Host a “Welcome to Tax Season” Celebration
"The Bruce Dickinson" (Christopher Walken) delivering the iconic phrase "...more cowbell!" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As we enter one of the most anticipated times of the year, why not host a celebration to mark its arrival? You know, show the business community that you are excited about this special season.
“Are you C-R-A-Z-Y?” you might be asking. It’s tax time. Parties are just not what we do right now.
This year, maybe it’s time for a change. Do something different. Welcome the arrival of tax season with clients and friends of the firm. After all, it’s your time to shine. Embrace your place in the spotlight.
Take a tip from movie producers and best-selling authors who hold premiere parties when they release new films and books. Believe it or not, there are a number of strategies that you can adapt from their attention grabbing events. Even though your firm isn’t likely to have such an extravagant budget, you can achieve the same results with a simple gathering. It’s all about getting your audience excited! Not to mention spreading the word about your firm with viral conversation starters such as “Guess where I’m going tonight?” or “You will never believe who threw such a great party last evening.”
- Identify an event planning team. Keep it small. Three or four is ideal. Include your office manager, marketing professionals and key rainmakers. Ask for volunteers to help plan too.
- Decide on the type of gathering. Work around your budget and office space. Host the kind of event that fits your firm and your clients. Consider a coffee and dessert party, a more traditional open house with hors d’oeuvres or even a movie premiere-style affair with an old fashioned popcorn machine and movie candy. If your office space is limited, select a nearby venue.
- Pick a date. Identify a time before things get too busy. Tuesdays and Thursdays are generally the best days for a gathering. Late afternoon is ideal, say 4 to 6 p.m. Two to three hours should be ample.
- Identify your guest list. Invite all the people you want to see during tax season. Include clients, referral sources, business and community leaders, accounting professors and accounting program alumni. Encourage new business by including top prospects. Don’t forget the local press. They can help spread your positive message.
- Give tours. One of the best ways to involve your clients is to show them around your office. This is a great way to tell your firm’s story and let them know what’s new for this tax season. Highlight new developments in easy to understand terms. Help them appreciate the impact tax season will have on them this year. Find out what’s on their minds. Look for opportunities to introduce visitors to people on your team. In addition, introduce them to other guests.
- Award prizes. Everyone loves to get free stuff! Hand out fun buttons with your firm’s tax season mantra such as “I Love Tax Season,” “Tax Time: Our Time to Shine” or “Tax Season: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Hold drawings every 30 minutes during the event. Give away firm branded logo items. Build up to a grand prize such as an iPad, a gift card for a nice restaurant or a shopping spree.
- Encourage guests to stay connected. Throughout the affair, encourage your visitors to stay connected. Invite them to read your blog, sign up for your e-newsletter, connect on LinkedIn and “Like” the firm on Facebook. It is also a good idea to have signs with information about your firm posted throughout the office. Even a simple card or brochure with the details about your firm that your guests can take along when they leave.
- Debrief, follow up. Gather your team the next day for a short meeting to debrief the event. Review comments and key conversations. Discuss items needing follow up. Assign individuals to make necessary calls and take appropriate actions. Are there prospects you need to visit? Who do you need to add to e-newsletter lists? Who should receive LinkedIn invitations? Don’t forget to post pictures of the event on your Facebook page.
This year, welcome tax season with open arms. Celebrate the start of this ever important time of the year with clients, friends of the firm and the business community. Let your enthusiasm be contagious.
What else can help you make a connection with clients and prospects during tax season? The AICPA’s Tax Practitioner’s Toolkit. It provides helpful resources for CPAs to communicate their value and market their services. In addition, resources available through the AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section, can help your firm make the best out of busy season, from planning events to motivate your staff to scheduling productive meetings with clients.
Tracy Crevar Warren, President and CEO, The Crevar Group LLC. Tracy is an expert and pioneer in the field of accounting marketing, business development and practice growth. Along with the AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section, she recently published The Best of the 60 Second Advisor e-book, which is included free with the e-MAP: Management of an Accounting Practice Handbook.