Don't Eat the Tea

Recently a personal interaction reminded me of an anecdote I read some years ago about tea. (I love tea, but this may be my first business lesson about it.)

When tea first arrived in England it was expensive. Not, a little bit pricey expensive, but prohibitive, only for the rich expensive. But it caught on quickly, because, well, it's great.

One woman in the south took a full pound of her expensive cache and sent it to her sister in the north, telling her how marvelous it was. Her sister boiled it, dumped the black liquid off and served it like a vegetable. She wrote back about how terrible it was.

She'd prepared it like a vegetable, which she understood, instead of seeing it for what it was: something entirely new.

Some business folks hear about the 'new marketing' and assume it's just more of the old marketing, except online. They still want instant results, measured in dollars return on dollars invested. They want ways to convince people to buy, no matter what they're selling. They spend time and money bolting a website and blog and email autoresponders onto their old-school advertising.

They're dumping the tea and eating the leaves, and then they wonder why it doesn't work.

If you help your clients with their marketing efforts, you may, like the first woman in the story, assume that they'll know how to brew a pot of social media marketing. Erm, tea. Whatever.

But, like the second woman, they don't. They can't. Because it's so foreign to them, they have nothing to connect it to. Give information away, with no firm plan for monetising it? That don't make no sense!

Had the first woman included some simple instructions along with her glowing praise, the story may have had a happier ending. Don't leave anything to chance. Clients who are new to the new marketing will need a lot of hand-holding, a lot of encouragement and explanation and nudging.

Don't assume they get it, unless you actually see them drinking the tea.

Where Will You Engage Your Target Audience?

Someone recently searched for some information on this topic here. Perhaps you've already defined your target audience and wonder now where to find them. Of course this may vary depending on your audience. First, let me say that if you've created your marketing materials to appeal to your target audience - your website, social media, etc. - then your target audience may just come to you!

Find out where your target audience goes - both in person and online. Then go there. Your target audience may attend local meetups or networking events. Attend those events. Perhaps they have their own social networking groups online. Join those groups. When attending the events or participating in these online groups, remember to connect with people and develop relationships before trying to sell your services.

Do All Virtual Assistants Need to Be Social Media Experts?

Much of today's marketing is done online using social media. There are over 3 million Tweets a day and over 200 million active users on Facebook. These and other interesting statistics can be found at Adam Singer's The Future Buzz.

There's no doubt that businesses need to have an online presence and use social media to connect with their prospects and clients. It's a constantly evolving arena and many businesses just don't have time to learn the skills. As a result, the virtual assistant industry is now booming with social media experts.

However, does that mean that every virtual assistant needs to be a social media expert? No. It certainly would be a good idea to know enough about social media to use in your own virtual assistant business. Yet there are other areas in which you can be an expert and have a successful virtual assistant business.

There are virtual assistants that are experts in the following areas:

  • Real Estate
  • Bankruptcy
  • Bookkeeping
  • Genealogy Research
  • Transcription
  • Document creation
  • and the list goes on...

Each of these expert virtual assistants use social media. Yet they do not consider themselves social media experts. They are experts in different niches.

My point is to encourage you to be an expert in the field you love. Don't feel you have to conform to what everyone else is doing in order to be successful.

What are your thoughts on this subject?

Social Networking is What You Make It!

We're all tired of being bombarded by sales pitches on our social networks. Your efforts at social networking to market your business can be successful. Remember, it is what you make it.

That means that instead of constantly sending out advertising, you need to provide value to your network. Posts tips and advice that your network can use in their business. This will earn you credibility and the respect of your network.

Use Social Media Responsibly

Social media can be an effective marketing strategy if used responsibly. You don't want your messages to your prospects to feel 'spammy' or annoy your prospects by flooding them with incessant requests to use your services or buy your book. Of course a measure of self promotion is expected. However, the majority of your social media posts should be aimed at educating your prospects and providing valuable information. What you post should be of benefit to your prospects.

There are many social media tools you can use in your marketing strategy, including a blog, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites. These can be used in conjunction with your website and ezine newsletter.

Blogs are very search engine friendly and fairly easy to setup and maintain. Again, the information you post should be mainly educational. Your blog should direct prospects to your website. Short blog entries make great ezine content. Include a paragraph from your blog in your newsletter with a 'read more' link that takes your readers to your blog.

Your social networking profile on Facebook, LinkedIn, Meetup.com and any other sites you use should be as complete as possible. Schedule some time to connect personally with a new contact. Arrange to meet for coffee if they are in your area and learn more about what they do so you can know best who to refer to them.

Twitter Tips

Twitter can be used effectively to connect with prospects, educate and inform them and generate leads.

  • Post quick tips, quotes or a catchy sentence or phrase from your book or speech. Include a link back to your website.
  • The majority of your Tweets should be aimed at educating and providing valuable information to your prospects and clients so that they turn to you as the expert in your business.
  • If you have a newsletter or blog, post links to specific blog posts or to your newsletter sign up page.
  • Use the tool TweetLater.com to schedule Tweets in advance and to automatically follow anyone who follows you to increase your audience.
  • If you have a Facebook account, make sure your Twitter posts automatically feed to it and widen your exposure even more.
  • Watch the Direct Messages you receive and any @ messages. Try to connect with these people and start building relationships.

Use Twitter as a starting point to connect with prospects and then graduate the connection to Facebook or email. Focus on providing value and benefit to your prospects so they will want to connect with you.

How do yo use social media responsibly?