Marketing a Virtual Assistant Business is crucial to your success whether it's through networking, word of mouth, or other methods. There are several ways to market your "Virtual Assistant" Business, but we are going to discuss some of the common methods.1) NetworkingMany Virtual Assisstants (VA) utilize this method and have been very successful in growing their businesses. By networking with other Virtual Assistants, not only are you building relationships, you're also building possible partnerships. The majority of Virtual Assistants subcontract out work to other VAs that they know and trust.Building genuine relationships can have a two fold effect. One is that you have gained a friend who you can exchange problems, business advice, and successes with. The other is that they will be more willing to subcontract work to you, and this can help you to build your business and portfolio.Forums and messages boards are another great opportunity to network with others, not just other VAs. There are many forums and message boards that are just for VAs, but don't just limit yourself to these. Visit specialty or niche forums and message boards where your potential target market may hang out. This provides you with more opportunities to build relationships with potential clients. Plug in your services when possible, but don't over do it.Some VAs have found success by networking at their local Chamber of Commerce. This is something worthwhile to look into.2) Word of MouthWord of mouth is one of the best ways to get new clients. By providing outstanding service to your current clients, they will have no problem referring you to their friends and business connections.3) Press ReleasesPress Releases are an excellent way to get your name out there. Press releases are basically a newsworthy story about your business that you submit to the media, radio, etc. They're a wonderful way to get publicity for your business at little to no cost.4) Search Engine MarketingHave you ever seen the little ads under "Sponser Links" to the right of your computer screen when you do a search on www.Google.com? These are ads paid by people like you and I, to advertise our businesses. They are called Google Adwords. You pay X amount of money everytime someone clicks on your ad. Google allows you to choose the amount you want to pay per click and set a budget.Yahoo, MSN, and other search engines offer similar services.5) Search Engine OptimizationOptimizing your web pages so that search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN can find you, can increase the chances of prospective clients finding you on the worldwide web. This is extremely important as the Virtual Assistance Industry becomes more well known. You can easily learn to do this yourself.6) Advertise on Your CarI'm sure you have been driving somewhere and noticed a car with an advertisement on it. This is another avenue you can utilize to market your Virtual Assistant Business. You never know who might be reading it.7) Email Signature FilesEmail signature files are yet another way to market your Virtual Assistant Business. You can advertise your business each time you send, reply, or forward an email.8) Write ArticlesWriting articles that are of interest to your target market is another great marketing method. You can submit your articles to places like ezinearticles.com, and get some great exposure for your business, not to mention one way links. Writing articles is not as hard as you may think. Don't worry about trying to be eloquent. Keep it simple and make sure to proofread and edit it carefully before submitting it to article sites.9) Offline MarketingWeb decals, business cards, flyers, brochures, and networking can all be included in offline marketing. You can have business cards made today with little or no costs. VistaPrint.com is a perfect example. Vista Print offers business cards at no cost. You simply pay shipping and handling charges. You can also make your own business cards and flyers right on your computer with the right desktop publishing software.I hope you can put to use some of these methods to start marketing your Virtual Assistant Business.
Hey, that got your attention! You're probably sitting there with a raised eyebrow, and thinking... "Yeah, right!" Everybody knows that you have to have the best prices in town to be competitive... or do they?Think about this... when you go to a Ford dealership mechanic do you expect to pay more than if you take it to the repair shop on the corner? Of course you do. Why? Because the mechanics are specialists at the dealership. They specialize in the type of cars they sell, and know their stuff! When you become a specialist, people expect to pay more and feel like they are getting more value for their money. They trust the specialist to understand their needs. Now for the big question... How can you become a specialist? Here are 3 easy steps to becoming an expert in your field. 1. Divide your market.Take a good look at your market. How many pockets within your customer population can you find? You'll be surprised at the number of niches you can target. You'll find ethnic groups, different age groups, varied groups of income, singles, married couples, families, grandparents... the list could go on and on. Once you spot the pockets, decide which group or groups you want to target.2. LearnOnce you discover the pockets within your customer population, take the time to learn what their special needs and desires are. Dig deep, and really get to know them. Learn to speak their language, so to speak. The best place to start understanding them is simply by asking them why they buy your products. What do they like best about it? Why do they choose your place of business? You'll get straight answers right from the source, and gain amazing insight as well.3. Revise Your Advertising CampaignOnce you've earned the right to speak to them on their level, redesign your advertising campaign to reach out to them. The changes don't have to be drastic, but be sure to use the language of the group you are aiming for. Let them know you understand and desire to meet their special needs.Let's face it... there will always be competitors and competition. There's just no getting around it, but you really don't have to lower your prices to compete with them. Not when you are the expert in your field and your customers are trusting you to have the answers.
I'm a big believer in EMAILING press releases. Not only is email dirt cheap, email can often get you in front of editors a lot faster than regular mail or fax.Here's why. Media outlets like radio stations, TV stations, and newspapers get a TON of "press release" s. During my 20 years working in radio and TV, we got bag loads of mailed press releases every day.Probably 90 percent of them came from politicians and local college athletic programs. Their publicity people are told to send out a release several times a week--whether they have any real news to tell or not. Consequently, media get a release every time a congress person helps someone or an athletic field house gets a new folding chair.Are these mailed press releases ignored? You bet they are. Most go straight from the mail bag to the trash. Who has time to open 150 envelopes when most of them are pushing some story you will never be able to use? I know I'll get some notes from a media workers who will say "WE don't do it that way at our place." And you can be sure a few news rooms are very organized about opening, reading, filing, and using releases.Faxed releases work better, but not that much better given the expense. I worked at one station where the manager got tired of the fax machine burning up cartridges printing releases. Faxed releases were routed to the receptionist's computer where she deleted them.At another media outlet, faxes, ads, and all the other things that get faxed spilled out on the floor. Some were read, others were used for scratch paper, and most were trampled on until somebody bundled them into the trash.But wait a minute! If nobody is reading press releases, why do studies claim that 75% of the stories you read in newspapers originate from press releases?The answer lies in email. Email makes it easy to receive a release, forward it to the staff person who covers that particular topic, then store the release in an email "futures" file where it can be pulled up as needed.It's incredibly easy for newspaper people to import the email release into their writing program, change the headline, tweak a few things, and run it as a story. Editors don't like to admit they do this, but we've seen big city newspapers run our releases as articles with very few changes.You can't blame journalists for doing this. Media outlets have cut staffs over and over again during the past 15 years. One person now does the work of three staffers.Here are some tips for making your emailed release the starting point for a media report:1. Start your subject line with RELEASE. Then follow with the most newsworthy/titillating part of your story.2. Make your headline the first thing in the body of your email. I like to use two headlines, the second adding more information the first didn't have room to mention. The media person should be able to tell what your release is about just by reading the headlines.3. Include your contact information after the body of the release. This is becoming the standard way to do things on the Net. Journalists are now used to looking at the bottom for contact info.4. Keep your release under 400 words. Make sure you have good information the media audience wants, otherwise you don't stand a chance of getting coverage.5. Take time to send your release to your local media. They are more likely to use your story than out-of-town media. You can find their email addresses by searching for their sites on search engines.6. Send your release to trade publications covering your field. Even small developments can be of big interest to others in your line of work. One photographer client sent her release to photographic magazines and got coverage in almost every one.7. Go national. Get the Gebbie Media Guide at Gebbie.com. It's affordable and reliable.
One of the very hardest things for a marketer of any kind to accept is that not everyone will buy their product, no matter how great they think it is. And even if someone else believes it's fabulous too, that doesn't mean they'll buy.I play tennis not golf. So no matter how stunning the new clubs are that Tiger himself uses, I won't buy. I don't do golf. So you're better off to save your energy and find someone who DOES love golf. As obvious as this sounds, it's almost impossible for marketers to do.Ford Motor for example, just figured this out a few months ago. I posted on 1.23.06, the day they put out through the Wall Street Journal their five point plan to "restore profitability" to the company, and to "change their mindset." Here's #5:"Quit trying to sell Fords to people who won't buy them; focus instead on likely prospective customers."Think of all the advertising noise this will eliminate. No more screaming at the wrong ones. What if every marketer were to adopt this strategy?Say you're selling an insurance type of program. Who is a likely prospective customer? Here's one group: those who buy extra warranties for things they get, from calculators to computers, to warranty insurance, flood insurance, earthquake insurance. Yes, I am one of those. This group also includes people who plan vacations ahead, have retirement plans in place. The planners. Or the sudden loss set, for example, who want to be ready next time.Start describing the group by describing yourself. Why do you have the program? Ask your existing customers why they bought. They're your customers, aren't they? They comprise a community, if you will, and isn't that who you want to go after?Instead of doing therapy?Say you sell nutritional supplements. Who is a likely customer? How about those who know nutrition matters and who know that they cannot get the nutrients they need from the food they eat, even if it's all organic? These folks know they need to supplement. Like me. Or those who've had a close call or recent diagnosis and are responding to their wake-up call - they're now ready to eat right and supplement.Ask yourself why you take your supplements. Ask your steady customers (not just those who are selling). They'll give you their why's which will help describe your prospective customers.It's a start.
Local Search Marketing provides you, the business owner, with the most targeted and cost effective customer acquisition opportunity.Your customers are more and more often searching for businesses like yours on the Internet. Studies show that these customers have a serious buying intent. As a local business you need to figure out how to cost effectively reach out to these customers and start the business relationship. You need to do this even if you dont have a web site and dont want one!The Internet has changed the way that customers are looking for your business. The days of pulling out 2 kilos of two or more volumes of phone books are coming to an end. People are still letting their fingers do the walking but its on a computer keyboard. The Kelsey research group published these statistics and trends.q74% of households use the Internet as an information source when shopping locally.qApproximately 45% of local searches had a buying intent.qThe percentage of respondents who used yellow page directories decreased from 75% to 62%. (If you have a yellow page ad, it is time to consider buying a smaller ad and shifting your marketing dollars to the Internet.)As local business owners you need to take action now. You need to keep your existing customers, and gain new customers, so you need to be found where they are searching. Local "Search Marketing" is where your future clients and customers will come from.So where do you start?Most likely your customers will have a default setting on their computers and this will be set to one of these sites for search; Google, Yahoo, MSN or AOL. These search engines all index web pages and have some form of paid advertising referred to as Pay Per Click. This is fine if you have a web site but what about many small and local businesses that have little or no web presence at all? And even if you do have a web site, does it show up in the search engines above?Okay, so what other choices have you got? Well, for example, in Australia things are pretty limited. There are those folks, you know whom I am talking about, who will place you not only in a hard copy directory but also have services on line. The challenge is in what the financial cost is, BIG, but hey, they have been around a long time and have deep pockets. The other issue is that they often advertise in the search engines and you will find them there BUT if you follow the link to them, you need to do your search all over again! What a pain.There are other commercial "local search" engines and some of these are good value but many are not comprehensive. If there are only a few thousand businesses in a local directory most users will leave given the limited amount of content.So what you need to do is use a search engine like Google and search for local search directory, make sure you limit your search to the country you are in. For this article I am using Australia. The results include Yahoo local search and a number of local directories. You should check these out and see what it takes to participate in the directories that make the first page of the Google search.Many on-line marketeers forget the key point to being found on the Internet. What is the Action that you want to happen once someone finds your web page or directory listing? If you cant or dont sell products from your web site there are only two actions you want. First, that they call you, or second, that they email you. Thats it! You want a call or an email. These are the only two outcomes that can lead to interaction, a relationship and the potential to do business. Many small businesses already know, and the current research is proving them right, that a call is worth 15 times a click. Why is this?Email is to often being viewed as spam, sometimes it never even gets through filters and it lacks the emotional and personal touch of voice. So what we really want is a phone call. We want that phone to start ringing. But Why people dont call as much any more.It is getting harder and harder to get people to ring these days. They hide behind email or resist picking up the phone with fear that one of these things will occur:1.Please press 1 for . and 2 for . or 3 for , or2.We value your business and you are number 17 in the queue, or3.This call maybe recorded for training and quality purposes!No one wants this response to picking up the phone and making a call. So what is the alternative?Its called Pay Per Call, but all it is, is a push to talk button. Someone presses a button on a web page, puts in their phone number and they are connected to the company that put up the button. Its simple, easy and direct.Not a click, its a call!This is what we see as the future of local search. People finding companies that are in their area and pressing a button to talk with them. Could be a local cleaner, carpet layer, pool builder, alarm installer, baby sitter. You name it. These are the local people you want to attract and do business with. To do this, you need them to find you and talk with you. If they can find you through an Internet search and know that they wont be placed on hold, since you are calling them, you win. Now its business as usual and your back in control of the sales process not the Internet!These complimentary features of local search and push to talk buttons are available today in Australia at AussieWeb Local Search. Google just announced that they are beta testing this with Pay Per Click advertising in America. Wonder where they got that idea?