Is Your Marketing Plan Rocking or Sucking?

It’s a good idea to check in regularly with where you’re at in terms of your marketing plan goals and objectives.

You should definitely look at these numbers at least quarterly, but it is even better to look at them once a month (or once a week!).

Your goals might include things like revenue, number of sign-ups to your list, number of products sold, number of visitors to your website and blog – and so on.

Regardless of what you measure, you want to make sure you take time out regularly to see how you’re doing.

Is your marketing rocking or sucking?

Are you rocking?

If you are humming right along and reaching your objectives – that’s fantastic.

Check in with yourself about the following things:

Have you been working like a dog to reach your objectives? Now maybe you can slow down for a bit. Pace is important in marketing. Don’t burn yourself out all the time. Be sure to allow for ebbs and flows in marketing and in your work habits. Don’t stop, but don’t run hard all the time.

If you are easily managing your current level of marketing, are there any  new tactics that you’d like to add to the plan? It’s like juggling. If you are doing well with three balls, can you add another? If the answer is yes, try to stretch yourself. Attend another event, or engage a few extra people on social media. A little can go a long way when things are running smoothly.

If there’s extra revenue, is it time to hire your own Virtual Assistant, bookkeeper, or other help to free up your time to work on new ideas, products and services? Or maybe you can bring in new clients. Revenue is great but growth is better!

a goal without a plan quote

Are you sucking?

The reason we have goals and objectives is so we can analyze whether we are meeting them or not. If you are not, don’t despair.

There are many things that you can tweak or change that can make a big shift in your marketing efforts.

Have you been doing the tactics on your marketing plan consistently? Did you fall off of your plan? If you know what you are not consistently doing, consider changing it. Not everything is a good fit, and trying to incorporate something you don’t like or aren’t good at isn’t authentically you.

Does your marketing message come across loud and clear in all your communications (website, emails, ezine, blog, social media, etc.)? People absorb marketing messages in many different ways, but the message has to be cohesive in all of them. Take some time to work on your marketing message and practice it on your audience so you know they are hearing it properly.

Does your marketing plan have tactics that work off of and build on each other? For instance, if you are on Facebook and connecting with people in groups, perhaps Facebook Live is a tactic you can use. Or if you write a regular newsletter and post your article to your blog, you can also write social media posts from it to promote it wherever you have posted it. Or create images to share on social media with your content points. Instead of doing five different things, do five that repurpose your existing content. One article can go a long way!

Where in the marketing process are you falling down? Attracting new leads? Converting clients? Keeping clients? When you know exactly where the issue is, you can fix it. Make sure you are analyzing all areas of your business and making good decisions to help move yourself forward. Just because you like that networking event you always go to, if you are not getting clients, it may not make sense for your business.

Do you need to revise or create new marketing materials? Update your website content? Do an overhaul of your ezine? While the message is the most important piece, the vehicle to deliver it is also important. If what you are putting out there doesn’t mesh with your particular message, your clients will not clearly understand what you can do to help them.

These are just a few places you can check in on your marketing efforts to make sure they are working for you.

Incorporate regular assessments of your marketing plan goals and progress into your business workday.

There are lots of variables that can affect your success, and by being proactive you can keep on top of any changes, good or not-so-good, and keep heading in the path of your goals.

If you need some help getting your marketing plan set up, or an analytics system put in place, contact me for your complimentary ‘Cut to the Chase’ Call and I’ll help you clarify what your next step is, for your success!

Book yours here: www.yourvamentor.com/15-min.

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What is Billable and What Isn’t?

One of the things I find comes up often in VA conversations is what you should be billing your clients for and what you should absorb as your own expenses.

For me it’s a simple answer (everything you do for a client is billable), but I’ll get into some detail to help you navigate through this issue for your own business.

First of all, it’s important to remember that when you start working with any client, you are an independent contractor. You are not an employee and you should not act like an employee.

Although this gets said very often, it can be difficult to do in everyday practice. It is simply our nature in a support profession to … be supportive. To be helpful. To assist where the client needs help.

And that’s a great attitude to have. It really is. It is this kind of attitude that will help your clients to trust you and build a solid relationship with you very quickly.

However, if you are constantly doing things that go outside the scope of your work with them, you will probably realize too late that you should have set boundaries sooner.

One of those areas is what to charge for and what not to charge for.

For me it’s simple. If your client requires that you learn something to work with them, then that is billable time.

Your policies may differ than what I describe below, but these are my opinions after working with clients for 20+ years. If you are not sure what your policies should be, these suggestions may help!

Time is Money

For instance, the other day a client of mine had me learn how to use a quiz software so she could set up a quiz for her clients. Billable time to learn the software, and then billable to set up the actual quiz.

What the client needs you to do, they have to pay for.

The grey area for me only comes up if you are offering a service to your clients – like email management or whatever the case may be – and something ‘new’ is brought into the mix. Then I file it into the ‘I should know this.’ or ‘I don’t need to know this, but I can learn it.’ or ‘I don’t need to know this.’

1. I should know this.

For instance, I use Infusionsoft with my clients. If a client needs me to set up something that is standard within Infusionsoft that I don’t currently know how to do, i.e. set up a new merchant account, then that is something that I should learn because I am offering the Infusionsoft services to my clients, and because it’s my area of expertise. Not billable to the client.

2. I don’t need to know this, but I can learn it.

However, if my client needs to connect a Leadpage that she has built to Infusionsoft, then that’s possibly outside the scope of what I know how to do. But it’s a good skill and is needed by many of my potential clients, so I should learn it. Not necessarily billable to the client. It could be but it doesn’t have to be.

3. I don’t need to know this.

But then what if the client wants me to learn how to actually set up the Leadpages now that I’ve logged in and know how to connect it to Infusionsoft anyway. This is not something I need to learn, so any necessary learning would then be billable to the client. Or the work can simply be turned down.

As a contractor you have the right to turn down work if it does not fall into your area of expertise.

I see a lot of VAs who say yes to any work from the client, and then decide to ‘learn it as they go’ and not charge the client for it.

It’s sort of an inferiority thing. I know. I’ve been there. We feel like we need to know more than we do (newsflash: we know plenty!)

Because we are supporting professionals, it’s our nature to be helpful. And we never want to say no. But it won’t help your business.

While this sometimes is beneficial, what ends up happening is that you spend more time learning (for no money) than you do actually working (for money).

In my experience, some clients try a lot of things and then don’t stick with them. Especially if you are in the habit of not billing them for your learning time.

Decisions are important as a business owner. Billable time is the only thing that brings revenue into your business.

Without revenue you have no business.

The argument I see from VAs is; “If I can potentially use it for another client then I don’t bill the current client for learning it.”

That is admirable, but it won’t put any money in your bank.

I’ve been there. I’ve done that. For the most part it does not work, unless you are undergoing training to specialize in something (i.e. WordPress or Infusionsoft, etc) and then are going to change your service offerings accordingly.

So consider what your policies are on what the client pays for and what you do for no charge for them.

The simpler your policy is the better it is for everyone. Time is money, and both of those are YOURS in your own business.

For more info on why doing what you love (and do well) is so important, read this blog post!

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Why Everyday Conversations Are Important in Your Business

I am on the Board of Directors for our local business association, and many times I am called on to represent the association at local events.

So that means in some of my networking I am not actually talking about my own business.

I enjoy chatting with others about all kinds of business topics, though, so sometimes that’s even more fun for me.

Do you ever get stuck when you are doing networking? Not sure what to say?

Maybe getting out there at an event, and focusing on NOT talking about your own business is the solution for you.

I had a conversation with a VA the other day about her marketing message, and how to promote her business.

She was very stuck and she kept saying she didn’t know how to talk about herself. It’s a very common sticking point for VAs.

I pointed out that she could probably sell her husband’s business to anyone because it is not a subjective sell like her own is.

She knows how brilliant he is. She knows how well he does his job. She knows how dedicated he is.

She knows that anyone who works with him will be very lucky. And smart!

She agreed with me 100% when I told her all of that.

Then I told her that all the same things were true about her.

She was surprised by that. But she could not deny it.

It’s the same thing when you are trying so hard to sell yourself. It can feel uncomfortable.

When you try too hard to bring the conversation back around to how you can help someone, it might feel uncomfortable or forced. It probably is.

But when you just chat normally, like a conversation is supposed to work, it is effortless.

You may even start to doubt yourself if you have a couple of conversations that don’t go as well as you wanted them to.

By putting yourself in many different situations, it helps you to recognize your own value. You are able to sit back and just enjoy the conversation, and then reflect on it.

Metcalfe Fair

This week, our association had a booth at our local fair. I found that I had very low stress conversations with people on a variety of business topics (and non-business topics too!)

It was amazing how much I learned about what people need in their business.

Because there were so many people coming by our booth, I asked a bunch of basic questions.

Did they have a business in our area? What did they do for business? What were they looking for in term of support from the association? That type of thing.

And then of course, what brought them to the Fair? What was their favourite exhibit or part of it? Great ice breakers.

We had nothing to ‘sell’ them really, so we just talked. It was very effective. We made deeper connections with people than if they had just come to our booth to fill out a ballot and then left.

Many of them signed up for our newsletter and we think we might even sign up 5 new members (that’s huge!).

I attribute it to the conversations we had. And there was nothing really special about what we talked about. That’s almost always the way it goes in a successful networking conversations.

When you have normal conversations, and just ask questions, it is very interesting where things can lead.

Be aware of your own everyday conversations. You can get a lot of information about things when you step outside the box. Just think of them as normal conversations, not sales conversations (even though on some level they might be).

Be attentive during those conversations. See if you can pick out things that you can apply to your own business.

Always look for things that can show you your own value too.

It’s easier than you think when you just treat it as normal.

If you want some help figuring out your own value, book your complimentary ‘Cut to the Chase’ call with me here: www.yourvamentor.com/15-min.

I look forward to chatting with you!

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5 Clients in One Month? Yes …

Recently I took some time away from work to recover from a surgical procedure.

I learned that consistent marketing and networking are essential in business. I knew this already, of course, but I really saw the results of slowing down or stopping while I was ‘off’.

My pipeline didn’t dry up, but many of the relationships I had take the time to nurture started to slow down. When you are out of sight, you definitely start to become out of mind. Quickly.

So how did I get 5 new clients last month?

Yes, you read that right. I just did my networking statistics for the month and I got 5 new clients.

Here’s exactly how I did it:

1. Networking Plan. Once I decided that I had to get out and do some networking to light those fires again, I chose 14 events in the coming month that I might like to go to – some locally and some virtually – and I booked them into my calendar. I knew I might not get to all of them, but I knew that would get to as many as I could. I made a goal to do so. (I ended up attending 10 of the 14 events).

2. Connection Plan. I made a list of all of the people that I wanted to reach out to either as potential clients or potential partners, and I made a decision to get into touch with all of them over the course of the next month. (I was able to connect with all of them).

3. Set Specific Goals. I set a goal for each event that I was going to attend, and made sure that I could accomplish whatever my goal was (no terribly stretching involved). Usually my plan it is to make 2 solid connections at an event, or advance 2 relationships significantly, something like that. (At a few of last month’s events I did not reach my goals, but at others I exceeded them. Note to self for future event planning!).

4. Plan Your Follow Up. Then I decided what my follow up would be for each person I met at the networking events, or for the people I was connecting with as partners. (I made a master list of who I met and what I needed to do to follow up with them. I now have a follow up sheet that I can easily reference.)

How did I fare?

Pretty well, I’d say!

I made solid connections with 38 people in my travels and efforts, and I got 5 new clients, and 11 partner connections (either new or renewed). I also referred 2 VAs to clients, and I have 18 new ‘real’ connections in my pipeline.

Note: I have also had 67 people opt in for my Getting Started as a VA ebook online but those people are not included in my physical connections numbers for the month because I haven’t reached out to them directly (yet!).

So these stats are my ‘direct effort’ numbers.

Networking Strategy

Those are decent numbers, but it’s because I was very focused on what I was doing. I knew what I wanted to accomplish with each place I went to (live or virtual).

This is why I teach this as a business building strategy – because it works. I connected with 20 people who wanted to know more about becoming a VA. I got 10 of them on the phone, and 5 of them were ready to become clients.

Building your business is just about knowing your message, knowing your audience, and then doing the work: finding the connections, making the calls or reaching out to invite people to have a call with you.

And then comes the easy part. Talking to them about how you can help them, and getting them excited for the possibilities of how their business and life will be better by working with you!

Conversion numbers are your friend in business. My conversion rate was 25% (which is actually pretty low but many of the people I speak with are asking about what the VA industry is like, so they are not all ready to buy, like your VA clients would be!). But I can still make my conversion rate work for me.

With my 25% conversion this month, I got 5 clients from having 10 conversations from 20 connections. So if I make 60 connections, then I should get 30 conversations which will result in 15 clients. The numbers don’t lie. The habits only become better the more you practice them.

My strategy this month will be to improve my conversion rate instead so I don’t have to find so many connections, but the bottom line is that this math simply works.

If you want some help getting 5 new clients for your business, it’s time to cut to the chase and figure out how you can get there. Book your complimentary ‘Cut to the Chase’ call with me here: www.yourvamentor.com/15-min.

I look forward to chatting with you!

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Are You On Your Way to Burnout?

How’s it going in your business?

Are you stressed? anxious? nervous? excited? tired? BUSY?

When we are asked this question, often the answer is BUSY. We don’t ever mind sharing that, but we would probably be less inclined to use any of those other words to describe how things are going if someone asks.

Why is that?

Isn’t it normal to be stressed or excited in business?

The point of being an entrepreneur is that we have a fire lit in our bellies that we want to work towards every day.

But the truth is, we often just keep those feelings inside and share that we are ‘busy’.

To me, when you filter the response you give people, that could be a sign that you are in over your head. Burnout approaching.

There are lots of things that can lead you down the path to doing too much in too little time.

Burnout

Here are a few signs that you may be on your way there:

1. You wake up tired. If you didn’t used to wake up tired, chances are you have too much on your mind now to sleep well. What can you do about it? I find that making a list of all the things that need to get done – writing it down – really helps. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to see the whole list, but look at it from the perspective that you are doing yourself a favour by getting it out of your head and on paper. And if you are always tired in the morning, try to set an earlier bed time. Or grab a nap, it’s a new trend in business!

2. You don’t know where to start in the morning. If the first thing you do in the morning is check email, you need to stop. The idea of being your own boss is that you are in charge of what you are supposed to do first thing in the morning. So the night before, decide what it is you will start with, and then when you get up to start work, begin with that thing, whatever it is. Check email only after you have completed your most important first task. And then prioritize whatever else is ‘new’ too! You are the boss, so you need to determine what’s most important.

3. You don’t take breaks during the day. If you work straight through for hours, because you think you have to, I bet you are even getting less done than you could be. Breaks are important to refresh the brain cells, your mood and your general well-being. Set a timer if you must to make yourself get up, stretch, go for a short walk (5 minutes makes a world of difference), or even just sit on the porch and just close your eyes and breathe deeply. It really does help – try it!

4. You eat your meals at your desk. Burnout shows up in the ‘always working’ mode. Sometimes the frustration of taking the time to make a meal makes you feel like you don’t have time to sit down to eat it, so you take your ‘break time’ to make something to eat and then you go back to your desk to eat it. But really it doesn’t take 30 minutes to eat a sandwich or a bowl of soup. It probably takes 5. Do yourself a kindness and sit down, at the table, napkin and cutlery set at your place, and enjoy your meal.

5. You constantly work late at night after everyone has gone to bed. If you are working all day and still have to work at night, it’s probably time to admit that you need some help in your business. Whether that means subcontractors to help you get client work done, or outsourcing some of the business stuff you are doing for your own business. And if it’s not your workload that is making you work at night (are you running errands all day so you have to work at night?) – then you need to adjust your business hours and push yourself to work inside them. Errands are okay, but if you are out all day getting groceries and washing the car, then you have to make up that time somewhere. It’s sometimes better to do the groceries after hours, like everyone who works in the corporate world does.

There are so many other things that can lead to burnout. But these five things are signs that you may have a tendency to go there. They are super simple to fix and they really do make a difference in your everyday habits, if you change them.

It’s important to check in with yourself often – especially when you work alone. If you are experiencing even one of these symptoms, make the change and see how it helps. You have to take care of you – also another responsibility of the CEO of your business (you!).

If you want some more tips on how to manage your task list and time, check out these other blog posts.

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Time To Set New Goals!

A change of seasons often brings along a change of thought patterns.

Spring usually makes us think of renewing and growth. Summer means time off and relaxing, or increased family time.

When Fall arrives, and everyone goes back to school, and vacations are over, it usually means that we get back to our busy lives.

Many business owners set new goals each quarter, or each season. It’s a good practice to get into because of the way our mindset naturally shifts as the seasons change.

Goal Setting

So here we are at the beginning of a new quarter, and it’s time to set some new goals.

How do you set goals in your business?

Do you just think about them?

Do you write them down?

Do you tell anyone about them?

A lot of business owners set wonderful goals, but they never seem to reach them.

There can be many reasons for that but one of the main ones is that they just aren’t clear enough on what they want to accomplish.

For instance, I see VAs posting in the social media forums that they have been ‘networking everywhere’ and are just trying to get one client. Their first client in many cases.

The goal here is clear. They want their first client.

But because they don’t really have a strategy other than ‘networking’, it’s a little more than wishing.

You have to set some really strong and clear guidelines for your goal in order to help yourself achieve it.

You need to work through certain things to make sure that what you are doing when you are networking is effective (hint: if you are networking ‘everywhere’ and not getting clients, what you are doing is not effective at all).

This is why writing down your goals is essential. You get clarity when you put things in writing.

And when you write it down you need to not tuck it away somewhere to be forgotten.

You need to keep a goal top of mind – and by posting it near your computer or wherever you will see it daily, you will keep it front and centre of your thoughts.

The other thing that is extremely effective with goal setting is when you share it with someone who can hold you accountable to achieve it.

When you set a goal, it’s because you want to reach it. Every single time. So why would you not give yourself the best advantage? Share it with someone else – a group of colleagues, a single person, it doesn’t really matter who you tell.

And then make sure that you are checking in on yourself (with their help if possible) as you move towards it.

It is far more effective than you probably think it is.

I work with an accountability partner, and have for many years. We speak on the phone for an hour every two weeks (we each take 30 minutes) and we talk about our goals, what we are working on, and what we want/need to accomplish to reach it.

I am also in a 6 month group coaching program with weekly accountability group calls. In fact I joined the group for the accountability piece.

I know how effective it is to keep me on track when I have to check in with others about things I say I want to get done.

Goal setting with accountability simply works. Are you doing it?

I’d love to hear how you manage goal setting in your business.

And if you need some help, check out my goal setting challenge here.

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Can Your Potential Clients Find You? Do This One Thing.

Marketing can be a challenge in any business, but some people have a more difficult time getting their head around it.

That’s why I teach it! I try to take the confusion out of what to say, where to say it, and who to say it to.

When a lot of VAs get started, we think our marketing message is to tell people about being a VA. I thought the same thing. I thought I had to explain to people how a VA works. My webpage showed what a VA is, and I had lots of info about me being a VA.

That was a long time ago, but I still remember the struggle of getting clients.

Why? Because it didn’t tell the clients anything they needed to know … not really.

I have learned a lot in that time, but the biggest lesson I learned is one that I teach over and over now.

Clients want to know two things: they want to know how you can help them, and how much it will cost them to get your help.

Think of anywhere you go to shop. You look at a rack of clothes and you look at the price tags. You look at a menu of food, and you look at the price. You go to a car lot and you look at the sticker price.

And if you don’t see the price, then you look for someone to help you.

It’s the same for your potential clients. It’s super simple. We overcomplicate the message, and where we put it.

Clients just want to know if you can help them.

So I have a super simple marketing tip for you today! Just one thing you need to do, and it’s on Facebook!

First, a question: Can your potential clients find you?

Go to your Facebook profile – what do you have listed as your work?

If you don’t have a Facebook page for your business, you should set one up. It only takes a few minutes, and then you can post about your business to your heart’s content. A very good investment of your time!

Once you have it done, then connect that page to your personal profile.

That’s it, that’s all you have to do so your clients can find you!

Most of the actual networking and connecting you are doing is probably being done in Facebook groups.

But Facebook groups only let you post as your personal profile, not as a business page.

So if you say something interesting or noteworthy in a group, and someone clicks over to your personal profile, can they find your business?

This is a step that so many business owners I am in groups with do not do.

I don’t use my personal profile to connect with business people unless I really know them. My personal profile is for my family and friends.

My business page is for business. So I need people to be able to access it when they click on my name.

Go to my personal profile (Tracey Blanchfield-D’Aviero) and you’ll see that I actually have four places that people can go – three of them are my business pages, and the fourth is my website. It helps people to find my business stuff.

I put up a post in a business group last month that advised people of this simple tip and we started a waterfall of people who didn’t even realize that this was important … and they all went to their profile to make sure it was set up correctly. They were so grateful, and it will definitely help them get more business.

If you are connecting to a Facebook page, you need to make sure when people click it that it goes to the page. This is the other common problem, and so on that same post people who had their business name in their personal profile were able to actually connect it properly.

Looking for opportunities like this can really help your business – especially if you are doing networking on Facebook (which so many of us are!)

I’d love to see your Facebook page! Post the URL in the comments below!

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10 Ideas to Inspire Your Social Media Posting

Do you struggle with what to post on social media?

I see Virtual Assistants often second guess what they should be putting out their on their social media channels.

The main thing you need to be doing in your marketing is sharing your expertise. You are using these channels to spread the word about your business.

Motivational posts are rampant on channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Many people are putting motivational quotes on beautiful images and while they are nice to look at, they aren’t going to tell your clients what you are good at doing.

Now I know what you’re thinking – I can’t post sales stuff all the time. But you don’t have to.

In fact experts say that you should only post 20 to 25% salesy posts, which is a great ratio.

So what do you post the rest of the time?

A lot of people I see go completely the opposite way – nothing about business, for fear that they will go past that 25%.

And that’s where the confusion comes in about what to post otherwise.

Fresh ideas

But it isn’t confusing at all. You can still use your marketing message in those other 75% of posts. It’s the only way your potential clients will find you, by understanding how you can help them.

So here are 10 ideas to help you write more inspiring social media posts:

1. Balancing Work and Family Life – all entrepreneurs need to know how to do this. If you have some tips that work for you, write about them.

2. Online Tools – what systems or tools do you use to make your work easier? Your potential clients need to know these things as well. Talk about how they make things easier for you and your clients.

3. Industry Trends and Statistics – when you work with a specific industry or niche, follow leaders in that industry so you can share news, trends and statistics that matter to your clients.

4. Presentation Tips – if your clients do presentations or speak or teach, tips on how to do that better are always helpful. Simple tips to help them with something they are maybe not that good at are excellent posts.

5. Promotion Ideas – not everyone knows the best place or method to promote their business. Suggesting good ideas for them can help to build the know, like and trust with you and your expertise.

6. What You Are Doing – talk about what you are working on. There is no better way for people to really get an understanding of how you can help them – by talking about how your day is going, what you are doing.

7. Resources – a lot of people consult social media for resources to help them run their business better. Share ones that you have used or that your clients use, and tell people what makes them great (or not!)

8. Product or Service Reviews – a good review can sell a product or service easily. If you have a good experience, share it. It could make the difference of a client calling you or not. If you have a bad experience, be cautious with how you post it, but don’t be afraid to share it.

9. Problem Solving – clients who are looking for VAs need a problem solved. Post about a problem you helped someone with, and how you helped them solve it. It doesn’t even have to be a client you helped. If you helped someone in a Facebook group who is not a client, it’s worth sharing.

10. FAQ – what do people ask you about all the time when you are talking business with them? Whatever those frequent topics are, build out posts from them. Sharing your knowledge helps people to know that you can help them.

There are so many things that you can use as inspiration for your social media.

You should always be marketing – and although that definitely doesn’t mean posting ‘check out my services on my website’ posts, these ideas should give you a great idea of how to weave your expertise into the majority of your online content.

And more than just content, you will increase your interactions by posting more interesting things like these items – and that’s really what you are after – to connect with and build relationships with potential clients!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – what is working for you? Leave your comments on my blog post or LinkedIn!

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Does This Bother You?

One of the most important decisions you will make in your business is what you charge.

Revenue is what drives your business. Without money coming in the door, your business can not sustain itself.

But what is the right rate? What is enough, but not too much? What takes into account your value, without being exclusive? What are you and your clients comfortable with?

These are the questions that you need to consider when setting your rates.

But many VAs don’t have the confidence to simply make that decision. They have to ask lots of others what their opinion is.

And that’s okay, don’t get me wrong. Advice is good!

But once you ask around, you still have to be able to decide what is right for you, and what your clients will pay.

This week I have watched on various VA groups as people freak out about someone who is suggesting that VAs average rate is under $5/hr. I haven’t investigated the whole thing because it’s just ludicrous conversation to me, but it’s getting shared and posted everywhere in groups I belong to.

Does this bother you, that someone is recommending this to potential clients?

It doesn’t bother me and I’ll tell you why: because it doesn’t affect my business at all . I am not an offshore VA. They are not my competition or my colleagues. I do not work with clients who use offshore VAs. My clients value my expertise and my work and happily pay my rate.

Money money money

So whatever this fellow is posting or sharing, simply does not matter to me . It doesn’t affect the part of the (vast!) VA industry that I live in.

But so many of my colleagues are upset about it, that it is tarnishing our industry (how? it’s not affecting my ability to find clients – or yours!). But Tim Ferris started this conversation years ago – before many of us even got started. It’s not a new discussion. That’s why it doesn’t matter to me.

And I have seen many of the offshore VAs that work for this guy posting how much they love working with him. That is their choice. I also know VAs from the Phillippines who are not happy with that rate, so they network in North America. Also totally okay!

You are the only one who knows:

  • how much you need to make
  • what your experience level is
  • what you want to charge
  • what your clients will pay
  • what your value is

And those are really the only things you need to consider when setting your rates.

Yes, it’s fine to do a competitive analysis and find out what your colleagues are charging, if that makes you feel better. But the VAs that are outside of North America are simply not your competition.

I have never really cared what my colleagues charge anyway – the only thing that matters to me is what my clients will pay. Because if they won’t pay what I want them to, then I don’t have clients or revenue.

I increased my rates from $25/hr to $40/hr overnight about 10 years ago.

I didn’t ask anyone if it was okay. I just did some assessments of my expertise, and I looked at the services I was offering my clients, I realized I had 10 years experience outside of a corporate job, and a whole bunch of new training and experience, and decided my own worth.

And I got three new clients that week.

I developed new packages that included what I wanted to earn, and stopped being a one stop shop for all clients looking for a VA. I specialized in working with business coaches and offered them great packages based on a certain bunch of services, at my new billable rate.

And hey, I am a HUGE advocate of the VA industry. If you have followed me for any length of time, you will know this. So I don’t have my head in the sand about this $5 issue at all.

I just think you have to focus on what makes you successful and happy. And leave the rest for those who just don’t get it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – does it bother you? Leave your comments on my blog post or LinkedIn!

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How Do You Find Your Core Message?

Marketing and networking can be challenging when you are a VA.  

If it’s not something you specialize in providing as a service to your clients, there can be a steep learning curve. 

But how do you get clients if you don’t learn a little bit about marketing, right?

One of the pieces of advice I like to share is about developing a core message that you can talk with people about.

When you go to a networking event, and someone asks you what you do, how do you reply?

Usually this goes one of two ways: either you recite your 30 second elevator pitch, or you just tell them you are a VA. 

Neither of these is the right answer to that question, in my opinion.

30 second elevator pitch should be reserved for a formal introduction at, say, a round table networking event. It’s not usually conversational enough because you have to hit on a whole bunch of points to cover it all.

And telling people, ‘I am a VA.’ and nothing more doesn’t give enough information, and might even confuse people if they haven’t heard of it before. It also forces them to ask a bunch of questions about you, but that’s not what you should be focusing on!

When you are networking with potential clients, it’s not important for people to learn about you (because you are the service provider and they are the buyer!). It’s important for YOU to learn about them.

So it’s far more important to ask questions about their business than it is to answer questions about yours.

Your core message comes into this by being the thread through the conversation, if you will.

So what is your core message?

It is the key things that you want to convey to any potential client – but not in the form of an elevator pitch. 

You want them to know:

– what you can help them with

– how specifically it will make their business (and life) better

– why they need YOU to help them with it

It’s a very simple concept. Don’t overthink it. It’s a high level overview, and it can help you really nail a networking conversation or some marketing initiatives when you keep it as simple as possible.

So when you are having conversations with people, think about those three things and keep them at the forefront of your conversation. 

When you talk about their actual issues, and how you can solve them, and why they will be so much happier when they work with you, the conversation flows very easily, and it makes it all easier for everyone.

And when a client feels that a conversation is easy, they know you understand them and their business, and they will be more inclined to work with you.

Your core message is something that carries through all of your marketing initiatives too. So the more you simplify it now, the more confident you will be talking about it in conversations too. 

What is yours? I’d love to hear it! Leave me a comment on my blog or LinkedIn! 

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