How Tax Preparation Brands Connect With Taxpayers During Tax Season

Con­tent from tax prepa­ra­tion brands seeks to both inform and com­fort ner­vous and/or con­fused con­sumers.

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Here’s a look at two major tax prepa­ra­tion brands and their strate­gies for the 2015 tax sea­son.

The Fun/Humorous Approach: H&R Block

For its part, tax prep brand H&R Block cre­at­ed a series of videos with actor George Takei that takes a humor­ous look at the com­plex­i­ty of the tax code, Odes to the Code.

Accord­ing to Kel­li Ramey, H&R Block’s vice pres­i­dent of adver­tis­ing, social and cre­ative ser­vices, the series was an idea the brand came up with to poke fun at the tax code while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly demon­strat­ing H&R Block’s exper­tise.

Fur­ther, as of March 30, which is when H&R Block post­ed the videos, Ramey notes one-third of Amer­i­cans still had not filed their tax­es.

There are dif­fer­ent rea­sons peo­ple wait, but one we hear is about com­plex­i­ty, so we decid­ed, ‘Let’s just go with the code,’” Ramey said. “It’s such a bizarre and obscure lan­guage and we know it, so that’s why we decid­ed to [do] some­thing [that demon­strates] we’re proud of what we know.”

H&R Block chose to release all of the videos at once because they’re fun to watch as a series and “they’re so sil­ly that you watch one and then want to see anoth­er,” she adds.

Per YouTube, the five videos gen­er­at­ed about 18,000 views.

Our social strat­e­gy is about inform­ing and enter­tain­ing,” Ramey said. “It’s not a top­ic peo­ple get excit­ed about, but there are so many inter­est­ing pieces of it. We’re giv­ing tips, help­ful infor­ma­tion, cus­tomer service…and some of it is about hav­ing fun with diff bits of tax code…the idea of tax­es feels icky, but it touch­es every sin­gle one of us and our per­son­al lives, so we attack it with humor.”

The cam­paign also includes a 15-sec­ond online spot the brand used in pre-roll and online buys and Takei has also post­ed the videos to his 1.6 mil­lion Twit­ter fol­low­ers.

The Calming/Comforting Approach: TurboTax

For its part, Tur­b­o­Tax asked con­sumers to share pho­tos on Insta­gram or Twit­ter with the hash­tag #File­andSmile to demon­strate “how they felt when they filed their tax­es.”

Per Chris­tine Mor­ri­son, group man­ag­er of social strat­e­gy and dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Tur­b­o­Tax par­ent Intu­it, about 1,000 peo­ple had sub­mit­ted images as of April 10.

The brand has also made a con­cert­ed effort to ensure it is avail­able to answer con­sumers’ tax ques­tions.

Each year we see ever more con­sumers turn to social media plat­forms like Face­book and Twit­ter for help with ques­tions about their tax­es. We have a ded­i­cat­ed group of cus­tomer care agents who are spe­cial­ly trained to delight cus­tomers in these medi­ums,” Mor­ri­son said. “Even though some of the most dif­fi­cult cas­es arise in social chan­nels, the social care team has the high­est cus­tomer rec­om­men­da­tion rate of any care team across the entire Tur­b­o­Tax orga­ni­za­tion – because they don’t stop at resolv­ing questions…their goal is turn­ing peo­ple into Tur­b­o­Tax pro­mot­ers.”

In addi­tion, she said “it’s all hands on deck” dur­ing the final days of tax sea­son in which “lead­ers and employ­ees from across the com­pa­ny will be respond­ing to cus­tomer ques­tions.”

Fur­ther, Mor­ri­son notes that the brand mon­i­tors social chan­nels through­out tax sea­son to “delight peo­ple talk­ing about our brand with a lit­tle sur­prise.”

You know, it’s fun­ny because it’s one of those things – you know it’s com­ing and you have to do it and every­body dreads it,” said Jason Chan, group direc­tor of mobile and social plat­form at RGA. “Tur­b­o­Tax rec­og­nizes that real­ly well…what they’ve done well is to take a friend­ly and infor­ma­tive approach to essen­tial­ly answer­ing ques­tions you might have as well as assuag­ing fears.”

The brand also includes pos­i­tive mes­sag­ing that it deliv­ers to con­sumers when they have fin­ished their tax­es, which turns it into a more fun expe­ri­ence. And while Chan said he’s not sure how many con­sumers actu­al­ly share TurboTax’s pro­posed social mes­sages to cel­e­brate that they have filed their tax­es, he notes the brand makes it super-easy to do.

Tur­b­o­Tax also does a good job of keep­ing things sim­ple with an easy-to-use yes-and-no ques­tion for­mat that “takes the com­plex top­ic of doing tax­es and makes it a series of ques­tions any­body can answer,” Chan said. “The over­all approach and atti­tude is calm­ing and reas­sur­ing. They under­stand there is a lot of trep­i­da­tion about the tax code that changes…and they’ve done a good job of demys­ti­fy­ing it and mak­ing it super-sim­ple.”

What do you think of the mar­ket­ing efforts from H&R Block and Tur­b­o­Tax?

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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