If you are a tax preparation professional, it is quickly becoming that time of year when you need to start thinking about how to get profitable new clients to know, like, and trust you. Here are 6 marketing tips that you can start working on now so you can enjoy your most profitable tax season ever.

1. Have something unique to say – How will you tell your market that you are different from the hundreds (thousands?) of other tax practices who say they do what you do?

I will tell you how not to say you are different. Reasonable rates and years of experience are not differentiators – they are table stakes. If you cannot stand out from the crowd, you will be forced to compete solely on price – not a good place to be in the day of Internet based tax preparation services.

2. Have a specific audience in mind – This goes hand-in-hand with #1. If you can be the "go to" tax specialist for a certain group of people, people with a particular need or problem, your job as a marketer becomes easier. Remember that trying to be all things to all people will make you special to no one.

3. Update your web site – You do have a web site, don't you? While you might not gain new tax clients just because you have a web site, chances are you will lose potential clients if you don't. Your web site is often the first point of contact with a potential client – don't drive prospects away with a web site full of outdated content.

Do you have a blog? Posting tips and tricks, explanations of changes in the tax law, and how those changes impact your ideal customers is a great way to demonstrate your expertise.

4. Make sure people can find your web site – Recent research shows 70% of American adults use the Internet as an information source when shopping locally for goods and services. In addition to optimizing your web site with keywords that are important to your ideal customers, make sure that your site is registered in the local search engines.

5. Have a referral system in place – While most tax accountants admit that referrals played a key role in growing their tax practice, few of them have a system in place for consistently generating referrals. Create your one page referral plan and identify your potential strategic partners before tax season begins.

6. Create a marketing calendar – Success in marketing comes from doing simple things consistently. Set appointments with yourself to work on your marketing. Give these appointments the same respect you give appointments with your most important clients – that means no rescheduling at the last minute and no phone call interruptions.

Bill Brelsford Small Business Marketing Consultant