Most business owners understand that marketing is a vital part of their business operations and success. Traditionally that meant TV, radio and local newspapers to get your name out there. While these still work today, they have also been very expensive forms of marketing. And the results are very hit and miss.
The reason is that with these forms of marketing you have very little control over who sees your advertisements. Yes, you can pick a time slot where you think your ideal clients will be watching or listening. But you also end up paying for all the other people who see your add and will never really be a suitable prospect.
For small and medium size businesses this makes it very difficult to fully calculate and maximise your return on investment (ROI). To help you with some of the frustrations of making your marketing as profitable as possible we have put together this guide.
You will learn exactly why it’s important to focus on ROI and how modern technologies and changes in social interactions have opened up a whole new world of opportunities. We also bring you very cost effective options that give you a hands off approach to an outsourced marketing strategy.
If you’d like to know how Outsource Workers can help you with your marketing related tasks, then pick up the phone now and talk to one of our advisers.
Why Marketing Is Important
The ultimate goal with most of what you do in business is to drive more revenue and become more profitable. Being able to grow your businesses in a sustainable way is not an easy task and for relatively new companies it can be a very difficult task.
To a certain extent, word of mouth will get you going and can bring in some excellent sales leads and new clients. But you have very little control over the flow of new clients when you totally rely on your existing customers to recommend you.
That’s why different marketing techniques are so important. You can plan and execute your marketing strategy in a precise way that ultimately results in a steady flow of new sales prospects. We’ll get into the different techniques further down, but first, let’s take a look at the most important marketing aspects, other than the obvious increase in sales.
When you think of smartphones, chances are Apple and Android, come to mind. And for soft drinks Coca Cola and Pepsi are the most likely brands you think of. It’s this association of a brand name with an industry or service that provides all the benefits of brand awareness.
Essentially the aim is for people in you service area to know that you exist, who you are and understand what it is you do. Whether they need your service right now or not is somewhat secondary, but always a bonus.
The more people that recognise your business name and associate it to your business, the higher the likelihood of them contacting you when they need your service. For example, a family looking to move to a larger home are more likely to buy and sell through your realty business if you have prominently placed your brand in front of them on numerous occasions.
One thing to keep in mind though, is that brand awareness is not something that happens overnight or even in a matter of months. It can sometimes take years to fully develop and an ongoing long term strategy is vital for success.
Allows You To Compete
Marketing is also the main arena where you match up against your rivals. Your aim in marketing is to focus on specifics of your products and services that make you stand out from your competitors.
Business success can be tough at the best of times, and you’ll constantly be battling to get to the best possible clients out there. With the right marketing strategy you can make sure you snap up more clients, and even poach some away from your competition.
Even as a brand new start-up company, you can use marketing to make yourself known and gain traction with your first clients. But no matter how big or small, new or old your business is, there is one thing you cannot pay enough attention to.
And that is…
Focus On ROI
Too many times businesses simply decide to do some marketing, allocate a budget and get started. You might even notice an uptick in calls to your office for that time, but unless you keep track of these things you cannot fully assesses what is giving you the biggest bang for your bucks.
You should easily be able to work out what your marketing costs were for a specific campaign. But you also need to work out how much of your time and that of your staff was required to get it up and running.
The next thing you then have to do is keep track of new inquiries that come in from those marketing campaigns. This can be done by setting up specific call tracking phone numbers only used for those campaigns. Or you can set up a special webpage you direct people to.
This allows you to figure out how many people responded to your advertising, and how many of those inquiries resulted in sales. Only then can you fully assess what your return on investment was. And that is powerful information to have to adjust existing and plan better future campaigns.
Modern Day Print Marketing
Online marketing has become one of the fastest growing and most accessible platforms for even the smallest businesses with tiny budgets. And this has often led to a neglect of modern day print marketing opportunities.
For real estate businesses these are still very relevant and profitable platforms. And in this section we’ll look at some of the most important and relevant print media.
When it comes to advertising your business in newspapers, you have some very good advantages over other platforms. The reason is that people who read a newspaper have dedicated a time slot to actually read, rather than scan over text.
This means that you can tell more of a story in the form of text in your advertisement. Usually, when people see adverts they will be turned off by having to read a lot of information. This is certainly the case for TV, but also in online advertising.
Essentially, this means that you really don’t want to be blindly replicating other platforms in newspapers.
When it comes to magazines, you have to be a little bit more conservative with the amount of text you display. Even though magazines have plenty of text, it just takes a quick glance and comparison to a newspaper to see that the layout and amount of text is very different.
Advertising in magazines will require more of a graphical impact in order for people to stop and notice your business. You cannot just blend in with all the other companies, and you have to get your message across quickly. This could be just a bold brand awareness or specific call to action to go to your website or call into your office.
In the real estate industry brochures are an excellent way to market your business. They can be easily handed out to clients whether it’s as a collection of listings in a certain area, or a new development being sold.
The best approach to brochures is to make them visually stand out with lots of photos. You want people to get as good a picture of a listing as possible. As you progress into the brochure you can add more text and detailed specifications about it.
Just make sure you don’t overwhelm with information and leave enough room for questions to trigger some interest in speaking with you.
Graphic Design For Print Marketing
One of the most important services you will require for your marketing materials is a graphic designer. Being able to tell a story with pictures is a very difficult task, but with the help of a creative professional you will be able to stand out from all the other businesses you’re competing against.
Here are 3 important factors to consider for your graphic design requests.
One thing a lot of businesses do wrong is that they constantly change the layout and design of their advertising. Testing different styles is important. But it’s also important that the way you brand yourself in advertising is consistent.
The reason this is so important is that it builds brand awareness. If you change the logo or naming of your ads too often then people will see it and think it’s a different business every time.
The way to deal with this is to have a simple and easy to recognise logo with your business name. This should be a prominent part of the ad so that over time people will recognise the brand even when you’re advertising different services or projects.
Between offline and online marketing, you want to try to create a common theme. This can be as granular as a common colour theme, but should also involve the types of images you choose to use.
This also helps to create better awareness of you and your business name. When people see your ads in a local newspaper and then on a social media feed you want them to immediately know that they are related ads and not for different businesses. And a common theme does exactly that.
Keep It Simple
When it comes to advertising, many people try to overthink and become too creative. There are many TV ads out that are visually very appealing and some even make you laugh. They trigger great emotional responses but fail to associate the brand with a product.
Don’t aim for the next creative design awards, but rather focus on keeping it simple. This always proves more profitable with a higher return on investment.
For a lot of your graphic design work you probably work with dedicated service providers. For larger campaigns, this is certainly a very good business decision. But often times you just need a quick advertisement, especially for online marketing, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
For such smaller projects, it is far more cost effective to hire a marketing VA with the experience in graphic design to come up with some ads that work and won’t cost a fortune. Talk to Outsource Workers today and find out how soon you can have a dedicated marketing VA assigned to your team.
Online Marketing Options
By far the best opportunity for small and medium size businesses to compete with even the largest corporation is in online digital marketing. There are several key reasons for this that make it a far more preferable option than the more traditional types of marketing:
- Practically no barrier to entry
- Opportunities for even tiny budgets
- Extremely targeted to your ideal client persona
- Easy to outbid large corporations
Let’s look at these points individually
No Barriers To Entry
When it comes to online marketing there are basically no barriers to entry. You don’t need a huge media company to create TV or radio ads with actors that have to be paid. And you don’t have to hire the best graphic designers to create an advertising image that a newspaper or magazine will accept.
You can easily put together an image or video yourself and then simply create an account with any of the major online and social media platform advertisers. As long as you are a legitimate business and abide by some basic rules and ethics, there is no way they will reject your money.
And how much money will you need?
Small Budget Opportunities
Very little is the simple answer. The majority of platforms like Google AdWords, Facebook and Twitter will allow you to run ads with a budget of $10. This can be set up to split over several hours or days and you can stop the add at any given time.
If you’re a little bit handy with some graphic tools then you could easily have a Facebook add created yourself and then set a budget of $100 for a month running Monday to Friday at $5 per day. And the amazing thing is that you’ll be able to reach the very same people that other businesses might be spending tens of thousands of Dollars on.
You obviously will have a limited reach with a small budget, but you don’t have to start with a campaign costing you $10,000 or more just to run a radio ad.
Highly Targeted Ads
With a little bit of trial and error and experimenting with some different landing pages you can create highly effective and targeted ads. Unlike TV, radio and print, you won’t have to pay for your ads to be seen by people who are not your target audience.
With search engine marketing you can target people who are looking for what you offer. And on social media you can target your ideal demographic audience. You can even create highly unique campaigns for different groups of people. This can be done based on gender, location or even income.
And the more targeted your ads are the higher your return on investment will be.
Compete With The Big Guys
This is probably the best part about it. If you were to try and get a prime time TV channel slot for a 30 second ad you would be bidding against some of the biggest companies around. These are organisations with marketing budgets that run into the millions. As a small business you simply cannot compete for such slots.
But in online marketing things work a bit differently. You can bid on the same ad placements as everyone else, and the highest bid will get the placement. Even if each placement costs $5, you can still get your ad online, just not as often as the big players would.
This is hugely levels the playing field and with some clever strategies you can maximise your returns and steal away clients from big companies.
Digital Marketing Opportunities With Best Results
At this stage you’ll understand how empowering online digital marketing really is. Even with a small budget you can go up against big companies and try to outbid them for ad placement. Just because you have a small budget doesn’t mean you don’t have access to the same clients.
In this section we’ll take a look at some of the best platforms available and a few simple tricks on making sure you pay attention to the right ones.
The Most Effective Platforms
When it comes to online marketing there are three areas where you can make the biggest impact with even the smallest budgets. It goes without saying that the bigger your budget the more people you’ll be able to reach. But when you’re just starting out you can test the waters with lower budgets to see what works best.
Here are the main areas you need to focus on:
- Search Engine Marketing
One of the fastest and most effective ways to start marketing on search engines is through pay per click (PPC) advertising. When you type a search term into Google, you will see anywhere from 2 to 5 paid advertisements at the very top of the search results. It’s very easy to create similar ads, and when someone clicks on them they are brought over to your landing or sales page.
- Email Marketing
We have a dedicated section for email marketing (click here), but to summarise it, this is a form of marketing where you take advantage of email addresses that you collect from clients, vendors and visitors to your site. It allows you to easily reach out to past clients or vendors and provide them information to up or cross sell them. It’s by far one of the cheapest forms of marketing.
- Social Media Marketing
In the last ten years social media platforms have exploded. Billions of people now use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. And once you know where your target clients are most likely to hang out then you can very easily target a marketing campaign at them. It’s extremely powerful, as it allows you to only get your ad in front of people who actually fit your socio-economic profile.
Go Where Your Clients Are
Before you blindly start planning advertising campaigns on just any platform, you have to do a bit of research. You always want to pay closest attention to those platforms that are most used by your ideal target client.
What we mean by this is that there is no point in starting an Instagram ad campaign if your ideal client is a middle aged parent with income above $100,000. The best way to research the different social media platforms is to spend some time on them and interact with people. Wherever you get the best interactions will be a strong indication of how suitable it is.
Social Media Engagement
This is an often overlooked element of online marketing. Your business should be active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn at the very least. And you should be constantly active on these platforms by reaching out to other people and engaging with them with friendly comments.
It’s also a very cost effective way to help build some brand awareness. And if you help answer people’s questions you will quickly build up a following as well.
If all of this sounds like a huge amount of effort to get involved in then don’t just dismiss the idea. Yes, it’s time and effort consuming, but the entire online and offline marketing process can be easily outsourced to a VA. Just pick up the phone today and talk to one of our advisors to see how quickly Outsource Workers can get you a dedicated marketing VA.
Know Your Client Before You Try To Reach New Ones
This is a step in the marketing process that all too many businesses completely ignore. Even large corporations often jump straight into advertising their products without first identifying whom they want to appeal to.
While large organisations can absorb a loss of return on investment, for small companies every Dollar invested has to count. Especially if you want to make sure, you stand out in the crowd.
To do this you have to first fully understand what your ideal client looks like. This involves 3 relatively simple but highly important steps.
Characterise Profitable Clients
The first thing you need to do is list out some of the most profitable clients you have worked with. This should not only focus on total revenue earned from a client transaction, but ideally look at the effort involved.
It can often happen that a client brings in a significant amount of revenue, but is also extremely time consuming. Your ideal client will be someone that brings in a lot revenue and requires very little time from you and your team. These are rare clients, but if you can identify their characteristics then you’ll make it a lot easier to find more like them.
Characterise People To Avoid
Your business transactions are probably littered with clients that you wish you had never taken on. This could be for many different reasons including clash of personality and difficulty in being paid.
If you start listing out the clients where hindsight tells you, you should have avoided them, then you might find certain common traits about them. You have to be very careful here, as you could end up making conclusions that are incorrect and will actually result in negative effects on your marketing campaigns.
Create An Ideal Profile
Once you have identified positive and negative traits of your clients, it’s time to create a profile. The first thing you need to do for all the traits you identified is to put some sort of measureable value on them.
For example, you might find that investors with more than a certain number of properties are easier or more difficult to deal with. Or, that finding young female professionals is the best option for apartments in certain areas.
What you need to understand is that there really doesn’t have to be one single profile. Chances are you have different services and/or types of properties, and your ideal client might be very different for each one.
Understand What Attracts Clients To Your Product Or Service
Have you ever received emails from larger companies or vendors asking for your feedback? Like most people, you probably ignore them, but the insights you can gain from customer feedback is huge.
You will actually be surprised about what people might come back with. Not only do you want to look at negative feedback in order to improve your service. But from a marketing perspective it’s extremely valuable to understand why people chose your service over others.
Armed with this information you can tailor advertising campaigns to highlight the most attractive parts of your service.
But how do you get that level of detail?
Ask Clients For Feedback
The best way to get an idea of what people like about your service is to ask them. It’s a step that too many owners completely ignore, but after-sales research is just as important as all the work you put into getting your sales completed.
The reason for this is that it allows you to figure out which part of your sales process is working the best. If your sales pitch includes 5 unique things about your service, but clients only really care about 3 of them, then you might not only be wasting time.
You could also be pushing away potential clients because you’re distracting form what’s truly important to them.
Monitor Social Media Comments
This is where modern technology in social media gives you a huge potential to gain insights into your clients. When you become active on social platforms and invite people to comment and discuss different topics, then you can quickly gauge what it is that’s important to them.
Ideally, this is something you have someone dedicated on your team to look after, but you should be monitoring all comments for useful feedback as well.
Ask Your Staff
This is another very underutilised source of information. Your staff will be constantly in contact with your clients and vendors. They often spend more time with them than you do and you can take advantage of the insights they gain.
The key to this is educating your staff on the importance of paying attention to any and all feedback being received. You should create a business wide process that makes it easy to collect information about feedback as provided by the people you deal with.
Gain Market Insights With Surveys
Understanding what your existing clients like and dislike about your service is one piece of the marketing puzzle. This can give you some indications about trends as well, but to truly understand what people are looking for you have to reach out to wider audiences.
This involves a process of questioning people who could be your clients, but for one reason or another are not. If you can find out from them what it is they are looking for, then you can better tailor your services and advertising campaigns to attract them.
The easiest and most cost effective way to do this is to use a combination of social media marketing and surveys.
Why Surveys Are Important
When you get enough responses form surveys, you can gain a huge amount of information from very specific market segments. The trick is getting enough data to work with, and we’ll get to some tips on achieving this shortly.
The reason surveys are so powerful is that when they are easy to respond with predefined answer ranges, you can quickly view all the responses in very convenient graphs and charts. Any tendency towards specific answers will quickly stand out, as long as your target group has been uniquely defined.
With the right structure of questions, you will get some very clear demographic and economic insights. And by allowing for some open ended free form answers as well you allow more people to tell you what it is that they are looking for but haven’t yet found.
Tools For Effective Surveys
Now, you can conduct a survey with a simple list of questions in an email and hope for the responses to be formatted correctly. Then you would have to manually collect all that data and analyse it.
Doesn’t sound like a particularly appealing process, right?
Fortunately there are very cheap and even free tools available that allow you to fully plan and execute your surveys. They will collect all the responses and format them into nice graphs to present the data in an informative way.
PollDaddy and SurveyMonkey are two of the most popular tools that are available free, with paid options for more advanced functionality. They allow you to very easily create your questionnaire with multiple choice and sliding scale answers that are ideal for easy representation in charts and graphs.
The best planned and worded surveys are no good if you cannot get people to submit their answers. As much as you appeal to their sense of helping to improve your service for them, this is usually a tactic that results in quite low response rates.
When you have thousands or tens of thousands of people to send the survey to, you’ll get enough responses from this method. But for small and medium size organisations you will have to resort to offering a little reward.
You can get a bit creative and offer something for free. This could be a voucher for one of the first 100 respondents, or you can offer some of your services for free to a certain amount of people that reply. Sometimes, things like donating a certain amount to a local charity for each response can work well too.
Basically, the idea is to try and get as many people as possible to respond so that you have enough data to gain some insights.
Hiring A VA To Manage Your Marketing Campaigns
No matter what type of marketing campaign or research you’re planning to do, it’s a time consuming effort. A lot of admin type work goes into this process and it is not Dollar productive work. Because it’s a highly systemised process as well, this makes it an ideal task to hand over to a virtual assistant.
Our homepage provides all the information you need to go through the hiring process, and with the following tips, you can easily adjust that process specifically for marketing related tasks.
As you can see from the above information, marketing includes a very diverse range of tasks. You might not be able to find one person to take charge of all your marketing needs, and when you’re starting out with a more structured approach then some hands on involvement by you is a good idea.
But there are plenty of things that you can easily outsource to a VA. Some typical tasks would be:
- Graphic design
- Advertising layouts
- Market research and prospecting
- Set up and execution of surveys
- Data analysis
- Social media management and monitoring
Many of these things don’t require very detailed technical knowledge, and the core competencies you will want to focus on is more around the understanding of how to plan and execute different types of marketing campaigns and tasks.
This will very much depend on what your chosen marketing platform will be. If you want to get into social media advertising then you need to focus your interview questions on making sure that the candidates understand the relevant platforms and have experience with creating and running ads.
If you need help with creating print ads then it will be more important to focus on graphic and advertising design capabilities and experience with relevant tools like Photoshop and Illustrator.
The more you can focus on specific skills and tools the more likely you are to find the right candidate.
Outsourcing The Process
If the hiring process seems too daunting to you, or if you don’t have the experience in hiring a VA, then the best thing you can do is work directly with Outsource Workers. Our team has extensive experience in finding and training VAs, and for many tasks, we will likely already have someone available in our pool of assistants.
Simply pick up the phone and talk to one of our advisors today to see how quickly you can be set up with a dedicated and cost effective marketing VA.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will it take to find a VA?
When you go through the hiring process yourself you should expect it to take 3 to 6 weeks. This includes job posting, screening interviewing and actual hiring. Our home page has extensive information on this process, but it does require a bit of time and effort. And if you haven’t done this before then there is room for error as well.
If you partner with Outsource Workers, we can usually have a VA sourced from our pool of assistants or we will find someone for your required skill set. This usually takes no more than 2 weeks.
Will they understand my local business and industry?
Finding a specialised VA for your industry is a huge advantage. And at Outsource Workers we mainly focus on the real estate industry. That means that you have a much better chance at having a VA assigned that understands real estate and your local area as well.
Socially, the Philippines is very similar to western countries with heavy influence from the US. Once you start dealing with your first VA you’ll quickly find that to be the case.
And language is also not a problem.
Are there language barriers that can cause problems?
English is the second official language of the Philippines and is taught in all schools. With a very high literacy level, you will find that all Filipinos have a very high level of spoken and written English. This is very important for marketing tasks, and should be a central part of you interview goals.
How does the training process work?
The basic marketing skills that you need should be familiar to the person you hire, rather than having to train them on all the details. But you will still need to on-board an train them to your specific business processes. You should allow for this to happen gradually over a couple of weeks, just like you would do with any other person you hire.