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Jeannine Clontz, president of Clontz Business Services, LLC , started her Virtual Assistance (VA) practice in August of 1998. As her business evolved she specialized in marketing and social media support to small business owners, entrepreneurs and solopreneurs, nationwide.
Jeannine is an author, international speaker and virtual assistant coach, giving her a unique perspective in supporting the needs of her clientele in the areas of marketing and social media. She is at the cutting edge of the latest technologies and utilizes them to propel her own business, as well as, those of her clients, bringing a vast array of solutions to fit every need.
Gus: What are some of the most common marketing mistakes you see your clients make and how can they be avoided?
Jeannine: The most common mistake is not having a marketing plan and a way to track results. People seem to be intimidated thinking a plan needs to be this long drawn out document that will be difficult for them to maintain much less implement. I encourage clients to start small. Try one or two marketing options to kick off the plan and then after about six months of tracking, if it’s yielding good results, keep it, if not, remove it from the plan, and add one or two more options. Many folks also don’t realize that time spent networking , optimizing your website message, speaking at the local Chamber, or the time spent working in social media is all a part of your marketing plan. Memorializing it is a great way to set the intention to consistently participate in that marketing medium. Consistency is so important when you’re looking to establish new or deeper relationships with prospects and clients. Having a simple plan in place and implementing it regularly is a step in the right direction.
Another very common marketing mistake is not taking the time to identify your target market. Although we sometimes think EVERYONE is a potential client, establishing a target market will help you focus your message on those most likely to respond favorably. If your message is too general, trying to reach everyone, your results will be limited.
I vividly remember wasting a whole lot of my marketing dollars early on in my business because I never included a ‘call to action’ in any of my marketing messages. I simply provided them with a laundry list of the services I provided. Not many people really cared or understood how those services could solve their specific problems. You need to give the prospect a reason for contacting you. Create a sense of urgency with a deadline, or something extra if they respond by this date; anything that engages them and asks them to do something more.
The final most common marketing mistake people make is not tracking their results. Without this information you are wasting your time and money. How can you know if something you’re using is yielding a return on investment? You need to ask every single prospect how they found you; or build in something in your call to action that will tell you exactly how you connected. Keep track on a simple spreadsheet and check in periodically to get the biggest ROI for your marketing dollars.
Marketing is the most important part of your business. Even more important than the product or service you have to offer. You might offer the best option available, but if no one knows about you and how it solves their problems, you’ll never get their business.
Gus: How can an entrepreneur increase their social media presence without it taking up too much of their time?
Jeannine: There are several ways to consider. Technology is available, such as Hoostuite, which allows the entrepreneur to post and schedule messages that are posted to all social media like…Facebook, Facebook business pages, LinkedIn, and Twitter, with one click. You can even schedule posts throughout the month at one sitting.
Staying focused on specific areas where their target market can be reached is another great way to minimize your social media time. Find specific groups on LinkedIn and Facebook that contain members in your target group and focus on responding to their requests, to establish your expertise, and promote your blog posts, or resources and information that show your level of expertise and entice them to connect to you, or visit your website to find out more about your offerings.
And of course, you can always outsource some of this to a professional who specializes in this type of support. They can not only take a lot of this off your plate, but they can also provide you with resources to new technologies and options to increase productivity.
Most of my clients spend about an hour a week on social media, and we round it out by managing another hour or two of focused implementation to increase their online exposure in this important medium.
Gus: What are some resources that you think our readers could benefit from when it comes to latest technologies to increase productivity and workflow?
Jeannine: I already mentioned one, Hootsuite, to help manage social media, and I highly recommend the benefits of utilizing some sort of collaboration software – could be something like Basecamp, or MyClientSpot, or even some of the free ‘cloud’ resources from Google.com. Some of the most popular are, Google Docs and Google Calendar.
These platforms allow you to communicate with a team working on specific projects and tasks together allowing for real time project updates and reminders.
Another must have is Dropbox. Dropbox is a technology that allows you to share documents with others that can be updated and ‘saved’ so that everyone will have the latest version available to them at all times.
Gus: What advice would you give a client who has an idea of what they want in a marketing program but isn’t sure where to start?
Jeannine: I have a marketing plan outline I provide my clients to help them gather the information they need to create the plan and the marketing message that will be the focus of their plan. They have or know most of this information, they just haven’t taken the time to pull it together and establish the plan.
Things like their mission and vision, their ideal client profile, determining their target market and what challenges their product or service solves. What are the best marketing mediums to use to reach them – a Yellow Pages ad, postcards and letters, an electronic newsletter, and so on.
Then consider your marketing budget. It’s great to say you want to send out 1,000 postcards a month to your extensive database, but is that affordable? Once you decide on the mediums you will use, jot down what those costs look like so you know whether it’s attainable now, or perhaps on your future wish list. Even the cost of hosting your website should be included in your marketing budget – your website is a marketing medium and your marketing budget will need to cover those on-going costs.
Once you have those details the plan will begin to take shape. Then create your message and marketing pieces, as needed, and create your implementation calendar to remind you when each part of your plan needs to be scheduled.
It may sound like a lot, but once you take the time to pull things together, it’s smooth sailing.
Gus: How can a small business develop a strategy that helps deliver consistent and growth through their website and blog?
Jeannine: Boy, that’s a good one! There are so many things that go into developing that strategy. Everything from updating their keywords and metatags from keyword searches through either Google or a piece of software like Market Samurai, to developing inbound and outbound links on both your website and blog page. Adding an electronic newsletter and repurposing your blog posts on free article sites will also increase your Internet presence.
You might also consider using social media for new product research, contests, and surveys and then connect them back to your website and blog to grow your list and build your relationships with prospects who will come to ‘know, like and trust’ you, which then leads to increased business.
And of course we many times forget our current clients when marketing. Not only can they refer new clients to us, but sometimes we can expand or grow our business with them by asking them to participate in the development of new products and services. All this can be done through your website or blog page.
Doing these activities consistently will certainly lead to business growth.
Gus: What are 3 things companies should and should not expect from social media?
Jeannine: They should expect that social media will establish their expertise in their industry; help them make connections to build stronger relationships with their potential prospects; and provide them with a platform to increase awareness of their offerings. They should not expect to be able to immediately get new clients; be able to manage to participate in more than five platforms at any one time; or be able to successful track results of your efforts.
Social media is like networking, just not face-to-face. There are more and more platform options like Google+ and Pinterest coming on the scene. Pick no more than five to be involved with consistently and you’ll have a much more successful and achievable plan.
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