Never Stop Marketing!

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I haven’t really noticed any change to my practice since the beginning of the economic downturn but I have heard a number of small business owners and Virtual Assistants of late saying that work is dropping off and/or they’ve ‘lost’ clients, blaming in part the economic downturn.

This is a good reminder for us all that marketing of your business and networking activities should never stop and now is a good time to renew your commitment to marketing in 2010.

Whilst losing clients is never fun, as business owners we are responsible for ongoing marketing. Unfortunately many small business owners – and virtual assistants especially – let this aspect of their business go as they get more paying clients because they simply “can’t fit in” networking events with income-generating work which tends to take precedence. However, if you fail to continue to network you will definitely end up in a situation where clients drop off but you have no one to fill the gaps and you have to start again from scratch. This is where outsourcing and subcontracting to other VAs helps.

I have three or four VAs I use on a subcontract basis. This enables me to keep taking on new clients without having to do ALL the work myself. It means when a client drops off – as they inevitably will do – I take the subcontract work back.

I also hear of VAs who don’t take on work because they’re “too busy right now” or have a full client load. I have always operated on the basis that there is no such thing as a “full client load”. You should have plans in place for how you deal with the growth of your business and taking on more and more clients is going to happen if you want your business to grow. Having this mindset will ensure you are better placed should one or more clients stop using your service for whatever reason.

Never stop networking – on and offline. It’s vital for your business survival. Nurture solid relationships with your colleague VAs. You can pass work back and forth between you when things get busy. And on this note, if you’re approached and agree to subcontract for a VA treat that VA like a client! They may not be paying you the same hourly rate but it’s income for your business you would otherwise not have and they deserve the same level of service as your regular clients.

Any enquiries you had late last year, follow up on now. I did this last week. I had about 5 or 6 enquiries in the dying months of 2009 that amounted to nothing. But I followed them up again last week and 2 have come back with a positive response and want to get started February.

Make use of your friends, old workmates, family – when I had a downturn about 5 years into my business I sent out an email blatantly asking for help. I said I wanted to stay in business for my family’s sake and needed the help of my friends, family and colleagues to get more clients. I had two strong leads from that email and both signed up and are still clients today. Never be afraid to ask for help.

If you’re a small business owner, home-based business or VA, I would suggest sitting down now with your family and a calendar, finding networking events you’d like to go to – Chamber of Commerce is great for this; business networking groups in your area etc – and scheduling them in NOW before life takes over, and at the same time get buy-in and a commitment from your significant other and family members to help you achieve these 2010 marketing goals, as it will benefit them too for you to be successful.

Business ebbs and flows. Have contingency plans in place for if clients drop off for one reason or another, and get solid relationships built now with colleagues you can call on in busy times so you don’t have to turn potential clients away.

Hope these tips help. A prosperous 2010 to everyone!

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© Lyn Prowse-Bishop, http://www.execstress.com/

4 comments

  1. Debra says:

    Hi Lyn,
    Thanks. This is a great post and a great reminder to always market our businesses, especially in a downturn. I haven’t stopped and I gain leads consistently. Thanks again for sharing your expertise Lyn.
    Debra

  2. execva says:

    Thanks Debra! It is just so important. Amazing how so many people forget. But understandable too as we get so busy! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  3. Joey Wong says:

    Thanks for pointing out these strategies. I’m just starting up my VA business therefore I’m solely focused on marketing, I do worry I’ll lose that focus once I start having clients.

    Hope you’ll have a great year ahead of you!

  4. execva says:

    Best of luck with your VA practice Joey. I noticed you’re a member of a couple of great industry networks so be sure to use the resources available to you there. It can sometimes be overwhelming when you start getting income-generating work – you don’t really know where your focus should be! Just remember, never stop marketing! 🙂

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