Advertising to a Niche Market

This is what works for me. I advertise my services to a niche market. When i am going to market my company, i take a service at a time and look for companies, clients, entreprenuers that I think could use this service, I then target them with introduction emails, letters. I then follow up within a few weeks to see if they received my emails or letters and see if they are interested in using my services, if not would they care to pass on my contact details to anyone who they know could use my services. Word of Mouth yet again. This form of advertising brings in client to my business.

To bring in that business, you must make sure your content within your emails, letters is aimed at the client and is showing them how your company can be an asset to them. Using the right wording really matters in good advertising and marketing.

No Experience or not enough Experience:

This issue keeps coming up. When you start out as a newbie Virtual Assistant only offer the services that you have the skills and the experience to do. Do not offer a range of services that you can not do.

Do not offer Transcription if you have never done it before, the same with word processing. Word Processing is not quite the same as copy typing, it is more involved and can involve graphs, graphics, tables, design. Only offer this if you can do it and do it well. If your finished document is not presented well the client will soon doubt your skill and experience.
If you offer a skill and cannot do it the client will very soon by your own actions, realise that you have no idea what you are doing, its very unprofessional and is a bad business practice and reflects badly on our industry.

When offering services clients need to know that you have the experience and the skills to do the job.

Things that matter to clients are:

Trust
Reliability
Be able to perform
Be able to sometimes multitask
Being Proactive
Assertiveness
Taking responsibility for ones work.

Some times clients can ask you to do something and you can not do it but you may have the time to quickly learn that skill before the work comes. Take the opportunity if it is presented to you.

Learn about your clients, ask about the company, visit the company website, and learn as much as you can, this helps you understand what your client does and what they require from you.
If you don’t understand something your client has said ask them to repeat it or ask them to resend you there requirements in an email.
Keep in contact with your client while you are working for them, a good relationship with your client can lead to that client using your services again in the future and becoming a regular client of yours.

If you provide your client with a good service you never know who they might tell, word of mouth is the best form of advertising for you.

Written by Alison Fourie, AMF Typing Services cc, © Copyright 2001 AMF Typing Services cc®, Ck2001/083866/23. All rights reserved.

My Definition of what a Virtual Assistant is:

A Virtual Assistant is a person who works for many clients, providing office administration tasks, communicates with clients via telephone, email, skype; we may never meet our clients face to face. A person who works independently from his/her own virtual office.
An office administration person, with at least 10 years worth of office experience as a PA/Secretary or Office Manager. A person who can work alone.
A person with exceptional time management and prioritisation skills.
Someone who can run an office and liaise with clients on an ongoing basis.
Someone with a bit of management experience, can learn quickly and who is at ease with software.
We have to be pro-active and assertive.
Virtual Assistants are Business Owners. Who run their own companies, do their own marketing, networking, bookkeeping etc.

Skype and MSN Messenger:

How many of you today still use a telephone for calls between clients and for business? I no longer use my telephone!

I use both skype (www.skype.com) and msn messenger (http://get.live.com/messenger/overview), see my ids below. I use these in my day-to-day work as a Virtual Assistant.

I now would not be able to do my job without them, as they are such an important business tool for my business.

MSN Messenger: I tend to use as a way to stay in touch with my friends and family in the UK and Australia.

I use skype as my main business telephone, it is so easy to skype the companies I work for in Australia then to pick up a telephone and have to ring them. The cost of the call to Australia would be very high, with skype our phone calls are free. If my clients are not available to talk, I simple leave a message and when they go back into skype they receive that message and send me a text message back, I always explain to my clients here, that I will send a message to Australia and ring them when I get a reply, they are so surprised when I ring them back in about 10 minutes or so with an answer from my clients all that way in Australia. It does help that I know the time difference between our countries so know, when to contact them.

Using skype enables me to work with clients overseas as my calls and text messages are free. With skype I can network worldwide. More and more business worldwide are moving to using this type of communication than using telephones. It is much quicker and easier to ring pc to pc and it is free.

You can even pass files/documents very quickly via file transfer to your clients.

Jobs are now being advertised for Virtual Assistants, asking for skype experience.

With skype (http://www.skype.com/intl/en/welcomeback/
you can get a paid version and a free version, with
MSN Messenger (http://get.live.com/messenger/overview) there is only a free version available.

Both these two software packages are becoming a necessity in Today’s business for Virtual Assistants.

Written by Alison Fourie

© Copyright 2001 AMF Typing Services cc®, Ck2001/083866/23. All rights reserved.

Picture being a VA and working from home

Picture being a Virtual Assistants

You are sitting at home reading a magazine and you come across an article about Virtual Assistants. You can immediately imagine yourself as a Virtual Assistant. You can picture yourself working from home, sitting in your own office, typing for clients, earning good money just by working from home. That is your first thoughts on being a Virtual Assistant.

Now you think I will type ‘Virtual Assistant’ into goggle search, what appears flabbergasts you, this is worldwide and there is loads of them. So you start checking out the various websites and soon learn you have the same or similar experience and maybe this is something you must seriously think about doing.

But before you decide to do this, think! Are you cut out to be a Virtual Assistant, being a Virtual Assistant can mean hard work, long hours, working to suite a client, sitting for hours on your own in your own office with no company. Doing your own marketing and networking as you need to find your own clients. Clients will not find you unless you take steps for them to find you. How do you manage to run your own office, do you have any management experience? Before going in for this, think, do you have the temperament to be a Virtual Assistant? It will require patience, you will need to be assertive, pro-active, be able to address and handle clients as if you were on the same level as them. Lean how to cope if your computer breaks down/crashes. Learn who to call when you need help and assistance.

There is so much involved in working virtually. You will have to pay your own company expenses, buy your own stationery, paper, equipment, keep updated with the latest in technology the latest news within the Industry. Learn where to target to get the best clients you need for your business. Learn how to sound people out. Be sure you are the kind of person to handle this before starting out. There will be disappointment, there will be clients who don’t pay you, how do you cope with this. How do you cope if you take on say typing and then you don’t know how to complete it or don’t know how to do it as its more complicated than you thought when you answered the query, but now you have the work and you have done nothing like this before. You can’t just throw in the towel, you have to manage the situation, deal with it. It is like any business you start there is always doubt and wondering, can I do this.

Becoming a Virtual Assistant is a learning curve; you start from scratch and grow your own business. Being a Virtual Assistant is not about sitting at home and doing typing; it’s far more involved than that. It is blooming hard work. But what you put in is what you will get out, the harder you work, the more you will reap the rewards. I did not get where I am overnight, I had to work for it, years of hard work, no money, no rewards. Now I can reap those benefits of all the hard work I did. Being a Virtual Assistant takes skill and experience, without this you will not survive.

Slowly but surely the industry is becoming known more and more within South Africa that means more work for Virtual Assistants. At the moment it seems to be the more experienced Virtual Assistant who are the ones who are benefiting from this, but things will change and Virtual Assisting will become a sort after business to be in. With the Recession within our country, clients are looking towards outsourcing and work will be available.
So now could be a great time to think about going into the world of Virtual Assisting.

Written by Alison Fourie, VA for Hire, © Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.