Virtual Assistant Marketing – Niche to Streamline Your Efforts

Many Virtual Assistants shy away from the idea of marketing to attract a particular niche as they are concerned that they will be turning away hoards of prospects from other industries. But if you have ever tried to be everything to everyone, you’ll soon learn that you end up appealing to no-one and as your marketing efforts are spread too thinly, you end up out of pocket and frustrated by poor results.

When you market to a niche you are targeting a very small select group of people. With research you can identify what that group of people have in common and in what areas where they will all be struggling. This way you can tailor your marketing message, the words that you use, to suit the target market. For example, if you were to target a group of individuals that were constantly away from home due to their line of work, you could say something in your marketing material like ‘Are you constantly away from home and worrying that the post is not being dealt with or you’ll come home to find that your car has run out of tax or the boiler has not been serviced?’ Do you see how someone who was away all the time would identify with that question? They may well have already experienced a situation like that or know that it will happen at some point.

Now you can follow up that question with your solution, something like, ‘Our Mail Handling and Lifestyle Management services mean that we can run your home and life for you while you are away meaning that you will never have to be reliant on public transport or have a cold bath ever again!’ Do you see how that would appeal to them?

You can of course use the same approach with any niche market. With a bit of research you can establish where you might be needed and what services you can offer to add value. So don’t forget next time you are out networking, chat to people in niches that interest you, find out what they struggle with and if these are general issues for people in their industry. Then even if that particular person doesn’t need your services yet, you can still tailor your marketing message using what you have learned and target others from their industry.

A little bit more research will also tell you where you can find these people, what publications do they read, what groups or associations do they belong to? When you know what message to put before them, and you know what channels you have available to get in front of them the rest is child’s play. So as you can see, marketing to a niche is an effective way of streamlining your marketing efforts and achieving better results.

Virtual Assistant Tips – Getting Those First Clients

When starting your virtual assistant business, after getting together all you equipment, getting excited over your business cards and web site, there comes the sudden realisation that here you are, all ready to go and there isn’t actually a queue of people knocking down your door to work with you. Yikes!

One of the questions I’m asked most often is ‘Where do you get your clients’. Usually the question is asked by new start up virtual assistants, but more recently I’ve been asked by more established VA’s who have started to struggle during the recession. Newbies have generally spent lots of time putting together their business by purchasing equipment and organising their office, but have forgotten the fundamentals of putting together their marketing plan. Then when they are all set up and ready to go and have opened their virtual doors to the world they find that the phone isn’t ringing and the email Inbox isn’t full of enquiries. More established VA’s, once they have enough clients, put marketing on the back burner until such a time as they need to look for new clients again.

If either of these sounds like you, you need to develop a marketing plan, and fast.

Firstly take a long hard look at your contacts and include everyone you’ve ever worked with, all your contacts through previous businesses if appropriate and family and friends. What contacts do you already have that you can ask for referrals? If you are already running a VA business, when did you last ask your clients for referrals? Don’t discount anyone because you think they wouldn’t need your services. They may well know someone who does.

Next take stock of all the skills you have and the industries you have worked in or that interest you. Consider what services can you offer and to whom? If you have been a book keeper with an IT firm for many years, you are going to find it far easier to offer your virtual book keeping services to other IT firms as you know something about their market and their ‘language’. If you target an industry or sector you have experience of, you will be seen as the virtual assistant who is an expert in this field and have an advantage over any other VA.

When you have decided on your target market, or niche, think about how you can reach them. Do they belong to particular organisations, read certain publications or as is the case with one of my niches, do they all drink on a Thursday afternoon in bars within a square mile of a certain point in London?

When you know where to find them, consider how you can get your message to them. While advertising in general is expensive and often pointless unless you can afford to take out a run, perhaps you could write an article for a trade publication, or give a presentation at an event your ‘suspects’ will attend. Think outside of the box for some interesting and inexpensive ideas that will have impact on your particular target market and keep you stimulated and motivated.

Above all, keep marketing as a continual process and recognise that although you may not get clients immediately from you efforts, in time your consistency will pay dividends.

List Building to Fill the Sales Funnel – Part 10

People magnetPaid advertising. Advertising online is very simple with tools such as Google AdWords or Facebook Ads. It allows you to appear at the top or side of the main search results for a fee. Be careful with your budget and again, make sure you get these visitors on your list to be really cost effective.

When you’ve implemented a range of these activities to build your list, look at which ones are producing the best results for your particular business. Then step up those activities and let go of some of the lower performing options.

List Building to Fill the Sales Funnel – Part 9

People magnetOrganise an online expert event. Similar to the idea of interviewing an expert, but en masse. Organise a whole range of experts to speak on given subjects and offer access to the calls as a live event, or offer the recordings afterwards, or both. Getting all of the experts to promote the event will increase your mailing list as they will have to go to your web site to sign up to receive dial in access details.

List Building to Fill the Sales Funnel – Part 8

People magnetWrite articles about your subject. One of the best ways to become seen as an expert in your industry in the eyes of your target market is to write on the subject. Write articles and syndicate them online. Don’t forget to include your website link to your author information.

List Building to Fill the Sales Funnel – Part 7

People magnetDon’t be afraid of social media. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, whichever ones you choose to get involved in, social media is a great way to expand your sales funnel. Offer free tips, advice and articles here. Answer questions to demonstrate your expertise. And above all, get them to your website so they will add themselves to your list.

List Building to Fill the Sales Funnel – Part 6

People magnetInterview some experts. If you can talk on the telephone, you can interview an expert in a similar field. You can offer it as a live tele-seminar, or group call, or offer it afterwards as a recording. By asking your expert to also promote the interview to their mailing list, you will end up with many of their contacts subscribing to yours.

List Building to Fill the Sales Funnel – Part 1

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the sales funnel, where you start at the top filling the widest part of that funnel with prospects, and they filter through your sales funnel, inevitably decreasing in numbers along the way, until ultimately a number of the original prospects purchase a product or service from you.

The key to making more sales at the end of this process is often overfilling your funnel with lots more prospects than you think you actually need. Numbers will decrease for a multitude of reasons along the way so focus on list building activities to fill the top end of that funnel.
So where to start?

The following series will give you a few ideas to get your started.

Tip 1 – Newsletter opt in box. On your website, you need to include an opt-in box so that people can give you their name and email address. This automatically subscribes them to your weekly, fortnightly or monthly newsletter that will keep in touch with them to build the relationship – making it a responsive list.

The Secret to Virtual Assistant Success is in the Numbers

So here we are, fast approaching another financial year end. It’s around now that I run a bit of a review of how we’ve done over the past year. What has worked and what hasn’t, what’s up and what’s down.

So if you haven’t done it yet, why not spend a couple of hours reviewing how you have done, and decide what changes you want to make in the coming 12 months?

Being a Virtual Assistant, just like any other business, is a numbers game. How many contacts you have made over the last year? Of these, how many have you turned in to prospects? And, how many clients you have secured as a result? You should also know the average value of your clients and their average lifetime value. These figures can tell you some really interesting things.

For example, if you know that over the previous 12 months you made:

  • 300 contacts, of whom
  • 100 became prospects (by showing a real interest in what you offer), which resulted in
  • 15 new clients, each of whom spent an average
  • £15,000 per year, and stayed with you for an average duration of
  • two years

You will know that your clients have an average lifetime value of  £30,000. And, to generate each client, you need to make 20 new contacts (15 clients from an original 300 contacts: 300/15). Suddenly, the prospect of attending a few networking events over the next couple of months to find 20 new contacts does not seem such a drag, as you know that, on average, you will make  £30,000 for your efforts.

What you can also do is add up what you have spent on marketing, networking and other business-generating tools during the year. This will show the return on investment these have made. If you spent  £2,000 on marketing your business and generated 15 new clients (with an average lifetime spend of  £30,000), you know that that  £2,000 has resulted in £450,000 worth of sales. That’s a return of £225 for every pound spent. Excellent! You can break that down further if you have monitored where these contacts learned of you. You can then identify exactly which marketing, networking and advertising methods have given the greatest returns.

When it comes to planning for the next year, armed with this information, you can invest more in your most effective marketing methods, and less on the less effective. So, if you spent  £1,000 on a networking group, which achieved one client, but only  £50 advertising in an online Virtual Assistant directory, which resulted in three new clients, it does not take a genius to work out that spending more on advertising in the directory might be a better idea than renewing the membership of the networking group.

Also, take a long hard look at your ‘sales funnel’ – the process that people go through from being contacts to becoming clients. What are your conversion rates from contact to prospect and from prospect to client? Where are you losing people? If you find that you have lots of contacts but few prospects, are your contacts fully aware of what you do? Are you tailoring your offering to appeal directly to these people? If you have lots of prospects, but they are not turning into clients, are you following up properly? Do you need to set up a better relationship-building system to develop their confidence in you? As you identify these gaps and plug them, you will need to spend less on generating contacts, as more of your existing ones will become clients? Happy days!

Top Email Newsletter Housekeeping Rules – Tell Your Readers What To Do

Pc_Cartelle_003If you go to the effort of writing an email newsletter, do not forget to tell you readers what you want them to do next. You are writing in order to build a relationship. So, do you want them to go to your website to read the rest of the articles, or download something for free? Do you want them to purchase a product or service? If so, give them a reason to do it now rather than later, and provide a link to click, so they can buy it now. If you do not tell them what to do next, they will not do anything apart from read your newsletter and delete it. Tell them what to do, and, provided that they are interested, they will do it.

Top Email Newsletter Housekeeping Rules – Send Useful Information

Pc_Cartelle_003One of marketing’s basic rules is to know your target market well. Know their interests and things about which they like to be kept informed. If you come across information that you feel would be useful to your target audience, add it to your email newsletter (crediting the author or source, of course). The more useful the information you provide, the more likely your readers are to stay subscribed.

Top Email Newsletter Housekeeping Rules – Get The Balance Right

It can be very tempting to fill each of your email newsletters with information about your latest service or product, and, indeed, your readers will be expecting to hear a certain amount of that. But, do not forget also to include some free tips or an advice spot. Giving a measured amount of free information marks you as an expert in your field, and a generous one at that.

Top Email Newsletter Housekeeping Rules – Use A Proper Email Delivery System

Pc_Cartelle_003When you first start sending out email newsletters, it is very tempting to send them using your normal email delivery service, such as Outlook. After all, it is free and already there on your desktop. However, internet service providers frown upon mass mailing, and you will find very quickly that your email address will be blacklisted and you may be banned from sending any email. There are many legitimate email delivery services available whose costs are minimal; use one to manage your mailing list.

Top Email Newsletter Housekeeping Rules – Invite Interaction

Pc_Cartelle_003Do not forget to ask your readers for their comments, questions or future topics they would like to see covered. The whole point of writing an email newsletter is to build a relationship with your prospects and invite further interaction. You want them to take the next step by picking up the telephone or sending you an email. Make it clear that not only is this an acceptable way of contacting you, but the best way.

Top Email Newsletter Housekeeping Rules – A ‘Double Opt-in’ System

Pc_Cartelle_003If you use a proper email newsletter delivery service such as Constant Contact, Aweber or MailChimp, your subscribers will go through what is known as a ‘double opt-in’. This means that, after submitting their email address through your website form or other link asking them to sign up for your newsletter, they will receive an email asking them to confirm their subscription by clicking on a link within it. This is key, as it stops third parties from adding subscribers without their knowledge.

Top Email Newsletter Housekeeping Rules

Pc_Cartelle_003The following series will look at some housekeeping rules, which will ensure that you follow the strict etiquette of email marketing, while presenting yourself and your business in a professional and ethical way.

Make sure your subscribers actually subscribed

There is nothing more annoying than being inundated with unsolicited sales emails. We all hate it. If you are boosting your subscriber list by adding email addresses from business cards you have picked up, trawling the yellow pages or your local Chamber of Commerce’s mailing list, your messages risk not only going straight to the junk mail folder, but also alienating people with whom you might have established good working relationships. Make sure the owner of the email address has requested that you send them information, or, at the very least, has agreed to receive it.

How can cyber insurance help virtual assistants? Guest Blog – PolicyBee

Cybercriminals don’t just target big companies. Sole traders and small businesses are starting to feel the pinch of cybercrime too. Insurance expert, PolicyBee, is here to show how cyber insurance can help protect your VA business.

Virtual assistants are a vital part of thousands of UK businesses.

Over 13,000 small businesses employed a virtual assistant in 2018. As remote and hybrid working becomes the norm after the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more are looking to bring one on board.

Being a virtual assistant isn’t easy, though. If you’re a sole trader, you’re responsible if anything goes wrong. It’s up to you to fix any problems.

If a malware or ransomware attack stops you from working on a Monday morning, what do you do? How can you keep helping your clients? And what can you do to make sure you’re protected in the future?

 

A problem for small businesses

It’s common for small businesses to think cybercrime won’t affect them. You’re a smaller target. You hold less data. You’re not worth as much money to cyber criminals.

Unfortunately, this kind of thinking leads to complacency. And makes you an easy target.

The scary reality for small businesses is that every 19 seconds in the UK, one of you is hacked.

You’re probably wondering: why do cybercriminals hack small businesses? Especially when larger businesses are such lucrative targets?

Well, it comes down to one thing. Cybercriminals search for businesses where they can get the most data for the least amount of effort.

Big corporations are very difficult to hack. So, they go after small businesses or sole traders instead. Like virtual assistants.

If you’re hacked, it could cost a pretty penny. On average, it’ll set you back £4,200. But it could cost a lot more.

For a virtual assistant, that’s a tough loss to take. It can set you back months and affect your reputation and client relationships.

The unfortunate reality of being a virtual assistant is that you might be targeted because of the valuable data you use and store. Many companies will involve you in processes that use sensitive data, like finance or communications. This means you could be worth £thousands to cyber criminals.

Don’t worry. There are ways that you can protect yourself.

If the worst happens and you’re hacked, cyber insurance covers your costs. But you also need to prevent attacks before they happen.

There are some helpful tools out there for small businesses. This guide by the National Cyber Security Centre has plenty of tips and advice for making your business safer online.

Sometimes, though, all the preparation in the world can’t protect you. With cybercrime on the rise, breaches are happening in their droves every day to small businesses.

If you get caught by one, you could struggle to work. Or be left with a tricky and expensive legal process to manage.

Cyber insurance is there to help you if the worst happens.

 

Get protection

If you become the victim of cybercrime, cyber insurance jumps into action.

To start, it covers your direct costs. So, if you’re unable to work for a few weeks because of the hack, cyber insurance will sort out your lost income.

If you’re infected with ransomware, it’ll also pay for any ransoms. Oh, and any legal fees that might spring up.

Finally, it provides you with a variety of experts that’ll help you recover from the attack.

The first thing the experts will tackle is getting your systems back under control. A team of cybersecurity experts will work with you to get you back on track. So you can start working with your clients again.

After the technical issues are sorted, it’s time for the legal experts to do their job. They notify the Information Commissioner’s Office for you – as well as other relevant people and organisations – and help you sort out any legal issues. Like if you’re sued for losing clients’ sensitive data.

You’ll also get PR support. They’ll help you explain the situation to your customers and maintain your valuable relationships.

All these costs are covered by insurance. So you can get back on your feet quickly.

Like many other sole traders, you might use suppliers. You’re also covered if they cause a breach. Good luck with the awkward conversation afterwards, though!

At this point, it’s important to say that different cyber insurance policies cover different things. For example, it’s common for policies to not cover some kinds of attack, like social engineering.

Social engineering is a kind of cyber-attack that manipulates someone within an organisation to do something. Like leaking sensitive information, transferring money, or sharing a password.

Roughly 98% of all breaches use social engineering. When you’re shopping around for cyber insurance, make sure to read the policy wording carefully. Otherwise, you might be missing out on this vital area of cover.

 

What’s the difference between cyber insurance and professional indemnity insurance?

A lot of virtual assistants have professional indemnity insurance. It covers you if a client accuses you of poor service, negligence, or acting in bad faith. Or other similar claims that might result in financial loss for your client.

You’re probably wondering: doesn’t my professional indemnity policy cover me for cyber-attacks and data breaches?

In 2023, the answer is probably not. Most insurers don’t allow claims for cybersecurity and data protection.

But it’s not as cut and dry as that. Every policy is different. If you’re not sure whether your policy covers you for cybercrime, it’s time to dig out the documents you received when you bought it.

Give it a good read to make sure whether you’re covered or not. The last thing you want is to be caught by surprise when a cyber-attack hits you.

 

Skill up

The best way to combat cybercrime is to keep learning.

That’s why some cyber insurance policies include training.

As well as teaching you about cybercrime, it’ll help you prevent social engineering attacks, like phishing.

Examples are used too, so you’ll learn how to spot dodgy emails, texts, and phone calls from a mile off. You’ll also get a rundown on cybersecurity so you can use the internet and your client’s data safely.

By knowing more, you can stop attacks before they have a chance to affect you. After all, almost half of the cyber-attacks in the UK work because of phishing. That’s a lot of attacks that could be stopped by better education.

Unfortunately, even with all the training in the world, mistakes happen. You might click on a bad link or accidentally send money to a cybercriminal. It can happen to anyone.

Most cyber insurers can be contacted 24/7. In fact, they often ask you to get in touch as soon as you realise you’ve made a mistake. Even if it’s 1am on a Saturday morning.

They want to be able to get to work right away so that you have a higher chance of recovering quickly from the attack.

 

Build cybercrime defences

There’s a good chance that you’re going to be targeted by a cyber-attack at some point.

You might have done nothing wrong. Or you could have fallen victim to an elaborate social engineering attack.

However it happened, cyber insurance helps you deal with the outcomes. And gets you back on your feet fast, so you can keep helping your clients and earning money.

To find out more about cyber insurance, visit www.policybee.co.uk. You can also call our team on 0345 222 5370 if you need any advice or have any questions.

Tips to Build Your Newsletter Subscriber List Tip 8

Include a Forward to a Friend link in your newsletters so that your readers can forward an article to a friend that may find it interesting. Run a joint venture with a complimentary business. Choose a business that provides services to a similar target market, for example small businesses.For this reason, also include a link to your sign up page in each emailed newsletter.

Tips to Build Your Newsletter Subscriber List Tip 6

It’s simple but very effective, include an opt-in form on every page of your web site. It’s also worth checking your web statistics to see where people leave your web site. Check the last page they view before they leave and make sure there is a note asking them to sign up for your newsletter at the bottom of this page.

Tips to Build Your Newsletter Subscriber List Tip 5

Run a joint venture with a complimentary business. Choose a business that provides services to a similar target market, for example small businesses. Include a link in your newsletter for readers to opt into the other businesses list, in exchange for their running an opt-in for your newsletter on theirs.

15 Tips to Build Your Newsletter Subscriber List

We all need to fill our marketing funnel with the contact details of potential clients and referrers of our business services. The following series gives you some ideas about how to collect contact details, and in particular email addresses, so that you can begin to build relationships with your prospects.

Tip 1

Put an offer on the back of your business card to get people to sign up for your newsletter. For example, “Visit www.mywebsite.com/freereport to download 20 Top Tips for Outsourcing to a Virtual Assistant”. When they land on your page, ask for their email address in order to receive the free report.

Writing Effective Copy for your Virtual Assistant Website

Initially writing the text copy for your website seems quite simple. You just tell them who you are, what you do and how to contact you, right? Err, no actually.

Many business websites drone on and on about when they started, what their “mission statement” is, what technology they use, blah, blah, blah. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but nobody cares. All that prospects and customers care about is “What’s in it for me”.

So the very first thing you need to do is put yourself in the shoes of your potential customer. What problem do they have that they are looking for a solution to by searching around the internet? If they have arrived at your website as part of their search they will look for confirmation that they have come to the right place. What solutions are you providing that solves their problem?

If you were the customer, what questions would you want answers to before parting with your cash? Make sure you answer those questions in your copy.

If you are selling an intangible or unknown service such as administration and business support services, how have you displayed your credibility? Have you shown testimonials or feedback from previous customers, or can you show case studies where you have made a real tangible difference to a former client?

If you are selling information, how have you established to them that you are the expert that they should listen to? Do you have any samples of the type of information you provide such as free downloads of tips?

How easy is it to contact you? Is there a telephone number for enquires? Have you got a proper mail address on your website or just a PO Box? Do you have a guarantee that will allow them to purchase a product or service without reservation?

Lastly, give them a compelling reason to buy from you now. Or if your product or service has a longer sales cycle, get them on your list by offering something in exchange for their name and email address.

Website Mistake 10: A website that is “me” focused.

While back in part 1 of this series we talked about personalising your website, but don’t spend all of it talking about yourself and how wonderful you are! Although your visitors need to know a bit about you, what holds their interest is the knowledge that you understand their problems and issues and have ready-made solutions that resolve those problems. Your visitor will always ask, “WIIFM?” (What’s In It For Me). Answer that question by making your web site about your visitor, not about you.

If you are not sure how to WIIFM your text, hire a professional sales copy writer if you can afford it or try the following format:
Do you struggle with getting your VAT return in on time, we offer a full book keeping service which means that your VAT return will never be late again and you will save expensive fines and a whole lot of stress.

Replace the italics with their pain followed by your solution and the bold italics are your WIIFM.

In summary: Your web site can function as an attractive online brochure, or it can be a client-generating tool to help you grow your business. As a virtual assistant, you need to generate clients from your website in order for your business to be successful, make the necessary changes and you will get more clients online.

For more information, tips and advice, visit UK Association of Virtual Assistants

Website Mistake 9: No testimonials or case studies to demonstrate your expertise.

One of the easiest ways you can create customer confidence in you and your business is to post testimonials on your web site. Don’t even think of writing these yourself (I’m sure you wouldn’t) but ask your clients to write something that clearly states what you do for your client and how working with you has improved their business or life, etc.

If you are new to virtual assisting and don’t yet have clients you can ask for testimonials, prepare some case studies outlining a problem and how your service helped solve it. These case studies are also very powerful in convincing a potential client that you can do what you claim.

For more information, tips and advice, visit UK Association of Virtual Assistants

Website Mistake 8: Lack of additional resources and links.

One way to gauge the usefulness and helpfulness of a business is to have a look at their websites resources and links section. For example, the Resources and Links section of the UKAVA website lists a whole range of resources to help new and established virtual assistants and they are often featured in our email newsletter. In many cases the Association receives no compensation for the resource I recommend—I just know that it’s the best product or service to do a particular task.

Your clients want the same help and advice from you. The more you know about your industry, its problems, and how to find solutions – whether you offer the solution or not – the greater the perception of your expertise and, consequently, the greater value you offer your client.

For more information, tips and advice, visit UK Association of Virtual Assistants

Website Mistake 7: Copying every other virtual assistant web site.

As part of vetting the websites that we list on the UKAVA Directory, I have the job of personally checking every potential members website before it is added. It is quite obvious in a lot of cases that virtual assistants have simply visited the websites of their competition and formatted their own site in a similar fashion, but with their own information. I have found elements of my own VA website and articles on many of them, one time even finding a whole website that contained nothing but my website text added to a different design. The designer was blamed for this and it was soon changed, but you see my point.

Don’t fall victim to such behaviour and make sure you pique your readers interest by injecting your personality throughout your site. Give visitors a great experience of “you” when they visit. And, flagrantly flaunt your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), so that your visitor instantly realises why they should do business with you instead of your competitor.

For more information, tips and advice, visit UK Association of Virtual Assistants

Website Mistake 6: Not mentioning what makes you different, your USP.

When I’m doing online research for a particular product or service, I want to know right away what makes any company unique or different from their competition. Most virtual assistant websites just display a whole list of services they provide. While I agree that you do need to let your prospects know all the bases you can cover, if you love designing databases or have a passion for project management, tell the world about it on your website.

The beauty of this is that you will then tend to attract clients that need those services so you will be doing more of what you love. How great is that?

For more information, tips and advice, visit UK Association of Virtual Assistants

Website Mistake 5: Missing or hidden contact information.

Have you ever visited a web site that you think offers the ideal solution to your problem, but you’ve got one question to ask before making your purchasing decision? You go to the Contact Us page to look for the phone number or an email address, and all you find is a contact form to send your question. How annoying is that. There you were, credit card in hand, and already to buy and now you have to fill out a form and wait…

Web site owners are often reluctant to have their contact info readily available on the web site, as they fear having their email address harvested by spammers or having their phone number added to a telemarketing list. There are ways to lessen the likelihood of either issue by using an email spam filter on your computer and, if you use a residential line for business, registering the number with the Telephone Preference Service.

For more information, tips and advice, visit UK Association of Virtual Assistants

Website Mistake 4: Not Turning Your Website Visitors Into Prospects.

Lots of virtual assistants complain that they get a lot of visitors to their website, but few of them convert into customers. Most marketing texts will tell you that it takes approximately 7 ‘touches’ for a prospect to decide to buy something from you. A visit to your website is just one touch. If you don’t have a system in place for capturing information about your website visitors so you can keep in touch with them, when they are ready to buy they will simply purchase from someone else they have got to know, like, and trust online.

The best tool you can have in place for this purpose is an email newsletter. You can create a regular publishing schedule to be in touch with your contact database, and you can easily demonstrate your expertise via the articles you write and resources your provide.

For more information, tips and advice, visit UK Association of Virtual Assistants

Website Mistake 3: Nothing to demonstrates your expertise.

Virtual Assistant websites often boast about how proficient they are at solving their clients problems and I’m sure that they do, but where’s the proof?

If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ve got a good idea of the many problems your customers face, so providing relevant content that addresses these problems moves you into “expert” status. If you are an expert prove it by publishing articles, free downloads and resources for your prospects and clients.

Don’t think of it as giving away your expertise for free – think of it as developing a better educated consumer for your services and products. Will you lose customers because they read your information and implemented the solution without hiring you? It’s possible but unlikely because most prospective customers are unable to do it on their own and will need your expert assistance to help them solve their issues.

For more information, tips and advice, visit UK Association of Virtual Assistants

Website Mistake 2: A Lack of a clear call to action on each website page.

Have you ever been to a web site and been completely overwhelmed with all the directions you can go from the home page? There’s navigation buttons left and right and so many options you don’t know where to go next? Then in frustration you click back to the search results and go on to another website. Sound familiar?
Or perhaps you have found a website that had some interesting content or answered some of your questions but you weren’t ready to buy what you were researching just yet. You want to remember the site for future reference but you’re not sure if you’d find it again. You may bookmark it but if it had a newsletter or a free download of some kind you’d sign up just so that you know they’d contact you from time to time and you wouldn’t have to go looking for them next time.

The most effective call to action you can have on your home page and every other page of your website is to offer something for free, whether it’s an eBook, Newsletter, White Paper or Report, but something useful that’s attractive to your target market so that they’ll be eager give you their name and email address to receive your offer.

Many times the call to action is to telephone or email the business for a free consultation. That call to action is effective to some degree, especially if someone is shopping for an immediate solution to their problem. Overall, however, people want more time to make a decision about doing business with you. They want to determine your credibility and make a decision about whether or not they trust you before deciding to have a personal conversation with you. Expecting someone to call you upon first meeting you (viewing your web site) is not very realistic.

However, if they’ve seen enough on your site to want to know a little more, there’s a greater likelihood they will part with a tiny bit of personal info (first name and email address) to get a better sense of who you are while staying anonymous…and without making a commitment. Once you have their contact information, they then become a prospective client, and you can market to them as you would to any other prospect in your business.

For more information, tips and advice, visit UK Association of Virtual Assistants

How to Avoid Fatal Virtual Assistant Website Mistakes

As part of running the UK Association of Virtual Assistants I spend a lot of time researching online and checking other virtual assistant’s website. Occasionally I see an outstanding website, but what I usually see is a whole range of similar sites, each one fairly indistinguishable from anther.

When a potential client is shopping around online to find a virtual assistant they want to work with, the last thing you want is for that person to be bored in their search from continually reading the same thing over and over again and leafing through the same old format as virtual assistant’s ‘borrow’ from each others websites! If you want to get more clients from your web site, what follows in this series are 10 common mistakes to avoid:

Mistake 1: The business appears as a nameless, faceless corporate entity.
People do business with people, not websites. This is particularly true when working virtually as your potential client may never meet you in person but will always benefit from ‘putting a face to a name’. Before doing business with you a prospect will want know, like, respect, and trust you in order to let you lose within their business.

I become very frustrated when I can’t find any information on the virtual assistant behind a company name, and it often leaves me wondering what they have to hide. Are they actually a full time VA or are they hiding behind a website so their employer won’t find them? I realise many VA firms employ this strategy to appear bigger than they actually are, but don’t you prefer being able to pick up the phone or drop an email to someone you can identify within a company, rather than trying to penetrate a faceless corporate facade. Guess what, so do your prospects.
Put a photograph and a bio about yourself on the website and if you still want to maintain the illusion of size, put yourself as the Founder or Managing Director of the company and use ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ in your text.

For more information, tips and advice, visit UK Association of Virtual Assistants

File-Sharing Made Easy

As a virtual assistant you need to share files in some way with your clients. Often you will find your clients are happy to email latest versions of documents and spreadsheets backwards and forwards and some even have a file-sharing system in place that you can have access to.

But what happens if your client doesn’t have their own systems and you will be both updating a ‘live’ file such as a contacts database or an expenses spreadsheet? How do you both have access to the same current version of the file? You can purchase file sharing software such as Microsoft’s Sharepoint, or you can use free software such as Google Docs which, not very helpfully, interferes with the formatting of some documents and limits the size and/or formats of the files you can upload.

Well now, there’s a free option that not only works brilliantly, but also has many other features including access to 30 days worth of back up copies, in case you accidentally delete or ruin a file. You can also access your files remotely when you are out of the office so there’s no longer a need to take that laptop on holiday!

Click here for more information and an extra 500MB of space free!

For more information, tips and advice, visit UK Association of Virtual Assistants

Successful Small Businesses Keep a Close Eye on Cash Flow

Business advisors will tell you that one of the main reasons small businesses fail is cash flow. That is either they are not financed correctly in the first place, with sufficient funds to see them through the start-up phase, or that slow paying, or worse non-paying customers are destroying the financial health of the business.

When running a solo or small business there are two main reasons given as to why collecting payments from your clients can become an issue. Firstly it may be that you are so busy doing whatever it is that you do in order to make money, that you simply lose track of who has paid and which payments are late. Secondly, particularly if you are a solo business, there can be a level of embarrassment when the only person that can call the customer asking for the invoice to be paid, is the same person who provided the service.

Whatever the reason, it is imperative that you manage your cash flow effectively or you will soon be out of business. You should have a cash flow forecast that is made up of expected receipts and disbursements for the following 3 months (as a minimum) with some room for the unexpected factored in. With this information to hand you can easily see any potential difficult spots.

Once you have put together your cash flow forecast, it’s a good idea to take a close look at the expenses part of the forecast. Look for where you can cut some costs or find alternative suppliers, and think about what items are ‘nice to have’ but not essential to your business.

With the expenses under control you must make sure that the receipt part of the equation is taken care of with an effective collection system. Whichever system you use for issuing your customer invoices, set up a system for following up late payments. Get into the habit of issuing statements and following up by email, telephone or letter depending what is appropriate for you and your business.