How to Make Time for Marketing

How to Make Time for Marketing

To start getting business and success, you must make time for marketing. Most small business owners and solopreneurs know this…let's face it, they've heard it over and over again.

Virtual assistants are no different. We are often so busy doing client work that we run out of time to do our own marketing.

People insist that they don't have enough time to do everything, and certainly not to do marketing!

I know that it's tough – believe me it's the same for me sometimes. But I have seen the results when I do make time to market and so that keeps me finding time, even when it seems impossible.

I have also seen the results that other successful business owners get…and it's because they make marketing their #1 priority.

If you've made marketing a low priority, here are some things for you to do TODAY to start to change that:

• go to your calendar, make a 30 minute block every second day, for the next month and label it: Do Marketing!

• turn off your email/phone/social media and work uninterrupted for 20 minutes on making simple connections on social media, or on follow up from an event you have recently attended.

• make a list of your time-wasters during the day (internet surfing, computer games, yakking with friends, surfing Facebook) and the next time you start to do one of these activities, stop and do a marketing task instead: call a client, jot down 5 ideas for new articles, write a blog post, research a guest for your next teleseminar, write a special email to your list, etc.

• take a look at all the ezines you get and ruthlessly start unsubscribing – keep only the ones you actually open, read and take action on.

Marketing is an ongoing process for you for the lifetime of your business. The sooner you start cultivating consistent marketing habits, the sooner you'll start reaping the rewards you want.

Try taking these small steps...they may seem big, but they are doable. With consistent effort you will see consistent results – attracting more clients and prospects than you think!

You will also feel really good about your ability to market effectively and this increased confidence will show throughout all areas of your business and personal life.

So what are you waiting for?! Get going on those steps….

Marketing Activities You Need to Schedule

Scheduling your marketing activities is key to ensuring you are consistently and successfully getting the word out about you and your company and all the great services and products you have to share with people.

There are several formats that people use to schedule things – to- do lists, activity lists, calendar items, list of projects, sticky notes all over their desk, and so on. It doesn't really matter how you do it as long as it works for you.

There are going to be three general types of marketing activities that you'll want to put into your schedule:

Ongoing everyday marketing activities include those that you do regularly.

Some examples are:

1. writing your ezine

2. adding new auto-responders to your email series

3. writing blog posts

4. contributing to online forums and blogs

5. networking events

6. writing content for your monthly teleseminar

7. adding content to your website

8. writing articles for submission

9. checking your website analytics

10. communicating with your affiliates

11. sending out press releases

12. networking on social media sites such as Facebook and Linked In

Specific one-time projects would be marketing tactics that occur as a special or one-time opportunity. For example:

1. a workshop you're putting on

2. creating a new product

3. setting up a referral program

4. a joint venture with another company

5. flushing out the specifics of a new service you're going to offer

6. a speaker series you've been invited to share at

7. setting up your affiliate program

8. running a special promotion

9. writing a book

10. a new website

11. setting up a blog

Time set aside for idea generation is important. You need to schedule this in just like any other marketing activity. Things you'll "think" about during this time can include:

1. researching possible joint venture partners

2. thinking about ideas for a new product, service or book

3. taking a look at some colleagues websites and blogs to see what they are up to

4. daydreaming about the direction you'd like your company to go

5. brainstorming about your professional and personal goals

Write down a list of all the different marketing activities you currently do and start scheduling them into your calendar and to-do lists. Make sure you look at your schedule first thing in the morning and different times throughout the day to make sure that you're staying on course.

Commit to your marketing by having a schedule and you'll see your business grow and attract new and old clients on a consistent basis.

How to Get Low-Cost and Free Advertising for Your Small Business 

computer work

If you want your business to make you money or even just get off the ground, you’re probably going to have to advertise.  For many companies, advertising becomes a huge chunk of the overall budget, but it doesn’t have to be.  There are plenty of free or inexpensive ways to let people know about your business and get them coming back.

Email

Email is a great, cost-effective way for get your name out there, contact potential customers, and keep existing customers up to date and coming back.  And while developing an email list may take some time and effort, sending out an email once you have a list takes very little time.

You can get email addresses by simply asking for them on your webpage about a related topic to your products, asking for them from your customers when you take an order, or offering a free product or service in exchange for an email address.

Many people get emails by offering people products in exchange for the email addresses of their friends, but these are often far less useful than when people give you their email addresses themselves.  Ninety-nine percent of the time, the friends really aren’t going to be interesting in what you have to offer.

Word of Mouth

Word of mouth is also a great way to get word about your business out there, and it generally costs you nothing.

The key to starting word of mouth business is not only to tell people to pass the word on to their friends, but more importantly, to treat the customer right so they want to spread the word.

Social networking sites are a great way to start a word of mouth campaign about your business.  These are sites like MySpace, Facebook, and other sites where people can ad their friends, bands they like, and businesses or products they might be a fan of.

Then, if someone is a friend, the site will often automatically suggest they become a friend with or a fan of the same things.  Soon, you’ll have a bunch of people who are all fans of your business - then you can use the page to send updates to all of them about new products, services, and promotions.  It’s all free and pretty simple to get started.

Blogs

Blogs are another way to get people interested in your products and keep current customers up to date.  Starting a blog is simple, there are tons of blog sites that will pretty much set the whole thing up for you.  The trick is actually getting people to read it.

You can use different SEO techniques including microblogs like Twitter, but you also need to provide quality content that people actually want to read.  Start your blog by not only talking about your business and ideas, but also those of other people.  If you refer someone to a good article or great deal, they’re much more likely to keep reading.

While you may decide to spend some money on your advertising, you can still supplement with these methods to boost your exposure even more.

Advantages of Webcasting (Video)

Webcasting

With social networking being at a high point and increasing steadily, the drive for interactive websites is on the increase.

A lot of people want a website that’s not simply static and they’re looking for interaction when they log onto the net – from Twitter to Facebook to YouTube – we want to connect.

As an online business owner this means that adding a webcast to your online business is a great move.

First, what is a webcast?

In simple terms it’s a video recording placed on the web. Just like a TV offers traditional viewing, a webcast does something similar - but the video is streamed on the internet rather than the TV network.

A webcast can be anything from a video of you explaining how to do something to your viewers, to a two (or more) people interview, to an interactive online class.

The point is that you’re adding an interactive feature to your website and making it easier for visitors to give their feedback and get involved.

Anyone can start a webcast with a simple video recorder. One of the easiest methods is the Flipcam. It makes getting your videos on the internet drop dead easy. You can also use more sophisticated equipment to create news programs on a very high-end level.

There’s a lot of different equipment you can use and a little research will help you find the best. Once you’re set up with your video recording mode you can take things a step further and use a video editing service to add features to your recording which will really make the video stand out. There are many services online and a simple Google search will help you find the right one for you.

Webcasting is a great addition to your website. You’re making it easy for your visitors to interact with you while offering valuable information. This will keep them coming back to your site over and over again.

Boost Your Business With A Press Release

Press ReleaseseA press release is an excellent way to gain publicity and exposure for your business. A press release is a document containing information that you would like a media organization to feature, such as general information about your business, a special event that you are holding, or a special incentive you are offering.

By having a story featured in a newspaper, magazine, or other form of media, your business will receive publicity and credibility. You can also use the clippings of paper stories and links to stories featured through electronic media as part of your press kit.

You can submit a press release at any time, however you may find that the media features stories about businesses when something special is happening, such as a grand opening, special event, or special offer.

There is a simple format to use when writing a press release. If your story can be published at any time, the words “For Immediate Release” should appear at the top left hand corner. However, if the information should only be released after a certain date, use the phrase “For Release After [insert date]. Under that, include your contact information.

The next area of the press release is the “body”. This is the part of the press release where you include the information you want to publicize. Try to keep your press release under two pages. If it is more than one page include the word “more” at the end of the first page. At the end of your press release insert three number symbols (###).

As you write the body of your press release, keep it focused, clear, and concise. Try to answer the five basic questions – who, what, why, where, and when. Who are you, and what, exactly, are you promoting? Why is your target market interested in this? When and where is this taking place?

Once you are finished with your press release, you will want to submit it to the media. This can be to your local media outlets, such as newspapers, regional magazines, radio and television stations, or media outlets in geographic areas that you want publicity in. If you are promoting a event that will happen on a specific day, submit your press release early enough so that it has time to be received and facts can be checked, etc.

You can also submit your press release to electronic media, such as newswire services, Internet Talk Radio programs, and more.

If your story does not get picked up, don’t give up on press releases. Try a different media source, or rewrite your press release and submit it when you have something to promote. The media receives many, many press releases and cannot publish a story on every one of them. If you keep trying, you will find publicity.

How to Create a Marketing Strategy that Builds Authority

AuthorityThere are many different triggers that convince prospects to become customers. One of the most significant buying triggers is authority. We buy from people and companies that we consider to be experts. Your marketing strategy can and should ideally include building a reputation as an industry expert. Here are a few tips, ideas, and tactics to create a marketing strategy that positions you as an authority.

Make a Difference in People’s Lives

There are actually three steps to the authority process. The first step is to make a difference in people’s lives. From the perspective of building a marketing strategy around this step you can turn to both content and to your products or services.

-Make sure your products or services are valuable and that your customers receive the intended benefit

-Provide consistent value in the form of content. We’re talking about providing valuable tips on Twitter, sharing information, news, and ideas on Facebook and your blog. Write articles for notable publications and strive to use your content to provide consistent value. Whether you’re emailing prospects, connecting with them on social media, or reaching out on your blog, make sure that the information you’re providing has the power to change lives for the better. Provide value, build authority.

-Connect on a personal level with your clients and learn how you can help, provide value, and make a difference. Leverage that information into better business systems, products, and information.

-Respond to blog comments in a manner that helps not only the commenter but also any people reading the comments to further their understanding. And leave insightful and useful comments on industry blogs where your audience is present. Make a good impression.

Demonstrate That You Can Make a Difference

While the first step is to make a difference, the second step in becoming an authority is to demonstrate to your prospects that you can make a difference. It’s the proof step so to speak. In terms of your marketing strategy this could take many forms.

For example, you might use case studies to demonstrate your capacity to make a difference. Testimonials, reviews, and a strong word of mouth or referral marketing campaign can also help spread the word about your expertise and authority.

Connect with industry leaders. Follow them on social media, comment on their blogs, and invite leaders to be interviewed or to partner with you on projects. For example, you might invite an industry leader to contribute a chapter for your next book or to host an online fundraiser with you. Partnering with industry leaders demonstrates to your audience that you are respected in your community and considered someone to turn to for assistance and guidance.

Communicate With Integrity and Authenticity

Finally, in all communications whether you’re establishing authority or sharing that authority with your prospects, make sure to communicate with integrity and authenticity. Consumers are savvy and they can smell a fraud from a mile away. Be genuine both in your efforts to make a difference and the way you share that information. Building authority can take time but when it’s done from a place of integrity you’re on the right path.

Canada’s New Anti-Spam Laws

Are You Prepared?

Have you ever found yourself working during a busy day thinking,  “Gee, I really wish the government was more involved in the everyday operations of my business”?

Well, if that was you, today is your lucky day!

As of July 1st 2014, a new law from the Government of Canada will come in to affect as a way to prevent spam emails from being sent.  The Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) will require consent (implied or expressed) from all recipients before a commercial email can be sent to them.  Mass emails, bulk emails, broadcast emails (whatever you want to cal them) to a mailing list will require a mechanism for unsubscribing, as well as the sender’s contact information.

Pre-existing business relationships will not be affected but contacting new potential customers may be made more difficult.  Unless an email is publically listed on their website or a customer has contacted you directly first, consent must be acquired via email before any commercial messages can be sent.  In terms of a contact list you may already have, you can continue to send promotional messages to them for the next 3 years while the law is phased in.  After this point however, you will be required to get consent from each individual before any further promotional messages can be sent.

The easiest way to stay out of trouble going forward is to ask for consent whenever possible and establish a mindset that is anti-spam.  Individual violators can be fined up to $1 million and corporations up to $10 million.

Connect with your employees on the provisions of this law and make sure the consequences for violations are understood.

You may need to reconsider some of your company’s marketing practices but in the long run it is always better to be safe, and certainly better than paying millions of dollars in fines.
More information can be found at the website for Government of Canada: http://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/home.

Ideas to Help Market your Small Business

by Janice Byer

Here are some great ideas to help market your small business. The nice thing about them is they don’t require you to re-mortgage your house in order to make them doable.

A Company Website: This form of marketing just keeps on giving ….24/7.

Signs in/on your vehicle: A moving bill-board. What Better way to expand your exposure.

Join your local business association: Your membership will give back in more ways than one.

Iron on Transfers: Why not have you and the kids as walking advertisements. The kids will love it.

Keep in touch marketing: You are reading one form right Now.

Articles and Press Releases: Get recognized as an expert in your field by helping others.

Pin up Flyers: Let your neighbours know you are in business And offer them a discount.

Networking: I know, I am always bringing this subject up, but I truly believe in its power to help increase business.

Testimonials: Let those who may be skeptical, know how happy your clients are.

No matter which marketing efforts you use, keep track of your results. Ask clients how they heard about you.

Put your imagination to work instead of your wallet and watch the business roll in.

Janice Byer, owner of Docu-Type Administrative & Web Design Services (http://www.docutype.net) provides professional, creative and affordable virtual office assistance and small business website design. She is a Certified Canadian Virtual Assistant (CCVA), Master Virtual Assistant (MVA) and co-founder of the Canadian Virtual Assistant Connection. She is also the author of Surfin’ The Net – Docu-Type’s Virtual Collection of Links, (http://www.docutype.net/SurfinTheNet/linksebook.htm) which is filled with the secrets of her success. Visit her website for more information and to get your copy.

10 Easy Ways to Make Your Flyer Stand Out in the Crowd

by Karen Saunders

A flyer is an inexpensive and highly effective way to grab attention in a very busy marketplace. How do you make your flyer stand out in the crowd? Here are some techniques that professional designers use to make flyers “pop.”

1. Write a snappy headline or title.

Make it memorable, unusual or provocative using a few carefully chosen powerful words. Popular titles contain one or more of these words: Easy, The Secrets to, Unlock, Finally, Insider, Time Sensitive, How to, Free Bonuses, Now You Can, Discover, Proven.

2. Use colorful or striking graphics.

One large image will have more impact than many smaller images. A stunning photo or illustration grabs attention, creates a mood, and supports your story. This image is your “focal point” and will draw your readers in. You can purchase inexpensive but quality stock photos on the Internet. Download individual photos or purchase a CD with hundreds of images.

3. Focus on the benefits of your product or service.

Your prospects will ask the question, “What’s in it for me?” Write from the their perspective using the words “you” and “your.” Avoid using the following words: we, us, I and our. Be sure to keep your text short and to the point. Some of the most powerful words to use are: free, save, love, new, results, and guarantee. Break up long paragraphs with bullet points and place them in a separate box.

4. Use compelling testimonials and case studies.

Nothing strikes a chord like an endorsement from a happy customer, especially if it demonstrates the results they’ve had with your product or service. Be sure to include the first and last name, company name and location of the person providing the endorsement.

5. Organize your page with boxes, borders and areas of contrasting colors.

You don’t need to fill your flyer with wall-to-wall text and graphics. Incorporate some white space to make certain elements stand out and to make the flyer easy to read.

6. Make your points easily identifiable.

Highlight titles and subtitles in bold, but avoid using ALL CAPS because they are more difficult to read.

7. Don’t get too complicated.

Make it simple with two typefaces, and align items to a grid. Your page layout program will provide non-printing guidelines. Use the “snap to guidelines” function to align items easily to the grid. Be aware of printing margins. I suggest you create your layout with 1/2″ margins on all sides, or add 1/8″ for bleeds on items that print off the edge of the page.

8. Don’t forget to proofread.

Have someone else proofread your work. Check your contact information. Dial the phone numbers on the flyer to make sure they are correct, and type in the URL of your website to make sure it is correct, too.

9. If you are on a tight budget, try this.

Select bright-colored or unique paper, and print with black ink. Use shades of grey to provide tones and contrasting background areas.

10. Offer a discount or special limited-time price.

Design a coupon on the bottom quarter of the flyer. Be sure to clearly state the deadlines and limitations of the offer. If it is a mail-in coupon, be sure to include the payment specifications with areas for filling out credit card information, mailing address, etc.

You don’t need to re-invent the wheel when creating your flyer. Use these proven techniques and you will see big results in your marketing efforts.

Copyright © Karen Saunders

Karen Saunders is the owner of MacGraphics Services, a unique design firm for today’s entrepreneur.  Karen’s book, Turn Eye Appeal Into Buy Appeal: How to easily transform your marketing pieces into dazzling, persuasive sales tools! is a comprehensive resource that teaches you how to create effective marketing materials, give marketing projects a professional appearance, and execute projects using ready-made checklists to immediately begin assisting clients with the planning, developing and creating of marketing materials.  To learn more, visit http://www.marketerschoice.com/app/?af=1090208.  You can contact Karen at 888-796-7300, or Karen@macgraphics.net.

Capture Clients with Words that “Hook” and Graphics that “Kick!”

By Karen Saunders

Do the marketing pieces you send out lack pizzazz and personality? Are they capturing the clients you want to work with?

As your company’s in-house graphics person–perhaps more by default than by intention–you’re pressed to be a jack/jill-of-all-trades. You want to do a great job of producing promotional pieces, but you have little time to learn advanced design and marketing skills. Your ongoing challenge is learning to do a little more to get a lot better results–quickly and painlessly. How can you improve them?

What Techniques Can You Apply NOW?

Take these 5 design/marketing tips to heart. Using them consistently will save you time in the long run and attract more customers.

#1 Develop a brand identity and stick with it

Branding is an all-encompassing concept that brings together your business’s product mix, pricing, ambience, promotions, identity, and much more. From a graphics point of view, it’s your logo, stationery, business card, website, and flyers that create a graphic personality. Your descriptive tag line bonds these pieces with added pizzazz. Think about familiar brands like Nike’s. You know what it offers instantly when you see the logo (the Nike swoosh) and tag line (Just Do It!). You want that kind of instant recognition for your company.

The results? Your messages get noticed because you’ve built credibility and recognition into your brand through consistent use of graphic identity techniques.

#2 “Hook” customers with persuasive writing and a “call to action”

Make a habit of doing these two things: Use persuasive words that “hook” their interest, and include a well-defined call to action in every piece. When writing marketing pieces, what can you do to make them more effective? Apply these basics:

  • Know who you are writing for and keep their preferences in mind as you write each word.
  • Put your message in terms of “you” rather than “I” or “we.” People don’t care about what “we” offer; they care about how your product or service can make their lives better.
  • Make it clear what your readers should do, think, or believe as a result of reading the information you present.
  • State your intention as a command–known as a “call to action.” It can be as simple as “Call Today” or “Order It Now.”

The results? The whole point is to encourage your prospects to take action! Whether it’s to send an email or pick up the phone and call you, using precision wordsmithing persuades your prospects to take action…now!

#3 Use digital photography and illustrations to add “kick” to your marketing pieces

A ho-hum marketing piece generates few calls. What a waste! Learn the ins and outs of working with digital photography and illustrations–so much easier with Internet resources galore to choose from. A few quick tips:

  • Place your strongest image in the top half of the page where it will get the best visibility.
  • Using one large picture makes a stronger impression than several smaller ones.
  • Group several small pictures so they collectively form a single element.
  • Juxtapose a small picture with a larger one for contrast.

The results? Photos and illustrations help you add the “eye” appeal that translates into “buy” appeal.

#4 Jazz up your layouts so your most important points stand out

Break up monotonous lines of text with attractive “pull quotes” or “call-outs,” which make critical information stand out on the page. To create a pull quote, just copy a provocative or challenging statement from your text and paste it into a different position on the page using large, contrasting type. Add decorative quotation marks, border it with lines, or place it inside a box to jazz it up.

The results? The points of interest you’ve added draw the reader’s eye to the exact point you want them to remember.

#5 Ensure professional results by using the right file formats

You’ve just created a flyer that will be printed and mailed to your clients. To finish it off, you import a needed graphic from a website and send your file to the printers. Ouch! The resulting graphics looks blotchy and amateur in print. What went wrong? Graphic file formats for the Internet (72 dpi, low-resolution JPG and GIF) and file formats for offset printing (300 dpi, high-resolution TIF and EPS) are totally different animals. In this case, you’ve used the wrong file format and resolution for your purpose.

The results? Choosing the right file formats gives you a professional-looking document with clear images and the quality you want.

Start using these five easy techniques to add pizzazz and personality to your marketing pieces now, and you will “hook” new clients immediately.

Copyright © Karen Saunders

Karen Saunders is the owner of MacGraphics Services, a unique design firm for today’s entrepreneur.  Karen’s book, Turn Eye Appeal Into Buy Appeal: How to easily transform your marketing pieces into dazzling, persuasive sales tools! is a comprehensive resource that teaches you how to create effective marketing materials, give marketing projects a professional appearance, and execute projects using ready-made checklists to immediately begin assisting clients with the planning, developing and creating of marketing materials.  To learn more, visit http://www.marketerschoice.com/app/?af=1090208.  You can contact Karen at 888-796-7300, or Karen@macgraphics.net.