What exactly is marketing?

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.