If you have felt “stuck” with where you’re at in your VA business, especially as it relates to accomplishing the goals you’ve set for yourself, I want to assure you that it is possible to get “un-stuck,” break through the challenges you’re facing and get back in gear.
How? Continue Reading »
At EA to VA we have conducted several surveys over the past several years. The most popular question that we receive is, “How do I get clients and run a successful business?” This is a very important question. If you belong to the EA to VA community, you know that there are many resources available to you that will teach you how to run a solid Virtual Assistance business. We encourage you to keep following the blog and post comments and questions when they arise. Also, take advantage of the many resources within the weekly ezine. Continue Reading »
“I need more clients!” Have you ever made this statement about your VA business?
Attracting ideal clients and keeping a full pipeline is often the number one challenge Virtual Assistants face. Fortunately, it is also one of the easiest challenges to overcome. By consistently implementing a few simple steps, you will be well on your way to achieving your business goals.
The struggle to attract ideal clients is often rooted in a lack of clarity, focus and planning. Remember, when you have clarity of vision for your business, it is easier for your ideal clients to see it as well. So, you first need to know WHO exactly is your ideal client, what makes them ideal and what solutions they are looking for. Also, it’s important to narrow and focus your attention on one particular demographic. This will allow you to be more strategic with your efforts and spend your marketing time wisely. The planning is important too, because allows you to outline exactly what you are going to do on a monthly, weekly and daily basis to connect with ideal prospects, instead of leaving it to chance.
Once you’ve gotten clear on your target market, ideal client and what they need, it’s time to start taking action. Here are three simple strategies for attracting ideal clients to your business NOW:
- Reconnect with past clients – Studies have proven time and again that it’s far easier to sell to an existing client than a new one. So use this to your advantage! NOW is a great time to reconnect with past clients and catch up with them. Find out what’s new with them, what their goals are and offer to help them create their next level of success. You can even create a special incentive to honor the relationship and encourage them to engage your services once again.
- Networking – If you want to catch “fish” you’ve got to fish where the fish are. In this case your ideal catch is your ideal client. Targeted, focused networking is an excellent way to connect with ideal prospects en-masse. That doesn’t mean randomly attending networking events just because they’re available or you’re invited. It means researching where your ideal clients are congregating and meeting them where they are. It also mean showing up as a friendly, helpful, engaging resource, listening more than you talk and focusing your comments on how you solve your clients problems. Most of all effective networking is all about PROMPT follow-up.
- Power Partnerships – Obviously, you aren’t the only service professional targeting your ideal client. For example, if you are a professional organizer, it’s likely that a personal chef, interior designer, landscaper, painter and real estate agent in your area are also seeking to connect with your ideal prospects. Or if you are a virtual assistant you will find that graphic designers, bookkeepers, CPAs, business coaches and marketing coaches are targeting your ideal clients. That is a GOOD thing! You can significantly boost the reach of your marketing efforts by leveraging their network and cross promoting one another's services.
Marketing consistently is always easier when you see where you want to be, so clearly, you can almost taste it! You’ll have no problem putting in the time it takes, or coming up with creative ideas, when your own clarity has grown your enthusiasm to such a level that you’re actually energized by your marketing efforts. Your energy is very attractive to others – your enthusiasm keeps the pipeline full of those who are looking for the very same in their own lives!
Your Action Plan For The Week:
- Make a list of your past clients and what their situation was when they last worked with you. Schedule time on your calendar to reconnect with them, and present a special offer to re-enroll as a client.
- Take inventory of your network and look for other service professionals who are targeting the same market as you and who could provide valuable information or resources to your clients. Then, schedule a lunch or coffee date to discuss how you can collaborate to serve each other’s audience.
- Review your ideal client profile and research where they are hanging out, offline and online. Get yourself registered to attend the next live event and start participating in relevant online networks to create visibility for your expertise and positioning yourself as a resource.
When I start working privately with a new client as their coach, one of the first elements of their marketing we work on is identifying their target market and creating their ideal client profile.
Most of the time, the Virtual Assistant will say something like, "Wait a minute Sydni! If I focus on just one particular market, I'm going to be leaving people out. I don't want to leave anyone out! Everyone needs my services! I don't think I want to do that." I smile and respond that they don't have to worry. And that they don't have to walk away from opportunities or leave anyone out. That's not what I'm talking about here.
Choosing a target market means that you focus your MARKETING efforts on one specific group of people who need the solutions you offer. So all of your materials speak to that group, your messages in your marketing address the specific challenges of that group; the services you offer are solutions those individuals are already looking for. If, along the way, you happen to come across individuals in other industries that want to work with you, that's perfectly fine. Go ahead and work with them too!
For example, let's say you work primarily with home based businesses. That is your target market and that's who you want to focus your marketing efforts on. But you go to a networking event, you meet this really interesting attorney, the two of you enjoy an instant connection and hit it off! In the course of the conversation, he shares that he is completely overwhelmed with handling the day to day operations of his business and after learning about the work you do, expresses an interest in engaging your services. If this happens to you … work with the attorney! You don't have to walk away from the opportunity because you're targeting home based businesses. That's not the point of choosing a target market.
As the CEO of your company, you have the option to work with whomever you like, regardless of whether or not they fit your ideal client profile. But, when it comes to marketing your business, you'll be much more effective and much more profitable, if you narrow your focus to one specific group of people. This will allow you to become the expert problem solver for that group and become a leader in that industry. You'll be so well versed in the challenges those individuals face, what solutions they're looking for, what software to use, what lingo they use, etc., that hiring you becomes a no brainer.
Think about it. When you get ready to hire a service provider to help you with a problem in your personal or professional life, don't you want to work with an expert? Don't you want to work with someone well versed in handling the challenge you're facing? Of course! The same principle applies to your VA business. The ideal clients you want to connect with are looking for a professional who understands them. Some who "gets" the challenges they face and has the experience to resolve them. When you speak to this need as you market your services and talk about your business, you will seamlessly attract the clients you were meant to serve.
So start TODAY, narrowing your focus to one specific target market. Update your marketing materials so that they speak to that ONE target market. Start attending networking events that cater to that ONE target market. Create solutions that YOUR target market is looking for!
You'll immediately start enjoying your work even more and can look forward to a BIG boost in your income and being of greater service to those who need you!
As a virtual assistant, you provide a high value to your clients because you solve their problems. Whether you are a VA that specializes in social media, blog promotion, copywriting, website design or general administrative services, the bottom line is your clients need your help to accomplish specific goals in their business. You have become a trusted part of their inner circle and they trust you with their business needs.
Sometimes a client will thank you for your hard work - either in a nice email, when you're on the phone for a weekly update, or by sending you a thoughtful thank you card. …But, there are special occasions when actions speak louder than words, and that's when a client gives you a referral.
The trust and confidence a client has in you is conveyed by a powerful seal of approval in the form of a referral. In general, people like to do business with other people they know, like and trust. So when someone needs help, they typically go to someone they know, like and trust for their recommendation.
And that's when the referral can happen.
Perhaps someone in your client's network expresses a problem, challenge or a need and your client realizes that YOU provide the solution. They share your name, contact information and glowing praise of how you've made a difference in their life. The contact gets in touch with you; the two of you have a great conversation, decide to work together and voila! You have a new client!
To "secure" referrals like this there are three things you must do consistently:
- Be a great communicator: Always keep your client informed about everything! When there are challenges, provide options for resolution, when things are good, find opportunities to celebrate. Be honest in EVERYTHING (even when you make a mistake) and always work with the highest level of integrity. This will create a trusting, powerful relationship between you and your clients.
- Have great follow-through: Doing what you say you would do, when you said you would do it is a big deal. Clients need to know they can trust you to get things done when you say you will. I can't tell you how many entrepreneurs I know have complained about this. No one expects you to be perfect and everyone understands that on occasion "life" happens. But there is no excuse for you not to be dependable. If you prove yourself reliable your clients will notice and they will refer you to others.
- Go the extra mile: Taking the time to really get to know your client and their business can go a long way in the solutions you can provide. While you may not always be able to do everything for your client, you can recommend resources and other service providers to help them when they need it. Becoming a trusted advisor helps build a foundation of trust and respect.
There's one last thing you must do to get more referrals from current clients - and that is to thank them for a referral when they give it to you. Make sure you are in the habit of acknowledging the referral to let your client know you truly appreciated their trust in you. Otherwise, a client may assume you didn't appreciate the referral or you don't need the additional work. In either case, that's not the impression you want to make.
No one is perfect, and things don't always go according to plan. But maintaining professionalism and integrity are the cornerstones to your success and reputation. By following these guidelines, you are on the right path to keeping the clients you have, and helping their friends and colleagues along the way.
Have you received a referral from a client recently? How did it make you feel? How did you thank the client for the referral? Post your comments here on the blog and tell me all about it!
Networking Sydni Craig-Hart on 15 Jul 2010
Social media is everywhere - it cannot be ignored. The most popular networks for small business owners are: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Chances are that you have a profile in each of these and strive to be pretty active. But is your activity leading to productivity?
Being active in the social networks is much like networking in person - if you're doing it correctly. You should be making personal connections with people, having real conversations with them and above all, adding value to their lives and businesses. Those in your network will appreciate your efforts to be truly and genuinely helpful. Online or offline, this spirit is absolutely client attractive.
At first, it may start out with the little things like responding to a group question, or leaving your feedback on a blog post you saw in your Twitter stream. But if you're genuinely helping people, being friendly and conversing with others, people notice. Then, you'll be known as the "expert" in the group, the go-to person that everyone waits to hear from. And sometimes, you'll be exactly the person a potential client is looking for to help them solve a challenge they're facing.
Public speaking is one of the most effective ways to attract more clients to your Virtual Assistant business. Even if you're not comfortable talking in front of a crowd - right now - there's a good reason you should start. Why? Because it's the fastest way to automatically establish yourself as an expert in your field.
Think about it. When looking to hire a service provider, don't you typically want to work with the BEST person for the job? Would you really consider hiring someone who offers substandard services? Of course not! So neither would your prospective clients.
By speaking in public, you automatically put yourself in the driver's seat. Whether your presentation is 5 minutes long or 30 minutes long, the room is focused on you. Everyone is listening what you have to say and if you deliver great content, they are writing down everything you say and making a list of questions. That list of questions is a good thing because they are trying to envision themselves working with you.
Also, public speaking adds credibility to the virtual assistance industry as a whole. There are still so many people who are unclear about VA's, what they do and how a VA can help them grow their business. By delivering a content rich speech on what a Virtual Assistant is and how you can help business owners increase their business and reduce their stress, you elevate your expertise as well as that of the entire VA industry. Continue Reading »
Networking is a great way to meet people and build your business. While it may be easy for some people to just strike up a conversation and make all the right connections, it actually takes work to network. But the more successful you are at networking, the more successful you will be in your business.
One of the biggest indicators of your success as a networker is your attitude. Believe it or not, you demeanor says a lot about you before you even open your mouth. For example, think about the last time you went to the mall and sat on one of the benches to rest your feet and drink some water. What did you do? Well, if you're like most of us, you watch people.
You know, you looked at all the people walking by you and thought about who they were and what they were doing and thinking...all in the blink of an eye. Admit it, you summed them up based on the way they carried themselves.
People make those same assumptions about you.
So, to ensure that you are networking for success, take these steps to make sure you are projecting the right attitude:
- Smile. It might be a cliché but a smile is worth a thousand words. People will be instantly drawn to you or repelled by you based on your smile. Make sure it's sincere and inviting. Don't know what that looks like? Picture yourself at your happiest: think of your kids, your favorite vacation spot, etc. That's the happy look you want.
- Stand up straight. Now, I know this all sounds like your mother talking to you, but the rule still hold true. Standing up straight and being confident makes other people want to meet you and get to know you. Nothing is more attractive than self-confidence.
- Genuinely listen to others. Make sure you focus on the other person, their story and their background. Building a relationship with them first is the best way to build a connection for life. There's a reason for the saying, "Your net worth is directly proportional to your network." Make sure you are making lifelong connections.
Taking a few moments to get an attitude adjustment can make all the difference in your networking. By making these few changes, you will find yourself looking forward to getting out there and meeting other people. Networking is supposed to be fun and exciting, not boring and a waste of time.
One last way to ensure you are getting the most out of any networking event is to make sure you only attend the networking events that make sense for you and your business. For example, if your ideal client is real estate agents, make sure you attend a networking event where you know real estate agents will be attending. Don't just go to the next Chamber of Commerce meeting because you "might" find a potential client. In the long run, this will be futile and tarnish your perception about networking.
Remember networking is about building relationships and making connections. Make sure you project the right vibes so people will want to connect with you. And make sure you're in the right place at the right time to make those connections.
One of the best ways to grow your business and earn more income, is to specialize in a specific type of virtual assistance. One option is to offer marketing support services. There is an ever growing need for marketing virtual assistants, particularly those who specialize in Internet marketing.
The two things EVERY business owner wants are 1) to make more money in their business and 2) to have more time to enjoy being self-employed. A VA who specializes in marketing and is directly connected to creating more profits and increased productivity will make herself invaluable to her clients. This type of virtual assistance is not just about supporting the entrepreneur to run their business effectively or waiting for the client to ask for help. It's about taking initiative and being proactive about completing tasks and projects that create more opportunities for exposure and revenue in the client's business.
Speakers, authors, coaches and consultants are part of the growing group of business owners who are hiring VA's to help them market their business effectively. They've found that they just don't have the time or the expertise to market themselves and their services . To create the desired results, marketing needs to be done in a focused and consistent way. By hiring a VA who specializes in marketing support, business owners can focus on their gifts and developing their business, while the VA executes their marketing plan to attract more clients and customers. Continue Reading »
Networking Sydni Craig-Hart on 18 Mar 2010
I saw the following question on one of the forums I belong to and thought you'd find it interesting:
Q. Tell me About Your Elevator Speech... do you have one?
I live in an area where Virtual Assistant has yet to become a household word. I am interested to see what others in my field tell folks when they ask with a quizzical expression... O, what is that?
It is easy for me to come up with examples of what I do but unless it addresses the individual's "pain points," I am still not doing the job of educating them and properaly promoting myself - I usually turn it around and ask them how they run their business and try to find out how they might utilize a VA's service. Either that or I just explain how using a VA can actually help them increase their income potential by allowing them more time to do what makes them money and how they can do it without the usual costs associated with hiring an employee.
I am interested to hear some ideas from this wonderful group about how you handle this issue. Continue Reading »