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?