Elayne Whitfield, BA, MVA ~ VA Industry ExpertSubscribe Now

How to Find Great Clients

How to Find Great ClientsAlthough running your own business can be difficult at times, it can also be extremely rewarding. Often the differentiating factor is the type of clients that you do business with on a regular basis. The better your clients, the smoother things will run and the more satisfied you will feel. It makes sense to create a strategy to find great clients so here are a few tactics to consider when doing so.

Get Referrals

When you find clients that you enjoy working with don’t be afraid to ask them for referrals. People tend to be attracted to likeminded individuals and clients referred from existing clients tend to be of the same caliber. Good clients will lead you to other good clients.
If this is something that is working for you, you can even consider offering a referral program for your business. Give back to your customers who refer others by giving them a credit towards your services or a discount.

Network

One of the best ways to find people you enjoy working with is to put yourself out there and network whenever you get the opportunity. Sometimes you’ll click with another business owner and a simple, “I’d love to see how we can work together” may end up producing profitable results for years to come.
Networking both online and off is a fantastic way to find great clients. In fact, you may find that networking is the best source of ideal clients for your business.

Partnerships

Consider forging partnerships with other business owners that you enjoy working with to expand your potential client pool. For example, if you’re a virtual assistant who provides social networking management services you might partner with someone who creates social networking graphics. Together you could offer a complete social networking package.

Ask

Put the word out there about you. Let your friends, family, and associates know that you’re looking to bring on two or three quality clients to your schedule. You might be surprised at what you find and you could even end up with more quality clients than you have time for.

Before You Get Started

There are a few steps to take before you begin searching for more clients. Taking these steps will ensure you’re attracting the type of client you want and will also make sure you are able to accommodate their needs.

  1. Make sure you have the resources to take on new clients. If not are too swamped with work and other commitments at the moment, consider eliminating some other clients or tasks from your calendar. If you want to bring on new clients you need to make sure you can meet their needs.
  2. Identify exactly what you want in a client before you start searching. What makes a client great to work with? Are they easy to communicate with? Do they provide minimum enough instruction for you to get the job done? Do they pay well and on time? Define what makes a good client for you.
  3. Take steps to make sure that all of your clients know how much you appreciate them. Creating some sort of customer appreciation strategy will go a long way for you. Finding those great clients is only the first step; you want to make sure to keep them too.

Finding great clients isn’t difficult. Know what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to ask for new clients, and pay attention to the specific service you provide. A good client can stick with you for years. It’s worth the time and effort to show your appreciation.

How to Create Wow-Worthy Content for Your Blog

How to create wow-worthy content for your blog  When people read your blog your goal is for them to immediately want to share it with their friends and then click away thinking, “Wow, that was awesome!” With blogs being such a large part of internet marketing today creating wow-worthy content is more important than ever. Here are a few tried and true methods that you should consider if you want your blog to be truly successful.
 
 
 

Know Your Audience

Remember, audiences change and it is not as simple as you may think to keep on top of who they are. Studying your audience as they grow and develop is important for you to stay ahead of trends. A great example to look at for this is a company like Ivory Soap. They have been around since 1879 and although their audience has always consisted of the same general demographics, their morals and ideas have changed a great deal.

Keep Up-to-Date on Industry Trends

The more you know about your industry, the more knowledge you’ll have to share with your audience and the more valuable you’ll be to them. Being aware of what is going on will make you a go-to person for information in the niche you’re involved with. Reading and studying your industry will also improve the quality of how you run your business too.

URL Structure and Tags Matter

Often times bloggers will underestimate the power of the right URL structure and the tags they use on their blog posts. These things still matter. The best URLs consist of unique, keyword-rich titles, and the best tags consist of keywords that are within the content. Don’t forget the tags on your images. Make it all count.

Know Your Numbers

Do you know what kinds of blog posts bring the most attention to your blog? If you don’t, you should. Once you know what types of blog posts get the most shares, views, engagement, and comments, you can create more of that type as well as spiff up the ones you already have.

Create Shareable Content

Content that has valuable information, great images, or content in video form, is shared more than other types of blog posts. Pay attention to what your audience shares and create more of that.

Link Internally

A great way to draw more attention and up the wow-factor in your blog posts is to develop good linking practices by linking internally to other blog posts that relate to the current post your audience is already reading.

Understand How Keywords Work

From short tail to long tail and all in between, there are many different types of keywords. The more you can understand how keywords work and which ones are important within your niche, the better you can use them to your advantage.

Use Many Forms of Content

Don’t skimp on your content variety. Use different forms of video, images, podcasts, text, and more. Your blog will be much more dynamic and interesting if the content used is not always the same. For example, some “how to” blogs might be best presented along with a video rather than a text only post.

Engage Your Readers

Don’t leave out your calls to action and reader engagement ideas like asking them to buy, click, read, or comment. By promoting it upfront you’ll get a lot more engagement than if you just hope it happens on its own.

Creating wow-worthy content for your blog will come naturally the more you understand your niche and what your audience likes best. If you’re unsure about anything, consider polling your audience to find out what types of content they prefer and what products and services they need most. Stay focused and up-to-date and your blog will be successful.

Marketing Your Business on a Shoestring Budget

Marketing your business on a shoestring budgetWhether you’re just starting out or funds are tight for whatever reason, there are some things you just cannot do without and you’ll need to find a way to get them done on a shoestring budget. Since you won’t be able to sell anything if no one knows that your business exists, marketing is certainly one of those things. But just because it’s inexpensive doesn't mean it won’t be effective. In fact, some of the most effective forms of marketing can be done on the smallest of budgets.

Business Cards

You can get low-cost business cards online from websites like Vistaprint.com and PrintsMadeEasy.com, or depending on how tight your budget really is, make them on your own printer with your computer. Do not use the free versions of business cards that some sites offer, but if you find a coupon or get a discount code you can get cards inexpensively. It may be an older way of marketing but it still works.
When you go to any event, be sure to leave your business card. When you have any reason to hand out your phone number to anyone, for any reason, give them your business card. You never know when someone will need the services you offer or when your friends and family will meet up with someone who they could tell about your services. Hand your cards out freely.

Build a Website with a Blog

Using self-hosted sites like WordPress makes having a professional looking website with a blog really easy. You can get free themes off WordPress.org, buy a domain for about 15 dollars, and host your website for as low as 5 dollars a month. Every penny of that cost is worth it.
If you’re technologically deficient and can’t afford to hire someone to make it for you, consider using a website builder that offers a blog function. You want the blog to be on your website and not separate from your website like a Blogger or WordPress.com blog. However you choose to do this, the next step is to write regular, informative, keyword-rich blog posts that you promote via social media.

Use Social Media to Promote Everything

It is important to set up branded social media accounts for your business but you don’t have to be on every social media network. Instead, use the knowledge that you have about your audience to choose which social media networks will work best for you. Keep high quality, up-to-date profiles that represent your brand in a cohesive way.
When you write a blog post, send it to social media. When you take a picture of something, or have a question about something you’re creating, mention it on social media. Use social media to engage your audience in creative ways. You can use social media to get email list signups, promote events, and more – all free.

Find a Joint Venture Partner for a Project

A JV partnership is not a real business partnership. It’s a joining of forces or collaboration between complementary business owners who share an audience but are not in direct competition. Finding a project to work on like this can essentially help you both double your audience.
Make the JV partnership a time-limited project that has a definite start and end point. Determine all the rules and how money will be handled up front and put it all in a contract. Define each aspect of the work that each of you will be responsible for completing. Be clear and stick to the plan and you’ll both come out successful.

Write a Book

If you’re an expert on anything you can write a book about that topic. You can publish it easily on Kindle or promote it as a PDF document right from your website. You can sell it, or give it away for free. It’s up to you. Books can push you forward in the eyes of your audience as a true expert and they can become a calling card for you.

Get on the Speaking Circuit

Using your book as a foundation, put the word out that you’re ready to give talks locally. For the cost of a ticket, room and board, you can also go to other speaking events out of town. Sometimes, you can even get paid for speaking once you’re established and in demand. Speaking is not only a relatively cost-free marketing strategy, but it can also be a source of income.

Create Buzz

When you really have no money, a great way to get the word out is to create a lot of buzz. This can be done through any number of the previously mentioned strategies, the important this is to get people thinking and talking about you. Create a video, write a controversial blog post, or have a contest with videos that get voted on by the video creator's friends, family and audience. It’s a great way to get people talking and to get free advertising. Offer a relevant and amazing prize package and it’ll also create buzz.

Build Relationships through Networking

Choose networking events wisely. You want to network with people who can become clients, or who can send you clients. Since your budget is limited, try to find online or local networking events that you can attend. There are many mastermind groups online that have a small fee for joining but are awesome ways to find clients once you spend the time building relationships and developing trust.

Incentivize Referrals

A really great way to increase your customer base is to convince your customers to refer you to others. Most of the time satisfied customers will tell others about you, but in some cases they may not because they want to keep you to themselves. This is especially true with service-based businesses. In this case, a great way to overcome the issue is to give your customers a reason to tell others about you. Offer a discount coupon or additional freebies for each paying customer that people send your way.
If you sell products, consider starting an affiliate program as a way to get more people to tell others about your products and make more sales without it costing you anything more than a percentage of those sales.

Using these marketing ideas when you have little to no money will take mostly time, especially if you need to learn how to use the technology. However, putting to work even a couple of these ideas will push your business forward.

Three Reasons to Market Through Email AFTER You Sell

3 Reasons to Market Through EMail After You SellFor years, email marketing has been a pre-purchase exercise. Marketers spent almost all of their resources on acquiring customers before selling to them, rather than reaching out to customers after the sale. While this method is obviously effective, it is by no means the be-all and end-all of marketing forms.

After the worldwide recession hit in 2008, businesses everywhere responded by cutting their marketing budgets. Advertising expenditures plummeted, global marketing presences were almost eliminated, and sales-focused businesses found themselves running out of buyers. In a new environment of business, companies began turning to uncharted methods to attract customers, leading eventually to an expansion of the email marketing world.

Today, the focus on size over substance is clearly present in almost every form of marketing, from offline resources to online marketing tactics. Marketers brag about their mailing lists, touting millions of readers, all the while ignoring the fact that each reader is almost completely valueless. Despite their massive size, these marketing lists are largely pieced together and almost completely devoid of any post-purchase subscribers.

The money is, as they say, most certainly in the lists, it's just not in any list. The most valuable marketing resources and the targets of any serious email marketer are the attention of any prospective customer that can, will, and has bought before. Once you have overcome the initial sale, repeat business is as simple as creating additional marketing resources to stay engaged with the customer.

Sometimes it is best to forego the short-term subscription and focus on customers that are ready to buy. Before you start an all-inclusive marketing list, consider these three reasons to keep your list exclusive and limited to customers that have already bought from you before.

  1. Post-purchase marketing gives you authority through established trust: It is easier to sell a $1000 product to a current customer than it is to sell a $20 product to someone you barely know. Commerce, especially online commerce, is all about building trust and establishing authority. Build trust with a small initial sale and you will give yourself an avenue for larger, more profitable future transactions.
  2. Customers qualify themselves. Prospects require your qualification: Marketing to new customers is an uphill battle. You are constantly re-evaluating your assumptions to appeal to possibility and quite often they can fail to be worth your time. The vast majority of pre-purchase prospects turn out to be duds and the few that buy from you are typically the types of customers that would buy from you on their own anyways. Focus on fostering qualified customer connections, not indiscriminate and valueless connections coming from anywhere.
  3. Post-purchase marketing is exclusive and value-adding: Exclusivity is a currency in itself. Marketers have forever capitalized on the “exclusive offer” strategy, offering each customer a one-off opportunity that is available to almost everyone else. While many are content with false exclusivity, true exclusivity gives you a marketing opportunity that is almost completely unparalleled.

The internet, especially over the last few years, has given marketers intense power to undervalue and skim over  personal relationships with customers. It has become all too easy to send a generic  template email to all contacts instead of differentiating previous purchasers versus prospects. A focus on true exclusivity and one-on-one treatment goes a long way in the world of template emails and form letters, and will be appreciated by your clients, customers, and business contacts.