op-eds, letters to the editor, and bylined articles also create great visibility. However, the odds of getting an unsolicited piece published can be long. Public relations practitioners sometimes use the terms “op-ed” and “bylined article’ interchangeably. There are significant differences, however. Bylined articles tend to run longer and the content is more technical in nature.
While an op-ed expresses an opinion on an issue and suggests a solution to a problem, a bylined article might, for instance, analyze a new product or service to assess its suitability or legal ramifications. One caveat: In some industries, media outlets do not accept articles from consultants and vendors.
Client newsletters, white papers and other “owned media,” such as websites, are great vehicles for reaching current and prospective clients directly. You also can share them quickly and broadly via social media. While they don’t carry the authority of a respected newspaper, magazine or radio program, they enable you to deliver your message unfiltered.
Like with traditional media, your approach toward social media needs to be targeted. If you are a B-2-B marketer, you will want to be on LinkedIn, where not only can you network, but you can publish and share content, and comment in bulletin boards related to your field. Twitter is a great vehicle for quickly sharing news or opinion, but be prepared for blowback from people who disagree with you. The trolls can get nasty.
If you can speak to a topic for a half hour or longer, you will have opportunities to share your thinking with people who need help. If you can do that and keep your audience engaged you will look brilliant. Among the venues to approach are chambers of commerce, service organizations such as Kiwanis and Rotary, and social affiliates of churches, synagogues and mosques, i.e. Men’s Clubs, Knight of Columbus. If you target businesses, offer to speak at industry conferences and seminars.
No matter which vehicles you incorporate into your marketing and communications strategy, your content needs to be accessible, logical and compelling since you will be addressing complicated topics such as tax law and financial planning. A communications consultant who can write clear, concise content on complex topics that is on target with your audience can be a true partner in creating value for your organization.