Marketing Guide for Beginners, Pros, and Business Owners
Regardless of size, businesses large and small have one thing in common: they’re driven by marketing. No matter how you approach marketing for your business, it’s the lifeblood of a thriving business—ensuring customers continue to learn about and patronize your business.
That said, marketing can be a beast—especially if you don’t consider yourself a pro marketer. There are dozens of channels to inhabit, infinite campaigns to build, and thousands of tools to learn. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Whether you’re just starting to build out a marketing operation for your business or you’re drowning in all the marketing efforts you already manage, a virtual assistant (VA) is one good option that can help to streamline your workflow.
The way we see it, those are the 2 buckets most people fall into:
BEGINNERS, who are starting to dabble with marketing and are so overwhelmed by the options, channels, tools, etc. that they aren’t sure where to even start.
EXPERIENCED MARKETERS, who are already running more marketing campaigns on more channels than they have time to manage.
Below, we’ve broken our marketing guide down for each of these groups. We share tips for handling marketing in each scenario and explain how a virtual marketing assistant can help in both cases, along with tips for working effectively with a VA.
Tips to help get your marketing operation off the ground
When you’re first getting started with marketing for your business, it’s really easy to get bogged down trying to understand the minutiae of each and every channel, social media platform, email automation tool, and more. But at this stage, your focus should be on learning and trying new things.
After all, there’s no silver bullet for marketing—it all comes down to what works for your business and your customers. There’s always a period of trial-and-error, even for experienced marketers.
Below are a few tips that can help you make the most of this phase and get your marketing efforts working for you as soon as possible.
Tip #1: Learn from your competitors
Down the road, you’ll make most of your marketing decisions based on historical data about your customers and your past marketing campaigns—but right now… you don’t have any past marketing campaigns to learn from. So the solution we recommend is to learn from existing competitors in your space. (For our purposes here, think of “competitors” as anyone competing for the attention and wallet of your target customers.)
Unless your business is super niche, you have competitors out there who are already on social media, producing content, and running PPC campaigns. Those marketing efforts are all opportunities for you to learn what works in terms of reaching the customers you’re both chasing. By analyzing their marketing campaigns, you can get a sense of which channels your customers frequent, the kind of language and formats that appeal to them, and more.
If that sounds daunting, it doesn’t have to be.
Don’t believe us? If analyzing competitor campaigns seems like too much of a time investment right now, you can offload this work to a virtual marketing assistant. In the early stages of marketing and competitive research, a VA can be an invaluable second set of hands to help:
Identify competitors to look into
Pull together and organize competitors’ social media posts, content pieces, email campaigns, and other marketing collateral for analysis
Analyze competitor marketing for patterns and bottom line conclusions on where you can start with your marketing budget
Tip #2: Focus on one or two channels at a time
While your competitive marketing analysis may uncover competitors who are running campaigns across several different channels, we don’t recommend diving in headfirst with all of them. Instead, you’re better off focusing your initial efforts on one or two marketing channels you think show the most potential for success.
That way, you can hone your message and your marketing skills, without stretching your time or your budget too thin. Plus, once you find success with one channel, it’s easier to emulate that success across additional marketing avenues.
Tip #3: Start with no or low budget tactics and channels
Speaking of budgets, we know your marketing budget probably doesn’t rival Apple’s just yet. That’s why it’s important to start off your marketing efforts with no or low budget channels and tactics. Doing so allows you more flexibility and bandwidth for trying new things and learning as you go.
Tip #4: Block off time to put on your marketer hat
Consistent marketing is one of the best ways to ensure consistent business, but during busy times, we know it’s easy for marketing activities to fall off the priority list. Who can think about bringing in more customers when you barely have time to manage the ones you already have?
That said, it’s important to keep customers and clients coming in regularly—and that’s hard to do consistently when marketing happens in fits and starts. That’s why it’s important to regularly block off time to strap on your marketer hat. Mark it on your calendar and stick to it.
Tip #5: Measure, measure, measure
Measuring the performance of your marketing efforts is always important—even more so when you’re in the learning-and-trying-new-things phase. Proper measurement and reporting on your marketing campaigns is the only way to gauge whether or not they’re successful at driving new business.
You’ll need to have some mechanism in place to measure which campaigns on driving that business, too—so you can double down on the tactics that work and stop wasting time and budget on those that don’t.
This is another area where a virtual marketing assistant can be a huge help. A VA can pull together data from each marketing channel you use into one quick dashboard. They can create reports and dashboards in Google Analytics that track everything from traffic to engagement to conversions from each marketing channel, and they can even report all these numbers to you regularly.
Resources to help you jumpstart your marketing
If you’re still feeling unsure about jumping into marketing, the resources below have all the information you’ll need—from high-level explanations to nitty gritty tactics.
HubSpot’s marketing blog
HubSpot’s marketing blog is the go-to for all things marketing—from beginner how-to’s to more advanced marketing advice.
CoSchedule’s Free Marketing Templates
CoSchedule has pulled together nearly 100 free marketing templates into one convenient blog post. You can find templates for everything from reporting to strategy to editorial planning.
Quick Sprout’s beginner guide to online marketing
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to start, Quick Sprout’s guide is tailor-made to help you get started with marketing online.
edX online marketing courses
When you need a little more than a written guide can offer, edX’s plethora of online marketing courses are a great resource. They offer courses on every aspect of marketing, including many from renowned universities like Babson and Boston University.
If videos are more your style of learning, DigitalMarketer’s YouTube channel has videos on all kinds of marketing topics with actionable lessons to help you get moving.
How a VA can help get your marketing moving
If you’re looking at the above resources and tips and thinking, I don’t have time for that! You’re not alone.
We know that starting a whole new marketing operation from scratch can involve a lot of upfront legwork and what can feel like a significant time investment—not to mention maintaining that operation on a weekly or monthly basis.
That’s where a virtual marketing assistant (or VA) can come in handy.
A large chunk of jumpstarting a marketing program involves two things: doing research and setting up systems and processes. And those are two tasks a VA can easily take off your plate. Broadly speaking, here are a few aspects of marketing where our VAs often help out:
Social media marketing
Prospecting & research
Virtual marketing assistant use cases
To get more specific, here are just a few of the particular use cases our VAs have worked on with clients:
Researching competitors’ content across email, social, blog, and more. For example, a Delegated BA cab looki through the Instagram accounts of businesses similar to yours and makes notes on the type of content that garners likes, comments, and shares.
Uploading and publishing content. For example, if you have a pre-written blog post, our VAs can load it up into WordPress and publish (or schedule) the post to go live. They can also publish and schedule social media posts for you.
Promoting content. Once a new blog post goes live, for example, a VA can share it to social media and scheduling emails to promote the new post.
Tips for streamlining your ongoing marketing efforts
For many business owners, there comes a time when your marketing efforts have outgrown your bandwidth to keep up with them. You’re running campaigns across several channels, regularly publishing content of all types, and trying to keep up with Google Ads bidding—all at the same time. Something has to give.
If you can’t hire an extra set of full-time hands to handle marketing, you have to find a way to streamline your activities. Below are a few tips that should help ease the burden marketing puts on your day-to-day schedule.
Tip #1: Let automation be your friend
Tons of aspects of marketing today can be automated. You can create and schedule social media posts for the next month in bulk. You can build automated triggers for your email campaigns. You can build reporting dashboards that automatically pull data in real-time from multiple sources.
The trick is to find a marketing stack that works for you and then let it handle the day-to-day minutiae. To start, look to marketing tools for:
Email marketing automation
Social media scheduling
PPC bidding and ad retargeting
Reporting and attribution
Tip #2: Focus on 3-5 channels that are already performing well
Sometimes, marketing overwhelm happens because you’ve stretched your efforts too thin across dozens of platforms and channels. It’s natural to want your business to be everywhere your customers are—but it isn’t sustainable as a marketing team of one.
Instead, focus in on just a few channels. By now, you should be able to judge which marketing channels are driving the most business for you. Narrow it down to the top 3-5 and give them all your time, attention, and budget. You can always add additional channels when you have more time or another set of hands.
Tip #3: Streamline reporting with a dashboard
If there’s one aspect of marketing that can quickly eat up hours out of your week, it’s reporting. Often, getting a sense of your marketing performance means jumping from one channel and its native reporting to another—and on and on.
By centralizing your key marketing KPIs into one dashboard (that pulls data automatically from across platforms), you can turn those hours into a 5 minute check-in. You can build out custom reports in Google Analytics or opt for a third-party reporting tool (like Databox).
Tip #4: Work with a VA to keep things moving
Once you’ve done everything you can to streamline your marketing process, you might still find yourself coming up short on time. When that’s the case, a virtual marketing assistant can be a good option.
VAs can be trained to take just about any task off your plate—as long as it’s a process that can be documented and repeated. Since your marketing campaigns are already set up, maintaining those campaigns is definitely a process that a VA can handle for you.
(More on all the marketing tasks a VA can take off your plate in the next section!)
Get Started with a Virtual Bookkeeping Assistant
Save countless hours while your company grows and you free up more of your time to do what you do best.
If handing off some of your marketing to-do list to a virtual marketing assistant sounds amazing—we agree. In our experience, though, many business owners aren’t sure what working with a VA really looks like in practice. Below are just a handful of use cases for how a VA can help to streamline your marketing efforts.
Creating and publishing social media posts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, you name it!)
Editing and scheduling blog posts
Promoting blog posts and other content across social media, online communities, and more
Scheduling out social media posts in advance
Scheduling out emails in advance
Cutting and uploading videos to YouTube and elsewhere
Managing your Patreon account
Pulling data from various channels into one central report
Tips for working with a virtual marketing assistant
Once you make the decision to bring on a VA to help with marketing, you might be wondering about the best way to work with them. After all, working with a VA should make your life easier and your to-do list shorter—both of those depend on working well together. Here are a few to help make that happen.
Look for a VA who has previous experience with the channels and tools you use: Hiring someone with existing knowledge means you can seriously cut down the time it takes to train your new VA to handle your marketing tasks.
Set clear expectations and over-communicate: This goes for working with anyone, but especially with a VA who’s not in the same office as you.
Empower your VA with context—the why behind tactics and assets: Giving your VA more context on the strategy behind your marketing efforts can only help them perform those tasks better.
Remember that you’re the expert about your business and your customers: While your VA can handle repetitive processes, it isn’t their place to be making budget or strategy decisions for your marketing—that’s on you.
Create a secure central hub for logins and passwords they’ll need: Pull everything they’ll need to run your marketing into one central hub that’s easy to access.
Keep a pulse on your marketing with regular check-ins: While a VA can facilitate set-it-and-forget-it marketing, it’s best that you keep some kind of pulse on the goings-on. Schedule regular check-ins and have your VA set up reports (in Google Analytics or elsewhere) that enable you to check in on performance.
Tools to help you and your VA with marketing
When it comes to streamlining your marketing and working together with a virtual marketing assistant, there’s a whole host of tools and software available to help. Below are our recommendations for:
Whether you’re building a new program from the ground up or maintaining a marketing operation that’s outgrown your bandwidth, there’s ample reason to consider bringing on a virtual marketing assistant. Lucky for you, we happen to know a ton of talented VAs who are ready to help.
ABM is a strategic approach to marketing that turns the traditional marketing funnel on its head. Instead of attracting a large number of leads into the top of the funnel, ABM seeks to target marketing to a specific, predetermined list of target accounts.
ROI (or return on investment)
Given the amount of money you invest in marketing, ROI measures the value (in terms of revenue) you generate in return.
ROAS (or return on ad spend)
Similar to ROI, ROAS (return on ad spend) measures the value derived from any investment on advertisements.
PPC (or pay per click)
A type of digital advertising—with PPC ads, you pay for the ad based on the number of clicks it generates. This pricing model is common with search ads (like on Google), social media ads, and online display ads.
SEO (or search engine optimization)
SEO is an effort by which marketers seek to bring more organic search traffic (from search engines like Google and Bing) to a certain page of their website.
CTA (or call-to-action)
A CTA refers to any device designed to encourage an audience to take some kind of action. For example, a button imploring website visitors to “Book a demo” is a CTA.
Kiera's a content writer who works with SaaS and ecommerce companies. Located in Boston, MA, she loves cinnamon coffee and a good baseball game. Catch up with her @Kieraabbamonte or KieraAbbamonte.com.
September 28, 2020
September 30, 2020
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