8 Things You Should Know About Virtual Assistants
We all know that Virtual Assistants are the saviours of entrepreneurs and small business owners, but do we really know what they’re about and what they can do?
We posed this question to 50 entrepreneurs to see whether they really understood the concept of a Virtual Assistant. Here are the results:
- 60% Think that Virtual Assistants are merely admin personnel
- 20% Feel they’re unqualified or inexperienced
- 10% Believe that Virtual Assistants cost way too much money
- 15% Feel that they cannot trust a Virtual Assistant
To dispel these myths, here are 8 things you should know about Virtual Assistants!
1. You get what you pay for
Virtual Assistants are extremely flexible. When you hire a VA, you can expect him/her to work flexible hours. You can work with your VA to decide which hours they should work and you pay them only for those hours worked.
Worried about your staff not being available during the holidays? Well, VA’s can sort that problem out for you. Hiring a seasonal assistant can help you maximise on seasonal sales.
2. Most Virtual Assistants can do much more
It’s common that business owners think that VA’s are only suitable for admin or clerical tasks – they can do so much more.
You can hire a Virtual Assistant for:
- Financial Statements
- Customer Service
- Web Design
- Content Creation
- Social Media Management
- Consulting and Strategy
- And much more
In fact, you can outsource almost any task to a VA!
3. Virtual Assistants are affordable
VA’s are much more affordable than full-time, office-based employees for two reasons:
- You pay them only for work completed
- You avoid office costs
Studies also showed that because VA’s work from home, they will charge you much less than if they had to travel to work daily.
4. They are resourceful
VA’s often wear many hats and therefore, are powered with so much knowledge, tips and tricks to get the work done. Also, the fact that they don’t rely on a Manager pushes them to find answers on their own.
5. Oftentimes Virtual Assistants have impressive CV’s
The VA demographic tends to comprise of people who have already worked a fulfilling office career and now are looking for a work-life balance. They are highly qualified individuals who just prefer the benefits of not having to physically go to an office.
6. Virtual Assistants are disciplined
The mere fact that they are responsible for their income forces them to practice discipline. They know that if they don’t work, or if they provide mediocre work, they will not be hired again.
7. They wear many hats
Most VA’s possess experience from working on many different projects. Hence, this gives them an upper hand over individuals who work with one employer for a long period of time. They can deal with
8. Virtual Assistants are hustlers
Have you ever heard the saying, “Hustle like a New Yorker”? Well, that’s what VA’s are like. If they can’t do something, they won’t wait for you to tell them what to do, instead, they will search the internet or find other ways to complete the work.
They also have more pride in their work because most people become VA’s due to a passion for what they do. So, if someone tells you that VA’s are lazy, expensive and untrustworthy, send them this blog!
Outsource All Your Reminder Calls to Your Virtual Assistant
Are you a busy executive or entrepreneur struggling to keep abreast of all the 1001 reminders you’re receiving on your phone, PC and other devices? As much as technology has made it simple for us to manage our businesses, it can become overwhelming as the business starts to grow. To avoid missed appointments or calls, hire a “personal” reminder in the form of a Virtual Assistant. This person will act as an assistant to give you reminders on calls you need to make, appointments you need to attend and much more.
How to setup reminders
Hiring the Virtual Assistant is easy; what one needs to work on is setting up the reminders correctly so that you’re not disturbed during important meetings or events. This will mean that your Virtual Assistant must share a calendar with you if she’s going to be reminding you about certain events.
First, decide whether you want a reminder the day before or on the day of the event. It’s wise to have a run-through of your next day’s calendar with your VA the night before and then receive reminders at least an hour before each event is supposed to take place.
Then, decide whether you want your Virtual Assistant to make the calls for you or whether you want to make them yourself. It’s wise to make sales calls yourself so that you can build a rapport with each client. With that said, not all calls should come from you. Your Virtual Assistant can easily call your clients to remind them about an upcoming meeting for example.
Other call reminders your Virtual Assistant can handle:
- Follow up calls on missing documents
- Confirmations of appointments
- Requesting certain information
- Special events such as birthdays and anniversaries
- Family events or responsibilities (yes, they can do this too)
Once you’ve agreed on how often you want to be reminded and who will be calling each client, decide on a standard form of reminder. We recommend that your Virtual Assistant first sends you an SMS one hour before the event. if you receive the message you can reply with a “yes”. Failure to reply will either let your VA know that you’re not available or that you didn’t receive the message. If you haven’t replied to a message, your Virtual Assistant will call you five minutes before the scheduled event to find out if everything is on schedule. This is when you can advise him/her to either call or email the client with an update.
Are you interested in hiring your “personal” reminder? Give us a call today!
How Your VA Can Effectively Manage Your Diary
Do you sometimes look at your diary and wonder how on earth you will get through the day? Do you struggle to get organised and to schedule meetings accordingly?
My friend and entrepreneur Donna faced the same problem. As the owner of a fast food business, she wanted to take control of all the operations, including her diary. She soon found herself stressed, exhausted and operating like a zombie. She would frequently dream of missed appointments, inaccurate scheduling and unhappy clients.
Although Donna had the right intentions, she was doing her business more harm than good. A growing business needs adequate help to keep growing. When I advised her to get a Virtual Assistant (VA), her question was,
“How can a VA manage my diary remotely?”
If you resonate with Donna, you no longer need to struggle. A VA can manage your diary remotely and do so quite effortlessly.
You’re going to have to start with using a great calendar.
What makes a great calendar tool?
Here are the elements of a great calendar tool:
- Easy to use
- Appealing interface
- Easy to share
- Available on multiple devices
- Packed with multiple features
These are the elements you want to look for when choosing which platform to use with your VA.
Which calendar tool should you use?
This is an important step because the platform you use will decide whether your VA can manage your schedule remotely or not. There are many free services available for sharing calendars:
In my view, Google Calendar is the best calendar in the market. It allows you to create multiple calendars, share your calendars and manage notifications. You can also merge it across multiple devices.
The entire suite of Google products is free to use if you have a Gmail account. You probably already have a Gmail account, but if you don’t, you can set up one easily. Remember to setup a separate account for your VA and then control the password via LastPass. This will make it easier for you to separate your own work and your VA’s work. If you’ve got one mailbox of jumbled tasks, you may be tempted to handle things your VA is supposed to handle.
What’s more? Google updates in real-time, allowing you to see live updates as well as the time and author of each update.
Beyond Google Calendar is VueMinder Pro. This tool is praised for its superior customisation and features:
- View your calendar on your desktop
- Receive reminders via sms, desktop and text-to-speech
- Create automatic backups
Its superior feature, however, is its sharing capabilities. In addition to syncing with the major calendar services such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and Exchange, you can also sync your calendar with your local network. This means that you can share events with other computers automatically – a change made on one computer will automatically reflect on the other.
The benefits of having a VA manage your diary
The most obvious benefit of having a VA manage your diary is extra time for you to spend worrying about other things. Other benefits include:
- Your VA confirms every appointment the day before so that you never miss an appointment nor have a wasted trip.
- The VA handles all replies to your meeting, venue changes and other small details which alleviates your stress.
- Cancellations and reschedules are handled by your VA and automatically fed back to you and updated on your calendar.
- Your VA can take minutes of each meeting and remind you of important follow-ups after each meeting.
- He/she can also send any welcome packs, agendas and important information to each attendee without you having to do it yourself.
Having a VA manage your schedule is so much more about saving you time. It streamlines your business and improves professionalism. If your story resonates with Donna’s above, you will benefit from having a VA manage your diary more effectively with one of these calendar services.
Effective Ways to Increase Your Social Media Reach Organically
We all know or have seen the effects of a good social media reach. Some of our favourite Facebook pages get thousands of likes, followers and tons of engagement daily. But, why is it that even though you seem to be doing the right things, you’re still not increasing your social media reach like these other pages?
This is a million-dollar question that everyone who has created a social media page wants to know. How can a business or an individual grow their social media reach without paying for it?
Increase your reach organically
Sometimes businesses prefer to grow their social media reach organically. They will not pay for advertisements and would rather gather likes slowly and organically.
This option is beneficial for small businesses who find that paying for social media marketing is too expensive.
You can grow your social media reach organically using these methods:
Simply creating a social media account and posting content is not enough, you’ve got to make sure that your page is optimised for search engines. When Google crawls your social media pages, they are looking for relevant information such as name, description, the number of likes, and the number of people talking about your page. This information will help them to list and rank your page with the right keywords.
Failing to add the right information will land your business at the bottom of search engine results. Funny enough, this is a mistake that the biggest brands are doing. A simple search for “Vehicles on Facebook” for example, brings up small business results and none of the big car brands. This is because these small businesses have learned how to optimise their Facebook pages.
Here’s how you can also optimise your Facebook page:
- Add an important keyword in your profile name. for example, if you’re in the car business, add “cars” in your profile name.
- Complete your bio. This will help
- Complete the key
- Request reviews from customers. Request at least five reviews from your best customers. This will make your page stand out from the crowd in search results.
- Add hashtags to your post. Many people search certain keywords in the Facebook search bar. If you search “cars” for example, all the posts with this keyword will pop up. If you want to be on top of search results, make sure that you add a few keywords in the description box of each post. Be wary of overdoing hashtags. Two to three hashtags per post are enough.
- Optimise your audience. In the picture below is a screenshot of what a Facebook page’s settings look like. If you go three lines down you can edit your page’s visibility. Make sure that you’ve selected “allow preferred audience selection…”. This will help you to reach the right people.
The trick to getting your Twitter page noticed is to use hashtags in your posts, especially hashtags that are trending. Word of caution – Don’t use popular hashtags in your Twitter bio or name as it will direct people away from your page. You can use a hashtag in your bio or name only if your company dominates it or if it isn’t so popular.
Another way to optimise Twitter is to use automatic greeting messages when people follow you. Tools such as Crowdfire allow you to do this. Here’s an example of a Crowdfire automatic message:
Thank you for following me, I see that we have the same interests. I am a professional Social Media Manager that helps people boost their social media presence. Don’t hesitate to ask me if you have any question. My links are xxx…
Finally, add your Twitter handle in the publicise portion of your blog post editor. When readers share your blog to Twitter, it will mention your Twitter handle. This will get more people to follow your Twitter account. If you’re not sure how to do this, this blog explains it in detail.
With Instagram, adding hashtags to your profile name works perfectly. I have done this myself and found that my follow rate has increased by 20%. Another tip is to have a simple Instagram handle. Handles with many digits or funny characters are difficult to remember and find.
7 Great Inbound Marketing Techniques Every Business Should Use
Outbound marketing techniques such as cold calling and emails were once the only methods used by businesses to attract clients. But since inbound marketing has come to the scene, companies are finding that they can grow their business even faster. Inbound marketing not only grows your business, but it also allows a company to educate their prospects instead of just selling a product.
Here are seven inbound marketing techniques you can use in your business:
1. Build specialised landing pages
You may have many different products on your business website, but one way to make one product stand out is to create individual landing pages. A landing page is a unique one-pager that focuses on one thing. This helps keep visitors focused on why they clicked your links and helps you make more sales.
How to use landing pages: If you’re in the business of apparel and you sell clothes, shoes and hats for example, but you think that your hat sales should increase, you can create one unique URL/page that only contains information about your hats. Make sure to add a call to action such as, “If you purchase a hat today, you get $10 off your purchase.” This call to action will propel your visitors to purchase more hats.
2. Take advantage of SEO
Make sure that your business ranks on search engines for the right keywords. Research has found that longtail keywords work better than one-word keywords, so next time you write a blog or create an AD, add a keyword of at least three words.
3. Get your VA to write smart blogs
Many businesses write articles, blogs or news on their website with no clear purpose. To make sure that your website ranks for the right keywords, write “smart” blogs. Smart blogs are those that educate your audience, but at the same time influences them to purchase your product. This is a great task to outsource to your Virtual Assistant.
Example: I recently wrote a blog for a recruitment company about how jobseekers can excel at interviews. Within the post, I added information about the recruitment company and how jobseekers can get personal assistance from this company to do well at interviews. This blog served two purposes; the first, educating the reader on how to be successful at interviews, and the second, offering one-on-one help to each reader.
4. Track how prospects find you
Knowing where your prospects and clients are finding you is valuable information that can help you to create better content. Use Google analytics and or surveys to evaluate where users find you the most.
5. Guest blog
Guest blogging on other websites is a great way for you to:
- Expose your brand
- Get linkbacks to your site
- Add prestige to your brand
6. Create popups
Some people hate popups, but research shows that they’re useful to build an email list. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t see all websites with them. Businesses can use popups to collect email addresses and send email campaigns. Embrace the popup but make sure it’s:
- Simple and neat
- Easy to close
- Doesn’t require much information
7. Host a Q&A session
A great way to interact with your audience is through a Questions and Answers session. In this way, prospects get to ask their burning questions and you get to educate them on your brand. Make sure to collect email addresses of all attendees so that you may send marketing material after the session.
Inbound marketing has become the holy grail of marketing. Businesses have seen its benefits and therefore are using it more rigorously. These are just seven of multiple inbound marketing techniques. For more techniques, contact us and one of our consultants will gladly help you.