How to Make Time for Marketing

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!

 

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!

 

Three Effective Writing Rituals

Do you have a writing ritual? Many people have writing rituals that they’re not even aware of. Others just sit down and write when they have time. Writing rituals are actually a great way to kick-start your writing. They help inspire creativity. Here are five effective writing rituals to consider.

1. A shot of caffeine

It may sound cliché but there’s something soothing and invigorating about a cup of coffee. You can even make it a slightly decadent ritual and make a cappuccino, or drink your favorite tea instead. Of course, if coffee or tea isn’t your thing, consider a different drink. Perhaps a glass of sparking water or a smoothie.

It’s not really the drink that matters but the ritual. The process of making the beverage helps set the stage. You’ll probably begin thinking about your writing while you’re brewing your coffee or making your smoothie. Then, once you sit down at your desk you are already in the right mindset.

2. A breath of fresh air

There's something about sunshine and fresh air that stimulates creativity. It gets the blood pumping through your veins and into your brain. Embrace the out of doors and take a walk before you sit down to write. You can also take a walk in the middle of your writing workout to refresh and re-energize.

If the weather isn’t cooperating with your ritual, consider doing yoga or stretching for a few minutes indoors. The goal is to get your heart pumping and the blood flowing. It stimulates your brain and your creative energy.

3. Outlining

The process of outlining your content accomplishes several things at once. It’s an effective ritual that can help you get in the right frame of mind. It’s also a great way to ensure a smooth writing process. If you sit down first to outline all of the articles, blog posts or reports you’re writing, then writing them is actually quite easy. You already know what you want to say.

Outlining doesn’t have to be elaborate either. You might simply write the headlines and sub-headlines for your content. Or if you do prefer to fill in the details, you can embrace a more formal outlining process.

Writing rituals are incredibly effective. Take a look at what you normally do before you sit down to write. If you don’t have a ritual, try one of these three or create one of your own. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

Tips and Ideas to Repurpose and Reuse Your Content

Content is an investment. You spend a lot of time writing it. You probably also spend a lot of time planning and researching it. It makes good business sense to make the most of your investment. When you repurpose and reuse your content, you maximize your return. Here are five tips and ideas to repurpose and reuse your content.

1. Build it up - Gather articles that fit together nicely and create a report. You’ll want to add an introduction and a conclusion. You may also need to add some transitions and polish the content to fit a cohesive theme. To monetize the content, consider adding affiliate links where appropriate. You can also include the occasional product or service promotion for your own business.

2. Break it down - If you have existing reports, then they’re perfect to create articles and blog posts. You have many options here, too. You can simply pull apart segments of the report to create articles. Add an introduction and conclusion paragraph and you’re ready to publish. Or you can take it further and create lists and other information-packed articles.

For example, if you have a "how to" report with ten steps and ten pages of content, you could create an article that’s a much abbreviated version of the report. List the ten steps with a one or two sentence explanation. You could also write a "three things you need to do to..." article. In fact, with ten steps you could write three of those articles.

3. Republish old content with updates - Often evergreen content isn’t as evergreen as you hope. The world moves quickly and most industries grow and change regularly. Take a look at your "evergreen" articles and blog posts. How can you refresh them with updated content?

4. Partition e-books - This method is similar to breaking down reports to create articles and blog posts. You can break e-books down into reports, articles or blog posts. In fact, you can get quite a lot of content from an e-book. Take a look at the e-books you’ve purchased or written and brainstorm content ideas.

5. Group reports - If you’re looking to create a new information product, consider grouping them to create an e-book. You’ll want to organize the reports in a logical manner. You’ll likely also need to add an introduction as well as a conclusion. Transitions will be necessary and you can add some nice graphics. Add checklists, worksheets and lists to add value to your e-books and reports for extra value.

Repurposing your content is a smart business strategy. With each new piece of content you create, consider how you might be able to use it in the future. Content is essential for online business success. Make the most of your efforts and maximize your content to the fullest.

 

Tips for Planning Your Content

As an online business owner, you know that content is one of the best tools you have. It drives traffic. It provides your audience with the value and information they seek. It also helps you market your business, products or services. Content is essential for online marketing success. You can achieve greater success if you take the time to plan your content.

What Is Content Planning?

Content planning is simply the process of taking a look at your calendar and deciding what to write and where to publish it. Content planning involves a few primary criteria:

• When will you publish the content?

• Where will you publish it?

• What will you write about?

• What’s the purpose of the content?

• What are your keywords?

• How can you repurpose the content?

Consider how far ahead you want to plan your content for. Many online business owners take a tiered approach. They plan large content projects for the entire year. For example, they may publish a report each month. They also take a look at their content on a quarterly or monthly level.

If you don’t plan your content or are struggling to plan it effectively, consider the following tips:

Use a calendar that gives you a big picture and you can write on. A paper desk calendar is a great planning tool. You can write your content ideas in pencil for easy modifications. Then, if you prefer electronic organization, you can transfer the paper plan to your Outlook or e-calendar.

Plan how you’ll integrate your content into your marketing strategy. For example, you could decide that in March you’re going to publish ten articles on article directories. You’ll also want to make sure this content ties into any season or holiday.

Ensure that the content you post supports any new products or services you are offering. Content must have a purpose. It may be simply to drive traffic to your website. Or it may be to drive traffic to a sales page or increase your opt-ins.

Leave room for change. The best content plans leave room for inspiration. The greatest ideas often come out of the blue. If you’re a stickler for your plan and don’t allow room to add your content inspiration into the mix, then you’re missing out.

Finally, don’t forget to take a look at how you can repurpose your content. It’s not only a great way to get the most return on investment, it can help fill content gaps.

When you plan your content, make sure you’re looking at both the macro and micro picture. Make sure you look ahead and take the entire year into consideration. At the same time, plan your content right down to the keywords and topics.

Planning your content for the entire year may take a day or two to accomplish but it’ll save you tons of time down the road. Instead of wondering what you’re going to write on, you’ll have the answers all worked out. Best of all, your content will fit with your other marketing efforts to create a comprehensive business growth plan.

How to Write When You’re Not a Writer

As a business owner you’re called on to manage a variety of tasks. Due to the importance of content, one of those tasks is writing. You have content to create. This can be a scary and potentially overwhelming concept. Many people fear writing or put it off because they don’t consider themselves to be writers.

Good news! You don’t have to be a “writer” to write good content for your website. There’s a difference between content published in newspapers and some magazines and content published on most websites. The content on your website doesn’t need to appeal to a broad audience. It also doesn’t need to be on a broad topic. Quite the opposite, actually. Your content will be quite specific.

For example, it could be "Ten tips to bake better chocolate chip cookies." It provides value to a very specific target audience. And if you have a website about chocolate chip cookies or baking, then you can write this article without thinking much about it. You know it. The information is already inside of you.

Web content is also more conversational. Content is written to feel personal - as if you’re speaking to your audience. You’ll use words like:

* You
* Your
* You’ll
* You’re
* And sometimes if you’re writing a blog post you’ll use “I”, “Me” and “We”

These are not words you’ll find in any piece of journalism unless they’re in quotes. Newspapers and magazines are generally more formal. They use third person perspective.

Additionally, web content is formatted for easy reading. You’ll use bullet points, numbers and headings and subheadings to break up your content into bite-sized pieces. So what does all this mean if you’re not a “writer”?

It means that writing content for your website is pretty straightforward. You:

* Write what you know and what your audience will benefit from
* Write conversationally
* Write so it’s easy to read online

The simplest method to use when you’re writing your online content is to spend a few minutes creating the structure for your article. Write a rough headline and subheadings. Then fill in the content. Write it as if you’re writing a letter to a friend. Don’t worry about grammar and spelling on the first draft. You can go back and edit for clarity later.

Once you have your thoughts down on paper, polish. Add your keywords in to optimize for the search engines and publish it. Test and track your articles and content to evaluate what content your readers respond to. With a little confidence and a plan, you can write content to build and grow your business.