There is hardly any business task that cannot be outsourced to a virtual assistant. This is particularly true when it comes to marketing and promoting a business. Marketing is of course the lifeblood of any organisation and cannot be ignored, even when times are lean. The company that is not focusing on marketing is essentially falling backward when compared to its peers and opponents.

There are so many different facets to marketing, yet it's essentially about that all-important USP, or unique selling proposition. Once you have determined your unique selling proposition, market research needs to be engaged and a variety of different tactical marketing approaches considered on an ongoing basis.

These days, technology has provided us with a number of new and exciting marketing avenues, which complement those traditional or conventional "off-line" methods. Most business owners realise that an overall marketing approach has got to be composed of both traditional and "new world" initiatives, but often they struggle to maintain their efforts internally.

Marketing tasks should be outsourced to a virtual assistant to help the business owner and the core team focus on day-to-day, hot button issues. While a business owner does, of course, oversee marketing policy and direction, there is a tremendous amount of work to be done to feed all these various avenues and to make sure that the marketing message is, in fact, being disseminated.

As the company strives to understand its market, research is paramount. This is where a virtual assistant can be very beneficial. Market research can be entirely outsourced to a VA, who clearly understands where and when such research has to be undertaken and will be able to consolidate and help interpret the data once it comes in.

Every business executive must understand that there is a specific "signal" out there which represents the buzz, or the chatter surrounding their own products or services, or their niche. Market research needs to be able to dip into this "signal" and understand what it's saying. Every niche has its own signal and this dynamic flow of information, opinions, positions and trends helps to shape the market itself.

There are a large number of forums and focus groups online where this signal is discussed, interpreted and developed. The virtual assistant can be the company's eyes and ears, its representative within these communities. No business can afford to be on the periphery of this signal as it's developing, yet it can be a very time-consuming and confusing arena for those who are not accustomed to online marketing.

It's important to remember that a virtual assistant is not merely an outsourcer who can help with the more mundane, administrative tasks. The best virtual assistant can be an integral part of business development and marketing policy. If the company owners really want to be thought leaders and be instrumental in manipulating and modifying their product and service related signal, they need to be "in the game." It's not sufficient to be passive and to be merely gathering the information anymore; you have to be involved in creating the actual message.

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