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The Importance of Social Media

Social media is the blazing the way for business and the importance of using social media in your marketing strategy should not be overlooked. Frankly you can’t afford not to do it.

I hear from many clients who state they don’t have the time, energy, or knowledge to get involved in social media, and that they don’t understand or see how it can be beneficial to them. Some feel that it doesn’t apply to their industry or their product, however social media is beneficial to anyone who implements a strategy with goals, and devotes the time to make it successful.

The important thing to remember with any strategy is that you need to know what you hope to gain from it. What is your desired outcome or objective? Are you seeking engagement, leads, networking, conversion, etc.? These are equally important for some businesses and yet others just want a form of engagement with clients and prospects. Whatever your objective, be sure to have a plan.

You’ll need to know your demographics and audience when implementing a social media strategy. For some businesses this is hard, but there are so many social media platforms out there that you have to ensure that you’re spending your time on the correct platforms. What does that mean? It means you need to be where your audience is. Each social media platform has a variety of demographics and can often times inform you as to who is using them. For instance you’re friend might own a clothing boutique and might be social on Facebook and Pinterest, and that might work with their strategy, but that doesn’t neceessarily mean it’s right for your business. You may determine that you need to be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Youtube. Maybe you’ll determine you need to be involved in others as well.

Everywhere you look on the internet, people will say that “Content is King”, and yes it is. It doesn’t do any good to implement an amazing strategy if your content is boring. I look at social media similar to that of starting a business. Some fail and others don’t. The reasons can be many, but when it comes to social media it comes down to content and consistency. You have to ensure that you provide intriguing information that people what to read. One very important tip is to remember that social media engagement isn’t all about you and your business. The object is not to push your products and services but to provide helpful information that your readers want or need. If they have a problem, provide a solution. Provide tips and tricks on information that’s related to their needs.

Consistency is also top on the list of importance. Clients sometimes will tell me that social media has never worked for them and that it has bee a waste of time. When I ask what they’ve done with it or how they’ve used it, many times the answer I get is, well we made a Facebook page and no one has liked us. We signed up on Twitter and no one has followed us. Unfortunately social media is about engagement. You can’t just login and signup and do nothing. You have to engage. Be sure to always respond to those that engage with you and build a following.

If you’re going to use social media platforms then you need to set some time aside each day to manage it. Schedule a half an hour each day or every other day and engage. The rewards will not be immediate, but they will come and they will be worth it.

 

Virtual Assisting

What does a Virtual Assistant do exactly?

The virtual assisting industry is taking business by storm, but the services offered from one VA to the next vary significantly. Some VA’s specialize in a certain niche while others cover general administrative needs. 

When I tell people what I do as a VA, often times they still have questions on what it is that I really do. The services list for me is a long one, as I provide a multitude of administrative and business related services with a niche in business development, management, and social media. I do however provide basic administrative functions in addition to the niche services. 

Common VA services are as follows:

Transcription, Reminder Calls and Cards, Database Management, Meeting and Event Planning, Newsletters, Mailing Services, Bookkeeping, Competitive Research, Concierge Services, Gift Buying, Travel Arrangements, Contact Management, Desktop Publishing, Digital Imaging, Editing/Proofreading, Contract Negotiations, File Conversion, Bill Paying, Collections, Graphic Design, Word Processing, Database and Spreadsheet Creation & Management, Resume Writing, Internet Administration, Online Marketing, Internet Research, Interpreting, Translation, Organizational Services, Photocopying, Presentations, Public Relations, Realtor Support, Social Media Management, Systems Management, Tech Support, Webinar Creation & Management, Transaction Coordinator, Purchasing, Web Design/Development/Maintenance, Content Writing, Marketing, Advertising and Brochure Creation, Business Development, Sales, Cold Calling, Appointment Setting, Paralegal Services, Investigations and Research, Answering Phones, Blogging, Lead Followup, Surveys, Policy and Procedure Creation. The list goes on and on and on.  

Virtual assistants are highly skilled professionals, with most of us having obtained our experiences on the job, many times through several employers and industries over a life long career. We remain up to date on the latest business programs and technology to ensure that we are as productive as possible and that we provide our clients with the solutions they need most. 

Most people believe that they need an in-house assistant to handle their day to day needs, but most of the time just the opposite is true. VA’s can handle all of  your business needs from afar. With our business knowledge and the technology available today, we can do everything but take out the trash and lock the door, however we can happily make arrangements for those things to be done as well.

Often times prospective clients explain to me that they only need someone part time, or they feel they need someone full time but they struggle in creating enough work for a full time person. They simply believe they need a full time person to man the phones just in case it rings. A VA is the solution!

For instance, I created my VA firm based on the needs of the small to mid size business, as I had experienced these issues first hand as a business owner and manager. It was hard to find qualified people who had all the skills needed, but who could work for the pay being offered, without benefits and that would be available at the drop of a hat when needed or that could work a varied schedule.

Temp help was not an attractive choice because I would never end up with the same person and I would need to constantly retrain each temp, so it was very inefficient. I couldn’t always afford to hire someone, and other times it wasn’t fair to the employee to not be able to guarantee a certain amount of work each week, and then other weeks it was difficult to just have them sit there and twiddle their fingers because I had nothing for them to do. But most of the time, more often than not, I just couldn’t find people with the right skills. So we just went without. 

Fortunately, that is where the joy of working with a VA comes in. You always get the same great service from the same great person. You know the skill set and the qualifications of that person and that they are qualified to complete the work you need. You never have to retrain anyone and you don’t have to pay any benefits, taxes, worker’s compensation, insurance, or vacation pay. Your VA is an Independent Contractor and you simply pay as you go and call when you need help. Whether it’s five hours this week or 20 hours next week or one hour the week after, your VA is there and ready to serve your needs no matter what. The relationship that you’ll create with your VA will be much like other business partners, like your accountant, your business advisor, attorney, insurance agent and more. 

In my local area, I provide free local pickup and delivery of projects if my clients need it. I also make an offer to visit their offices as needed for an additional fee, if they feel that I really need to be there in person. Because we are virtual, we can work and coordinate with clients virtually all over the world. There is no limit to what a VA can offer you. 

Again each VA has unique skill sets, so when seeking a VA for your needs, try to find one that best suits your needs. The VA industry is tightly knit and many of us work together. If your VA doesn’t offer a service you need, she/he more than likely has a VA colleague that can assist you.  

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself working with several VA’s once you get the hang of using us. You might use one for handling all of your human resources, one for accounting, one for social media management, and another for marketing and business development.

It’s by far more beneficial and cost effective to have these professionals on call and part of your team, rather than to hire one of each when you may not be utilizing them to the fullest. I often times find that small businesses try to put one person into a multitude of positions to try and save money. They may have a receptionist, but she/he might be filing the role of receptionist, bookkeeper, janitor, social media manager, website developer, human resources, and sales & marketing. Pretty soon none of the tasks are being completed correctly or on time, and further more, the person may not have the proper skills to provide you with the return on investment that your business deserves.

To find a VA for your needs here are some great places to look:

LinkedIn

LeapFrog

IVAA

VAnetworking

Here’s to your success!

Miss Executive, Tina Holtz

Marketing

Marketing on a Dime

Marketing on a dime? Really? Yes it’s possible and I’m going to show you how through several of my tried and proven techniques. Marketing on a Dime

You’ve probably heard of or even seen the show, Design on a Dime from HGTV. Well, I’ve put my own twist on the name and created “Marketing on a Dime”. Through the years in my past positions, I was always forced to think outside the box for the newest, greatest, and most clever marketing methods. The reason was that many times the companies and businesses I was working for didn’t have the funds for a full blown marketing and advertising budget, we were essentially, marketing on a dime. I have always believed in investing time and money in what works, for the least amount of money, and for the highest return. This makes many of my methods unique and sometimes free.

Cold Calling

Some will argue that cold calling is in effective. I tend to disagree- heavily. Cold calling for me, whether on the phone or in person, has always been highly effective. Why and how? Your method, your voice, your attitude, and knowledge all play a huge role in your success. I have perfected that method throughout my professional career and I never act like a sales person on the call. I don’t push a sale at all, and believe it or not about 50% of the time, even if I leave a voicemail for a prospect with whom I’ve never talked with before, I usually get a phone call back. Here’s how it works. I take the time to research and know my target market before I ever pick of the phone. I want to ensure that I am targeting the right clients and that my chance for success is high right out of the gate. I make that list, find the right person, and then make the call. I say something like this although I never work from a script, as it sounds fake. “Hi ______, this is Tina from ___________ and I just wanted to take the time today and introduce myself and to see if we might be a good match in working together. My company provides ___________, and I’d appreciate the opportunity to discuss how we can help you with _______. If you’d be so kind to give me a ring back, I would greatly appreciate it. My number is ______________. I look forward to hearing from you and have a great day.” Play with different tactics and get comfortable, you’ll know once you get it right, as they’ll start listening and calling back. Be prepared for that moment, and know how to roll with it beyond that.

Social Media

My overall favorite method of marketing on a dime is social media. There is no better return on investment or better marketing on a dime opportunity than this. I find that many small to mid-size businesses are afraid to get involved, and let me tell you, you’re missing out. Social media works no matter who you are or what you do. It’s for everyone. Some clients tell me that they don’t think social media is for them, yes it is! Why wouldn’t you want to engage and connect with your target market for FREE?? Social media is huge and it’s huge because it works, it’s effective, and as the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding.

Perhaps you’re a restaurant and you offer a daily or weekly special, you could tweet this on Twitter, post it on Facebook, and take a photo and post to Pinterest or Instrgram. Maybe you’re a Carwash, keep your customers happy by tweeting when the car wash is down for service so they don’t waste their time driving across town and find out it’s out of order, update them with new services, information, etc. Maybe you’re a clothing boutique or consignment store, then post new product lines or totally hip furniture that just came in. Maybe you’re a car dealer, you can post service deals, or the new Chevy Camaro that just arrived this morning so that people are lining up to be the first one to test drive it. Good promotions are also amazing for use in social media, and I urge you to try it. I’ll have another blog post on promotions later with tips on how to create an effective promotion.

Social Media

Email Marketing

The most important thing with any email marketing campaign is to give your customer or prospect the information they want. They get hundreds of emails a day and you don’t want to be the one that ends up in the trash, so make your message clear, precise, and to the point. Here’s a few tips:

1.) Never send an email addressed To Whom it May Concern. Always address the person by first name or Mr./Mrs. and their last name.

2.) Have an attractive subject line that is relevant to the prospect.

3.) Start your first sentence off with why you are contacting them with a possible benefit to the prospect.

4.) What can you do or what can you offer the prospect. Such as, I help businesses just like yours by__________, make that leading to the possible benefit.

5.) Tell the prospect that you’d appreciate the opportunity of working together, and by replying to the email or contacting you, you can quickly evaluate if you’re a good match in working together.

6.) Always have your name, title, and contact information at the end of the email.

7.) You may also try telling prospects in the email that you don’t believe in spamming or sending emails to people who don’t want them and that you value their time. If they would take the time to respond with or without interest it would be greatly appreciated. I find that this is effective, becuase they appreciate the honesty.

8.) If you don’t get a response within one-two weeks then follow up and ensure that your follow up email is also set up correctly.

Newsletters

Let’s not forget that newsletters are an excellent way of marketing and sometimes this is where many business fail. Your newsletter shouldn’t be all about you, nor should social media marketing. There are times where you want to showcase new products and information about your business, but focus on what your customers and prospects need or want to know. What issues do they face on a regular basis, what would be helpful to them? Can you solve a problem? I use my newsletters to provide educational information. I’ll include things and information that aren’t even related to the services I provide, why? Because I care about my customers and I care about helping them in everything related to running their business. I don’t sell phone services or customer relation management software, but I discuss and review them in my newsletter because I know my customers need solutions when it comes to these issues. Be seen as a leader in your industry or your niche.

ChatterWhitepapers, Case Studies, Slideshows

Whitepapers, case studies, and professionally crafted slideshows and presentations should not be overlooked. I find that writing whitepapers that focus directly on your customers or prospects problems and explaining a solution is extremely effective. You can provide links to these on your website, in newsletters, blogs, emails, etc. Slideshare is a terrific program to use for promoting your business online. Again, you can link these to your website, etc. Case studies are extremely effective becuase they explain to a prospect specifically what you’ve already done for a customer and how or why it worked.

Inbound Marketing

There will be an entirely separate blog post in the near future on inbound marketing and why I am such a firm believer in it, but for now we’ll just touch on the subject. In the past I thought that pay per click advertising was highly effective, and don’t get me wrong at times it can be, however I believe much more firmly in inbound marketing.

Here’s why: I was spending about $300-$600 per week in PPC advertising, but I wasn’t getting any click throughs, leads or conversions. I was excited that I was getting about 36,000 impressions per month which I thought was absolutely terrific. That meant 36,000 people per month were seeing our ad but no one was taking action. I had no return on investment and I was just literally throwing money in the trash. The object with any advertising or marketing campaign is to achieve conversion. What is conversion? It’s successfully getting visitors to convert to a lead or customer once they visit or read your information. With ppc or any other form of marketing and advertising, for the most part you’re trying to find and farm new prospects. With inbound marketing it allows your clients to find or farm you when they want you, thus making a stronger lead for you, and the chance at higher conversion rates. Your catching your prospects at the exact point in time they are seeking you. And it works! I would rather spend my money on inbound marketing any day of the week versus anything else. If you aren’t familiar with inbound marketing, I suggest that you visit www.hubspot.com for more information.

Video

Video is proof of who you are and what you do, and it shows professionalism. Make a video of your factory operating, of your crew building a home. This can show prospects your dedication to safety first hand, something they can’t see in a brochure or in text. Maybe showcase a video of the inside of your store allowing prospects to see the quality of products you offer and how much product you actually have on the shelves. Create a video of that new Chevy Camaro, the prospect can see the actual glitter in the sun of the metallic paint, or maybe the sweet 20” aftermarket rims. I would also recommend having video testimonials from satisfied clients, interviews with staff members, and more. Video Marketing

As you can see the list get’s extensive and I could keep going but the blog article is getting long here and I don’t want to give you too much information that will make your head hurt. If you have ideas that have worked for you, I would love to hear them. Send me a message in the contact form and perhaps I’ll write a feature blog mentioning you and what your success was.

Here’s to your success!

Miss Executive, Tina Holtz