As 2016 starts to wind-down, for many of us it’s the ideal time to start thinking of our business goals for 2017.

And don’t be put off by the term ‘goals’.

You may be thinking of business plans, strategies, financial objectives, etc. etc. But the reality is, you can make your business goals as big or as small as you like. And I for one, like to keep them small – not in terms of importance, but in terms of quantity. That way, they’re much more likely to be accomplished.

So what are you 2017 business goals?

If you’ve got them in the bag already, great – I wish you every success smashing them!

If you’re not 100% sure – perhaps you want to grow your client base, increase your income, try something new, have more variety but not sure how – then this article may give you some food for thought.

Below are seven of the most in-demand VA skills for 2017, according to the current most-sought-after support needs of small businesses today.

1. Sales funnels

Steering potential customers through a purchasing journey is crucial in an age where choice is so readily available and competition is rife.

This journey is otherwise known as a sales funnel.

Basically, a sales funnel starts nice and wide at the top – catching all sorts of people who first come into contact with the brand, product or service. This initial awareness will often come from a blog or some form of advertising.

From there, the funnel starts to get narrower when some of the ‘leads’ (those from the group above) turn into ‘prospects’ as they become interested in the service or product on offer and want to find out more.

The final part of the sales funnel, converts some of those prospects into ‘customers’ and repeat customers.

Surprisingly many businesses don’t have a sales funnel in place, or they have leaky funnels! Either way, there is a big demand for sales funnel experts to implement and manage an effective purchasing journey for those businesses.

Already an expert? There are countless opportunities out there for you – package up your offering and get selling.

If you don’t yet have the skills, perhaps 2017 is the year in which you learn?

2. Sales landing pages

Creating an effective, persuasive, landing page to capture information and convert prospects into customers is a vital part of online marketing.

And again, it’s something that many businesses get wrong.

They create a page that’s too text-heavy, not targeted enough, or has no clear call to action, and wonder why it’s not converting those prospects into customers.

If you have the skills, positioning yourself as an expert and going after businesses who don’t have effective landing pages, would most certainly fill up your books next year.

3. Email marketing

Possibly down to being one of the most cost-effective online marketing tools available, email marketers have been sought-after for several years already, and that demand looks set to continue.

Remember the sales funnel – traffic from a blog or paid advertising gets driven to a landing page where data is captured turning a lead into a prospect? Well, email marketing comes next.

Crafting emails that get opened, read and acted on is a skill in itself – particularly given the amount of emails that drop into most mailboxes daily.

Learn to craft persuasive emails and you could increase your income significantly, along with your client’s profit margin.

4. Content marketing

The need for more and more content won’t go away any time soon as it ties in with the overarching sales funnel.

Creating content for websites, social media, blogs and advertising is needed more than ever.

But two big problems arise when it comes to content marketing:

  1. Businesses don’t have a content marketing plan so adopt a scatter gun approach – do something everywhere and hope that one of them works.
  2. Business owners farm-out their content generation to low-fee freelancers –  often resulting in poor quality, thin content that’s worse than no content at all.

And this is where a content marketer adds value.

You’re responsible for setting the overall content marketing strategy, its creation, and the integration of it across multiple channels. With the purpose of driving traffic back to landing pages for data capture and sales closure.

Establishing yourself as the go-to content marketer for a specific industry will ensure there’s plenty of business coming your way in 2017.

5. Social media strategist & management

Managing multiple social media profiles is extremely time consuming which is why most businesses outsource it.

It’s by far the biggest request from new clients contacting me – probably the same can be said for most of you as well. And whilst it doesn’t take much training to schedule posts, it does take some skill in making it work for that business.

Creating a strategy that works across the different channels, generating the content, curating additional content, interacting with the audience, and keeping it varied is crucial to growing a successful social media profile.

Most of you are probably already doing some form of social media management for your clients. But if you can understand and implement the techniques that will help your clients convert their fans into loyal customers, you’ll stand out from the rest and be able to demand those higher fees.

6. Facebook advertising strategist

Facebook advertising is still one of the most cost-effective paid-for methods of reaching large audiences online. It works for most budgets and the return can be seen immediately.

But many businesses get it wrong with little or no reward for their efforts.

If you understand the Power Editor tool, what goes into making a good ad, how to define the demographic (including narrowing in on their interests for a more targeted campaign) and the budget to set, you most likely know a lot more than them and can set yourself apart from other more general VA’s.

7. Website development & management

WordPress is probably the most popular website development platform for businesses today, although Squarespace and Wix are also widely used. Get to grips with one, or even better all of them, and you’ll have plenty of business available to you.

Many VA’s are likely to be familiar with one or more website platforms to manage the day-to-day running, but not that many will have coding experience. By offering custom developed websites, or at least be able to make changes to templates – not just to the content – you’ll have landed yourself into a lucrative niche.

And there you have the seven most sought-after roles small business owners are looking for moving into 2017.

Of course, it’s important to stress the need to become an expert in one of them.

To feel confident positioning yourself as the sales funnel guru, or the expert content marketer, you need to know it inside out. But then once you do, you can go after new business knowing that you know your stuff and be comfortable demanding those higher fees.

Some clients will always opt for the cheaper, less qualified VA. But that’s okay – you need less clients on those higher rates anyway!

There are still plenty of businesses searching for quality Virtual Assistants in each of these fields to help them successfully grow their business in 2017.

Will you be the one they’re looking for?