25th - 26th SEPTEMBER 2019  |  OLYMPIA

H&R Block CMO on getting more personal with its marketing and sitting out the Super Bowl

Ad Age 09 Aug 2019 08:00

It’s August, the dog days of summer. Most people are thinking about a summer vacation, or maybe back-to-school season—not Tax Day, which is still eight months away. But Vinoo Vijay, chief marketing office of H&R Block, gets paid to think about taxes all year long. 

On the newest edition of Ad Age’s Marketer’s Brief podcast, he reveals what he’s doing in the offseason. It mostly involves putting marketing in place to recruit part-time tax professionals, whom H&R Block must have in place by October. Right now, the company is deploying digital, radio and print ads in a move to find about 30,000 people it needs to hire, he says. “Like finance and flexible hours? Professional tax prep may be for you,” states one of the ads.

No specific financial experience is required to apply. The company just wants to find “problem solvers,” Vijay says, adding, “we will train you on how to do taxes which is beneficial to you whether you choose to join H&R Block or not.”

Vijay, who joined H&R Block early last year from TD Bank, on the podcast also discusses how the tax-prep giant is adopting more personalized digital marketing strategies for its consumer-facing advertising. The company targets a group of consumers that it has dubbed “sensible optimists.” They are the kind of people who “if they have an extra $4,000 or $5,000, they are going to pave their driveway,” he says. H&R Block further segments this target into “microclusters” of groups like military families or people who live close to one of the company’s 10,000 offices. 

But H&R Block is not walking away from traditional advertising such as TV.  “We do a fair amount of mass media during our tax season and we will continue to do that,” he says. But the company, which last ran a Super Bowl ad in 2017, has no plans to return to the big game. “I don’t see us pursuing it this year,” he says, adding that the company has been able “to get scale and reach in other ways.”

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