Create the Marketing Plan
Now we can start to piece together our message. We know who our target and niche is, where they hang out, what their problems/needs are, what other industries will connect us to them (like our example about looking for attorneys and connecting to them through CPAs and financial planners) who we are, and how we can piece together the focused message that will attract this ideal client to our business.
Now let’s look at how we can market to our niche. One more time I’d like to reiterate why it’s so important to have a niche, especially as it relates to marketing. It’s much less expensive to market to 1,000 businesses than it is to market to 500,000 businesses. If I need to touch them twelve times, in order to close the sale, can you imagine how expensive and time consuming this could be? Trying to reach ‘everyone’ is much more difficult than trying to reach a targeted focused prospect.
There are lots of ways to market to your niche. First, let’s look at many of the mediums available to us:
- Business cards – brochures – letterhead
- Postcards/letters (snail mail)
- Email (including eZines, blogs, and blogs Emails)
- Yellow Pages
- Newspapers/magazines/event programs
- Press releases
- Article writing
- Networking (local and online)
- Social media marketing
- Other – what others can you think of
Now that we’ve established some of the areas where we can deliver our message, you’ll want to attach some prices to those that will have to be expensed by your company. Make sure that you have the money available to you (through a marketing budget) to be able to follow-through on your plans.
Armed with our message and all the data we’ve collected about our target and where they hang out, we can now develop a plan of action.
You will definitely want to key in on the many low to no-cost options that are listed there and make them part of your everyday marketing plan (I suggest a minimum of 10-hours a week to market your business). Here are some with little to no cost:
- Email (including eZines, blogs, and blast Emails)
- Yellow Pages (just using your free listing)
- Press releases
- Article writing
- Social media marketing
To create your marketing plan you will want to establish a ‘system’ for each type of medium, and determine how often you will market to them. Consistency is vital – remember, your prospects want to know, like and trust you, so they’ll be watching you closely.
You will also want to make sure it’s something you are able to do regularly. Don’t announce that you’ll be writing two articles a week if that’s not possible with your current schedule. Don’t create a blog and not post to it for more than 3-4 weeks.
Creating a plan goes a long way in establishing an intention. It will also help you to plan your month, week and day so that you will be able to effectively keep up with your marketing efforts, client work, business functions and actually have a personal life.
You will find that it’s much easier to stay focused on your marketing if you put it in writing and make it a part of your business throughout the week. You don’t necessarily have to market every day, but at least 10-hours a week is a good place to start.
Don’t forget to shake things up a bit. You should give different mediums a try, and also utilize those options that have little to no cost. It’s all a numbers game, the more times your message and brand are seen, the more people will begin to recognize you and want to find out more about you and your offerings.
Make sure as you develop your marketing pieces that you include some call to action. Something that the prospect will want to do that will help you to capture their information, allowing you to market to them regularly.
There are many ways to do this; an eZine sign up; a free report or CD; gift certificate for responding to a survey; etc. Be creative and try to do something no one else is doing. And don’t forget the call to action – either make it clear that you will be contacting them in the near future, or give them something of value that will bring them to you.
Those ‘calls to action’ are also a great tool for tracking your marketing results, or ROI (Return on investment). When someone contacts you for the report, or free CD, you’ll know exactly which marketing piece caught their eye and returned a prospect. Do the same with your postcards, articles, eZines, blogs, etc. Offer something different each time so that you know for sure what medium and which message is getting the best result.
This is probably the most important part of your marketing plan and one everyone usually forgets. If you don’t track this, you are throwing your time and money away. I keep a small note pad by my printer and whenever someone calls (and I always ask how they found me) I make note of which article, CD, or consultation they are looking for, which immediately tells me where and how they found me.
You will want to at least try something for 3-6 months before making the decision to dump it, twelve, if at all possible, again, going back to knowing that it could take up to 12 times before someone will actually feel they know you well enough to consider contacting you about your services.
I will also caution you about eZines and article postings to blogs and free websites. You must be consistent. Nothing says ‘you can’t trust me to do what I say I’ll do’, than to announce that you’re going to do a monthly eZine and there be a three month gap in anyone actually seeing one. Same with articles and your blog – if someone finds your blog and you haven’t posted anything to it for two to three months, they’re not going to think you’re very reliable.
And finally, I’d like for you to also think outside the box. Many of you are going to look at that list and see article writing and speaking as something you KNOW you’ll never be able to do – and maybe you’re right, but then find something else.
Do your research, hone your niche and marketing message as much as possible so that the message you are delivering speaks to ‘what’s in it for the client’ – what problem or pain will you solve for them, and shake things up. Do something you’ve never done before. You’ll be well on your way to building a profitable virtual assistance practice with your newly developed or re-invented niche.
Jeannine Grich, owner of Accurate Business Services, a VA practice, is an author, writer, speaker, and VA Business Coach, specializing in providing professional business coaching to established and start-up virtual assistants (VA’s). For her FREE article, “What’s Holding Back my Business Success?” or “Finding or Expanding Your Niche”, Visit: https://VAbizcoach.com; or contact her at: [email protected].
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