Marketing Activities You Need to Schedule

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.

Four SEO Tools and How to Use Them to Build Your Business

Search engines matter. They send traffic to your website. Use them well and they send very targeted traffic to your website. Targeted traffic turns into customers and repeat visitors. This means it’s not only where you're placed on the search engine rankings, but the keywords you use as well. You want to make sure you’re attracting targeted traffic to your site.  
  
The world of search engine optimization and keyword development can feel overwhelming. It seems there’s a lot of information to learn, know and use. However, when you drill down, it’s actually quite simple. You want to optimize your website for a few primary keywords. These keywords ideally will have an acceptable amount of demand and supply. They’ll also be keywords that your audience is likely to use to find your information.  
  
Then you optimize your pages for those keywords. You also choose some secondary keywords to support the primary ones. These may be keywords with less demand and less supply. However, they’re still keywords your audience is using to find your information.   
  
How do you use these keywords? Content, content, content. Content gives the search engine spiders something to index. It also provides material that others may link to. This is an important part of SEO.   
  
To help you manage and master your SEO efforts, there are literally thousands of various tools and gadgets. Some of these tools help you check the keyword density on your web page. They make sure your keywords are represented enough to help but not so much that your content reads poorly. There are also link checkers, keyword research tools, and so on. Here are four SEO tools you might find useful.  
  
Keyword suggestion tools - This is where it all begins. Keyword suggestion tools help you learn and research your primary and secondary keywords. The most common of these tools is the Google AdWords tool. It’s free and quite useful. There are also keyword tools that you can pay for. They offer a bit more information than the Google tool.   
 
Ranking checkers - Ranking checkers help you determine where you rank for various keywords and search engines. It’s a great tool for setting goals and tracking your progress. For example, you might set a goal to move up two pages in the rankings using article marketing. You can use a ranking checker to test and track your success. (You can also check to see how your competition is doing.)  
Link checking tools - Link checking tools help you determine the effectiveness of your back links. You can learn who is linking to you and how popular their links are. Again, you can also check to see who is linking to your competition. There are some basic, free tools that provide basic information. Or you can hire a service to analyze your back links for you.   
  
Keyword density tools - These tools can analyze a page or your URL for keyword density. There are a number of keyword density tools. Again some are free and some are paid tools. If you’re going to pay for this service, make sure it analyzes keyword phrases and not just one or two word keywords.   
  
New SEO tools are being developed every day. Take advantage of these resources to strategically position your business. The easier it is for your prospects to find you, the faster you’ll achieve your business goals.  
 

What Services Should You Offer?

As a virtual assistant there really are many services you can provide. You can offer a variety to your clients. Or you can specialize. Making the decision can be a bit challenging. Here are a few considerations to help you decide.

What Are Your Strengths?

While it might be nice to provide a variety of services it might be a better idea to focus on your strengths. For example, if you’re a terrific transcriptionist but not very technologically inclined then focus on transcription. Leave the website management to someone else. That way you can be sure you’re providing the best service possible to your clients. They’ll be 100% satisfied. And you’ll spend your time working on projects that match your skills.

What Do You Like to Do?

If you don’t enjoy a task, you’re not going to be motivated to accomplish it. This of course isn’t good business. Clients don’t appreciate it when you procrastinate. And it’s just not fun for you. Make a list of the tasks you enjoy doing. Make a list of the tasks that are okay. Then make a list of the tasks you dislike. Don’t take projects that entail tasks you dislike. Find another contractor to recommend. Consider partnering with that other contractor so you both benefit.

What’s In Demand?

Some tasks are in high demand. For example, right now managing social networking pages and profiles is an in demand opportunity. If you have skills and interests in this area this may be a service to market and provide.

Also take a look at the opportunities being requested. Visit social networking sites and search feeds for information. Visit freelance job sites and research the most commonly requested tasks. These are the skills and services people are looking for.

What Niche Will You Service?

Often, a virtual administrator will service a particular niche. For example, if you’re passionate about organization then you might seek clients in this industry. Each industry may have their own specialty needs. An organization coach for example, might need someone to schedule their appointments or moderate their forum.

When building your VA business take a look at both your strengths and weaknesses. Explore the opportunities. Also, remember that your business can change as you do. You can focus on one specialty task right now. Then as your business grows you can add more services to your portfolio. It’s your business; create it to fit your needs and the market demands for maximum success.

 

Professional Development Tips and Ideas for Virtual Assistants

One of the best ways to grow your business and increase your profits is through professional development. As a virtual assistant there are many opportunities. And often, through professional development you gain personal strengths too. It’s a win-win situation.

Learn a new skill

As the internet will undoubtedly continue to grow and change you can too. You can keep your skills fresh. Establish your business first. Once you’re steady, take a class and learn a new skill. For example, you might learn how to use a certain email management system. Or you could learn how to help clients with their blogs and keywords, or social media management. Your skill will help you offer more value to your clients. And once you’ve obtained the new skill, you can market it to your advantage. You can use it to really grow your business.

Take a look at online classes, books, and workshops to learn new skills. Consider taking classes at your local college or community center. These classes are often packed with information and fit the budget.

Get a coach

Many people think coaching is only for those who are looking to solve a problem. Not true. A business coach can help you optimize your business. They can help you see opportunities and strengths. They can help you grow both personally and professionally. Perhaps most importantly, a business coach can help you profit.

Before you hire a coach, ask around. Ask friends, family and business associates if they can recommend a good coach. Before you sign up with a coach, research them thoroughly. Make sure their approach to coaching matches your personality and needs. If possible, talk with them on the phone before you sign up. That way you can tell if the two of you will work well together.

If a coach isn’t in the budget consider a mastermind group. A mastermind group is a group of likeminded individuals who meet to help each other succeed. They can be motivating, inspiring and of course educational. You can find mastermind groups online and off. Like finding a coach, take your time to find the right mastermind group for you.

Read

If you don’t presently have a reading practice, create one. Read industry blogs. Read industry publications. And read a book that will help you grow professionally at least once a quarter. If you don’t have time to read, download an audio book. Listen to it for a few minutes at the end of each day. Listen to it in the car when you’re driving. There’s a lot of wonderful information available to help you grow professionally.

If you don’t know where to start, ask around. Ask your clients what they read and if they can make any recommendations. Check out the bestseller’s lists. Even a book about productivity or better business will help you grow.

You owe it to yourself and to your VA business to develop professionally. Find a coach.  Read a blog. Take a class. The world is waiting for you!

 

Be Honest About Deadlines

We all know what it’s like to have a deadline looming over our heads.  We spend most of our time feeling like we’re being pushed, often unwillingly, toward the goal line of one project or another.  We also all know what it’s like to miss a deadline.  However, with time and effort you can reduce your stress and meet deadlines more efficiently.

The first part of meeting goals is setting them.  This part is far more important than it seems.  When setting goals, you need to be realistic.  Not only with whether or not you can meet a timeline, but also with whether or not you have the ability to get the job done - period.  Once you have an overall goal, set smaller goals and a calendar for achieving them.  Assign specific goals and duties and make sure everyone not only knows their part, but everyone else’s as well.  

Even if you’re setting realistic goals and deadlines, that doesn’t mean you’ll always meet them.  When setting up your plan of attack, it is important to realize that sometimes things go wrong.  One of your co-workers may call in sick, the copier might break down in the middle of a large print job, or bad weather might trap your supplier out of town.

You can’t prepare for every eventuality, but you can set up a Plan B in case of common problems.  This is often as simple as having alternate companies’ phone numbers on hand or making sure someone knows how to do a task if someone else is sick.  Occasionally, something is going to happen and you won’t meet a deadline, but you can still make this a rare occasion.

When managing a team, always set their deadlines well before the deadline for the final project.  Even if someone does exceptional work, you may end up with a bad final product because you were in a rush to get everything together.  If the people you work with spend a lot of time procrastinating, you may just want to set a deadline they need to have it done by and leave it at that.  If they don’t know the final project deadline, it may get their part to you sooner.  

For a team to meet a deadline, the leader needs to be involved in the entire process.  No, they don’t need to check up on everyone every step of the way, but they do need to see if everyone is on schedule and if they have any problems.  Often people will try to handle it themselves when they hit a snag, delaying their part and possibly the whole project.

When you’ve met a big deadline, reward yourself and your team with some kind of treat.  Depending on your options and on the importance of the deadline, it could be something big, like a group outing, or something small liking bringing in bagels one morning.  If you have something to look forward to, you’ll be more likely to get things done on time.  Plus, this will give everyone the energy boost to get started on your next big project.

How to Find Great Clients

newcustomers

 

Being self-employed is extremely rewarding. It can also be a challenge.

Often the difference is the type of client you have.

The better your clients are, the more rewarding your business feels and the happier you are.

So, doesn't it makes sense to create a strategy to find great clients?

Of course it does!

Here are a few tactics to consider.

Network

One of the best ways to find people you enjoy working with is to meet them by networking - either local or online.

Sometimes you click right away with another business owner.

A simple, “I’d love to see how we can work together” may end up producing profitable results for years to come.

Networking both online and off is a fantastic way to find great clients.

In fact, you will likely find that networking is the best source of ideal clients for your VA business.

Spread the Word

Put the word out about your business.

Let your friends, family and associates know that you’re looking to add two or three quality clients to your schedule. (make sure they know what you do!)

You might be surprised at what you find.

You may end up with more quality clients than you have time for.

Referrals

When you find clients that you enjoy working with, ask them for referrals.

People tend to be attracted to like-minded individuals and clients referred from existing clients tend to be of the same caliber. In short, good clients refer good clients.

And often if you are working with a client you love, you learn quickly about their industry - and where more great clients are not far behind.

Consider offering a referral program for your business. Reward customers for their referrals by giving them a credit towards their own work, or even a gift card or a small gift. (I love Send Out Cards brownies!). Let them know you appreciate their referrals.

Partnerships

Consider forging partnerships with other business owners that you enjoy working with.

For example, if you’re a virtual assistant who provides social networking management you might partner with someone who creates social networking graphics.

Together you could offer a complete social networking package.

Before You Begin Searching For More Great Clients

There are a few steps to take before you begin searching for more VA clients. Taking these steps will ensure you’re attracting the type of client you want. It’ll also make sure you can accommodate their needs.

1. Make sure you have room in your schedule for them. If not, consider eliminating some of clients or tasks from your calendar. You want to make sure you can meet the needs of your new clients.

2. Identify exactly what you want in a client. What makes a client great to work with? What are you looking for? Are they easy to communicate with? Do they provide minimum instruction? Do they pay well? Define what makes a good client.

3. Take steps to make sure that your existing clients and any new clients know how much you appreciate them. Create a customer appreciation strategy. Finding those great clients is only the first step. You want to make sure to keep them too.

Finding great clients isn’t difficult.

Know what you’re looking for.

Don’t hesitate to ask for new clients.

Pay attention to the service you provide.

A good VA client can stick with you for years.

It’s worth the time and effort to show your appreciation.

Just Do It!

Steps to your Goals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a wish list of things you want to get done in your business?

If you don’t, you should. You should have a list of short term and long term goals, and an even bigger strategy for your wish list.

If you do have a list, stop now and have a look at it.

How are you doing with developing or implementing the things you need to get done?

If you’re like me, you probably have a lot of things on the list. Maybe you don’t even know where to start.

I say, start at the beginning!

Just pick something … anything (something small would be best to start!) and get it
done.

Maybe you want to set up a blog.

Maybe you want to start a newsletter.

Maybe you want to update the content on your website.

Maybe you want to sign 3 new clients over the next month.

Whatever it is, just do it!

Set a workable plan in place. Give yourself deadlines and then make a list of what you will need to do to get it done.

If you’re not sure what you need to do, get help from someone who knows.

You will not believe the excitement (and relief!) that you will get by finishing something
that will make your business better.

And once you do one little thing, and bring it to completion, you can move onto the next
thing.

Here’s a little checklist for you:

1. Decide what you want to do.

2. Decide when you need to have it done.

3. Put that date on your calendar.

4. Determine the steps you need to complete your goal.

5. Determine when you need to complete each step so that you can do it in the proper order, or in the proper stages.

6. Put those dates on your calendar.

7. Look at your deadline dates and make sure that they are reasonable and logical, and that you have time to do the pieces you need to do.

8. Make sure your deadline dates are short enough to create some urgency, but not so much that you are working intensely (or you may find that you will drop the ball if you miss one!)

9. Tell someone what you are doing, and ask them to help you stay accountable to complete it.

10. Hang your calendar where you can see it, and work towards your goal,

Getting things done is just a matter of making them a priority on your calendar, and then knowing the steps you need to go through to get them completed.

It’s a process each time, and once you go through it once, you will find that it’s easy, and you will be able to implement the same procedure for everything you do. Just do it!

Ten Ways to Show Customers You Care

client careIf you talk to most customers, they're not really that happy with how they're treated by most businesses that they have to work with. It seems as if good customer service is a dying art. But, as a business owner, don't think for one moment that good customer service doesn't matter. Good customer care pays for itself. Here are ten ways to show your customers that you care.

1. Loyalty Discounts - You often see new customer discounts, but what about giving your long-term customers a loyalty discount? If just once a year you offer a few items at a deep discount to customers who have been with you at least six months, it will go far in making them feel as if you care about them.

2. Thank You Notes - Writing thank you notes seems to have gone out of vogue, but you'd be shocked at how much a nice handwritten note will mean to your customers. You will stand out to them and next time they need your products or services, they'll think of that note.

3. Remembering Special Days - If you've collected information on your customers such as birthdays, anniversaries or other special days, drop them a card in the mail. It's also a good time to give them a birthday discount.

4. Referral Rewards - Your happy customers will likely tell others about you anyway, but why not encourage the process by offering referral rewards. You can offer a percent off future services or a free gift; it's up to you. All will be appreciated.

5. Prompt Service - Another way to make your customers feel cared for is to offer very prompt service. Treat their work as if it's your sole priority and get it done on time or early. They will notice how you treat them.

6. Going the Extra Mile - You've heard the saying to "under promise and over deliver" before, but it cannot be said enough. If you can go the extra mile for your loyal customers, they will notice. Even if it's just something really small, they'll notice and feel cared for.

7. Personal Service - Don't treat your customers like an account number. Call them by name, and personalize all correspondence to them. By simply calling clients by their name, and making each service you provide feel special, your customers will definitely feel cared about.

8. Ask for Feedback - People love giving their opinions about things. But, often they will not do it if they're not asked. At least quarterly, send your customers a survey to ask them how you're doing and how you can do better. Then, if possible, implement something suggested.

9. Pay Attention to Detail - Very small details often go unnoticed by workers, but not by clients. If you pay attention to the small things, they'll notice - even if the small thing you paid attention to has nothing to do with the work. Perhaps you noticed an article in the paper about your client. Clip it, congratulate them, and mail it.

10. Be a Resource - Sometimes we can't be all to our clients. They need something we cannot deliver. Therefore instead of just saying no, say yes by recommending someone who can give your client what they need. When you become a resource to your clients, they'll become loyal to you because they know you care about more than the almighty dollar.

People have so many other options available to them today that they really don't have to patronize your business. Remember that customers can and will go elsewhere if they are not happy. It costs a lot more money to find a new customer than to keep one. Therefore, you should go out of your way to keep good customers happy by showing them that you care.

Fear Is Good ... Here's Why.

Guest Post by Tina Forsyth
www.OnlineBusinessManager.com

Fear is getting a bad rap.

Fear is often the reason a virtual support professional does NOT do something … versus the reason for them TO DO something.

Would you agree? As a Virtual Assistant, freelancer or other virtual support professional, you likely experienced some fear when you decided to officially open your business doors.

For me, fear is a big indicator that I need to do something. If I’m scared, it means I most likely need to go in that direction.

My personal believe is, that as human beings, we are meant to grow. We are meant to take on new stuff. Learning new things, supporting clients in new roles and new challenges – it’s natural to feel fear when you step into these areas – especially when you haven’t explored them before.

Fear itself can take many different forms, and will vary by individual and situation. Here are a few fears that many virtual support professionals face”: 

  • fear of looking like a fool 
  • fear of losing money 
  • fear of not making money 
  • fear of upsetting people close to you 
  • fear of not knowing if you can do what you want to do… etc.

Which of these can you relate to?

My previous mentor David Neagle calls this the “terror barrier”. The “terror barrier” is a natural part of life and growth.

We all come up against our own terror barriers – especially in business. And we have to decide whether we want to work through them or run away.

A word of caution - even if you run away from those terror barriers, they will follow you. And the longer they follow you, the bigger they get – darn them!

So, you may as well face the fear … right?

I’ve done my fair share of having to ‘stare fear in the eye’ and put plainly, it can suck at times.

For example, a few years ago when I decided to sign up to work with a mentor, that was a HUGE fear moment for me. I was terrified to take that step, as I knew it was a commitment to me and my business to play a bigger game. Quite honestly I didn’t know if I could do it.

Want to know what thoughts crossed my mind? You might be able to relate

  • Who am I to create a super cool and thriving biz?
  • What if I fail and lose oodles of money?
  • What if I suck at it and people point and laugh at me?
  • And many more other crazy thoughts

Here’s what I believe: Fear is an invitation. It’s an invitation for us to learn a lesson.

Whatever it is that we fear, there’s a gift waiting for you on the other side … but only if you’re willing to step into it. If you don’t step into it, you don’t get the gift. It’s as simple as that.

Facing fear is like building a muscle, the more we do it the more we are able to do it.

Fear doesn’t always get easier as there is always a s-t-r-e-t-c-h required when facing fear (and it can be uncomfortable!). However, I do believe that half the battle is actually resisting our fear – running away takes a lot of energy! If you stop resisting fear and instead step into it then the entire process could be much less painful in the long run.

Fear acronym positiveNow, when I reach that that “eek!” moment – that nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach – I know it’s something that I need to do. This is the main indicator for me of what I need to do next in my business.

When was the last time you did something that scared the pants off of you?

What is it that you are most afraid of doing right now, in this moment, for you and your business? Please share your comments … I really would love to know.

Breaks Increase Productivity

take a break

Are you working and working but just can't seem to focus and get stuff done?  You might even be considering seeing a doctor, but the solution may be much more simple than that - just take a break.  Taking short ten minute breaks throughout the day can help you refocus and re-energize so you're more productive once you get back to work.  

Scientists and psychologists have actually done many studies that show how effective breaks can be.  In fact, many large businesses have now started adopting break times into the course of the regular day.  Employees are actually paid to sit at their desk and read, research topics they enjoy on the Internet, and do other things that interest them.  It's been shown that allowing these breaks actually increases productivity and employee satisfaction enough to compensate for the lost time plus some.  

To get the most good out of your breaks, try making your activities something that will help increase production when you return to work, rather than something that simply distracts you.  Some great options include aerobic activity or relaxation exercises.  They'll clear your mind, while producing chemicals in your body that will boost concentration when you get back to work.

If physical exercise isn't your thing, or you just don't have the chance to do it at work, there are other things you can do to relax and clear your mind so you can get back to work.  Meditation or other breathing exercises only take a few minutes, but can help you feel better mentally and physically.  Not only does it help you focus, it can also lower your blood pressure and help reduce the physical signs of stress.

The biggest danger in taking breaks is not getting back to work when the break is done.  A lot of people will try to skip breaks because they're afraid they won't get back to work and the work won't get done.  But when you skip breaks, you can significantly decrease productivity and actually end up getting less work done.  The key is setting a time limit to your breaks and sticking to them.  If you have trouble, try setting a timer when you take a break, or having someone back you up by making sure you get back to work.

If you've been pushing too hard and have reached burnout, a ten minute break just isn't going to be enough.  If you are finding yourself feeling sick, tired, and only ever in a negative mood, especially about work, you are probably burnt out by work.  In this case, you not only need to incorporate short breaks into your day, you also need to alter your how and when you work and may even need an extended vacation.

Breaks are an easy and effective way to increase your results and become more successful with very little effort.