Marketing Activities You Need to Schedule

Scheduling your marketing activities is key to ensuring you are consistently and successfully getting the word out about you and your company and all the great services and products you have to share with people.

There are several formats that people use to schedule things – to- do lists, activity lists, calendar items, list of projects, sticky notes all over their desk, and so on. It doesn't really matter how you do it as long as it works for you.

There are going to be three general types of marketing activities that you'll want to put into your schedule:

Ongoing everyday marketing activities include those that you do regularly.

Some examples are:

1. writing your ezine

2. adding new auto-responders to your email series

3. writing blog posts

4. contributing to online forums and blogs

5. networking events

6. writing content for your monthly teleseminar

7. adding content to your website

8. writing articles for submission

9. checking your website analytics

10. communicating with your affiliates

11. sending out press releases

12. networking on social media sites such as Facebook and Linked In

Specific one-time projects would be marketing tactics that occur as a special or one-time opportunity. For example:

1. a workshop you're putting on

2. creating a new product

3. setting up a referral program

4. a joint venture with another company

5. flushing out the specifics of a new service you're going to offer

6. a speaker series you've been invited to share at

7. setting up your affiliate program

8. running a special promotion

9. writing a book

10. a new website

11. setting up a blog

Time set aside for idea generation is important. You need to schedule this in just like any other marketing activity. Things you'll "think" about during this time can include:

1. researching possible joint venture partners

2. thinking about ideas for a new product, service or book

3. taking a look at some colleagues websites and blogs to see what they are up to

4. daydreaming about the direction you'd like your company to go

5. brainstorming about your professional and personal goals

Write down a list of all the different marketing activities you currently do and start scheduling them into your calendar and to-do lists. Make sure you look at your schedule first thing in the morning and different times throughout the day to make sure that you're staying on course.

Commit to your marketing by having a schedule and you'll see your business grow and attract new and old clients on a consistent basis.

How to Make Time for Marketing

To start getting business and success, you must make time for marketing. Most small business owners and solopreneurs know this…let's face it, they've heard it over and over again.

Virtual assistants are no different. We are often so busy doing client work that we run out of time to do our own marketing.

People insist that they don't have enough time to do everything, and certainly not to do marketing!

I know that it's tough – believe me it's the same for me sometimes. But I have seen the results when I do make time to market and so that keeps me finding time, even when it seems impossible.

I have also seen the results that other successful business owners get…and it's because they make marketing their #1 priority.

If you've made marketing a low priority, here are some things for you to do TODAY to start to change that:

• go to your calendar, make a 30 minute block every second day, for the next month and label it: Do Marketing!

• turn off your email/phone/social media and work uninterrupted for 20 minutes on making simple connections on social media, or on follow up
from an event you have recently attended.

• make a list of your time-wasters during the day (internet surfing, computer games, yakking with friends, surfing Facebook) and the next time you
start to do one of these activities, stop and do a marketing task instead: call a client, jot down 5 ideas for new articles, write a blog post, research a
guest for your next teleseminar, write a special email to your list, etc.

• take a look at all the ezines you get and ruthlessly start unsubscribing – keep only the ones you actually open, read and take action on.

Marketing is an ongoing process for you for the lifetime of your business. The sooner you start cultivating consistent marketing habits, the sooner you'll start reaping the rewards you want.

Try taking these small steps...they may seem big, but they are doable. With consistent effort you will see consistent results – attracting more clients and prospects than you think!

You will also feel really good about your ability to market effectively and this increased confidence will show throughout all areas of your business and personal life.

So what are you waiting for?! Get going on those steps….

How to Get That First Client

Congratulations! You’ve set up your Virtual Assistant business and are ready for your first client. It’s a big step and one that deserves celebrating. So now that you’re ready to work, how do you get that first client? Consider these options:

Job Board

Job boards are a wonderful tool. They can help you launch your business. They can provide a consistent income while you’re building your business. And when you have the eventual dips in your schedule or slow season you can use them to provide additional income.

As a virtual assistant you may want to focus your attention solely on job boards for virtual assistants. There are all encompassing freelance job boards. These generally require a membership. The freelance job board can serve its purpose. However, you may find better clients via a VA job board. Check out both options and choose the opportunities that are right for you.

Always research your potential client. Make sure they’re legitimate and that they follow through on their commitments. Some job boards simply work like classified ads. You apply for the position and communicate directly with the client. Others work as a go between. All agreements, payments and work are managed through the job site. Both situations have their pros and cons. Again, make sure you’re working with a legitimate company and job site. Check references. Read reviews. Most opportunities are legitimate. However, it always pays to be safe.

Use Your Resources

When you’re ready for that first client, tell your friends and family. Make a list of 100 people you know and begin to determine who you can contact regarding your business. Send an email to your associates. Let everyone know what you’re able to provide. Your rolodex of contacts is a great place to get started. With a few simple email messages and phone calls you’ll likely land a few great clients. There’s no shame in using your resources. And there really are no better clients than those who are referred to you from friends, family and associates.

Network

If you’re not already active on a social networking site, get a profile and start connecting. Networking online is a wonderful way to market your services. It’s also a great way to meet new people.

Network offline too. Join your local business association or networking group. Become a member of your Chamber of Commerce. Participate in local meet-ups and networking events. Make sure you have a business card and a positive attitude when you’re networking. (An online presence is a must as well. )

Also consider:

• Making sure your business is listed on your local online business directory
• Advertising
• Article marketing
• Blogging/guest blogging
• Posting flyers around town

There are many ways to market your VA business. Knock on doors. Connect with people online and in your community. Use your resources and explore your opportunities. You’ll have a full schedule in no time.

 

Get the Most Out of Your Marketing Message

Your marketing message describes the core of your business and your clients. It's essential that it accurately reflects your offerings so that new and future prospects and customers know exactly what you offer and how you can help them.

The whole idea of a great marketing message is that it helps prospective and current clients, vendors and partners understand quickly and easily how you can help them. You will use it in all of your promotional, sales and marketing materials and activities.

Your marketing message serves as your message blueprint and will be where you go every time you need to write marketing copy. By referring to your marketing message whenever you create marketing you'll ensure your marketing communications are always on target and consistent.

You can take the elements of your marketing message and put it into different forms to suit different marketing purposes and situations.

Below are many of the ways you can use your marketing message (or components of it):

• Social media profile bios
• Social media posts
• elevator speech (what you say when someone asks you what you do)
• headline on your webpage
• headline for a sales page or ad or flyer
• your voicemail message
• author resource box on articles and podcasts
• tagline for letterhead
• email signature
• title for an article
• title for a seminar or workshop
• use in creation of a logo
• content for an email campaign
• include in your bio for talks, books, website, teleseminars
• create a product, service or program
• website copy
• business card

Schedule an hour every week for the next while and use this time to look at all of your current marketing communications – your website, brochures, ads, emails, direct mail, business cards, social media profiles, sales literature etc. Choose one or two at a time to look at, and rewrite or tweak it to ensure that it is current and clear.

Your marketing message needs to grab your prospect’s attention immediately, and describe how you can solve their problem, why they should trust you and why it’s in their best interest to do business with you.

Your business, you, your products and services, your target market – are all in flux and will change and grow and develop over the course of being in business. As a result, your marketing communications will change too – as will your core marketing message.

Take the time to ensure that all your marketing communications say exactly what you want them to say and accurately reflect you and your company. Then start reaping the rewards of a fulfilling, lucrative and successful business, providing a valuable and needed service!

 

Your Marketing Plan Goals Check Up

It’s a good idea to check where you’re at in terms of your marketing plan goals and objectives. Some people check weekly, others do it every month – but you should definitely check at least once per quarter.

Your goals might include revenue, number of sign-ups to your list, number of products sold, number of visitors to your website and blog – and so on. Regardless of what you measure, you want to make sure you take time out regularly to see how you’re doing.

You’re rocking!

If you are humming right along and reaching your objectives - that’s fantastic.

Some questions to ask yourself:

• Have you been working like a mad dog to reach your objectives and can you now slow down a bit?
• If you are easily managing your current level of marketing, are there a couple new tactics that you’d like to add to the plan?
• If there’s extra revenue, is it time to hire a Virtual Assistant, bookkeeper, or other help to free up your time to work on new ideas, products and
services? Or to be able to service the extra clients and business your marketing is bringing in?

You’re sucking!

The reason we have goals and objectives is so we know if we’re meeting them – or not. If you’re not, don’t despair! There are a few things that could be impacting this and you can tweak or change these.

Some questions to ask yourself:

• Have you been doing the tactics on your marketing plan consistently? Did you fall off of your plan?
• Does your plan have enough marketing tactics or are you relying on only one strategy?
• Are you giving prospects enough different ways to reach you?
• Does your marketing message come across loud and clear in all your communications (website, sales letters, emails, ezine, blog, etc.)
• Did you add any new services or products?
• Does your marketing plan have tactics that work off of and build on each other?
• Has your target market or niche changed? Is your marketing still aimed at the “right” market?
• Has there been any dramatic change in the competitive environment that could be impacting you?
• Where in the marketing process are you falling down? Attracting new leads? Converting into clients? Keeping clients?
• Do you need to revise or create new marketing materials? Update your website content? Do an overhaul of your ezine?
• Have you given enough time for the marketing tactics to work? Some tactics take longer to show results than others.

Incorporate regular assessments of your marketing plan goals and progress into your business workdays. There are lots of variables that can affect your success, and by being proactive you can keep on top of any changes, good or not-so-good, and keep heading upwards and onwards!

 

Why You Need a Niche Market

A niche market can be thought of as a narrowly defined group of potential customers - usually a portion of a larger target market. For example, a target market is working women, but a niche market is working women with kids at home, or working women in executive positions, or working women in the financial sector.

As a small business owner, you usually do not have the money, resources and time to market to a larger target market. You need to focus your marketing efforts on those people most likely to buy what you offer.

Think of narrowing your niche as simply positioning yourself more closely to the people or companies who could benefit most from your services.

Many of us like to believe that the number of people who want and need our product or service has no limit. Also, most of us truly want to help as many people as possible and so therefore believe we almost have an obligation to let everyone know about what we offer.

But the truth of the matter is if a small business tries to market to everyone, they'll eventually lose money and quite possibly go out of business.

I know it seems to go against common sense that we make more money and have more success when we limit the scope of who we market to. However, it is true and its been proven over and over again by very successful small businesses.

There are many reasons why it makes good business and marketing sense to have a niche market:

• you can focus your marketing efforts and not dilute them by trying to appeal to everyone

• it allows you to stand out as an expert in your niche which makes people come to you

• you attract significantly more business

• you have a natural competitive advantage because you can dominate your niche

• your marketing materials and communications are more targeted and therefore more effective

• people more easily refer business to you as they have a very clear idea of who you appeal to

• you can easily determine what opportunities to say yes to and which ones to pass on

• your creativity and strengths get to shine through

• makes it easy to find suitable strategic partners and joint ventures

• you spend less money on getting your message out there because you're not wasting time and resources on talking to people who aren't
interested in what you have

By taking the time (and the deep breath!) to narrow down your target group into a niche market that your company, products and services are best suited to serving, you'll be making a huge investment in a successful future.

You Need A Marketing Plan - Period!

All virtual assistants need a marketing plan! A marketing plan makes your marketing more effective which means your business is more successful.

Most VAs do not have marketing plans. This means that their marketing tends to be inconsistent, ineffective and inefficient.

Below are all the good reasons you need to have a marketing plan. As you read these reasons, you'll probably think to yourself, "I know this, this is common sense or I've heard this before".

And you're right, but I would like you to REALLY see yourself and your business enjoying these benefits and reaping these rewards of having a marketing plan – and implementing it.

1. Easy for you take action

A marketing plan makes it easier to do your marketing because it helps you market consistently. Anything we do on a regular basis becomes much simpler and faster to do. You also get into action because a plan will break your marketing tasks down into smaller steps or chunks. You feel less overwhelmed about tackling each task and therefore, can reduce your procrastination too!

2. Save you time and money

Taking the time to sit down and create a marketing plan will save you time and money in the long run. That's because you don't have to waste time scrambling around every time you try a new marketing activity – your marketing plan lays out the steps you need to take.

A plan also helps you be more focused which means you work smarter and faster. Being focused also means that you don't get distracted and waste time and money on tactics that seem like a good opportunity but don't really fit your marketing goals outlined in your marketing plan.

3. Help you keep customers

Because your plan keeps you focused and saves time, you don't have to sacrifice client relationships due to inability to make time to follow-up with customers or create new products and services that would appeal to your clients.

4. Bring in more prospects and clients

Having a marketing plan ensures that you constantly are attracting new leads and clients, because you're actually marketing your business! There is no way around it – marketing is how you grow your business.

5. Help you run a successful and profitable business

A marketing plan will give you time, money, freedom and focus – all necessary ingredients to a successful business. It will also save your sanity and reduce your stress – so you can enjoy your work and your business!

 

What exactly is marketing?

If you do not understand what marketing is, you will not be able to market well.

It makes sense - doesn’t it? How can you successfully do something if you’re not even sure what that “something” is?

If you ask business people to define marketing, you’ll get as many different answers as there are types of companies. Some people will start spouting jargon like the 4Ps of marketing, or go into detail about the different components of a marketing plan.

Others will say it’s all about sales and some will rhyme off different marketing theorems.

Some people will say that marketing is the activities involved in making sure that you meet the needs of your customers and get appropriate value in return.

All of these are correct but they are concerned more with the mechanics of what marketing is, not the underlying principle or philosophy of marketing.

The whole reason behind marketing, particularly in a service business such as a VA business, is to build a relationship between the person who needs something (the problem) and the person who offers something (the solution).

Build a connection with your clients and your prospective customers - that’s marketing!

You may already have a well known reputation in your niche market. Or maybe you want to grow your business and attract some new people and markets. Or you may be starting off with a great attitude but no one really knows anything about you.

Regardless of where you are at right now, your marketing must accomplish the same thing – build a relationship and make a connection. Where it differs for someone who has been in business awhile versus a new company is in the marketing strategies you employ.

Marketing is not about getting someone to buy something from you. It’s not about “getting” at all, but instead it’s about “giving” – your experience, your help, your encouragement, your knowledge.

By building a relationship, you allow the prospective client or current customer to get to know, like and trust you. Only then will they sign up for one of your assistant packages.

And if you keep building the connection and providing valuable information, these people will keep working with you. That’s how you build a successful and lasting business.

Just look at yourself - do you spend lots of money with people you dislike, don’t trust or have no respect for? I highly doubt it – I certainly don’t. So why would it be any different for people who are in need of your services and products? They will only become, and stay, customers if you build a relationship with them.

 

The Art of Follow-Up

Follow up marketing strategies are the most underused strategies – you may have heard that it takes 4 to 10 connections with a potential client before they actually sign on to work with you.

That’s why follow up is so important. Do miss out on those valuable connections!

Here are 8 tips for you to do better follow up:

1. Follow-up needs to be timely

Always follow-up sooner rather than later. For every day you wait, you lessen the impact of the follow-up communication.

For follow-up strategies such as acknowledging referrals, testimonials, new acquaintances, new business and so on, do your best to follow up in one or two days.

2. Follow-up needs to be frequent

The frequency and amount of follow-up needed depends on the reason and method for your follow-up. For example, if you are following up regarding an upcoming teleseminar, you may be contacting your list a total of 5 times over the two weeks leading up to and including the date of the teleseminar.

Or if you're following up after someone has downloaded your free giveaway, you may have 20 follow-up emails in your autoresponder sequence that goes out over a six month period to them.

Don't be afraid of following up too frequently. And remember to always provide a way for them to remove themselves from the conversation (virtual or other) you've started with them.

3. Follow-up needs to be consistent

Not only does follow up need to be frequent, it needs to be consistent.

As with any marketing strategy you choose to do, if you do not do it on a regular basis and do it haphazardly, then that's what you'll get in return – haphazard results.

Remember that marketing (including follow up) is about building a relationship and if people hear from you a couple times and then not for a few months, they're not going to get a warm, fuzzy feeling about you. Consistently following up shows people that you value them, are reliable and committed to providing a service to them.

4. Follow-up needs to build momentum

Frequency and consistency with follow-up marketing allows for momentum to occur. I define momentum in marketing as each strategy and communication builds on each other and are linked together.

For example, you might start your second email by saying, "8 days ago I sent you an email..." Or after they've purchased a product or downloaded an ebook, send them a handful of emails that highlight something specific about the product or in the report that can help them.

Referencing the previous communication links what you’re saying with what you’ve already said, and reminds your prospect that you care enough to continue the conversation.

5. Follow-up needs to be organized

To ensure that your follow-up marketing is consistent, you need to organize it by putting it in your calendar and on your to-do list.

When you carve out time in your daily and weekly schedule for follow-up activities, then you go a long way towards actually doing them! How many of us get things done that we haven't made time for? Not very many of us I'll bet!

So put a half-hour aside each Friday to write some thank you notes, and schedule an hour each Monday to write your weekly ezine, and an hour every second Wednesday to write a new email message to send to your list.

6. Follow-up needs to be automated

Try to automate your follow-up marketing as much as you can. All of us are busy and the more we can systematize our marketing, the easier and quicker we can start reaping the rewards.

Luckily there is an abundance of tools and people you can use to simplify and automate your follow-up activities – from autoresponders to full contact management systems to Virtual Assistants.

An example of automating your follow-up marketing would be an ecommerce program that sends out automatic emails in a series after someone purchases your product, or a company that formats and sends out your ezine, or a VA who produces and sends out electronic greeting and thank you cards for you.

7. Follow-up needs reliable data

To take advantage of many of the ways to follow up with your prospects and clients, you need to have a system in place that captures information about people and keeps track of interactions and communications you have with everyone.

Use a CRM to gather and store information like client's birthdays, business anniversary dates, purchasing information, emails that were sent, and so on.

8. Follow-up needs to have varied delivery methods.

Keep your follow-up marketing interesting and keep people intrigued by using different methods of delivery. Incorporate email, telephone, direct mail, audio and so on, to provide variety in how you connect with people and grab their attention.

If you incorporate these 8 components into your follow-up marketing – or actually any marketing tactics that you employ – it will go a long way to helping you market more quickly, easily and consistently.

 

Make Your Marketing Calendar Work For You

A very important part of doing a marketing plan is to also have a marketing calendar.

This is where you’ll put in all the important dates and milestones for your action plan – so that you can keep track of what you need to do and when you need to do it.

Activities that will be on your marketing calendar include:

• Date your ezines or newsletters go out
• Dates of teleseminars when you’re hosting and/or are a guest
• Dates of emails going out to your list – both autoresponders and broadcasts
• Dates you are submitting your articles
• Dates of blog posts

• Dates for sending out Facebook group invitations
• Dates for speaking engagements

• Dates of networking events

It’s great that you have a marketing calendar but now you need to do a couple more things to make sure it works for you. You don’t want to have wasted your time putting together a marketing plan and calendar if you don’t actually use your calendar!

Put your calendar somewhere that you’ll see it every day! Put it on your bulletin board or in a prominent place on your desk. If you use an electronic calendar, make sure it pops up first thing in the morning.

You want to be able to see this calendar all the time – as it will be a reminder of the actions you need to take. This calendar is your marketing To Do list and as such, it’s vital you look at it all the time.

As well, you can have electronic reminders set up so that you have help remembering the tasks and when there are due!

Look ahead – at the next week, month and quarter. When we’re using our calendar as a To Do list we can sometimes keep our nose buried in that particular day. But it’s also good to look ahead at what’s coming up, to see if things need to be shifted or changed.

Every Friday I look ahead to the upcoming week so I get a feel for the next week’s activities. I also usually pick one day each month to look forward to the next month and next quarter – to take a look at the bigger picture and also to see if anything needs to be tweaked. Don’t forget to make the corresponding changes in your calendar.

It may sound like a lot of work, but believe me – it’s essential to have a marketing calendar and use it daily. You’ll lessen your chances of missing deadlines, double-booking activities and events, sending too many emails out at once – and your stress level!