Building Community

March 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Resources

I have to honestly say that the Virtual Assistant Profession has to be one of the most supportive professions there is.  The feeling of community is one of the reasons why I love being a VA.  Being a part of a community, whether it is a person-to person community or a virtual community, for me is really the “heart” of being a Virtual Assistant.

As an instructor for Red Deer Colleges’ Virtual Assistant Certificate Program where I teach marketing, I am sometimes asked the question, “What does building community have to do with building a business, where is the connection?”   So, I’d like to share with you what I share with my students:

Building Community is about Building Relationships
Building relationships is key to any business’s success.  By being a part of a community, you are building much-needed relationships to help your business grow.

Building Community supports Referral Generation
By being a part of a community, you are opening yourself up to possibilities of referrals from colleagues.  If you build those relationships and build the trust within your community, others will be comfortable referring your services.

Building Community increases Knowledge
Knowledge sharing is a huge benefit of building community. It’s about sharing opinions, ideas thoughts and different perspectives.  It provides a venue to ask questions, and give answers.  Learn from others who “have been there, done that!”

Building Community adds Credibility

By being an active participant in your community and let your voice be heard. Everyone has something to contribute, get involved and become a leader in your field.

Building Community keeps us Sane
At times we feel very isolated from the rest of the world sitting alone in our home office.  By being part of a community, you are surrounded by others who deal with the same issues and experiences.  Extend yourself to your community.

The above is an article based on the foundations of the book The Virtual Assistants Guide to Marketing by Michelle Jamison.

Michelle is owner and operator of MJVA (www.mjva.ca).  While managing her company, Michelle is also an instructor for Red Deer College’s Virtual Assistant Certificate Program, where she teaches, Marketing, Starting a VA Business and Office Management. She is the author of The Virtual Assistants Guide to Marketing which is the basis for the MJVA Strategic Marketing Package, a unique offering for Virtual Assistants who need one-on-one support with marketing their business.

Computer Ergonomics

March 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Resources

If you work on a computer as much as I do, which means approximately 40+ hours a week, you really need to be practicing good computer ergonomics.  How many times have you thought your wrists were just about to melt off?  Or your shoulders and neck are so sore; you’re starting to look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame?

If so it may be time to put in place a computer ergonomic plan.  Ergonomics is the fit between the people, the tools they use, and the physical setting where they work.  A favourite definition of mine is… it’s about fitting the work to the user instead of forcing the user to fit the work.

There are few items you can put in place to prevent or at the very least ease the strain of working on a computer for hours at a time.  How many of these ergonomic tips are you currently practicing?

  • Use indirect lighting so there is no glare on the screen and insure your computer screen is turned away from any windows to reduce glare.
  • Keep the top edge of your monitor at eye level or below so that you are able to look down slightly as you read copy from your monitor.  Your monitor should be 20-30 inches away from your eyes.
  • Use a pneumatically operated ergonomic chairs that are fully adjustable for seat height and tilt, back height and tilt, and arms that continuously height adjustable.
  • Your wrists should never be higher than your elbows and they should be straight, not flexed upward or bent downward. If you cannot achieve this, your desk may be too high or your chair seat is too low. Adjust the height of your chair.
  • Your feet should touch the floor.
  • Keep your mouse close to the keyboard so you do not have to reach far to use it.
  • Rest your eyes periodically, every 20 minutes or so.

Check off the ones you are currently doing and put a plan in place to work on the others.  Trust me, you’re sore wrists and back will thank you!

Michelle Jamison is owner and operator of MJVA (www.mjva.ca).  While managing her company, Michelle is also an instructor for Red Deer College’s Virtual Assistant Certificate Program, where she teaches, Marketing, Starting a VA Business and Office Management.

Marketing 101 – Customer Service

March 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Resources

As a Virtual Assistant, providing great customer service is the most effective and least expensive way of marketing.  The majority of your marketing time and budget should be spent on building solid relationships with clients.

You can spend thousands of dollars marketing your service but if you are not good at what you do, your clients will not come back.  Worst of all, they will tell others that your services are not up to par.  Word of mouth travels fast.

Even if you are a new VA starting your practice, you should still be thinking of the value that you will be bringing your potential clients.  As a VA, at least 70% of your business will be and should be from past clients and their referrals.

Some things to think about:

  1. It is more expensive to get a new client than to keep an existing client.
  2. You work more efficiently with existing clients since you are already familiar with their situations.
  3. In order to produce superior customer service you must love what it is you are doing.

Adding Client Value

Yes, the little things really do mean a lot. The smallest gestures made on your part can make your clients feel special and coming back for more.  Deliver an “above and beyond the call of duty” service to all your clients.  By doing this you will be adding value to the relationship and intensifying that customer loyalty.

If you haven’t yet, incorporate a few of these ideas in your business:

  • Without them asking for it….send your clients resources, articles, information that they would find useful.
  • Promote your clients service/product whenever there is an opportunity to do so.
  • Call your clients just to say “Hi”, so they know you are thinking of them.
  • For special occasions, send your client a card or small gift.
  • Always provide opportunities for your clients to use you as a sounding board.

This is only a short list of the items you can implement in your business right away. The cost is either free or very minimal and will make a huge impact on the Client/VA relationship.

The above is an article based on the foundations of the book The Virtual Assistants Guide to Marketing by Michelle Jamison.

Michelle is owner and operator of MJVA (www.mjva.ca).  While managing her company, Michelle is also an instructor for Red Deer College’s Virtual Assistant Certificate Program, where she teaches, Marketing, Starting a VA Business and Office Management. She is the author of The Virtual Assistants Guide to Marketing which is the basis for the MJVA Strategic Marketing Package,  a unique offering for Virtual Assistants who need one-on-one support with marketing their business.

Target Market Basics

March 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Resources

In order to market effectively you need to know who exactly it is that you are marketing to.

The more you understand and define your market, the better you can market directly to those individuals.

When you are determining your target market think about the following:

Geographic. The Geographic’s represent or describe individuals who live in a certain area.

Demographics. Demographics are the qualities and characteristics of your target market. They include age, gender, culture, employment, industry, income level, marital status, etc.

Psychographics’. Psychographics’ makes up the emotional and behaviour of your target market. They include the emotion, logic and thought processes behind your target markets decision to purchase your product or services.

Now here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. Where is my target market located?   Where do they do business?
  2. What are the demographics of my market? What do I know about my market such as age, income or occupation?
  3. What are the psychographics of my market? What are the lifestyle preferences of my market?  What’s going on for them, that they would need your services? What emotions are they currently feeling?
  4. Is this a group I enjoy working with? If I had to spend a lot of time with this group would I enjoy myself or not?
  5. What publications (newspapers, magazines) or websites does my market use? Are there advertising opportunities? Can I understand my market better by reading what they are reading?
  6. What are the professional organizations, clubs, or activities that my target market is involved with? Are there networking opportunities available?
  7. Do I understand the challenges that my market faces? Will my service solve a problem for them?
  8. Do I know the language that this market uses? Knowing the vocabulary of my market gives me more credibility.

The above is an article based on the foundations of the book The Virtual Assistants Guide to Marketing by Michelle Jamison.

Michelle is owner and operator of MJVA (www.mjva.ca).  While managing her company, Michelle is also an instructor for Red Deer College’s Virtual Assistant Certificate Program, where she teaches, Marketing, Starting a VA Business and Office Management. She is the author of The Virtual Assistants Guide to Marketing which is the basis for the MJVA Strategic Marketing Package, a unique offering for Virtual Assistants who need one-on-one support with marketing their business.