There are many free classified ad sites - do you believe such sites would be an effective marketing tool for Virtual Business Assistants?
I have recently learned of a good number of sites that offer FREE advertising for persons and businesses covering diversified topics/industries. I am wondering if these sites would be beneficial to an Solopreneurs such as a VA, or Marketing & BusDev professional?
More online exposure can benefit any business and the hundreds of free listing sites can certainly create more exposure, as well as links to your website. How effective they are can vary... they provide the most direct benefit for local based businesses in getting ranked high in local business searches... when done correctly.
For businesses that are not locally based, you will probably get little, if any, business from the listings themselves... but again, the added exposure can help your website ranking. As John points out, it takes time to do it yourself, or you can hire it done if you want it and are short on time.
Free local business directory listings are fine. You should make sure you're in the main ones (such as Yelp) and that your contact info is correct in them. But most of the catch-all, everything-for-everyone free "ads" are worth about what you pay for them -- nothing. Who in their right mind would scrounge through those hundreds of blurbs on everything from dog walking to car repair?!
Marketing really is not rocket science. It's all about getting a relevant, differentiating message in front of your specific target market, repeatedly, regularly. One important key is knowing who your target market really is and figuring out smart ways of getting to them specifically -- not the world at large.
Focus and differentiate, and you'll be miles ahead of the other guys.
Al Shultz http://www.alshultz.com/
Yes - they are great for exposure. However a couple of points so you get the results you would like.
1. Who really is your target market? Solopreneurs, ceo's busy executive willing to outsource.
a. Will they be going to these free advertising sites. Yes they may as they like to do things on the cheap
b. Will they part with their cash and use your services? No - unless you really have a wow aspect to your business. What can you really bring to their business compared to all the other va and marketing professionals.
c. Also you said marketing and bus/dev professional? I would be leaving this aspect out. I don't know you, however from how you have worded the question you are a Virtual Assistant! Forget about the marketing and business dev side. I'm sorry to be blunt, however if you are not AN EXPERT in this area, by adding it too you description, it will take away from how extraordinary you can be as a virtual assistant. Make you money their first.
d. For you to be an EXPERT as a marketing and business development, you need the results. Eg you need to show -- that you were able to attract and grow and have a profit as an Extra ordinary Virtual Assistant. have people rave about you.
2. Who are you and how strong are your personal boundaries? When you go for free. who goes to free. The desperate, the needy, the ones that need a lot of coaching, the ones that don't want to part with the cash.
3. Whats your WOW Factor? This needs to be awesome, as your a needle in the haystack ---with so much FREE STUFF! If someone was in that audience why would they pick your needle up and PAY!
If you ever need coaching, I will be updating my profile. For myself I realize sales coaching freelance is were I want to go for the lifestyle I so want..
4 What sort of life do you want? What sort of Relationships do you want? What sort of health and fitness do you want?
Enjoy your life
They are free (meaning no cost money wise), but they do require your time investment, If you are willing to put in the time to keep your listing fresh then it can not hurt.
If you are short on time then I would not do it.
Absolutely not. You are selling "virtual" business assistance in an archaic medium. Place your ads on places that people go to for help online. There are tons of sights plus you should leverage the social platforms as well.
Personally, I had no success when I first began. 3 years later I would highly recommend using Social Media. Linkedin is a great resource. With social media I have networked with others and built my business.
Good luck to you
The only site that I have found to be useful is Craigslist - in a large city (New York). Check to see that it is a reputable site - look at the page rank and the quality of the other ads.
If there are similar ads don't be put off by the competition, it means that it is effective.
There are also sites dedicated to listing VA's that would perhaps be even better, or forums for service professionals and other forums where your ideal clients would be on.
The best strategy would be to make sure that your own site is optimized for the particular service that you provide so that you show up high in the search engine results.
Also I have seen a lot of VA's post updates on social media sites like Twitter for example - after they have established a presence there and built relationships with their target clients. Perhaps start a list of your ideal clients - eg "coaches" and follow them. When appropriate respond to their updates to get on their radar and then you can mention your services.
Hope that helps!