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Lifelong Customers From Sharing Your Knowledge

Aug 17, 2007
I just put down the phone (well actually we were talking on Skype) after a 30 minute discussion with my new tax advisor, and I am so overwhelmed by the integrity of the man I was speaking to, I felt I just had to write an article about my experience.

My prior experience with tax consultants had been tainted by poor advice, and in particular paying for an "expert" to research subjects in which he should already have a fair level of expertise.

~ A Little Prior History ~

As an example, at one of my previous companies, we were having some problems relating to corporate withholding tax, specifically in relation to licensing of computer games to publishers internationally.
We were already taking legal advice, and our legal firm had their own specialists. In an effort to do "due dilligence" we also approached a multinational tax consultation specialist for a second opinion.

A fee was fixed for this secondary consultation, and the information provided was totally unrelated to the problems we were facing.
After clarifying exactly what we were looking for, and negotiating another fee for in-depth research (they needed to consult partners in another office), we received an updated report on the action we should take.

This report was again useless to our current situation. They outlined a few possible scenarios about how we should arrange our financial relationships in future, without addressing our current problems, and without taking into account standard business practices in the computer games industry.

Fortunately our lawyers really did know what they were talking about, and their tax specialists were top rate. We won our legal and taxation dispute, and whilst I can't remember exact figures, their action probably saved / recovered more than $300,000.

~ Back to the Present Day ~

I was looking for a personal tax advisor. My tax situation is quite complicated, thus I was looking for someone who could demonstrate they knew what they were talking about.

I wrote emails to 4 companies, and also one individual who ran a website providing information on tax law.

I started receiving email replies from the 4 companies. In every case, the companies asked further questions, mentioned their consulting fees if they were to undertake further research, and suggested they might be able to help me.

The individual who ran the website wrote back and said he was travelling, but would get back to me in a few days with a reply.

Now rather than continuing my conversation with the tax consultation companies, I waited for a reply from the gentleman who ran the website. Webmasters are quite often extremely busy, and my situation might require a fair amount of research.

A week or so later I followed up my initial equiry, and the next day I received an email reply that compared to the previous replies, gave me what I could only describe as a warm glow.

~ Share Your Knowledge ~

First of all I should point out that the webmaster was a highly qualified tax consultant in his own right. A true specialist, who had chosen to share his in-depth knowledge via a website rather than charge hefty consultation feeds.

The email he sent me provided valuable insights into my own situation. He still asked a multitude of questions so that he could refine his answer to me, but along with the questions, he also explained why it was important to provide the additional information.

Where possible, he gave specific examples of how different circumstances could affect my taxation situation.

He didn't ask for any money (though on his website there is a clear suggestion of what type of fees to expect)

He suggested an immediate follow-up phone call to discuss my specific situation, and clarify certain facts.

~ Prove Your Expertise ~

There is no better way to win life-long customers than to give quality information for free.
During our phone conversation, he continued to share his knowledge and advice.
I was finally compelled to initiate a conversation to discuss fees or maybe a retainer. It hadn't been discussed and he had already provided more information than I could reasonably expect for the small fees mentioned on his website.
He explained to me that he doesn't work on a retainer. The only fee would be the modest one, and it would only be payable once he had submitted a full written report in a few days time.

~ How to Win Customers for Life ~

In whatever capacity this gentleman is able to help me in the future, he has already won a customer for life.
An initial consultation quite often takes up a lot more time than ongoing consultation to refine the initial strategy.

He has sacrificed a little time in order to assure me of his competence, and at the same time we have already established a good working relationship.

~ Conclusion ~

I hope this real life example demonstrates the power of sharing what you know, whether on your own website properties, via article syndication, or even a bricks & mortar establishment.
About the Author
Andy Beard has worked in Sales, Marketing and Localization for the last 15 years.
He now spends his time creating content sites ( niche marketing ), and writing about the techniques he uses.
Artur M.Brzezinski websites include PIT (.pl) & VAT (.pl), and he has details of polish tax advice in english.
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