Guest Anna I

Marketing my business

22 posts in this topic

I have been a VA since January and am really struggling with marketing my business. Networking is hard work and whilst providing me with small clients, I feel I need some meaty contracts to pay the way. Discipline is also a big problem as I am distracted by so many things at home. I have invested a lot of time and money so far and am now worried I won't pull it off. Please any advice on targeting people would be welcome. :unsure:

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Can you give us an idea of what you have already tried? Have you joined the Chamber of Commerce or any other business groups? Many of those local groups are free or very inexpensive. Have you tried launching your business by contacting your local newspapers? They are happy to print an article about you especially if you sort of write it yourself.

 

What types of face-to-face contacts have you made? Are you out every day meeting people and handing out your business card?

 

I think we all understand the distraction part. Sometimes I have to shut my office door so I can't hear the dog chasing the cats or waiting for the dishwasher to stop running so I can unload it. It also helps me if my desk is very, very clean with no other projects in my sight...otherwise I'm thinking about those and not concentrating on the task at hand.

 

Let us know what you have tried. We're all here to ask and answer. It's what we do best!

 

Nancy

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I'm currently working on my e-marketing. I'm drawing up a newsletter to send out to businesses I think would need support and also to get my name "out there". Who knows who they know and before long another few folk know about you.

 

There are laws governing e-marketing and you should probably do the research before attempting (if you haven't done so already) this form of marketing.

 

I'm also looking through the local newpaper on Job Advertising day and getting some business names from this and will then target them. I'm not sure if this will work but you have to try - right?

 

I think this phrase sums it up for me "It's better to make a big splash in a small pond than a ripple in a bigger pond" in other words target your potential clients to suit your specialty.

 

Hope this helps Anna - keep going!!

 

Veronica :)

 

 

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Hi Anna,

 

One thing I want to caution you about - if distractions are impacting you now, they will be much harder to deal with as your practice gets busier. You don't say if your distractions are from children or just run of the mill household chores, but make sure that you develop good habits now or this will get much harder. I actually schedule time for household tasks, errands etc. Work time is also scheduled and if it's work time - I'm working. If you have kids, you should set them up with an activity before you sit down to do your work so that they are occupied as well. I encourage you to set up a schedule and stick to it. This will really help you down the road. Good luck!

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Hi Anna,

 

One thing I want to caution you about - if distractions are impacting you now, they will be much harder to deal with as your practice gets busier. You don't say if your distractions are from children or just run of the mill household chores, but make sure that you develop good habits now or this will get much harder. I actually schedule time for household tasks, errands etc. Work time is also scheduled and if it's work time - I'm working. If you have kids, you should set them up with an activity before you sit down to do your work so that they are occupied as well. I encourage you to set up a schedule and stick to it. This will really help you down the road. Good luck!

 

Bravo, Paula! That's great advice!

 

May I add one other organization tip? I wish I could remember which article I read this in--but to paraphrase, don't just add an item to that long, general to-do list; add it directly to your planner/day runner. This way you've given yourself a concrete goal and a deadline that forces you to focus. It's also a great motivator if you realize at the end of a workday that you have to write in those unfinished tasks AGAIN for the next day.

 

Now, as for marketing...keeping myself "out there" is the hardest part for me, too. Remember first of all that marketing is constant. You market every time you make contact with a client (however small), submit a proposal, mention your VA business among friends...it's about IMAGE. Project the image of your business you want people to remember. If you're friendly and outgoing, project enthusiasm and energy. If you're introverted, instead project intelligence or creativity or efficiency or whatever trait really defines the way you want people to think of your professional self. In other words, don't think of marketing as a script you have to perform. Let your best self come across naturally.

 

On days when you don't have something going on that gives you an opportunity to make that impression, create one! Now you've crossed into the realm of advertising. Here comes the planner again. Got an empty morning? Schedule it (yes, in writing!) to do just one very specific task with the goal of GETTING NOTICED PROFESSIONALLY in mind. Not every method works for every personality, but here are a few common ones:

  1. Respond to some forum posts that will allow you to show your expertise.
  2. Make a follow-up call to a prospect.
  3. Have lunch with a friend/former colleague/neighbor, and find a way to mention some projects you're doing lately. (No hard sell here, just conversation.)
  4. Send a former client an e-mail "how are you, thought of you" with a link to an article s/he would find particularly useful.
  5. Do a search for local networking events, and register for one.
  6. Cold call some people in your target market. (Ughhh personally, but some VAs are great at this!)
  7. Scan the classified for companies that are seeking part-time help, and send them marketing kits.

Finally, be patient. I know that's hard to hear. Things will happen when you are ready for them, not a moment sooner. Consider the time in between your business learning curve, and make the most of it. :)

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Can you give us an idea of what you have already tried? Have you joined the Chamber of Commerce or any other business groups? Many of those local groups are free or very inexpensive. Have you tried launching your business by contacting your local newspapers? They are happy to print an article about you especially if you sort of write it yourself.

 

What types of face-to-face contacts have you made? Are you out every day meeting people and handing out your business card?

 

I think we all understand the distraction part. Sometimes I have to shut my office door so I can't hear the dog chasing the cats or waiting for the dishwasher to stop running so I can unload it. It also helps me if my desk is very, very clean with no other projects in my sight...otherwise I'm thinking about those and not concentrating on the task at hand.

 

Let us know what you have tried. We're all here to ask and answer. It's what we do best!

 

Nancy

Hi Nanner

 

Thank you for responding. I have just this week joined the Chamber and do belong to a breakfast club which has given me alittle bit of work. I have had an editorial in local press but no reponse from that atall. I'm now relooking at my website to so see what I can change to get my ranking higher there. I do hand cards out all the time but admit I'm not out every day. I think I'm nievely expecting my site to bring clients in. I've thought about local radio stations as the next step. My distractions are house chores and friends who can't take my business seriousley and think because I'm at home its not a proper job so they drop by. Interestingly and I don't know if others have found this but my close friends don't seem to think I should be doing what I'm doing and I feel, they really just don't want me to succeed so I'm continually being told to make life easier and get a real job. That drags me down. At the risk of sounding hormonal I will go and get on. I feel better for chatting to other VAs!

 

 

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I'm currently working on my e-marketing. I'm drawing up a newsletter to send out to businesses I think would need support and also to get my name "out there". Who knows who they know and before long another few folk know about you.

 

There are laws governing e-marketing and you should probably do the research before attempting (if you haven't done so already) this form of marketing.

 

I'm also looking through the local newpaper on Job Advertising day and getting some business names from this and will then target them. I'm not sure if this will work but you have to try - right?

 

I think this phrase sums it up for me "It's better to make a big splash in a small pond than a ripple in a bigger pond" in other words target your potential clients to suit your specialty.

 

Hope this helps Anna - keep going!!

 

Veronica :)

Hi Veronica

 

I think your suggestions are good. I had thought about a newsletter but am not sure I have any news to talk of, as I am still quite new to the business. The idea of looking at situations vacant in the local papers and noting company names is something I will do though.

I will keep going as on a good day its really good! Thank you.

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Hi Anna,

 

One thing I want to caution you about - if distractions are impacting you now, they will be much harder to deal with as your practice gets busier. You don't say if your distractions are from children or just run of the mill household chores, but make sure that you develop good habits now or this will get much harder. I actually schedule time for household tasks, errands etc. Work time is also scheduled and if it's work time - I'm working. If you have kids, you should set them up with an activity before you sit down to do your work so that they are occupied as well. I encourage you to set up a schedule and stick to it. This will really help you down the road. Good luck!

 

Bravo, Paula! That's great advice!

 

May I add one other organization tip? I wish I could remember which article I read this in--but to paraphrase, don't just add an item to that long, general to-do list; add it directly to your planner/day runner. This way you've given yourself a concrete goal and a deadline that forces you to focus. It's also a great motivator if you realize at the end of a workday that you have to write in those unfinished tasks AGAIN for the next day.

 

Now, as for marketing...keeping myself "out there" is the hardest part for me, too. Remember first of all that marketing is constant. You market every time you make contact with a client (however small), submit a proposal, mention your VA business among friends...it's about IMAGE. Project the image of your business you want people to remember. If you're friendly and outgoing, project enthusiasm and energy. If you're introverted, instead project intelligence or creativity or efficiency or whatever trait really defines the way you want people to think of your professional self. In other words, don't think of marketing as a script you have to perform. Let your best self come across naturally.

 

On days when you don't have something going on that gives you an opportunity to make that impression, create one! Now you've crossed into the realm of advertising. Here comes the planner again. Got an empty morning? Schedule it (yes, in writing!) to do just one very specific task with the goal of GETTING NOTICED PROFESSIONALLY in mind. Not every method works for every personality, but here are a few common ones:

  1. Respond to some forum posts that will allow you to show your expertise.
  2. Make a follow-up call to a prospect.
  3. Have lunch with a friend/former colleague/neighbor, and find a way to mention some projects you're doing lately. (No hard sell here, just conversation.)
  4. Send a former client an e-mail "how are you, thought of you" with a link to an article s/he would find particularly useful.
  5. Do a search for local networking events, and register for one.
  6. Cold call some people in your target market. (Ughhh personally, but some VAs are great at this!)
  7. Scan the classified for companies that are seeking part-time help, and send them marketing kits.
Finally, be patient. I know that's hard to hear. Things will happen when you are ready for them, not a moment sooner. Consider the time in between your business learning curve, and make the most of it. :)

Wow! what great advice I'm getting. I suddenly feel I should get up and go out there and show them what I'm made of after reading this. I have taken on board all you have said. Infact I've added your list to my marketing plan. Thank you!

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One of the best ways to get your name out there is to get a blog and start blogging about things your clients / customers are going to be searching for. You'll climb up in the search engines and be found more often without having to do any sales and marketing.

 

Another great way is to setup a referral program and let your current clients know about it. I used to offer $50 to the referrer if the person they referred signed up for a retainer package. Now, I have an affiliate program on my website.

 

Sincerely,

 

Erin Blaskie

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I have been a VA since January and am really struggling with marketing my business. Networking is hard work and whilst providing me with small clients, I feel I need some meaty contracts to pay the way. Discipline is also a big problem as I am distracted by so many things at home. I have invested a lot of time and money so far and am now worried I won't pull it off. Please any advice on targeting people would be welcome. :unsure:

 

 

Hi Anna,

 

I am new as well. I find it hard to market my business as well. The ways to advertise are harder then they used to be. Sending out emails about your services to company's that may be interested could be considered spamming because you do not have there permission.

Telemarking is not as effective because too many companies are doing it.

 

I myself am currently looking for ways to market my company.

 

I really like this advisc given by Paula, Scan the classified for companies that are seeking part-time help, and send them marketing kits. I am going to try this.

 

I am looking suggestions as well

 

YvonneW :blink:

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I have been a VA since January and am really struggling with marketing my business. Networking is hard work and whilst providing me with small clients, I feel I need some meaty contracts to pay the way. Discipline is also a big problem as I am distracted by so many things at home. I have invested a lot of time and money so far and am now worried I won't pull it off. Please any advice on targeting people would be welcome. :unsure:

 

 

Hi Anna,

 

I am new as well. I find it hard to market my business as well. The ways to advertise are harder then they used to be. Sending out emails about your services to company's that may be interested could be considered spamming because you do not have there permission.

Telemarking is not as effective because too many companies are doing it.

 

I myself am currently looking for ways to market my company.

 

I really like this advisc given by Paula, Scan the classified for companies that are seeking part-time help, and send them marketing kits. I am going to try this.

 

I am looking suggestions as well

 

YvonneW :blink:

Hi Yvonne

 

Atleast I do know I'm not alone. That's a good feeling. Good luck with your business and maybe we can compare notes as we go. :thumbup:

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Hi

 

I can so remember those friends and family members too that used to not take my business seriously. It used to get me so. I still have that problem when family comes to visit from out of town. They know I work from home and they know I'm busy, but they often dont' think nothing of coming over early during the day. It drives me nutso. I really just got firm. I stated my hours and didn't feel guilty. Why should I be up all night working! Most of the time it works! If I worked a 9 to 5 they wouldnt' think twice of doing that.

 

This is such a perfect time for marketing with the holiday approaching. You can send out holiday greetings introducing yourself, attending early holiday get togethers, etc. Also, a lot of businesses can use help during this time.

 

It always helped me to be consistent. Like I'd plan one day to send out letters, one day to ... one day to ...

 

Good luck! It will definitely happen!

 

 

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Hi All,

 

Now that I am moving more into consulting I have found that is much easier to sell a product online than service... ain't that the truth!

 

1. What will help you sell...

  • A website - doesn't have to be large, about you page, skillls, background, testimonials page (as you build clients)
  • Submitting jobs - done in pdf I find that best with professional logo at the top.

2. VA sites (ones I've found so far that look decent)

I presume that stacks more in the resources section.

 

3. Elance.com

 

I have just started to use these guys over the last few months. Here's a few things I've found...

  • To get started you will have to under price yourself a little.
  • Way over deliver on your first few jobs to get good feedback/testimonials - this increases you chance of getting your new projects and current clients coming back. I only have two testimonials at present and already have bidders asking me to do work.
  • Quallity - It's very hard to compete price wise here as their are many indian companies therefore emphasize english as first language, skills and quality when you bid. The more jobs you get and complete, the more you can raise your prices.
  • Proposals - Don't put in a long proposal straight of the bat, waiste of time. I tend to use the prebid a lot by asking a question and giving an estimated amount for services... if they get back to they are interested and then you can put in a more detailed proposal.
  • Information - If current client give them enough information for a new job but just enough. I have been burn't giving too much free time and info... don't do it any more.

4. Adverstising..

  • Put your link on all the free VA directories.
  • Local directories, yellow pages, government emplyment sites, etc.

 

Cheers, Chris

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hey Anna,

 

You've gotten some excellent advice here with lots of options and loads of information. There are many different ways to market your business (as I'm sure you've learned). All of them are worth looking into and researching. I'd like to add a few tips as you get your marketing strategies together. It can be quite overwhelming when you start looking at everything you could be doing.

 

1) Play with your options - try out different marketing techniques. Play with them and notice which ones are fun for you.

 

2) Manage your time - Marketing takes time, so spread your play out. Give yourself time to really explore each option, while you also create those habits that will keep you away from distraction.

 

3) Make choices daily - As you go through your day and you are working on different projects, be conscious of your choices. Choose to do your marketing at a time that works for you. Choose your next marketing option, by what excites you most. Choose to do what you feel will work best for you.

 

4) Find what works - as you play with options, manage your time and make choices, you will find marketing tasks that work (bring in clients) and ones that you enjoy doing. If you enjoy your marketing, you are bound to send off signals that will attract clients.

 

Keep up the great work and I'm sure you'll find a groove that works for you. :thumbup:

 

Create a great day!

Kristen Beireis

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Great tips, Kristen -

 

Those can really help define who we are and how we make use of our day.

 

Nancy

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