The one life lesson I have learnt…. Travel!

The one life lesson I have learnt…. Travel!

I have been in a fortunate position to have been able to resign from my job and go and travel. Look, it isn’t the easiest thing to do, as it takes months and even years to plan. But it is something that I would highly recommend everyone does. Take the plunge and forget about having to sit in the traffic to get to a desk you will sit behind for 8 hours, only to get back in your car to sit in some more traffic.

 

Why take a sabbatical?

Why would anyone want to leave their stable job with regular income? Everyone asks, “Aren’t you scared to leave your stable job?”. Yes, it is scary to think of, but you will not have any regrets. So many people are planning and saving for their retirement, wanting to go travel only then. But realistically, would you be physically fit to do a 21km roundtrip hike to see the infamous Trolltunga in Norway, or volunteer to help build a new cattery in Sweden, at the age of 65?

A misconception for quitting your job to go travelling is that it’s expensive. It can work out cheaper than your normal day to day life with an office job. You don’t have any rent to pay or other major bills to pay. If you are smart, you can find places where you can volunteer and in return, you get accommodation and food during your stay. Volunteering can be very rewarding, and one can learn so many new skills as part of the experience.

 

Planning for a once in a lifetime experience

Taking time off to go and travel for a few months is not something you can just plan for a month in advance. It takes months or even years of working extra hard to earn money to save. One must cut all costs to save every penny. It’s even saying no to Friday night drinks with your friends because you need to save. Every penny counts, and it is worth it when you finally get on that plane for the adventure of a lifetime.

You don’t have to plan every single move; you can just go with the flow. Depending on your passport, you may have limited time in the country. You can have a rough idea of your trip, but it does have to be cast in stone. You may find that you love the south of France and want to stay an extra few weeks.

 

Nothing ‘adventured’;  nothing gained

Experiencing a new culture or ticking off the hot air balloon ride that was on your bucket list can be one of the most rewarding experiences you will have, and you will carry that experience with you for life. You learn new things every day, things that you will never be able to learn by sitting at your desk doing your 8 – 5 office job. Like stumbling across a Spanish fiesta in a small coastal town and being the only English-speaking person in the crowd, but you will have one of the best nights of your life. You will also meet some really interesting people and make lifelong friends.

Be adventurous! And take the plunge – you will not regret it.

Now Let’s Take a Look at Marketing Secrets

Now Let’s Take a Look at Marketing Secrets

Me, Myself & Marketing

A few years ago, I would have never thought that I would be a Marketing Assistant. I have always had an interest in marketing, and I have done a few courses related to it, but I never thought that what was my interest, would become my main field of work. I love marketing and to constantly learn something new about it, is what I strive for.

 

Let’s look at the definition of MARKETING:

Marketing as defined by the American Marketing Association: “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large”. The term was developed from the original meaning which referred to going to market with goods for sale.

In 2017 The New York Times described it as “the art of telling stories so enthralling that people lose track of their wallets.”

 

Think platforms

There are so many platforms that can be used to help you with Marketing. I think the task is a lot easier today than it was thirty years ago. We have Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn to name just a few. And if you do a little bit of research and a course or two, you will be able to gain the skills to effectively use them in your marketing strategy.

 

Tools, tools & more tools

You will definitely need a trusted friend to make life easier for you… a friend like Asana or any app that will help you to keep your marketing strategy organized. Believe me, this will help you A LOT! There are so many useful tools out there to choose from. When you have a moment to spare, have a coffee date with Mr. Google and you will be amazed to find out what is available out there to use.

 

Marketing and Branding, isn’t it the same thing?

What is branding and what is marketing? Isn’t it the same thing?

According to Wikipedia, “Branding is endowing products and services with the power of a brand” (Kotler & Keller, 2015).

According to (Hislop, 2001), Branding is the process of creating a relationship or a connection between a company’s product and emotional perception of the customer for the purpose of generating segregation among competition and building loyalty among customers.”

So, in a nutshell, branding is what you need to give your company/product/service a ‘face’, marketing is what you need to make this ‘face’ known and how you will use this ‘face’ to get sales. You will need a strategy for both of them.

You will work on your branding until you have completed it, but you will constantly work on your marketing.

 

A few Marketing secrets to keep in mind

  • You need to know who you will be targeting: who will be your customers?
  • You need to have your branding set up first
  • Work with a plan, do not just do something because you read it someone and now decide to try it out. Plan what you want to do.
  • Keep in mind how many people there are out there. Your target market does not have to include all of them. Keep your target market specific to the product/service you have to offer.
  • There are certain ‘strong words’ that you can use in your marketing that will catch your customer’s attention. Words like “Free, How To, Secret, Limited offer, Don’t miss”. Words like these will create curiosity with a potential customer.

 

Types of Marketing Strategies

  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Pay Per Click
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Viral Marketing
  • Influence Marketing
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Electronic Billboards
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Networking

 

What I would recommend, is once you have decided on your niche/product/service, take the time to develop your branding first and then take the time to work on an effective marketing strategy. Do research on marketing to become familiar with the possibilities that are available to use. Do research on your competitors and what they are using for marketing, this might just benefit you more than you think.

Photo by Dominika Roseclay from Pexels

Driving Value – is it time to hire a Sales VA?

Driving Value – is it time to hire a Sales VA?

There is an old saying that 80% of your sales revenue come from 20% of your clients.  Also, another, not so great statistic, is that 80% of the work in your business is done by 20% of your staff.

These statistics bring to light two of the main complaints of any business looking to add to their team—the cost and investment it takes to bring on a new permanent employee.  When you factor in the hidden costs like training and employee benefits, it’s a hard pill to swallow, KNOWING that, give or take, 80% of your staff is not there giving their all, all the time.  This rings true especially when you are busting your behind getting your life-long-dream, still in that crazy roller-coaster ride called the start-up phase, off the ground.  Anyone who has ever started a business knows that you as the entrepreneur, is BUSY.  You are most probably dividing your time between operations, marketing, financial management & HR – heck you may just as well be the tea lady!

The dilemma which presents itself is that you need sales to grow the business.  Entrepreneurs are not necessarily great at selling.  Or perhaps you are a hot shot salesperson, but don’t have the time or desire to nurture and grow the relationships with your newly landed clients.  The great news is that a Virtual Assistant hire is a straightforward, simple way to add to your sales team, without having to worry about hidden costs.  Virtual Assistants are paid for the hours they work, whether it is 3 hours or 8 hours per day.  They will happily take over all the tasks that you don’t want to manage yourself.

A Sales VA can, to name a few, run with customer relationship management, customer support, prospecting, managing your sales funnel, managing leads through social media, and much more. The question you need to ask yourself is, what do I need my Virtual Sales Assistant to do to bring VALUE to my business? Once you have figured out this, you are ready to interview your selection of candidates and choose a Virtual Assistant with the exact required experience.

 

What Can You Outsource to a Virtual Sales Assistant?

At this stage you must be pondering the question – What exactly can I outsource to someone in this line of work? Surprisingly, there is a whole lot of work which you can hand over to a Sales VA. Think of a Virtual Sales Assistant as roughly a Marketing Assistant; they’re not only good at taking on tasks that you would rather not do, but they can add to yours as well as your existing sales team’s capacity in virtually (excuse the pun) anything that has to do with marketing and sales.

Let’s get a little more specific:

  • Telemarketing: This is not something you may always enjoy doing, but it’s often a necessary part of doing business. You can easily hire a remote worker who not only really loves calling people all day but is also highly skilled at this!  A virtual sales assistant can make outgoing calls to businesses on your behalf, as well as manage inbound calls.  Calling software such as Dialpad, has made this easy.  Gone are the days of having to onboard someone in a full-time capacity to sit in your office and make calls.  This way, qualified leads can be passed on to yourself or your top salespeople to do what they do best – close new deals!
  • CRM skills: The management of customer relationship software is usually key to adding to your sales funnel and creating a profitable and successful pipeline. This is something that you can outsource to an expert Virtual Sales Assistant. Give them the responsibility of making sure that every customer’s data entry is continuously updated with the latest information. You can also put your Sales VA in charge of following up with clients you haven’t heard from in a while or run email campaigns using your CRM software.
  • Outsourcing marketing strategy: Has your marketing strategy been stuck in a rut & aimless? Business owners can not only outsource basic marketing tasks but also outsource strategic thought when it comes to running the sales team and streamlining the sales processes. The fresh mind of an ‘outsider’ may just well be what your marketing strategy requires to give it a creative boost.
  • Sales assistant services: If your sales & marketing team needs an assistant who can grasp the basics of your most common sales & marketing tasks, a Virtual Sales Assistant can leverage their skills and experience to join your team nearly seamlessly.  The VA can even serve in an executive assistant role for the Sales or Marketing Manager.
  • Social Media Management:  Your Sales VA can be put in charge of managing all your social media platforms.  Think Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

Now, more than ever, business owners have to think creatively when it comes to running a successful, profitable business.  Making use of a qualified Virtual Assistant will unquestionably add great VALUE to your business sans the risk and hidden costs of permanent employees.

What do I need to explain to new clients?

What do I need to explain to new clients?

Until recently many entrepreneurs and businesses in general have viewed using the services of a Virtual Assistant as a luxury more than a necessity.  However, the outbreak of Covid-19 has changed the way people view working from home and thrust the Virtual Assistant role into the limelight.

 

I am not a ghost

I find that when you start working with a new client there are always a few teething problems, given that you are asking two or more people to work together who in all probability are sitting in different areas of the country or even the world and there are different personalities that need to gel.  It is a tad difficult as you cannot have a chat in the kitchen while you make your first cup of coffee for the day.  A VA is to all intent and purposes a “ghost” employee, and it is important to remember that although I do not physically sit in the office, I am a person.  So many times, I have heard other remote assistants say “My client has no idea who I am.”

It sometimes takes a while for clients to get their head around the fact that you as a VA are an individual who works remotely on tasks and projects that you have been assigned by the client.  Very rarely is there that personal connection.

 

My working hours

Utilising the services of a VA is the best way to move forward.  I find that one of the first issues to address is working times.  Clients sometimes need to be reminded that you are a “free-lance worker” and as such you will normally have more than one client, your priorities will be slightly different to an office-based employee.

 

I need it in writing

Communication is key to a long term, successful working relationship.  I always remind my clients I am not physically in their office and therefore unable to raise concerns face to face.  It is always good to give written instructions. This way I can revert to this document should I need clarity on what you expect from me.  It helps to provide me with a timeline.  It is a way of holding everyone accountable for their actions.  With working from home becoming the new norm, there are plenty of online management tools and apps that one can use to assist with managing both client and VA expectations.  It is a matter of time and trial and error to see which one works best for you.

 

How am I doing?

I have found in the past, that the more detail I am provided with the better my performance will be.  Certain clients that I have worked with have provided specific feedback along the way and this has always been a good way of getting to know one another and addressing areas that might need to be changed.

My theory is simple, I will work hard for my clients, if we keep the lines of communication open and we regularly check in with each other, we will become an awesome team.  I will be able to assist you in the day to day management leaving you free to grow your company and move from strength to strength.

Photo by ThisIsEngineering from Pexels

Email Marketing Trends You Need to Know About

Email Marketing Trends You Need to Know About

Email marketing is constantly evolving and 2020 has been an exciting year in the email marketing arena with it continuing to be one of the most trusted communication channels available to marketers. It has received a bad rap in the past, but it continues to defy its critics, providing some of the best ROIs in the digital landscape. Here’s a summary of the main email marketing trends that we are seeing in 2020 and that are likely to stick around for the remainder of the year and beyond.

 

It’s all about the mobile

Mobile browsing has now surpassed desktop browsing in terms of percentage traffic and mobile surpasses other devices for email opens.  As a result, emails are being optimized more and more for mobile access, ensuring that copy, images and layout correctly collapse down into a mobile-friendly format.

The majority of purchases and therefore generated revenue is still coming from desktops but crucially, the percentage of revenue from mobiles increased 23% in 2019 and that is set to continue in 2020.

 

Minimalist email copy and design

Concise copy and a clean design have become paramount for email marketing and with the shift towards mobile access, simplification has become even more important. Long superfluous copy leads to readers switching off and not making it through an email. What works on paper doesn’t necessarily carry well to an email, and companies should have dedicated copywriters that understand the writing requirements for email copy as opposed to direct mail copy.

Attention spans of readers are reducing, and media is being consumed in large quantities. An email should therefore be simple and contain content that is easy to scan and can be quickly digested and understood. Lots of white space, simple images and blocks of colour to draw the eye are being used in emails to keep them easy to read.

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in email marketing

AI is increasingly being used in email copy and content selection, dramatically improving personalisation and being able to provide the right message for each person. AI is also being used for segmenting recipients. Efficient and intelligent software is replacing the usual data collection at signup process. Effectively, AI is a tool to be used alongside other marketing tools, but how it is used is arguably more important than whether or not you choose to adopt it.

 

Segmentation tactics

Personalisation will continue to grow in importance and one area that is picking up interest is the optimisation of send time. This is where emails are optimised to send out to individuals based on their historical open patterns. There will be more segments and more dynamic segmentation with email marketers striving to provide the most relevant communication at the optimum frequency and time.

 

Trust in email marketing is going nowhere

Email continues to be a consistent platform that allows one-to-one communication to an inbox. The majority of recipients are receiving emails that they have opted in to receive so they are more likely to trust the content. With social media platforms as a comparison, users can follow/unfollow, like/unlike with one click as well as constantly switch between platforms. Email is the single best digital tool to communicate with customers that actually want to hear from you.

 

Final thoughts

Email marketing is here to stay.  As technological innovation continues to reshape the email marketing landscape, there is plenty you can do at every level of your email marketing strategy to improve results. Let’s see what the rest of the year and 2021 holds for this trusted, yet rapidly evolving marketing channel!