How to create a marketing strategy for your VA business

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I frequently see members of the Handbookers Facebook group say they struggle to find work despite posting regularly on social media. But posting random content without knowing what to say, where to say it and who to say it to is about as effective as shouting out the window. To get clients, Virtual Assistants need a solid marketing strategy.

You can’t just post random stuff on every social media platform and expect to get work.

Well, you can and you may but I guarantee it will be phenomenally hard work and unlikely to result in the types of clients you want.

You will save a huge amount of time and effort if you:

  1. Create a marketing strategy
  2. Use the strategy to create a plan
  3. Use the plan to create your content

There’s no point in writing any content until you have a plan, and you can’t create a plan until you have a strategy.

A marketing strategy may not be sexy but it’s crucial for ensuring your business stands out and reaches the right people.

You will also have a variety of marketing strategies for different aspects of your business.

Let me explain.

 

Recap

Your marketing strategy helps you to create a plan and will splinter into sub-strategies based on the channels you choose and you will select those channels based on your target client and services.

Once you’ve selected your channels, the strategy for each one will depend on that channel’s features and your objectives.

Your marketing strategy will be based on your individual business needs. It will not be the same as other Virtual Assistant’s strategy because VAs have different target clients, services, skills, specialities and experience.

You may not need to use some channels at all.

Some VAs might not need a website, to go networking, or be on social media because their clients come from different channels.

The terms marketing strategy and marketing plan are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. They each serve a different purpose and focus on different aspects of the marketing process.

Let’s take a look at both of them a little more closely.

Your Virtual Assistant marketing strategy

So what is a marketing strategy?

A marketing strategy is your destination. It’s the framework you hang everything else on and outlines your overall approach. It also sets the foundation and direction for your marketing activities, such as your branding, messaging and choice of marketing channels.

As the foundational framework of the approach you use to attract clients, it focuses on:

  1. Your objectives: what you are aiming to achieve.
  2. Your target audience: who you are looking to attract.
  3. Your USP: what differentiates you from other VAs.
  4. Your brand: how you want to come across and be viewed.

A quick word on USPs

A USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is anything that makes you stand out and that can act as a differentiator. The name is a bit misleading as you are likely to have multiple USPs.

Example USPs:

  1. You’ve won an award.
  2. You have director/EA/board-level experience.
  3. You’ve worked at award-winning organisations.
  4. You’ve worked within global organisations across multiple time zones.
  5. You’ve worked at/with well-known or esteemed organisations.
  6. You’re a certified expert or you have specific qualifications.
  7. You’re familiar with niche-specific platforms and tools.
  8. You’re exceptionally tech-savvy and all over AI.
  9. You speak more than one language.
  10. You offer a rapid turnaround service.
  11. Something else and/or a combination of the above.

No two Virtual Assistants are the same and there will be numerous things you can use to differentiate yourself.

Your Virtual Assistant marketing plan

Okay, now what’s a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is an overview of the specific actions you need to take in order to implement your marketing strategy and includes:

  1. Channels:  the channels you will use to reach your target audience, These include your website, SEO, articles (blog posts or LinkedIn articles), social media, networking, paid advertising, conferences, direct marketing, forums etc.
  2. Content: the types of content you will publish/deliver via those channels.
  3. Budget: the amount of money you will allocate to your chosen channels.
  4. Measurements: KPIs you will measure to ascertain whether your strategy is working. (Website analytics, social media stats, number of leads/enquiries etc)
  5. Timelines: the overall deadline to reach your main objectives and/or the timeline for each action.

Summary

Your strategy is the “what” and “why” and deals with market identification, positioning, and competitive advantage.

Your plan is the “how” and “when” and outlines specific objectives, tactics, budgets, and metrics.

Let’s say you want to go to a concert in Edinburgh.

Are you going to walk, fly, drive or take the train? What route are you going to take and why? What time do you need to set off? What time do you want to arrive?

Your strategy is where you intend to go and why and your plan focuses on how you’ll get there.

Let’s see what that looks like when we apply it to your Virtual Assistant business.

Example: marketing strategy for a VA specialising in the construction industry

Your own marketing strategy will depend on your services, target client, experience, skills and knowledge but as an example, here’s an overview of a strategy for a VA with a background in the construction industry.

1. Objectives

To acquire six new clients within the next quarter, increase my website traffic by 30% and grow my LinkedIn connections by 75%.

2. Target market:

Construction companies, engineering consultants, project management firms that offer PM services to construction projects, building materials suppliers, construction equipment rental businesses, health and safety consultants, sustainability and environmental consultants, surveying and land development consultants, and construction marketing and PR firms.

TIP: To find a list of potential clients, consider the organisations you’ve worked in and alongside. Think about other similar organisations who worked with or sold to these organisations.

Or just type “What kinds of small businesses and consultants would hire a Virtual Assistant with skills and experience in the xxx industry?” into ChatGPT!

3. USP:

I have eight years of experience working with well-known and highly-regarded construction companies. I understand industry-specific technical documents, drawings, specifications, and terminology.

I am familiar with industry-standard and project management software. I also have a full understanding of compliance and safety standards, regulations and requirements within the construction industry.

4. Brand: to reflect my target market’s brand I will use bold, strong lines, geometrical shapes and muted colours on my website, business card and other marketing materials.

I will use a clean and professional sans-serif font and mirror the tone and style of my target market’s own branding to create a psychological alignment of our two businesses.

However, I will use the content and profile pic on my ‘About’ page as well as a vibrant accent colour to add a dash of personality to my site.

Example Virtual Assistant marketing plan

Let’s continue with the example of a VA with a history of working within the construction industry. You’ve just read through her marketing strategy, now let’s look at her marketing plan.

1. Channels

Website
My goal is to encourage organic traffic via SEO and ensure I appear on the first page of Google for keywords in my niche. To do this, I will use AI to create a list of SEO terms used by my target market and use them organically throughout my website.

Networking
I will join industry-specific forums and groups so I can offer tips and advice and connect with my target client.I will also attend in-person and online industry meetups, conferences and exhibitions to connect with my target client and create awareness of my services.

Social media
I will focus on LinkedIn. My target market uses this platform because it’s where their own target market can be found.

LinkedIn strategy
I will only connect with people in my target market so my ideal audience sees my posts. I will make a minimum of 5 connections each day. I will publish one LinkedIn article each week. I will engage in discussions with my target market each day.

I will post daily content that showcases my services, skills, knowledge, and experience within the construction industry and demonstrates my understanding of the challenges and goals of my target audience.

Direct marketing
I also use the direct marketing approach in Joanne Munro’s Guide on How to Get New Clients. Using the methods in the guide, I will research, qualify, connect and contact a minimum of five prospects each month.

My prospect emails will be sent to warm leads (people I have connected with on LinkedIn and have met at events) and will suggest specific ways my skills and experience can improve their business.

2. Content

I will create flyers and business cards to hand out when attending in-person events.

For my online channels, I will use AI to suggest SEO-friendly content ideas around the subject of the construction industry and the benefits of using a VA with experience and knowledge of this industry.

This content along with eye-catching images that appeal to my target market will be used on my website and in LinkedIn posts and articles.

(I skim over the subject of content in this post because it is a whopping great subject and you need to decide on your strategy and plan first. Plus, I’m in the process of creating a social media marketing course!)

3. Budget

I will allocate a budget of (£x) per (month/year)

  • £xx for ChatGPT.
  • £xx for an evergreen social media scheduler.
  • £xx to attend construction industry conferences, expos and events.
  • £xx for a CRM.
  • £xx for website hosting, email address and domain name registration.

4. Measurement

I will use Google Analytics to measure website traffic, LinkedIn insights for follower growth and engagement, and a CRM to track client acquisition and enquiries.

5. Timelines

My goal is to acquire six new clients within the next quarter. I aim to increase website traffic by 30% and grow my LinkedIn connections by 75% by the end of the year.

I will review my stats and analytics each month to ensure I am on track to hit my self-set timelines. I will double down on things that are working and adjust any activities that are not yielding results.

The channel is really important

Virtual Assistants are always asking me “What do I post on social media?” and now you know it’s not as simple as that.

You might not even need to be on social media

There are many ways to get clients and the methods and channels you focus on will depend on your services and target audience.

A few examples include:

~ If you’re looking for clients in the health and wellbeing industry and you’re not having much luck on social media, you could attend wellbeing conferences or events and come away with a handbag packed with business cards. You also get to have real-life conversations and make more meaningful connections.

~ There’s no point in attending local network events if you have a very specialised niche. If your ideal clients are marketing consultants, they could be anywhere in the world but are unlikely to be at your local Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

~ If you get all of your clients through local networking and none through social media then it might be time to stop.

~ If you get all of your clients through Facebook groups and none through Instagram then you should double down on Facebook and close your Insta account.

~ If all of your clients have come through referrals then your marketing strategy should focus on trying to optimise this.

You get my drift.

You will use more than one channel

Although you won’t have to use every channel mentioned above, you will probably have target clients and services that span different channels.

Example: You mainly work with coaches(and other professionals) but you also offer minute taking.

Coaches won’t need minute takers so you would market your coaching services on LinkedIn as it’s the most professional social media platform and the place they are most likely to be.

You would invest time in connecting with coaches (don’t connect with other VAs unless they are the people you’re trying to attract) and design your content to catch their eye and address their unique challenges and goals.

Once you are connected, you could then implement the direct marketing approach in my Guide on How to Get New Clients. You could also attend conferences and expos attended by business coaches.

Organisations that need impartial minute takers may be on LinkedIn, but it would be more efficient to contact them directly about your minute-taking services.

So in this example, your channels would be LinkedIn, networking and direct marketing. It may also be useful to have a website.

What to do if you don’t yet have a target market

Notice I used the word ‘yet’ in that headline because you really do need to know who you’re looking for!

It’s a thousand times easier to find something if you know what that something is.

But if you’re a new VA and your target market is “busy people” then you’ll need to narrow it down. Review the info above on USPs and read my post on how to work out your Virtual Assistant niche.

a) I don’t have any clients yet – according to the SVA annual survey, business consultants and coaches are the people most likely to hire a VA. I would also suggest you focus on your local area.

To find coaches, use the info above on how to market to business coaches.

To land local clients use local forums and Facebook groups, focus on local SEO on your website, frequent coworking spaces (great places for clients and referrals) and attend local networking and business events.

b) I have at least one client – now replicate them. Use any client who gives you well-paying enjoyable work as a template to find similar ones. Look at where you found them and what made them hire you.

Research where they hang out professionally (online and in real life) and focus your efforts there. Post industry-specific content, share testimonials, and engage in conversations.

You can also ask ChatGPT “What kinds of small businesses are similar to (insert template client’s industry or job title) and would hire a Virtual Assistant?” so you can potentially target them too.

Conclusion

Phew, that was a lot of information to take in, wasn’t it? But don’t worry, just remember you need to:

  1. Know what you can help people with
  2. Find people who need help with those things
  3. Make them aware of you
  4. Have a conversation

That’s how business has always been done and that’s how it will always be done.

Decide on your main target market(s), find out where they hang out and then put yourself right in front of them. Only connect with the people who can hire you and ensure everything you do focuses on how you can help them solve their problems.

Don’t join every social media platform and throw out boring, sporadic “Hey, hire a VA” posts that mean nothing to anyone.

Your marketing strategy will form the foundation of everything you do so taking time to work it out will pay dividends in the long run and make finding clients a helluva lot easier.

Ok. I’ve got my strategy and plan but what about the content?

Social media is where you create credibility so the content you post and the images you use to accompany those posts are really important.

However, social media requires an entire strategy of its own and again, your strategy, plan and content will vary depending on who you’re looking for and the services you offer.

As this is such a whopping great subject, I’m currently writing a social media marketing course for you.

The course will focus on strategy (obvs), deciding which platforms to use, the nuances of each platform, the types of businesses that use each platform, writing stand-out content tailored to your target audience, creating eye-catching scroll-stopping images, writing a content plan and marketing checklist, and measuring your stats.

I’ve already outlined most of it so I’ll let you know via the VA Handboookers Facebook group and newsletter when it’s ready.

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