Using a Virtual Assistant to Market Your Internet Business
Trying to conquer the internet marketing business world alone is tough without virtual assistants. We’ve all wished we had a clone of ourselves to do the busywork that’s common in marketing tasks, while we work on other critical tasks.
However, there’s an economical solution to this dilemma. It’s called the virtual assistant, or V A. A virtual assistant is a self-employed person who provides technical, administrative, or creative assistance to clients remotely from a home office.
You can let your VA work through your to-do-list while you focus on the more important or enjoyable tasks. Once you’ve shown your VA how to upload a mailing list, post ads to Craigslist, or return phone calls, she can keep repeating those tasks as your needs dictate.
A virtual assistant can also be perfect for other marketing tasks, because these tasks tend to be repetitive and lend themselves to step-by-step processes.
Top 5 Advantages of Virtual Assistants vs. Local Assistants
The primary advantages of virtual assistants over local assistants are:
1. Taxes are simplified. It’s much easier to prove your assistant isn’t an actual employee if they work remotely.
2. The costs are usually much less. With some legwork, it’s possible to find decent VA’s for $2 per hour or less working from less affluent countries. Even if you stay within the US, it’s still less expensive to get a VA from the middle of Kansas than it is to hire someone local in Manhattan.
3. There can be a higher level of talent. You can find a first-class MBA in India for less cost than a high-school graduate in many areas in the US.
4. A time-zone difference can benefit your work flow. You might find it desirable to have your VA working while you sleep. Then you can base your work on what the VA has completed or discovered. However, if you need to speak directly to your VA regularly, a time-zone difference might be a hassle.
5. There’s great flexibility with VA’s. You could have three VA’s working for you this week and then only have one next week as your workload changes.
The primary disadvantage of a VA is the inability to perform physical tasks.
Sometimes it’s incredibly convenient to have someone run out and mail a package, take the company car into the shop, or run some other errands.
Assess Your Needs
It’s difficult to find a good assistant if you’re unsure of what you need. Consider the repetitive tasks that are necessary to market your business effectively.
Do you just want someone to make cold calls and set up appointments? Or do you require someone that can cold call and possibly close a sale?
Perhaps you’re in need of someone to post classified ads and return phone calls. Maybe you are looking for a person to build web sites and do internet marketing. Your ideal VA might require familiarity with social media tools, such as Facebook and Twitter.
The list of possible tasks that a virtual assistant can perform for you is nearly endless. What’s important is to understand how you can fit a VA into your business plan. Then you can look for a person who fits with your goals and can assist you with completing various tasks.
Finding a Virtual Assistant In 4 Simple Steps
There are many options for finding and assessing a virtual assistant. It’s a little more challenging to assess someone without seeing them in-person, but it’s not difficult to find a top-notch candidate.
Explore the following approaches when searching for a virtual assistant:
1. The do-it-yourself approach is likely to be the most cost effective. Although it might be cheaper to find your own virtual assistant, it’s also likely to take more time.
• When you search for a virtual assistant on your own, you’re likely to find plenty of qualified candidates.
• You can post ads and search through the offerings at sites like Odesk, Elance, Freelancer, and Guru.
• Post classified ads on Craigslist. Nearly everyone uses Craigslist now and many qualified professionals are looking for extra work to keep themselves busy.
• Ask around. You might find that you have friends or family that could provide the assistance you need. They might also know the perfect person for your requirements.
2. Use a virtual staffing agency. There are many services that can match you up with a great virtual assistant.
• One example of this type of service is www.onevaaway.com.
3. Consider using a dedicated virtual assistant service. These are companies that actually employ virtual assistants and will charge you for using one of their VA’s.
4. Hire several at first. The best way to find a great VA is to hire a few of them and give each of them a few tasks thatwill allow you to assess their skills.
• You might even give all of them the exact same task and be able to compare apples-to-apples.
• After this brief trial period, you can simply hire the best one for the long term.
How to Manage Your Virtual Assistant In 5 Effective Ways
This is when your real work begins. Managing other individuals is never easy, but trying to do it remotely can be even more challenging.
These tips will help to ensure that you and your VA are on the same page:
1. Set up tools that make communication easy and effective.Some of these might be common sense, but others are less obvious.
• Create an email message system that decreases the opportunity for miscommunication. All communications should also include the specific job at hand.
• Have a way of communicating in real time. There are numerous chat clients and web camera communication systems available. Get at least two set up so you’ll have a backup if one goes down.
2. Initially, assign clearly defined tasks that require minimum judgment from the VA.
It’s easier to get your feet wet with a new VA if you assign tasks that can be accomplished through the communication systems you’ve set up.
• After you have a better feel for your virtual assistant’s skills, you can unleash them on the world.
3. Have clear expectations about your requirements and deadlines. If certain items have a higher priority, make that clear to your virtual assistant. Set specific deadlines and stick to them.
4. Be realistic. You might think that a task takes you 40 minutes, but it actually takes 75 minutes. Time yourself doing the task you’re planning to assign and then be reasonable.
• You’re bound to be faster doing something that you’ve already done 300 times than someone will be when they’re doing it for the first time.
5. Be aware of language differences. Assuming that you’re looking for a VA to work in a business that uses the English language, be aware that your VA’s first language might not be English. Also be aware that American English can be different from Indian and British English. Even our neighbors to the north use different spellings for many words.
A virtual assistant can take on those repetitive busy tasks that prevent you from spending your time on the critical tasks that really define your business. Marketing tasks fit the bill perfectly for a VA because it’s one of those things that must be done consistently to really reap the benefits.
Find a VA that has the skill-set you are seeking. Then, develop a list of tasks to be performed. If you’ve chosen a competent virtual assistant, you’ll find yourself spending less time on the busy work and more time on the tasks that matter. Even better, your profits should increase.