Maximum Marketing - Minimum Budget
By Bonnie Jo Davis
Lack of Marketing is a major factor in the failure of many VA businesses. It really is market or die. You need to market most when you are busy as it is too late when you are slack. I once read an article that said don't promote your personal VA. If you do they will get busy and then they will have less time for you.
Your clients are your best advertisement and if one of your clients has this view, they should not be your client...
Two years ago I started my small Virtual Assistant business with a non-existent marketing budget. I borrowed marketing books from the library, read countless articles on the Internet and joined a professional trade association of my peers. I learned hundreds of marketing techniques and one valuable lesson. The lesson I learned is that the financial ruin of large companies is often achieved by incredibly expensive and glitzy marketing plans that do not take into account the company's ability to earn a profit. Over time, I found that the most effective marketing techniques that allow a company to make a profit are those that are inexpensive or free. What a fantastic discovery for me at that time! This knowledge, combined with hard work and excellent customer service, enabled my small business to expand at a phenomenal rate.
When developing your marketing plan be aware that frugal marketing techniques take more time and a great deal of personal creativity but they DO produce results! Following are a few of my most successful frugal marketing techniques:
The Virtual Assistant WebsiteIt is not necessary to spend thousands of dollars on a beautiful website. Some of the most effective and interesting websites I have seen were built on a frugal budget. Far more important than the cost is the content of a website. At a minimum your website should include your company name, contact information, tagline or slogan, company/owner biography, a list of services, a client list or list of testimonials, articles or press releases you have written and any interesting information related to your business that might be of help to your visitors. It is essential that you use a paid web host and not a free service. Free hosting may exclude you from search engine listings and may brand you as a neophyte in your field when that impression may not be correct. Inexpensive hosting is available and many hosts provide free or low cost web templates that will give your site a polished and consistent look. For a list of affordable web hosts visit the Web Host Directory and Host Review. Having a well-developed website will help you leverage the results of your other frugal marketing techniques and, in the long run, will save you money by reducing the overall cost and shipping of your marketing materials.
Public Relations for VAs
Create a press release and submit it to your local newspaper. Highlight the unusual aspects of your business and educate the reader about your business and your industry. Do not simply promote your own company, but promote the industry as a whole. Position your business as unique in that industry by explaining, for example, how your company takes a novel approach to delivering products or services. Take the same press release and format it for the Internet. Submit it to as many free press release sites that you can find such as LocalBusiness.com, PRWeb.com and USA News. For added impact, search the Newslink website to find other community newspapers in your state that might be interested in your business news. Follow standard press release formatting and be sure to add that you are available for interviews in your contact information section as this opens the door for feature interviews during slow 'news' weeks for local papers. Send out a press release every quarter or at least twice a year. Always include your website's URL in any marketing materials and press releases. For more information about press releases including formatting visit the Netpreneur Exchange, Infoscavenger and Pertinent Information.