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Marketing on a budget: Advice for small businesses

Also: When an accountant promises tax savings that seem too good to be true.

June 28, 2010|By Karen E. Klein

Dear Karen: Can you suggest budget marketing techniques?

Answer: Form a marketing partnership with a business that already reaches your target customers. "Results can be impressive, because you come in as a trusted partner of an established brand, and it costs you nothing," said Shel Horowitz, coauthor of "Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green."

You can also join forces with other small companies to form a larger marketing entity, Horowitz said. Social media is essentially free and you can use it to build long-term relationships with potential customers as well as to announce promotions and new products.

Be careful of accountant

Dear Karen: I talked to an accountant who promised me big tax savings. What if his tactics are questionable?

Answer: Like anything else, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Choose an accountant who specializes in small business, and check references. Abusive tax preparers may inflate deductions and charitable donations or claim ineligible tax credits. These people may be skimming clients' refunds or charging inflated fees. If they get indicted, every return they prepared gets federally audited.

The IRS is cracking down on tax-return preparer fraud, according to the Better Business Bureau. Federal courts have issued injunctions ordering hundreds of individuals to cease preparing returns and promoting fraud, and the U.S. Department of Justice has filed complaints against dozens of others, which are pending in court.

Small-business questions? E-mail Karen at smallbiz@latimes.com

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