August  2015 | Volume 16 Issue 8

 

PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE
Yvonne Weld, President

Yvonne Weld Happy August!

Building a truly thriving and successful Virtual Assistant business can be hard. The roller coaster ride of entrepreneurship can be very difficult at times. One month you may hit your sales target and the next month be so far away from it you want to cry. The best business coaches out there will tell you if you want to smooth out this ride you need to market continually.

But how do you stand out? Let's face it there is a lot of "noise" out there as everyone is pressuring you to spend your marketing dollars with them. Sometimes finding a unique idea can be a challenge. So let's start a conversation … go to the facebook page and let us know the most unique marketing idea you have ever tried. If you haven't done anything unique to date then let us know what you would like to try!

If you are out of marketing ideas, take some time to read this month's IVAAcast where our fantastic writers are sharing their ideas about creative ways to market.

Virtually yours!


Yvonne Weld
IVAA President


GETTING STARTED
3 Lessons I Learned About Marketing
By Christine Bearse

Christine Bearse

When I was just starting out and putting together a marketing plan I did tons of research and felt compelled to perform every possible activity that every marketing guru suggested. Every expert provided sound reasons for using their method and frankly, I was overwhelmed. I would bounce from one activity to another if I didn't see immediate results.

That brings me to lesson #1 – Don't expect INSTANT results! Working in the online world we see stories all the time of successful people. What many of us don't see is how long it took these people to realize their "overnight success". In most cases successful people get that way because they persisted in one direction for years. They paid their dues, learned all they could about their chosen field and kept working until people started to notice their skills or talents and then told others. There is no substitute for time.

Lesson #2 – Create a marketing mix you can commit to. When you are the one who is in charge of developing and executing your marketing plan, it is important to choose activities that you are capable of doing. You may not know everything right away, but with research, training and practice you will. In the beginning when you have few clients you have more time to develop content, post to every social media outlet and attend networking events. This is the time to try new things and figure out what works. Once you have a good idea of what works, choose the most successful methods and then make sure you always find time to execute them consistently. As you gain clients you will find you have less and less time to market your business.

Lesson #3 – Find the marketing activities you enjoy. Each social media channel caters to a specific personality type. Some posts are short, some are casual, some are more formal, etc. Choose the ones that feel good to you. If you decide to take part in live networking, find a few groups that you feel comfortable with and commit to attending them regularly so you can develop strong relationships. In the long run when you look at your marketing calendar you are going to be more likely to complete the activities you feel are fun over the ones you struggle with. You will have better results when you come from a place of comfort and joy.

In marketing I have found that consistency is key. It is far better to do a few things very well and to keep doing them week in and week out than to do many things once in a while on a whim. This is especially true when you are the only one responsible for the execution. It may take a while to find the activities that work for you at first, but follow your instincts and then stick with them. Persistence always pays off.


WORKING WITH A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT
Do You Have Strategic Partners?
By Tracey D'Aviero

Tracey D'Aviero

Marketing our products and services is sometimes a daunting task. Thinking of new and creative ways to market ourselves in an ever-growing industry can become a challenge.

But you don't have to do it all alone!

In fact, getting the word out about what you do can be easy with a little help from your friends.

I'm not talking about your Friday night wine-drinking gal pals (though they could be), and I'm not even talking about your VA colleagues (although they might also be good).

I'm talking about strategic partners.

Many VAs I work with don't think about asking other people to help spread the word about their business. Strategic partners are the people that you choose to help you do this.

A good strategic partner is someone who:

  1. serves the same market as you but offers different services (ie if you do graphics, a good partner might be a website developer or someone who creates custom Wordpress websites)
  2. a colleague who understands the services you offer and also connects with a similar market
  3. your current clients, who know what you do for them

The idea is to find people who you can build a reciprocal arrangement with – you refer each other to new clients when possible.

There are a few ways to do this. You can do it on a situational basis – where someone refers you when it comes up in conversation.

Or you can do it quite – by doing it at a specific time.

If you are doing a new service launch you can have someone host you on a hangout, teleclass or webinar to their audience.

Then you do the same for them.

It's about consciously helping each other get out there.

There are lots of ways to use partners.

But the main thing is to make sure that they understand your products and services. There is nothing worse than getting a referral that just doesn't fit.

Here are a few key things to remember when choosing your strategic partners:

  1. Make sure you each understand the other's business and service offerings very well. This should be a professional arrangement, not a casual one. Even if you are both VAs, make sure to be clear on what services your partner prefers to offer.
  2. Decide whether you will monetarily compensate each other for referrals (you don't have to!). If you will then set up a referral partner program or affiliate program to track this.
  3. Provide each other with the necessary information or materials for marketing and promotion (graphics or marketing copy). Make things as easy as possible for the other person to talk to their audience about you.
  4. Actively reach out to your partners regularly – at least a few times a year - to see if they know anyone who might need your services (reach out to see about theirs too!)

Partnering with others is a really good way to marketing your business – you get the benefit of a referral, and you know that it will be a solid one because you have taken the time to make sure your partner is clear on what you love to do.

It really can go a long way in bringing in new clients for both of you!


VIRTUAL ASSISTANT TECH TIP
Practice Some Karma
By Ramona Nichols

Ramona Nichols

"You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want." Zig Ziglar

When I first read Zig's quote years ago I decided it would be my mantra in life and business. It really is the essence of Karma, isn't it? Zig Ziglar's a pretty wise man and we'd all do well to structure our businesses on his simple words. Reaching out first can reap a boat load of returns. But remember, be sincere. People can spot a phoney a mile away.

Today's tips are pretty low tech. Sometimes we need to go old skool. Remember, a lot of things worked really well back in the day;)

To stand out from the pack you need to do things that get you noticed. Little things mean a lot. We live so much in the online world that our voice can easily get drowned in the continuous onslaught of cookie cutter emails and autoresponders. Our message is just a delete button away.

To avoid the virtual circular file why not try something different? Spend less time on building a "list" and more on developing sincere relationships. This takes a little investment on your part, but the long haul results will be worth it.

Here are a few things that have directly resulted in more work coming my way. The funny thing is, the work wasn't even the intention. I was just offering a heart-felt thank you to someone who had taken the time to answer a question, help me out of a jam, or teach me something new. Remember, you never know where your next big opportunity is hiding.

  • Send a Starbucks Coffee Card as a thank you – do it snail mail so they get the card to actually hold in their hands – you'll be top of mind when they use that card, and for a long time thereafter.
  • Send a REAL thank you card (SendOutCards, though nice, don't count for this one). Take the time to find a card, sit down, write a personal note in your own handwriting, and send via snail mail – trust me, you'll feel so fulfilled and your recipient will be pleasantly surprised.
  • Get out and meet people one-on-one in REAL life – it doesn't always have to be in a coffee shop. Grab a box lunch from a deli and meet at a local landmark or city park – make a real connection with someone. Believe me they will remember you far longer than that autoresponder swipe file you sent out last week.

These tips are about taking it slow and building a few lasting relationships that truly count, one by one. You won't build a massive list doing any of these. You might, however, build a small network of people who will think of you first the next time they, or one of their clients, need a talented Virtual Assistant, simply because you took the time to be thoughtful.


EVENTS

Jeanne Biggerstaff

The Online Summit schedule is almost ready for prime time and, boy, do we have a great line up! Be on the lookout for Early Bird promotions in early September – you could be the winner of a fabulous prize!

Registration is open for both our Online and Live Summits:

Online summit Oct 22-23, 2015

Live summit May 2-6, 2016 Orlando, FL

IVAA is offering the opportunity to reach thousands of Virtual Assistants with little effort from you. How, you ask? Donate an online offer for the upcoming Online Summit and have an instant audience. Submit your donation here.

Jeanne Biggerstaff
Event Director
jeanne@ivaa.org


STAFF WRITER BIOS

Christine Bearse ran her own successful VA business for over 6 years before becoming a business and goal setting coach. As the Goal Whisperer, she now helps women business owners overcome the obstacles they face when trying to grow their businesses and achieve their goals. Read more about her and how she can unlock your potential at christinebearse.com.

Tracey D'Aviero is a veteran VA and Founder of Your VA Mentor. Tracey trains and mentors professional women and men who are brand new to the VA industry or who have been struggling to make their business successful. Her mission is to educate professionals on how to build and grow successful and profitable virtual businesses in the VA industry by implementing systems and smart principles. Contact Tracey for speaking engagements, group training or private coaching at www.yourvamentor.com.

Ramona Nichols is chief cook and bottle washer at Geek Gal Friday. She loves to bend and shape-shift websites into the sites clients dream of. Her technical crushes include HTML, CSS, Wordpress, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator and Infusionsoft. Ramona is on a mission to take the mystery out of technology for underserved groups. If you've hit the wall with a technical situation, take a deep breath and give Ramona a call.

IN THIS ISSUE
President's Message
Getting Started - 3 Lessons I Learned About Marketing
Working with a Virtual Assistant - Do You Have Strategic Partners?
Virtual Assistant Tech Tip - Practice Some Karma
Events

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IVAACast Staff
Managing Editor:
Emma Farmer

Staff Writers:
Christine Bearse
Tracey D'Aviero
Ramona Nichols

Staff Assistants:
Ramona Nichols


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