SOTTILE: Business Articles
Taxing Problem
Seats of Power
Power of Risk
Extreme Entrepreneurs
Bottom Up vs Top Down
Axis Power
Pomp & Circumstance
Easing The Pain Of Loss
Devastating Disarmament
Classic Close Calls
Major League Slump
Sales vs Mgmt Income
Contracts: The Bottom Line
PR Lessons From Space
Sexual Healing
Marketing Triggers
Hoist Up Your Sales
Navigational Sales Aids
Taxing Problem
King Of The Hill
Creatives In Conflict
Fathers & Mothers
Fallacy Of Composition
"Tele" Marketing
MHT "Tele" Marketing
User Groups
High Tech Retirement
My current comments about this article:

Step By Step Solution To A Taxing Problem

Taxing Problem - Simple Solution - You Owe! 


If I say Form 1040, you know what I'm talking about. If

I say Notice 557, you wonder what I'm saying. Yet, Notice

557 instructs taxpayers who needs to file Form 1040... It's

a piece of work! (See insert).

Each year, I marvel at this graphic gem for its

neatness, for its inadvertent humor (all but one arrow leads

to "File a Return"), and most importantly for its ability to

put "teeth" into the phrase, แ ๐้

What a symbolic marvel! Hundreds of IRS Code pages

schematically represented onto one 8 1/2" X 11" page called

Notice 557. ิ่

One may argue that it probably cost taxpayers millions

of consulting dollars to end up with Notice 557. And one may

also argue that its comprehension is significantly raised by

the threat of penalties, interest and even jail. But there

can be no argument on the Service's accomplishment in

providing a decision tree which the general public can

comprehend and accurately act upon.


Maybe it's due to Halley's Comet; or, maybe it's due to

the volumes of incomprehensible mail that we all now receive.

But in the past couple of months, I have met increasing

numbers of companies who have relegated or are relegating

direct mail to the conceptually simple and straightforward

products and services.. The negative statements "it can't be

done," or "we've tried direct mail and failed" are on the

There seems to be three classes of problems with much of

the direct mail success: Too much literature. Too little

literature. Or, too complex literature.

Since others have argued the merits of short vs long

copy and few vs multiple inserts to a stand-off, my concern

is with the complex, for herein lies the potential to save

buckets of bucks while building recognition and revenue.

There is nothing more expensive and time consuming than

having a human being accompany a piece of literature in order

to explain its meaning. Moreover, there is nothing more

exasperating than having to backtrack on the sales campaign

due to a prospect's cognitive derailment because of ambiguous


Bluebirds and perpetual prospects aside, there normally

is an average number of selling iterations that occur on the

way to closing a sale. Some products require two

interactions, some five, others ten, etc. The key for each

company or product manager is to identify this number and

work to reduce the need for expensive, time consuming, face-

to-face selling in each one of these iterations. Yet despite

the cost, it continually happens that humans must follow

literature to explain its meaning.


It's been said before in this column that selling is a

blend of motivating, negotiating and educating. The last,

education, is where much of direct mail meets its death.

This is so because education requires a building block

approach when in fact many companies want to pour concrete in

their direct mail efforts. (If you have been around a

construction site when they're forcing the concrete into

forms, you may have witnessed a forms "blow-out" for the same


Because we all have barriers to comprehension, it is

essential to structure a lead generation/prospect development

campaign so as to hurdle these mental blocks through a

structured building block approach... just like self-paced

instruction. Few can handle the poured concrete approach.



The goal... to integrate education into the decision

process. There are three lesson plans. They are...

ฬๅ๓๓๏๎ ะ์แ๎ ฃฑ introduces the purchase of the product,

service or concept, itself, regardless of vendor. It

addresses the question, "Should I buy into this

product/service/concept at all". The goal of Lesson #1 is to

build awareness which in creative selling (as opposed to

order taking) is essential to leading the prospect to

believing that s/he should adopt this new idea or

technology... Whatever label one calls this curriculum

(i.e., generic, non-partisan or even public service) it's

primarily conceptual. We're building awareness and value in

the concept. At the end of this lesson, a prospect should be

able to visualize himself or herself enjoying the benefits

the of the proposed product/service.

Notice 557 provides this lesson very well; it builds

awareness of the filing requirement. The feature of this

awareness is that you will be complying with the tax laws.

And the benefit is that you will not be assessed interest,

penalties, or a jail term.

ฬๅ๓๓๏๎ ะ์แ๎ ฃฒ introduces bias... a bias for a

particular product or service, for the company behind it, for

its understanding of the problem, for its approach to a

solution and its ability to provide it. By now, the

altruistic motives of the first lesson plan are gone.

Feature/benefit statements, A vs B comparisons, and "bang for

the buck" claims abound in this lesson. This education is

definitely product/service and company oriented. It

addresses the question, "Should I buy this particular

product/service?" At the end of Lesson #2 prospects should

be positively prejudiced toward the company's offer. When

your enemies are successful at teaching this lesson, you

accuse them of brainwashing.

It might seem to be stretching it to say that Form 1040

fulfills this function, but it does. Through Form 1040's

structured approach and use of sub Schedules, a taxpayer is

able to determine the correct tax owed. It should take little

imagination to see how a similar worksheet for an A vs B

comparison could also lead a prospect to determine the

correct product/service to purchase.

ฬๅ๓๓๏๎ ะ์แ๎ ฃณ educates the prospect regarding the

timeliness of making the decision... N-O-W. If Lesson Plans

#1 and #2 were well prepared, some of Lesson #3 should

already be accomplished. However, many confuse this

educational timeliness with motivational timeliness. They

are usually diametrically opposed. Educational timeliness

builds price through value (i.e., a product is worth its

price because of its benefits, return on investment, etc.).

Motivational timeliness tends to build value through price

(i.e., sale ends at midnight --buy now -- it's a good value).

Lesson #3 addresses the question, "Why should I buy at this

time?" At the end of this Lesson, there should be a


Through the Instructions to Form 1040, the IRS provides

all of the motivational timeliness necessary. Pay or we'll

penalize. Interestingly however, the IRS also takes TV and

radio ads to encourage your filing early to make productive

use of a refund. That's educational timeliness at its best.


Well, there are the three Lesson Plans. And as the IRS

has proven, they can be taught through direct mail literature

and advertising.

Whether these lessons are introduced separately or

together depends upon the audience, competitive pressures and

personal preference. My preference is to teach each lesson

separately with trial closes during recesses. Unlike dealing

with the IRS where the burden is on the taxpayer to read and

obey the arrows of Notice 557, in selling, the burden is on

the instructor to entice the reader to follow the pathway to

a close. And the surest journey is made step by step and

block by block.

Sottile's Winning Action Team
Tactical Marketing Agency

"Marketing Tactics Make Corporate Strategies Happen!"
                                                                   John David Sottile