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Who’s Ready To Unload Some Tasks For Summer?

Recently, I posted a (3) part series on deciding whether a Virtual Assistant (VA) was the best choice for your personal life or small business.  I thought I would follow-up to this series and further emphasize some other activities which Virtual Assistants are very helpful with.  It’s the big Q2 for most of us, and we’re heading into the nicest part of the year, summer!  Hiring a VA might free up some summer time which could be better spent on family activities or just making time for you!

  • Organization – VA’s have the benefit of working from their homes or an office location outside of your business.  They have the ability to work with online programs, create power point presentations, sort files, and turn tasks into more manageable, organized solutions.  They create precise details at first glance, versus trying to sort through hours of your own personal notes.  Seems like a great idea to me!
  • enjoy_summerSpecialization – Maybe your business deals with more specialized services such as real estate or tax issues?  Virtual Assistants can vary in background specialties.  Usually the more experienced will require a higher price tag, but if it saves yourself time, it can all be worth it.
  • Travel Plans – Does your job require a lot of traveling?  Is it time consuming for you to sit down, find the most cost-efficient flight, car rental, and hotel?  Well, VAs can perform these activities too.  This may seem minor to you, but if it saved you (4) hours a week, would it be worth it to you?  Especially if you figure your wages per hour in comparison to hiring the work, simple things like this can sometimes be a no-brainer.
  • Answering phones – Do you have a business that needs a live person at the end of it in order for the customer to always have a friendly voice to approach with a question?  Well, this is another role where VAs can be very successful.  Again, it saves you loads of time as this simply requires forwarding your phone and the rest is on them!
  • Blogs – Do you have a website that requires a blog, but you are sometimes too busy to write them?  Well, VAs can research topics and publish creative masterpieces for your clients’ viewing pleasure.  As the decision maker for your business, you of course have final say in the content of these articles.  Given the minor task of advising of the final touches, in comparison to writing an article from scratch, will absolutely save you time and money.  Who knows, you and your clients might very much enjoy this new creative perspective VAs can bring to your business.
  • Website Updates – We all want the most innovative and interactive, up-to-date website, but who has time to always post the latest and greatest?  Guess what?  A VA can do this too!  This requires a little more direction regarding your goals and target audience that you wish to reach, as well as a more specialized VA background, but definitely a great task to hire out.

These are just a few of the many activities that VAs can be available for and able to assist with regarding your small business needs.  I’m also excited to make the point that Impact Virtual Services can offer all of these services to you and would be pleased to offer a free consultation to discuss the demands of your small business and how we can offer the most practical solutions.  We’re approaching summer time and this means it’s time to get out and enjoy the weather.  We all work way too hard, year-round, so take advantage of these opportunities and let us know how we can help save you time and money.

How Important Is It To Become Your Client’s Favorite Website?

What is the first thing that we do when we need to buy a product or service?  Well, for most of us that can’t conveniently run to a myriad of stores at a moment’s notice, we research or shop online.  Guess what…. so do our customers.  This is why you need a good reason for your customer to choose your website.  As this is kind of an obvious statement, just how are you going to accomplish that? Follow these simple guidelines on how to focus your customer’s needs to your website.

  • Begin with a blog.  A blog?  How does this help focus the attention on products and services?  Well, blogs open direct lines of communication.  Blogs are a way to build trust and to speak intelligently about your product (uses/values/benefits).  Blogs can also provide feedback regarding products, directly from the consumer.  Blogs also tend to lead to higher search engine ratings.  The key to success is to publish often and publish material of value.
  • Encourage contact on your website.  With this said, it’s very important that if you make yourself look available to your customers, that you are available.  Make sure that when customers communicate with you through a “Contact Us” link, that you have a back-up plan to follow up with the client.
  • Show that you have personality.  Does your website look and feel like everyone else that sells in the same market as you?  Well, if so… expect them to keep looking.  Display something that will stand out.  Be creative, be interactive, be different, be you!
  • Become an essential resource.  This doesn’t mean you have to give all pertinent content away at a glance, but you can give valuable information that will keep your customers coming back for more.  We all love samples, and samples are what leads us to buy a larger product, right?  I can give one example of this success.  I recently attended a free LinkedIn seminar given by speaker Wayne Breitbarth.  I found that by adding him as a friend on LinkedIn, he sends out a Sunday “snip-it” every week with an interesting fact about LinkedIn social media tools.  Does he give away all of his secrets?  No, of course not, but he does tell you how you can learn more about these tools by attending one of his advanced seminars.  Smart, if you ask me, as he’s become very successful because of those seminars.
  • Be user friendly.  Your website should be easy to navigate.  Have your main menu options at a glance.  Have a spotlight on feature products.  Customer testimonials should be very visible.  Market your website in an organized fashion that keeps the client satisfied.

With these five simple strategies, you can become a first and only point of contact to drive the success of your products and business.  Do you have a blog?  Do you return your consumer’s questions?  Is your site easy to navigate?  If you said no to any of these, by making a few simple changes, you may be bringing in the New Year with a blast!

Kickstarter: Does This New Product Launching Website Appeal to You?

Will the website “kickstart your heart” as some of us remember singing back in the Motley Crue days, or does the reality of the website leave you more with an “achy breaky heart” as sang by Billy Ray Cyrus? What is Kickstarter? In a nutshell, it’s a website designed as a pre-funding platform for when you have a new product to launch. What’s the catch? Well, the product isn’t necessarily ready yet, so you are pre-selling a product and your consumers, aka “customers,” are taking on the risk. The reality comes down to…. is your product worth that risk?

• According to author, Tim McCue, in his July 2012 publishing of “Funding for a Small Project or Product with Kickstarter,” 26,431 products have been successfully funded.

• Of those, 18,271 raised between $1,000 and $9,999.

Does this tell you that you are going to be a millionaire thru the website? Probably not, but it does drive the idea that it can work!

7 projects have actually raised over $1 million dollars.

Tim McCue defines a project as something that has a clear goal in mind. It’s not open-ended, but has a finish line. Creating a painting, for example, or writing a book would classify as projects. Starting a business or creating a blog would not qualify as these items are open-ended. Yet, in the long scheme of things, these items may lead to more successful projects, as they are staged items, and possibly each idea could have a clear goal in mind.

• “Kickstarter supports projects in the categories of Art, Comics, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film, Food, Games, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology, and Theater” states Tim McCue.

From this list you can see that a small business owner, especially if creative, has quite a support system to get an idea off and running. The key to success will be a good marketing plan and a captive audience that is interested in the project/product.

So, if you have a creative eye or have developed a new gadget for your small business, the website “Kickstarter” just may be the key to your new success.

Out of curiosity, has anyone from my audience used the website yet? Any reviews you’d like to share? I found it to be a very interesting avenue to market a new invention or product that has yet to be discovered. What do you have to lose?? You just might be the 8th project to reach $1,000,000 or more profit!!!

Branding for Small Businesses

As a business owner one of your top priorities is how your company is perceived to your prospective clients.  Careful crafting of your brand matters, no matter how big or small your business is.   You could have the most innovative service or product, but you need to make potential clients aware of it before you can turn it into a success.  Unfortunately marketing your business isn’t as easy as just placing your logo and a sales message on a postcard or flyer and mailing it to prospective clients.  Marketing is about branding your business so potential clients have an idea of what your business is about, what it may be like to work with you, and how you are different from your competitors.

Simple Works How is your business different from your competitors?  What makes your services or products unique and original?  What aspect of your business is the most attractive to the client?  These are just a few of the questions that should be addressed by your brand.  It should be conveyed in a smooth, easily understood, uncluttered way that is tailored to you audience.  Simple and direct.

Give Your Words a Voice Often times communicating with your prospective clients is done through a series of direct mail pieces, emails, newsletters, or your very own website.  Creating a unified “voice” that can deliver your message in addition to producing an overall image for your company will set you apart from competitors and take your communications from passive to active.  Aligning your message and brand across all channels such as print, website, blog, and social networking will further strengthen your voice.

Consistency is Key Sometimes a small tweak in your overall image is necessary to get a buzz going.  Changing a font here, a color there, or a new image to represent your brand could all help in highlighting your business in new, exciting, and different ways to the same audience, or help in attracting a completely new one.  Once you have identified which tweak or series of tweaks generates the biggest response stick with it and modify all your communications and client accessed websites to reflect that voice, message, and image.  Committing to the change once it is made is the most crucial step.  You may not get the desired results immediately, but scrapping all the work you’ve put in will only be a waste of your time and money, as well as confuse potential clients.

Building your brand can be a labor of love.  If you put in the work and let your individuality pour into your business and let it shine through your communication pieces this will truly set you apart from your competitors.  Your current and potential clients will see your products and services as genuine and attainable.  Branding is all about perceptions, so build the perception you want them to have!