Some online businesses are simply the web presence of an established business. Some are the product of a person wanting to make money online. Others, like today’s example, are the result of an individual or company’s seeing a problem they can help solve, and developing the solution online.
STP Group is a tax technology group — a company focusing very specifically on software for tax professionals. They watched the complications of state sales tax filing grow as states seeking new revenue sources turned to the internet. The combination of lower consumer confidence in a shaky economy and the growth of ecommerce put states in a bind. We’re all supposed to pay sales tax on our internet purchases, but in practice most of us figure that online shopping is a way to save on sales tax. States, seeing this, determined to figure out a way to get their piece of the pie.
Tax pros call this issue “nexus,” and as state laws changed, e-tailers faced complications. Each state collects sales tax in different ways, with different forms, rules, and processes. As long as a store only had to pay its own state tax, this didn’t matter. Now, a company may have established nexus in a number of states, and will be required to register and file taxes in all those states. Noel Hamm of STP Group assures me that states aren’t out to get small businesses — they have their eye on the sales tax on things like airplanes purchased online or the revenue of giant etailers like Amazon — but the cost and complication can be daunting. STP Group saw that software which could simplify this process at a price small businesses could afford was needed, and they decided that they were the guys to fill this need.
They took the very sensible step of figuring out just who needed this software, and came up with Betty, an accountant for a small to medium company with an IT department and just one accountant. Betty doesn’t want to have to go to IT, she wants to maintain control over her own files, and she doesn’t have a fortune to pay for complicated software that she won’t be able to use without help — see the desire to maintain control of those files.
Noel wrote up some notes on the product, told me all about Betty, and let me write up something for Betty, Google, and Bing, which sounds a lot like a 1940s musical group: girl, comic, and crooner. Actually, it’s a sensible strategy. Instead of saying, “I’ve got some stuff — let’s make people want it,” STP group said, “We have stuff some particular people want — let’s write and tell them about it.”
This allowed us not only to use the keywords the audience will search for, but also to use the phrases that will resonate with them once they arrive: “Take back control,” “a solution you can handle yourself,” “You’re in control,” “test drive it in your own work environment.” We’re talking right to the people who need this.
Can you do the same?