Q1: Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
Ans: “When we talk with most marketers today about how they generate leads and fill the top of their sales funnel, most say email blasts to purchased lists, internal cold calling, outsourced telemarketing, and advertising. We call these methods “outbound marketing” where a marketer pushes his message out far and wide hoping that it resonates with that needle in the haystack.
We think outbound marketing techniques are getting less and less effective over time for two reasons. First, your average human today is inundated with over 2000 outbound marketing interruptions per day and is figuring out more and more creative ways to block them out, including caller ID, spam filtering, Tivo, and Sirius satellite radio. Second, the cost of coordination around learning about something new or shopping for something new using the internet (search engines, blogs, and social media) is now much lower than going to a seminar at the Marriott or flying to a trade show in Las Vegas.”

Yes, there is a place for outbound marketing. However, we strongly advocate doing “inbound marketing” where you help yourself “get found” by people already learning about and shopping in your industry. “In order to do this, you need to set your website up like a “hub” for your industry that attracts visitors naturally through search engines, the blogosphere, and social media. I believe most marketers today spend 90% of their efforts on outbound marketing and 10% on inbound marketing, and I advocate that those ratios flip. We do this through recommending a touchpoint strategy.”

Customer touchpoints are all the different ways consumers experience a product or service, from when they first become aware of it, until they dispose of it. Statistics show, customers need to experience 8 to 10 touchpoints, from a company or brand, before they decide to purchase your product or hire your company. An effective brand is needed to execute your touchpoint marketing strategy so that’s where we typically start.

The above quotes were derived directly from Brian Halligan, marketing genius and Hubspot contributor. http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/2989/I…

Below are the touchpoints we recommend you pursue based on your target audience and goals. We can help you develop the branding materials needed for each touchpoint

Q2: Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
Ans: Samantha Steidle is the owner of Virtual Marketing, an online media, marketing, and PR firm.
Samantha was the 2014 Small Business Advocate for the Roanoke Regional Chamber, and helped organize Roanoke’s first “Startup Weekend” in 2013.  She is also a professor of sales- both online and offline, entrepreneurship, marketing, and small business management at Virginia Western Community College.

Q3: What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
Ans: I worked in traditional marketing for years, always with an underlying desire to ask “WHY” we couldn’t offer proven results. When a customer invests in our company, I believe we owe them a thank you in the form of results. Promoting our online marketing services including search engine optimization, social media optimization, and pay per click allows us to offer these. We also believe strongly in our core values (See below).

Q4: What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Ans: I love this topic.  As a professor of entrepreneurship and marketing, this question is right up my ally!
1. Find a mentor and a support system of other entrepreneurs.  In corporate America, everyone will think you are crazy to want to start a business.  They don’t get it and likely never will.  You can find likeminded entrepreneurs in co-working spaces and entrepreneurship divisions of local universities.
2. Connect with industry associations – both within your industry AND in the industry with which your
3. Educate yourself about cutting edge concepts. For example, you should understand the following concepts

a. Inbound vs. Outbound marketing. You can learn more about this topic on www.HubSpot.com. I included a great flyer below, which will help you better understand this idea.
b. Scalability- Learn how you can incorporate it into your business model.
c. Lean Startup. You can learn about this through an online free educational platform called Udacity. Just search “Steve Blank” and startup. Then, take the course.
d. SEO, SMO, and PPC- Understand the difference yourself so that when a sales rep tries to “educate you”, you can tell if they know their stuff or if they are just trying to sell you something.
e. Bootstrapping- Don’t take out a loan or investment unless you have a proven business model and understand the implications of this move. You secure most anything you need if you just use your mind and connections first. Here’s a great video by Seth Godin about this topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udX-yoz5Pro
f. Partnerships- Understanding who to partner with (without going into business with them), and how to establish win-wins in integral to growth.
g. Are you an entrepreneur, a technician, or a manager? This video is a great introduction to what I’m talking about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JaPaeFYE5U

Q5: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
1. Tenacity- continuing when most people would give up
2. The mentality of giving before you get in all circles
3. The ability to delegate and outsource intelligently when appropriate.

Q6: How many hours do you work a day on average?
Ans: I use to work from the second I woke up to the second I went to sleep.  I’ve since learned the concept of balance.  Now, I only work 10-12 hours.  It doesn’t feel like work most of the time because I’m excited and driven by doing what most can’t do and being the best at it.

Q7: To what do you most attribute your success?
Ans: I attribute my success to teaching college level courses on the topics needed within my firm.  This allows me to think critically about business strategies not only within my client’s business, but also my own on many levels.  Most of my clients think of us as really smart friends willing to do whatever it takes for their company.  They know I’m on their team, not just a vendor.

Q8: How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Ans: I follow the same rules and strategies that I recommend to my clients.  This includes focusing on inbound marketing overall strategies, then executing using search engine optimization, social media marketing, and pay per click.

Q9: Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
Ans: I believe in the concepts of “Lean Startup” and MVP, rather than obtaining funding from outside organizations.  You can learn more about these concepts here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxjbxk8dUqI

Q10: What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Ans: Build a strong rolodex and relationships with people who REALLY know their stuff.
Help these people as much as possible.

Q11: Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Ans: My goal is to continue to learn everything I can so that my clients always have access to the best available tactics to grow their companies.

Q12: Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Ans: The company that I admire the most is Apple.  I think they have always been disrupters, and always ahead of the market trends.  They are true innovators.

Q13: What motivates you?
Ans: I am motived by seeing others overcome challenges by having an “entrepreneurial mindset” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NBnoVrLFPU).  That is, once they have a clear vision of what they want in their life, they will map out a way to get there.

Q14: What are your ideals?
Ans: Please see core values above.

Q15: How do you generate new ideas?
Ans: I brainstorm with friends and fellow entrepreneurs.

Q16: How do you define success?
Ans: I define success by cross referencing my clients success with my own level of balance in achieved in my own life.

Q17: How do you build a successful customer base?
Ans: Do a great job once, then leading with your proven success of other clients.

Q18: What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Ans: I love building the best solutions to the biggest pain points.

Q19: What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Ans: My most satisfying moment is business is winning “Small Business Advocate” at our regional chamber’s Small Business Awards in 2014.  The recognition was very gratifying.

Q20: What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Ans: Entrepreneurs see problems as opportunities.  Employees see problems as problems.

Company Name: Virtual Marketing
Url: http://www.vmconnectors.com
Address: 1327 Grandin Rd SW
City: Roanoke
State: Virginia
Zip Code: 24015
Phone: 540-397-4377
E-mail Id: Info@VMConnectors.com