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Archive for Life as a VA

Nov
26

54 Marketing Mediums: Where Do Your Customers Expect You to Be?

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Ruth Martin, Life as a Virtual Assistant bloggerruth-marketingMarketing, or advertising, may feel awkward or like some obscure creature that’s hard to understand or tame but I promise it’s not. With so many various mediums to use, the decision often boils down to which to use that connects with your customers plus testing what is working.

I suggest selecting between one to three methods to begin with and track those results. Tracking the results can be as easy as asking readers to “mention this ad,” “respond by a specific date,” “use this code,” or “use a specific page URL” and noting the unique hits to that URL. Put something in your advertising that can be measurable and tracked. Your overall message can be similar but vary the tracking element.

For my clients I recommend that if using three mediums for a specific marketing focus that each contains something uniquely identifiable. For example: on Twitter or Facebook we would use a hashtag (#). For article marketing we would include a URL link to a free download that has a counter to record the number of times it’s been downloaded. And for the third medium we’d ask readers to reply with a code word in the subject line or to mention seeing this ad to track how many saw the message.

Run your marketing for a minimum of three months, review the results you’ve collected during that time, and make some slight tweaks to enhance the results you received during this time. Marketing is all about testing, tracking, and tweaking. If you’re not tracking your marketing efforts then you won’t know with certainty what’s working.

Online Marketing Options

1. Press Releases

2. Article Marketing

3. Article/Blog Commenting

4. Guest Blogging

5. Video Marketing/Blogging

6. Blogging

7. Podcasts

8. Online Radio Show

9. eCourse

10. Workshop

11. Email Marketing

12. Social Media: Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Google+/Pinterest, etc.

13. Forums / Online Chats

14. Networking Groups

15. eZine/Digital Newsletter

16. Pink Spoon Marketing

17. Affiliate Marketing

18. Joint Partnership Marketing

19. Social Bookmarking

20. Word of Mouth Marketing

21. Referral Marketing

22. Infographic Sharing

23. eBooks

24. Paperback/Hardback Book

25. Pay Per Click Ads

26. Facebook Ads

27. Google Adwords

28. Host an Online Contest

29. QR Codes

30. Website

31. Customized Email Signature Block

32. Free Reports/White Papers/Checklists

Offline Marketing Options

1. Newsletter

2. Postcards

3. Brochures

4. Business Cards

5. Newspaper Ads

6. Radio Ads

7. Television Ads

8. Sponsorship Ads or a Team Sponsorship or Sponsor Gift Bags

9. Auction Donations

10. Conference Attendee

11. Conference Vendor

12. Trade Show

13. Note Cards/Greeting & Holiday Cards/Thank You Cards

14. Public Speaking

15. On-Site Training Workshops

16. Handouts/Flyers

17. Premium Marketing (pens, tote bags, t-shirts, etc.)

18. Marketing Wrapped Vehicle or Vehicle Magnets

19. Cold Calling

20. Coffee/Dessert Meetings

21. Provide a Prize for a Local Contest

22. In-Person Networking Events (Chamber Meetings, Business Mixers, etc.)

It’s not mandatory to market in each of these mediums. It IS crucial for you to know who your customers are, what their interests are regarding their business, and where these customers would anticipate seeing your advertising.

While it is a good community gesture to sponsor an ad in the local high school yearbook, the reality is that you probably won’t get a customer from someone reading that ad. So do you say no to a yearbook ad? It’s entirely up to you. The parent who is co-chairing the yearbook committee may be a business owner you’ve been trying to reach. This may be a way to strike up a conversation over a common interest point that over time, and relationship building, could lead to bigger business. But the reality is that it most likely is a feel-good type ad that won’t have strong conversion possibilities. Only you will know if you should spend part of your marketing budget here. Apply this same type of consideration to each medium.

Try a using a combination of these 4 core fundamentals to marketing:

Advertising: you are calling attention to your own products, services, and needs your business answers for others.

Publicity: securing public notice to your business offerings by being in the news, by word of mouth or other communications. The key is others talking positively about your business on your behalf.

Sales Promotions: giving your current and potential customers advance notice of a service, product, or need that your business provides that they can use, buy, recommend, or share with others. You are encouraging others to take action during a specific time period.

Personal Selling: having 1-on-1 contact with a prospective buyer where you can personally address their specific needs and offer tailored responses, services, and answers via your product offerings.

Before venturing into any marketing medium determine if your preferred customer would typically be seeing this type of advertisement. Let who your end customer is, determine where you place your marketing efforts and marketing dollars. Your customers will drive your marketing presence, and in turn, your marketing frequency will drive your customers [to you]. Read More→

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Dec
10

Which Email List Service to Choose

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Ruth MartinMRuth Martin, Life as a Virtual Assistant bloggerailChimp, Constant Contact, 1Shopping Cart, oh my. Which to choose? Which to use? And most importantly why?

Before passing Go and collecting your first sign up or creating an opt-in box it’s best to ask some questions and know the features of each option. Not all email list services are created equal and will meet all needs. For example, if affiliate links are intended to be shared with the readers of your list, MailChimp isn’t for you. MailChimp doesn’t permit the usage of affiliate links in their broadcast messages. In this case, Aweber or Constant Contact is a better choice.

If selling products is the main goal with a sprinkling of email blasts or a newsletter thrown in, 1ShoppingCart, aka 1SC, (or one of the 1SC affiliate partner sites) is a better choice than Aweber. Aweber is strictly an email marketing and auto-responder service. Read More→

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Nov
12

Save That or Not

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Ruth Martin, Life as a Virtual Assistant bloggerSave That or Not, by Ruth MartinA virtual assistant can create a lot of documents in a single month. One of my clients is a trustee. It’s not uncommon to generate an average of 300 documents monthly for only this one client. Have you ever thought about how many items you create or handle on behalf of each one of your clients monthly? And the storage each requires? You should.

A virtual assistant is responsible to handle and create many digital pieces that support a client in their business. These pieces when completed should be returned to the client for final storage and retention or placed in an online cloud-based storage solution for shared access by the client and virtual assistant. I suspect that in many cases the reality is that virtual assistants, inadvertently, become storage portals for their clients.

Think back to times when a client asks if you have a document from 6 months ago or 1 year ago or even 3 years ago and you do! I know some heads are nodding because I’ve done it too. That was until I realized I was hurting my efficiency and storage solutions by being an unpaid storage provider instead of a service provider. Read More→

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Oct
08

Give it the Filter Test

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ruth-filterRuth Martin, Life as a Virtual Assistant blogger“Hey, where are you finding your clients?”

“What kind of marketing works for you? I need to find something, any single thing that works.”

“I listened to a seminar and the speaker said the best way to get clients was….”

“What are the must-have software products I need to use?”

“Which social media sites should I have a presence on?

“What rate should I charge for this package, service or [__fill in the blank__]?” Read More→

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Sep
10

Working Virtually – Using Online Tools & Resources

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Ruth Martin, Life as a Virtual Assistant bloggerruth-toolsWorking 100% virtually comes with learning to use online tools and resources to achieve things you normally did in-person. To be ahead of the game as a virtual worker take the Working Virtual Checkpoint Test and see if you have the base knowledge and skills to transition to working virtually with ease.

Working Virtual Checkpoint Test

1) Can you use Google and Bing like a pro

___ Y                ___ N

2) Knows how to convert files to other formats
___ Y                ___ N

3) Knows when to upload and when to download
___ Y                ___ N Read More→

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Jul
09

It’s Raining Clients

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Ruth Martin, Life as a Virtual Assistant bloggerruth-martinYour marketing is working. After months and months (or even years) of splotchy leads you are now getting solid nibbles that have potential. From the right (your website and social media efforts), from the left (your newsletter and blog posts), it feels like you’re sloshing in the middle where you’re about to nearly drown with requests for a quote or an appointment to talk about how only your business can help. Don’t grab an umbrella to deflect anything or run for cover instead slip your tootsies into some galoshes and get ready to wade forward knowing what NOT to do and what to DO when it’s raining clients.

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Jun
11

When Training is a Bad Idea

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Ruth Martin, Life as a Virtual Assistant bloggerWhen Training is a Bad IdeaAt some point in time while being a virtual assistant (VA) a client will ask you to train them to perform a specific task. This is always a sticky area because most virtual assistants are primarily service providers. Those that offer training do so as structured courses that are packaged with all the inclusives named and priced accordingly.

Whether or not to train will depend on various factors. Give consideration to each of these questions and decide if it’s right for your business.

Is this something that the VA is turning over to the client to maintain from here forward?

Yes – It’s not unreasonable for a web designer to include instructions and light training to website owners so they can maneuver around their newly created website. The web owner may learn how to add a page, add a blog post, add a plug-in or an opt-in box to name just a few things. This type of training is reasonable and usually included in the purchased website design package. Just as a virtual bookkeeper will train their client in using QuickBooks to records their financials. Read More→

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Ruth Martin, Life as a Virtual Assistant bloggerscalesGalatians 6:4 says, “Do your own work well, and then you will have something to be proud of. But don’t compare yourself with others.” Yet comparisons inevitably come up and often it’s like comparing apples and oranges, which can only lead to discontentment. I want to give you a few tips today for guarding against discontent within your business. My desire is for you to rock the business model you have for your virtual assistant business and not to be swayed by the shiny object that seems to be happening in someone else’s business or what the internet marketers are saying you must do to succeed.

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Apr
09

Give ‘Em the Value They Crave

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Ruth Martin, Life as a Virtual Assistant bloggerdiamondIf someone can’t see the value of working with you, it’s because you haven’t shown them the value of working with you. Ouch. That hurts to toss that back onto your shoulders. As the business owner it’s important to include your value in your marketing, in your web copy, and in your correspondence. Expressing your value (aka UVP – unique value proposition) should be a large part of your branding and that kind of branding should become second nature in how you respond online and in quotes. After all, branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers. You want to stand out from the crowd.

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Ruth Martin, Life as a Virtual Assistant bloggerletterEver consider what a Christian virtual assistant’s creed would be like if that same virtual assistant composed a letter to their future client. One possibility could be this:

Dear Future Client:

We haven’t met each other yet (at least I don’t think we have), but there are a few things I’d like to express to you on this day that celebrates the anticipation I have about serving you and your business’s needs.

Sometimes, I wonder if you pray for me like I pray for you. I do, you know. A lot! There was a time that I got depressed wondering what was taking so long for you to find me, for me to advertise where you’d see it, to figure out if my marketing messages were truly speaking to the heart of your business interests and needs. But God has been doing such an amazing work in my life over these past few months that I no longer worry and wonder. I am learning to rest in the fact that His timing is ideal. If He hasn’t introduced us yet, He has a good reason for it. Rather than sulking and doubting, I have decided to turn those longings into prayers instead. Additionally, I have focused on honing my skills and seeking out learning experiences to further increase my value to you, dear client.

Read More→

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