Branding Your VA Business to Stand Out

Do you ever feel a little bit intimidated about your business when you consider all the other VAs that seem to be out there? Do you think, “I can never be as successful as they are? I don’t know if or how to compete or stand out?” If you answered yes to these questions then, believe me, you are not alone. Every business owner at some point or another has had these concerns and more.

You can address all of these issues and more by taking a step back and looking at how you are branding and marketing your business. By creating a distinct brand you can more effectively market your business, explode your client list and attract more clients.

You need to take some time to look at your brand, and this involves more than just your logo or your website design. Your brand is more than your business ‘look’ it is your business personality. That is to say the values, features, benefits, expectations, deliverables that your business has.

The best place to start is by looking at your competitors and how they brand themselves. You should choose three or four companies in or around your area – although VAs are, obviously, virtual, many start building their businesses and getting clients from their local area.

You now need to assess which services these competitors are offering, what they are charging for those services, how they present themselves, what overall impressions you get from their site or brochure material, both in terms of the design and the content, what you think their best feature is and what sort of people/business they seem to be targeting.

Once you have done this, you need to apply the same questions to your own business. Do this as objectively as possible. To get an even more objective view of your business, ask your clients to complete a questionnaire. If you don’t have any clients at this stage, then ask family and friends to complete your questionnaire. Be clear that their honesty will help you much more than telling you what they think you want to hear.

Questions to include in this questionnaire are:

1. When you approach my business for VA services, what are your expectations?

2. What, in your opinion, is my greatest strength?

3. How would you describe my business to colleagues, acquaintances or friends?

4. Is there anything about my business that might someone decide NOT to work with me?

5. Is there any way I could improve my services to better suit your needs?

6. How do you expect to feel after I have provided you with services or completed a project for you?

You might also want to provide them with the opportunity to add their own comments.

By looking at all the answers to the questions, you can identify the most consistent comments. Complete a questionnaire yourself using these consistent answers. Now compare these comments to the research you did on your competitors and also revisit the assessment you did on your business. Using all this information you are building your brand and one that you can ensure is different to those of your competitors.

Now you need to look at the features and benefits of your brand. Many people get these two confused, selling features of their business and thinking they are selling benefits, whereas the reverse is more often true. For example, a feature of your business may be a professional and accurate service.

The benefit of this to your customer would be “I don’t need to waste time double-checking my VA’s work”. So from this you can see that your benefits address the client’s most important question: “What’s in it for me?” “I don’t need to waste time – I can trust my VA.”

Now make a list of your four top features and their corresponding benefits to your clients. These corresponding benefits will form the basis for all your branding and marketing messages. By using these messages consistently you will be promoting and, more importantly, reinforcing your business brand – a crucial component for a successful brand.

This exercise will also help you to discover what is unique about your business – and this can be another key part of your branding and marketing.

Now you have defined your business brand, created key messages to use in all your marketing and have defined what is unique about your business – the ‘what’ that makes you stand out – you need to look at your marketing efforts and use your new brand to its best effect.