It’s an age-old dilemma – should I call a professional for help or can I do it myself? We face this question every day when making repairs in our homes, planning a party, and even when choosing our own hair color.
Well, tax season is here and some of us find ourselves facing that familiar question – do I need a professional or can I just do it myself? This year, two tax service providers take opposite sides of the argument for their advertising platforms in the first half of 2014.
H&R Block debuted its “Get Your Billion Back America” campaign during the Golden Globes and NFL Playoff games. The campaign brings back Richard Gartland, the friendly faced, bow-tied tax advisor from the 2013 campaigns, to show America exactly what a billion dollars looks like – and let us know that those who did their own taxes last year left a billion dollars unclaimed.
TurboTax takes a very different approach. The “Year of You” campaign kicked off during the Rose Bowl and shares a montage of life’s moments and asks a seemingly obvious question, “You did a lot this year, and nobody knows that better than you. So why let somebody else do your taxes?”
What both brands do exceptionally well this year is storytelling. Tax season has never been as beloved as, say, the holiday season – and many people find filing taxes to be a miserable experience. Over the past few years, tax service providers have strived to change feelings around preparing taxes from stress, confusion and intimidation to empowerment, excitement, and even nostalgia.
H&R Block’s story starts with a little bit of shock value ($500 on every seat in every football stadium in America!) before quickly presenting the friendly tax advisor who will help us get our billion dollars back. The message is targeted directly at those who filed taxes on their own last year by inciting a little bit of embarrassment (whoops, did I do that?) but leaves the audience with a strong and exciting call-to-action, let’s get our billion back! The story is simple, direct and most of all it is emotional: forgiving and empowering the audience.
TurboTax’s story goes straight for our heart. The ads share snapshots of our own lives – having a baby, getting married, buying a house – complete with candid video imagery and a casual voiceover that sounds like our best friend (Think about March. Something happened in March. I don’t know what, but you know. You were the one who did it). The approach is less targeted, and attempts to reach all audiences with its final message that nobody knows us (or our tax history) better than ourselves. The story is personal, sentimental, and, again emotional: of course I can do it myself!
Financial services brands fall into a unique category of marketing where the product may be directly focused on the consumer, but there isn’t always an easy emotional connection with the audience. Many financial brands also sell products and services that seem complex or intimidating to the average person – like investment management, mortgage lending, or even tax preparation. Successful storytelling can help brands connect the dots for their audience by humanizing products and services and breathing life, and emotion, into what could be an otherwise cold transaction
Storytelling can be a key to success for any financial services brand, it’s just a matter of finding what your story is and understanding how that story can help people connect with you. And regardless of which side of the do-it-yourself argument you fall on, we can all agree that this year, H&R Block and TurboTax are shining examples of financial brand storytelling at its best.