Tag Archives: Marketing

What’s So Interesting about Data Entry?

 data-entry-

Data entry is one of the services I offered in my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC. While it appears as simplistic, data entry and an integral part of any business. Data entry is important for two reasons. First, it is a list of names, dates, amounts, descriptions, and other information pertinent to the business. Businesses thrive on lists of information. Lists are necessary to target customers, record what is the top seller, and other information.

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The second important feature of Data entry is the realtime update of information. Data entry lists are updated almost immediately. They’re in invaluable source of information and can be access with one click. That’s why I offer Data entry as a service. It is vital to most businesses, yet it is something that is simple to do, time consuming, and repetitive in nature. Fast typing and getting it done quickly is easy money, but accuracy is expected and errors are inexcusable. While most virtual assistants shy away from typing long lists of information, it is part of the brain of the business. This information is used for marketing, promotions, selective offerings, surveys and other business ventures.

typing

As a virtual assistant, I do a lot of typing and I give myself a typing test every month, just to make sure that I am in top form and not getting lazy with my strokes. It is also good for hand-eye coordination. Dexterity is important, when working in Data entry or figures. It saves a lot of corrections and brings a rhythm to the project.

Not to be confused with transcription, data entry is the creation of a list of information provided by the business or its clients. Transcription is typing words or figures that is created from some type of voice mechanism. Transcription involves additional equipment. Projects are transmitted online through special software programs. Then there is the foot pedal. This is connected to the computer, so the transcriptionist or virtual assistant can control the speed of the voice recording. It may be necessary to replay or slow down the speed, so the foot pedal is essential.

translate

Both data entry and transcription are similar, but data entry is a more relaxed style of working. Transcription definitely requires specific equipment and rates are charged by the minute instead of by the hour. Data entry depends more on eyesight, but transcription relies on good listening.

Every time you receive an email or advertisement in the mail, you know your name and contact information is included on someone’s business list. As a virtual assistant, I think of all the opportunities for my business, when I receive one of these emails or mail. That’s why data entry should be part of most virtual assistant businesses. It is easy to do. You can always check your accuracy against the list provided, and it is a constant source of work for your business.

If you would like to know more about my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC, please click here.

 

 

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Networking Through Press Releases

What is a press release?

headline

 A press release, also known as a news release, is a few brief statements that outline the major facts of a news story in journalistic style. It is also an official statement issued to newspapers giving information on a particular matter, such as a new product or service, a company sponsored event or employee promotions.

Social Media

With the explosion of social media, the press release is now considered a form of networking. Instead of creating a brochure, white paper, or advertising campaign, the press release provides the perfect opportunity to broadcast news, new products or services, personnel changes, company expansion, and a host of other newsworthy topics. Rather than going through the local newspapers, social media broadcasts the press releases in many forms and at lightning speed, so businesses can keep everyone up to date on changes within the business and any brand changes.

People Networking

Why is this considered networking?

Networking comes in many forms. Almost any type of marketing involves networking. You may think of networking as a business event “after hours”, but networking is any time information is exchanged between the company and potential customers or clients. Networking is meant to create a bond between the product/service/company and potential customers/clients, so anytime someone is interested in your company’s news, product, or information that is a form of networking.

Successful networking involves person-to-person contact as in a meeting, phone call, or event. Press releases used to appear only periodically and only for important events within a company. Now that social media has created an ongoing platform for all kinds of information, the press release is easily used to relate information as often as needed.

Can press releases really take the place of networking?

A true press release is more formal than a quick bite of text in social media and it is usually a page long and can contain photos, charts, or graphs. Pieces of the press release can be inserted into social media, so within a short period of time, the entire message or news is out on social media. Broken into small bites, it is sometimes easier for readers to understand. They can digest small snapshots of information, which makes them eager to read the rest of the announcement.

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Virtual Colleague, LLC can get the results you need!

Press releases are easy enough to write up. After all, it relays information. You need someone, who knows how to write and get the message across briefly and succinctly, while creating interest in the announcement.

As a virtual assistant of Virtual Colleague, LLC, I can write press releases that not only convey the message, but also create the desire to know more about your product or service. Contact me today at 401-595-0087 for a free consultation. We will discuss your announcement and how I can relay more than just information to help your business grow.

 

Click here to link to my website for more information about Virtual Colleague, LLC.

Click on my Facebook page for more info about what I can do for your business.

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Online Image is Everything

 You now have to decide what ‘image’ you want for your brand. Image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the market place.David Ogilvy

David Ogilvy

 It is so true that we judge and are judged by our appearance. Not just by our physical features, but by our cleanliness, attire, and attitude. That’s why it is so important to create a brand that works for you. You must be true to yourself or else the brand you choose will betray you. For example, if I enjoy the outdoors, I can still dress to the “nine’s”, but that is not a true picture of what I like and enjoy. Jeans, boots, and a baseball cap would be a better representation of my true self.

young-woman-cycling

Branding can be a tricky business, because most of us want to be all things to all people, but in business that is simply not possible. We have to select a niche and stick with it. This makes us experts in this area and we can then impress our clients.

Niche

As I labor through my online copywriting course, the leaders in this field of writing are convinced that your business brand is extremely important. Why? Because as a copywriter, you cannot hide behind a team or group. YOU ARE the copywriter and are held accountable and responsible for all of the words on the page.

writer

If you’re a good writer and bring in money for the company, they will ask you back again and again. If you express mediocre talent and don’t show potential, your assignment will be a one-time event.

I think of “image” as the description of “you” without words. When I see you, I can guess what mood you’re in, if you’re tired or energetic, if you want to be in another place at this moment and many other things about you without either of us speaking a word. When I think in those terms, I realize how important my brand or image is to my business, Virtual Colleague, LLC.

Virtual Colleague LLC 4

I am in the process of transitioning from a variety of virtual assistant writing services to specializing in clients, who need copywriting. I will still be a virtual assistant, but copywriting is something that comes naturally to me and satisfies my creative juices.

I expected the copywriting course to cover the basics of copywriting and give a few specifics, but this course examines the whole spectrum of skills, business, and marketing strategies to become successful. It’s a lot more than I bargained for, but it is exactly what I needed.

The information I’m learning in this course can be applied to almost any business. In the course, the leaders talk about branding and its effects on the marketplace. They also talk about the art of selling and how to persuade clients and customers to buy something they don’t really need or want.

Selling

It’s not aggressive sales techniques or sales quota strategies. It’s just a step-by-step way to find what the student does best and encourages each of us to work on it and improve. I thought my brand was solid, but after reading a few chapters, I have revamped my image and changed a few things. I’m more aware of my social media presence and I look forward to posting something every day. This course is giving me a lift for my business and a personal challenge to do my best every day. I look forward to completing this course and learning so much from reading and doing the exercise.

 

It confirms the motto, “if you do something you like to do, it’s not work.”

  Do you have any questions or comments about copywriting?

 

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WORKING FOR A FRIEND

Finance

I’m invited to a business event for a friend. I have known her for several years and she invited me to be there at her special event. She is in finance, so that’s the theme of the event. She is an extremely capable person and has a lot of insight into investing and managing funds.

The sticky part is that she has asked me to assist her with this event, by mingling with the crowd. When I go to a networking event, I usually bring my business cards and sales pitch. In this case, the focus should be on her and her goals for this event.

Goals

I believe she asked me to go, because I am a friend, but also I think she wants to learn from me. I wish she had hired me, which I suggested she do, but she said she wanted me for “moral support” only.

I’m getting better at networking, but it took a lot of time. I’m struggling between promoting my own business, Virtual Colleague, LLC  and her business. I don’t know much about the financial world and I don’t follow the stock market, so I really can’t make small talk with her guests about financial affairs. On the other hand, I can talk about my business, Virtual Colleague, LLC and what I have to offer. I can discuss how I can help them to save money and get their projects completed. I want to be able to give out my business cards and hopefully get some clients, but our friendship seems to be putting a stress on this event.

Business Card

She hasn’t address these concerns with me. Instead, she’s just planning and getting her presentation in order and practicing her speech. I can’t help, but feel torn between being there for her as “moral support” and passing up the chance to “promote my own business”.

I guess I will have to play it by ear and see what kind of crowd she attracts. If her event is a disaster, then maybe I can convince her to hire me for the next event. If it’s a success, then maybe I can quietly promote my own business and she won’t be offended. I hate this kind of dilemma. I’m mostly a black and white kind of person. I like to get all the issues and problems on the table and then take them one at a time and fix them.

She’s a very professional person and I know she’s totally focused on this event, so she might not realize the conflict I’m feeling. On the other hand, other guests may use this opportunity to do a little marketing of their own.

 

How would you handle this dilemma, if you were in my place?

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SO MUCH TO DO, SO LITTLE TIME

 As I look at my calendar, I see it’s time to wrap up 2014 and anticipate 2015. My fiscal year runs concurrent with the calendar year, which makes running my business, Virtual Colleague, LLC,  so much easier. As I begin to gather my information for tax purposes and categorize my expenses, I realize how much work I’ve accomplished over the past 12 months. It’s not about how much money I made or how much can I deduct for certain expenses; it’s what I’ve accomplished for my clients.

This is my second year in business and of course, when I updated my business plan for 2014, I planned to increase my client list, my income, the hours I could work, but most importantly, to learn something new.

In this business, it’s all about being open to learning. Every client is different and want or need different services. They have different operating systems, so giving them directions on how to do something on their computers is sometimes a combination of patience and communication.

What have I learned?

  • Some clients take time to realize what a virtual assistant is and what they can do for them.
  • That working virtually is sometimes like working blind. I try to talk to my clients, but because I’m not sitting right there at their sides, they can’t seem to relate to some things I’m talking about.
  • To trust my instincts. If I have a bad feeling about someone or something, then don’t go there. As much as I want to expand my business, some clients just aren’t worth the time and effort it takes to make them happy. I could never do enough for them and they would never be satisfied.

I’m a forward-thinking person, so I’m starting to wrap up my work for 2014. I’ve archived my weekly blog posts and created a calendar for next year along with some ideas for those blog posts. I try to complete my posts a month before their due date. That gives me some flexibility to spend time on other projects.

I try to keep my pricing flexible according to the amount of work and degree of difficulty to complete it. I also give discounts for first-time clients and if they were referred by another client. It’s difficult to predict what my yearly income will be, but doing this has helped me gain clients, so it’s part of my business practices.

I also have to create spreadsheets and forms for the next business year to track all expenses, income, and possible tax deductions. I routinely update my website information and change the photos or theme of my blog.

Of course there’s the whole marketing aspect of my business. I changed my business address in July, so I need to create some new marketing materials with the correct address and any updates.

It is also time to look at the services I offer and decide if I should add or remove certain ones. I review my clients’ contracts for the past year and see what services they used, how much time I spent performing those tasks, and how much income was generated. I then decide what changes if any are necessary.

Another necessary part of being a virtual assistant is reviewing and updating my business plan. This may seem like a simple task or maybe even unnecessary, but it is a very useful tool. It’s similar to a yearly employee review.

I take my current business plan and go through it to see what goals I met and which ones I missed. It is a snapshot of my whole year and lets me know, if I’m on the right track to achieve my goals. My goals for 2014 are not necessarily my goals for 2015, but it is an indication of where my business is headed and at this point, the end-of-year evaluation, I get the opportunity to forecast my business growth and income for the next 12 months. It gives me a chance to re-direct my efforts to achieve new or existing goals.

So time is running out to finish and evaluate all that I have done. All in all, I had a good year and I look forward to another productive and prosperous year!

 

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Make Your Client Feel Like They’re On Vacation

The other day my client was having one of those days, where nothing seems to go right. He called me several times to ask about this, that, and the other. Things he should have known, but because he was having a bad day, he just needed some extra help.  He’s usually easy to deal with and I was happy to put in the extra effort to help him through “the day from hell” as he called it. The next few days were normal and I was happy that things had settle down for him.

Bad Day Face in Hands Free

About a week later, he called me and told me that he was sorry for all the phone calls and “bad attitude” he had on that day. I reassured him that everyone has bad days and I was happy that his bad day only lasted 24 hours. He laughed and then got serious. He said that working with me was “like taking a vacation”. He went on to say that every time he gives me work, he knows it will be done correctly and on time. He also told me that he loves my “can do” attitude. Even if I don’t know about some of the new technology, I will research and get back to him about it. I give him my opinion, if I think it will help or hurt his business.

Man and Woman at the Pool Free

With the economy the way it is, he told me it was a relief to find someone, who was as concerned about his business as he was. The compliment he gave me was unexpected, but it made me realize that I was doing things right and that he would stay with me as long as he had work to do. Most executives I’ve worked for take administrative professionals for granted or they see them as subservient to them. This client valued me as an equal and took the time to tell me how pleased he was with the way I handled “his” bad day.

Money Free

I always try to give my clients more than they’ve contracted for. I feel that when you have a working relationship with someone, you need to re-enforce that bond. My contracts are very clear and the services I will perform are stated in detail, but if I have a chance to do a little more, I do it. If the client is professional and pays on time, I want to continue this business relationship. If the client turns out to be “not so good’, I will not renew with him, but I would like to part on good terms and I hope he would say that I did give him more than he expected.

I’ve done quite a lot of marketing for my business and most of the time, the business people I meet are more interested in telling me about their business than listening to what solutions I have to offer them, so it was refreshing to receive this compliment. Most businesses are experiencing a slowdown and this is the perfect time to practice good manners and get to know all customers. I now know what to expect, when this client has a bad day and he learned that a compliment goes a long way.

Free Compliment

 I’m going to test my marketing strategy and try to compliment whomever I talk to at my next networking meeting. I’ll see if it makes a difference.

 

 

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How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day If You’re a Virtual Assistant

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about the celebration of love, but who has the real definition of love? It can mean different things to different people and is there a difference between loving people and loving things?

Valentine Day

As a virtual assistant at Virtual Colleague, LLC, I really love what I do. I enjoy working on projects and tasks each day and get a great deal of satisfaction, when they’re completed and finished on time. I have no trouble deciding how to celebrate the holidays in my personal life, but when it comes to business, I really have to look at the whole picture.

As I said, I really love what I do, but just because I love the work, it doesn’t mean I love the clients in the same way. How do I show my appreciation for a long-term client? It’s a business relationship and not easy to figure out.

Business People

From a marketing point of view, I should take advantage of every holiday and opportunity to promote my business, but Valentine’s Day is a tough one to promote. I have to be careful not to come across as too personal or inappropriate.

After quite a bit of thinking, I’ve decided to write a few short lines about how I appreciate my clients’ business and how it allows me to do some of the things I enjoy doing the best. I always feel it is a good marketing technique to thank clients/people for checking out your business and wanting to know more. Although they may not need your services now, they could need them in the near future and you would be the first one they think of.

Poetry

I wanted to so some poetry, but that’s not my specialty, as you can see.

Thank you all

For your email and your call.

Although I love to write

I can make your workload light

By working together and forming a bond

Working with me is like waving a wand.

The work gets done,

So you have more time for fun.

 I didn’t want to send that poem to my clients, so, I just jotted down a simple note of gratitude. I think Valentine’s Day is a time to show clients/people that you care for them. I don’t think it has to be in a sexual way, but just a day to remind them that they’re special to you in some way.

Thanking my clients is a way to show them that I think about them, whether we’re currently working together or not. Once they do business with me, I always consider them clients. That’s why I keep in contact with them.

I don’t send out physical gifts like flowers or chocolates. Being virtual has its limitations and I’m not in a position financially to do that, but a note on special occasions goes a long way. Everyone likes to be remembered.

Clients

Reader

  So Happy Valentine’s Day to my clients both active and inactive and my blog readers for staying with me every week. 

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Trick or Treating as a Virtual Assistant

Halloween is tomorrow and although I’ve never really gotten into Halloween, every year I enjoy watching the children get all dressed up and parade around the neighborhood.

Last Saturday, I went to town to do a few errands. They were having the Halloween Parade from noon to 2. The sidewalks were loaded with parents towing their children in all sorts of costumes. There were ghosts, batmen, Spidermen, princesses, brides, dinosaurs, bananas, sharks and other creations.

A few of the parents got into the spirit of it. It was fun to see how creative the parents were in finding appropriate, well-fitting costumes for their children. Some of these costumes were handmade.

Halloween Blog 2

I took a few minutes to just stand aside and watch them go from shop to shop, all excited and happy, and get a treat from each shop. It was only a small piece of candy and only 1 piece of candy per person was given out, but still, the children received some compensation for their efforts in getting in costume.

This whole spectacle got me thinking about my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC. Most of the time, I put in a great deal of effort to market my business.

Like the children, who knew they were going to the Halloween Parade, I think about my business brand as well as my personal brand. What do I want to emphasize, how do I want to present my business? I ask myself these questions, decide on the answers and then move forward.

Just like those children, who watch the clock in anticipation of Saturday noontime, I also anticipate opportunities to market my business. It can be anywhere and at any time. I am always ready with my brochures and business cards to talk about my virtual assistant business.

I watched those children very closely. They started at one end of the street and stayed on that side of the street until there were no more shops. Then they crossed the street and continued on to the other side.

I approach my marketing in the same way. I prepare, then map out a plan and stick to it. I’m sure that some of the children didn’t like some of the candy that was given to them, but they continued on, knowing that more was out there and they just had to keep trying to get as much as they could.

When marketing my virtual assistant business, the same holds true. I keep to my marketing plan. It may fall on deaf ears or maybe that person will never need to use my services, but I just stay focused, positive, and keep at it.

At the end of the 2-hour parade, some of the children looked tired and others just couldn’t wait to get home and see the results of their efforts.

I feel the same way about marketing. I frequently stop and evaluate what I’ve done and see what the results are. Sometimes it’s a little disappointing, while other times, I’ve really gotten several good leads or at least a meeting with another business person.

Halloween Blog 1

Just like the mixed bag of candy at the end of the parade, my marketing plan has received several new leads to pursue and/or meetings with potential clients.

Just like the children, I sit back and pick out the things I like the most and work on them first. For the children, it’s their favorite candy. For me, it’s the best lead I have to bring in a new client.

I guess Halloween Trick or Treating isn’t so bad after all!

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