How Much Does a Virtual Assistant Cost?

The question I am most frequently asked is “how much does a Virtual Assistant cost?” I always “hate” this question because I wholeheartedly believe a Virtual Assistant is not a cost, but rather an investment, but I will address that at another time.

dollarI don’t know how many times I have seen RFPs (Request for Proposals) come through the Virtual Assistant Associations job boards where the amount of money being offered is a fraction of what should be offered. In the same regard I have seen entrepreneurs pay way too much for Virtual Assistants.

I have a very strong opinion when it comes to pricing and Virtual Assistants and I want to stress this is my opinion only, but it is based on experience of what works and what should be expected!

Virtual Assistants range in price from $25 to $75 per hour and everything in between (in fact I have even seen Virtual Assistants that charge more than this and also some who charge less than this)! However I believe we need to stop making decisions based on hourly costs of a VA. Instead I encourage you to figure out your budget and figure out your list of tasks and do one of two things:

A – Here is my list of tasks, approximately how much do you think that will cost me each month on average

B – Here is my budget, here is my list – how much of that list can I get each month for my business.

This will allow you to compare apples to apples so to speak. The problem with Virtual Assistants and pricing is often due to inexperience as a business owner they pick a number from the air or they charge a price because that seems to be what everyone else is charging.

Consider this … if I find you a $25 per hour VA and they take 4 hours to do a project a $75 an hour VA would take an hour to complete – who is further ahead??

Stop making decisions based on hourly prices. Use one of my two strategies and please do your due diligence. If you are considering working with a Virtual Assistant ask them how long on average is takes them to do a newsletter as an example.

I know as a Virtual Assistant I used to scare people away when I told them I charge $55 per hour, but on average it takes me 30 minutes to an hour to do a newsletter. I have worked with a Virtual Assistant before who was charging $25 per hour and it took them almost 3 hours each time to do the newsletter. Bottom line don’t be afraid to ask how long it takes them to do projects or better yet ask their existing clients if they feel the time charged each month for tasks is fair based on the hourly rate.

One last point I would like to make … I am not at all suggesting higher priced VAs are faster at getting things done. I know $25 per hour VAs that are really fast and $75 per hour VAs who are not! All I am suggesting is please, please do your homework!

Ready, Set … Get a Virtual Assistant

across the worldMost entrepreneurs are self-proclaimed “do it yourself-ers!” Although when they started their business they were excited about turning their passion into a business, many didn’t realize just everything that would need to be done. However because their business is their “baby” the thought of bringing someone else in on that dream and admitting you just can’t do it all yourself, isn’t always an easy idea to swallow.

Having worked with many clients now I know the top reasons people say they continue to do it all on their own …

  • No one does it as good as me
  • It’s faster to do it myself
  • I wouldn’t know what to delegate
  • I am just not a good delegator

Do these statements sound familiar?

Well you really need to stop if you truly want a successful, thriving and growing business. There is absolutely no way you can do everything on your own and achieve your dreams as you will quite simply, burnout! Believe me I have seen it happen.

So what is one to do?

The simple answer … get help!

For many the first help they get is a Virtual Assistant, someone who can assist with many of the administrative, technical and/or marketing tasks that are just not second nature to us as entrepreneurs and eat up most of our time … time we would much rather be using attracting new clients and fulfilling our existing clients needs.

So for those of you who are saying right now … “oh, oh that’s me, I need help” here are some very simple things you can start doing today to get ready for the Virtual Assistant (or other team member) you know you will need very soon.

#1 – Figure out what to delegate

First and foremost you need to have a conversation with your existing team (even if it is simply a team of one, yourself) and figure out where the “holes” are. By “holes” I mean the following:

  • What tasks do you no longer want to continue doing
  • Which tasks are eating up your time each day with little to no return
  • What skillsets are lacking in your team dynamic

Once you know this you will start to see the formation of your delegation list.

#2 – Start documenting the tasks to be delegated

Once you have the list from #1 above, now start to really flesh out that list into tasks. I suggest putting a sheet of paper next to your desk for the next two weeks and start to add tasks to the list as you do them and they fall under the different “holes” above.

#3 – Determine what parts of your delegation list can be automated

Now take that list created in #2 above and determine which of those items can be automated. Are there tasks that are easily repeatable?

There are many programs and tools that can assist in automation such as email marketing, social media posting, etc. and will mean simply entering the task once into the program and the program will rinse and repeat, saving you time and money on delegation.

#4 – Take stock of who you are and how you work

Before you can determine the person to delegate to, you need to take a good look of who you are and how you work (as well as your other team members). Take the time to answer the following questions …

  • How do you prefer to communicate (telephone, email, IM, etc.)?
  • What are your personality traits and do you work best with people with complementary or dissimilar traits?
  • What pet peeves do you have with other people?
  • Who do you work best with?
  • What is your working style?
  • What do you stand for in business (values, mission, vision, etc) and how does that relate to how you treat your clients?

#5 – Create your ideal candidate profile

Now that you know who you are, it is much easier to begin to develop an ideal candidate profile. When creating that profile look to the answers of the questions above, but also ask yourself a couple more important questions.

  • What are you willing to train on and what do you expect them to know?
  • Does location matter? (Most importantly location will matter when it comes to things such as country exchange rates, time zones, etc.)
  • What are the must haves in a candidate versus the nice to haves?
  • Do you want to work with someone who is like you or the opposite of you?

#6 – Figure out your budget

The next question you need to answer is what are you willing to pay for assistance? To learn more about how much a Virtual Assistant costs so you can determine a reasonable budget, click here and read my article “How Much Does a Virtual Assistant cost?


Once you have completed these 6 steps and you are ready to build a business that can sustain itself even in your absence, I invite you to talk with me about how we can get the right Virtual Assistant on your team! Contact me at Send Mail to yvonne@yvonneweld.com or schedule a 30 minute complimentary VA Q&A call with me!

The 4 Critical Factors to Discuss in a Successful Production Call

For those of us who began our careers in a corporate setting, many will recall having team meetings. The really successful companies were those who figured out how to do these meetings effectively enough it would encourage the team to improve the business and ultimately the bottom line.

One of the biggest factors I found from my days in Corporate was that the more they encouraged each team member to participate the more “buy-in” they would get from the individuals. It’s the same in any business; how can you expect someone (ie your Virtual Assistant) to get as excited about your success as you if you don’t bring them in and make them a part of that success.

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A Production Call Template

This is why production calls are so important to the success of your team and ultimately of your business. Perhaps the biggest reason many people don’t have these calls with their teams (even when that team is simply them and a Virtual Assistant) is they just don’t know what to cover to make it successful.

Preparation is the key to your success in making sure you are moving the business of your dreams to a reality and as such there are four critical factors (or areas) to consider and discuss in each production call with your Virtual Assistant. I would suggest that you make an agenda based on each of these critical factors such as the template I have created (shown to the left).

Critical Factor #1 – What are we doing well? What are we not doing as well?

The first thing you need to discuss is existing and outstanding tasks. Start by first looking at each task from your previous production call and ask yourself these questions:

  • For the completed tasks …
    • What did we try new that really worked well and we could implement again in the future?
    • Is the process for this task documented? If so, does it need updating or was the process easy to follow? If not, who can create this process before we “forget” how to do it?
  • For the outstanding tasks …
    • Is anything or anyone holding up the process or are we on track to meet our deadline?
    • Do we need to bring in someone else to assist or reassign the task to someone else or are the appropriate parties still involved?
    • What changes need to be made to move this task forward again if it is “stalled”?
    • What changes need to be made to our current policies/procedures to ensure the task is completed more efficiently the next time?
    • Were our deadlines met or are our deadlines still realistic or do they need to be adjusted?

Once you have the answers to these questions you will begin to see patterns (especially after several weeks and months of doing the production calls) as to common strengths and weaknesses of your team. Changes, improvements and enhancements can be made to ensure everything is working well.

Critical Factor #2 – Time to look at the next week and what is on each of our plates and how best to finish the projects that have been started.

The process is only as good as all of the moving parts in any situation. It is critical that you are always setting realistic deadlines and not setting yourself up to fail. Many of us get excited about a new idea and want it to happen right now without any regard for timing. The other thing to remember is often this particular project is not the only thing on your plate and so you need to understand and ask each team member what is on their plate for the upcoming week. Do they have the time available to allocate to this project and/or what deadline should be set that realistically reflects their available time.

Another mistake entrepreneurs make is often referred to as “shiny object syndrome” where we have too many ideas going at any one moment. I was at a business conference a few years ago for Virtual Assistants and the speaker was telling us that as Virtual Assistants the best thing we can give our clients is to help them complete their many unfinished projects. It is best to see a project from start right through to completion so that you can start making money from that project. If you are a shiny object type person then make sure you ask your Virtual Assistant to hold you accountable to getting each project done before moving to a new project.

Critical Factor #3 – You have to make sure you have all the tools needed to complete the project in a timely manner

Nothing will stop a process more than when someone is waiting on someone else for something so they can move forward. As a Virtual Assistant I often found I was waiting for passwords, newsletter content, … the list goes on. If your Virtual Assistant (or in some cases your client) doesn’t have what they need to move forward on a project, the entire process will stall and very little progress will be made.

As my business coach told me, ‘only you can hold yourself accountable.’ In other words way too many of us look to others to hold us accountable. If you are going to tell someone on your team you will have something to them then make sure you have it to them. Don’t be the one who is constantly stopping up the process.

When it comes to this part of the production call it is important to write down, verbalize and share what those tools (passwords, resource links, etc.) and deliverables (newsletter content, website copy, etc.) are, who will be responsible to provide those and most importantly when they promise to deliver.

I can’t say it enough … don’t be the one responsible for stopping the process! Commit to getting what you say you will and when you say you will.

Critical Factor #4 – Upcoming events and promotions are an important thing to discuss as preplanning means greater success!

One of the tips I love sharing is about events and conferences. If you are planning to attend an event or conference and want to have the greatest success, share it with your Virtual Assistant. There are a few things your Virtual Assistant can do to help you have greater success at these events.

Each of us has (or should have) goals when we choose to attend an event. For most it is the same goals:

  • Education and learning
  • Meeting potential clients
  • Meeting possible joint venture partners
  • Researching potential markets

When you share your goals with your Virtual Assistant they can actually help you to achieve your goals, even if they aren’t attending the event. Get your team to do research ahead of time on attendees so you know who you MUST reach out to. Often these events have facebook groups and/or a hashtag on social media they are using. Utilizing these tools your Virtual Assistant can start to put together a “must meet” list of attendees for you. Using this list they can arrange coffee and/or lunch dates with these people even before you leave home.

Free Ways to Say Thank You to Your Virtual Assistant

thanks-Nov 27Your Virtual Assistant is an integral part of your business and if you are like me you couldn’t imagine your business without them. Many will talk about how they like to send little tokens of appreciation to their Virtual Assistant, and although very appreciated today I would like to share with you some simple ways to show your Virtual Assistant just how much you value them without having to spend a dime.

Given my years of experience as a Virtual Assistant any one of (or all of) these gestures from my client would have me wanting to continue doing a great job for them. A simple thank you or one of these gestures below meant more to me than anything because they symbolized that my client appreciated me and valued me.

See when your Virtual Assistant feels appreciated and valued then you stay on their “favourite” client list and that’s when the team magic really happens. Let’s get started with some ways to say THANKS.

Tell a friend. Referrals go a long way and your vote of confidence will mean a lot to your Virtual Assistant. A quick note … before you give a referral make sure you know exactly who your Virtual Assistant is looking to work with.
Have realistic timelines. Nothing bothers a Virtual Assistant more than clients who leave everything until the last minute and then expect them to drop everything for you.
Add more tasks or hours to your contract. Each Virtual Assistant has a desired number of hours they want or need to work in a month. It is so much easier for a Virtual Assistant to work with fewer clients so reward them by adding more time to your contract.
Notes of encouragement and thanks mean a lot. A simple thanks for doing this or you did a great job goes a long way. My personal favourite is I love working with you, you make my life so much easier.
Keep paying your bill in a timely manner. It is important to respect your Virtual Assistant by keeping your account with them current and making it easy for them to collect your payment is high on what makes an ideal client for many Virtual Assistant.
See them and treat them as an equal. Your Virtual Assistant is an important part of your team and brings something to the team no one else can. Acknowledge what they bring to the table and treat them as the important person they are. Respect their opinions and ask for their ideas.

Good luck and I would love to hear other ways you thank your Virtual Assistant! Join me over on my Facebook page and share your ideas of thanks!

But I’m an Entrepreneur, How Can I Take a Vacation

vacationI believed as an entrepreneur that no one could run my business as well as I could. I convinced myself that my clients deserved only me and so for the first few years I was in business I sacrificed taking time away because I was afraid if I couldn’t support my clients they would leave me. The biggest myth I was telling myself was I was the only entrepreneur doing this. It wasn’t until I was at a business meeting and we were talking about vacation that I learned I wasn’t alone. Many other entrepreneurs were in the “same boat.”

So how was I able to change my attitude? The answer is quite simple, I hired a Virtual Assistant and decided it was time to realize although I was in business for myself I couldn’t keep being by myself. Even more importantly, amazingly my clients didn’t expect me to do this either! There have been three things I have learned along the way that has made it so much easier with the aid of my Virtual Assistant to take time away.

Lesson #1 – Pre-planning is key
For most of us when we take a vacation there is planning that goes along with it. We need to know the dates, where we are going, how we will get there, where to stay along the way … the list goes on. Part of your pre-planning should also be business related. What work can be completed ahead of time, who will cover me when I am gone, what deadlines will fall during my vacation … this list too goes on.

Yes, there are some things that can be done in advance of your vacation, but there are some things that just can’t be anticipated. What if a new prospect reaches out to you while you are on vacation, someone who is just chomping at the bit to get started right now. Probably most of you who don’t already have a Virtual Assistant are thinking while I would just email them while on vacation. This is the problem right here, when you continue to work during your vacation it isn’t a true vacation! We all need that time to unplug. A Virtual Assistant can allow this to happen for you.

In our example, the potential client could be sent preliminary documents so that the process is started right away. Imagine coming home from vacation to new clients! Wow!! So, stop and think, what are some of those things that mean you can’t truly take a vacation? Start training a Virtual Assistant to take on those tasks now.

Lesson #2 – Give plenty of notice
Your clients get it. They don’t honestly expect you to be available 365 days of the year (even if there are some that make you feel that way sometimes). The key is to give them plenty of notice for their own planning.

I always suggest starting the process the minute you make plans. Let your client know you are planning a vacation even if it is months away. Even more importantly let them know what parameters you will put in place to cover your absence. Will you do work ahead and pre-schedule it? Will you put a backup system in place such as a Virtual Assistant?

Don’t forget to periodically remind them of your upcoming vacation. A good way to do this is in your email signature line, on your invoices and personally when speaking with them. Again reassure them about those parameters that are in place to cover your absence.

Lesson #3 – Make it easy for your clients
Imagine however, if even with Lessons #1 and #2 in place you didn’t have to be away completely from your clients. Imagine if someone could step in and take your place. In most cases this wouldn’t be necessary, but there could be situations in each of our businesses where this is an added benefit for your clients.

For most businesses one of the reasons your client works with you is because you solve a problem for them, you make their life easy. A Virtual Assistant means you aren’t leaving them without support, without someone who knows their relationship with you and what problems you are currently solving for them. Take the time to anticipate your client’s needs and share any possibilities with your Virtual Assistant. Then reassure your client that your Virtual Assistant is aware of the situation and able to handle the situation if need be!

Using these lessons I encourage each of you to take a much needed holiday if you haven’t already. Even better yet, get a Virtual Assistant so you can truly unplug and step out of your business 100% knowing your Virtual Assistant has your back!

For those of you ready to take a vacation without stress thanks to a top-notch Virtual Assistant on your team, I can help you find them today and get them in place before summer is in your rear-view mirror! Contact me today and let’s get your search started!


About the Author:

Yvonne WeldYvonne Weld is the Virtual Assistant matchmaker and she helps entrepreneurs find their ideal Virtual Assistant so they can have more time to focus on making more money in their business.

If you are having difficulties getting started with your Virtual Assistant or have questions simply about Virtual Assistants in general, schedule a free VA Q&A and Yvonne can help you navigate the Virtual Assistant world!  https://www.timetrade.com/book/66TR1

There is More to Finding the Perfect Virtual Assistant than Skill!

Frustrated EntrepneurI’ve seen the frustration of business owners one too many times to keep quiet any longer! Time and again I am left wondering why business owners are okay with playing the “VA-revolving-door” game. Yes, I stand behind what a lot of coaches are saying that you have to hire slow and fire fast, but I think entrepreneurs have grasped the concept of fire fast, but not the exact meaning of hire slow. Not only does slow mean taking your time, but it also means slowing down and doing the right searches. So what exactly are the right searches?

#1 – Personality matters
Skiils are one thing, but I believe based on all the clients I have matched with Virtual Assistants that as entrepreneurs we should hire for personality and train for skills. Now don’t get me wrong, you want them to have the skills you need, but I believe wholeheartedly that the most important factor in finding your ideal VA is finding someone with a personality that matches yours. What personality traits are important to you? Can you have an easy conversation with your VA candidate? These are important questions to ask yourself.

#2 – What values are important to you?
We all have values we bring into our business that are important to us. Finding a VA who has similar values to you is going to mean a greater chance of success with the Virtual Assistant. For example, are you a family first or business first type of person? The values that become the forefront of your business are important for your VA to mirror, especially as they represent your business. The easiest way for a VA to mirror your values are if they hold the same values in their own business (and life).

#3 – Compatible working styles
Finding someone who has a compatible working style to yours is an important, yet often overlooked, consideration in your VA search. If you are a workaholic and the ideas pop into your head at a mile a minute you are going to want to find someone that can keep up with you. Perhaps finding someone with a laid-back attitude and who has stringent turnaround times is not going to be your ideal candidate!

#4 – Communication break-down
Communication goes beyond being able to talk and listen (although both important too). One of the things I talk to my clients about is the importance of having a similar communication style. Nothing can eat away at you more than trying to communicate with someone who loves email when you are already bogged down by email. Take the time to ask your VA how they prefer to communicate and how quickly you can expect an answer to voicemails and emails. Make sure this matches how you want and need your Virtual Assistant to work.

Keeping these four factors in mind when you do your next VA search together with considering the VAs skill can mean increasing the chances of avoiding that wonderful game of VA-revolving-doors. Of course, taking the time to learn about all these factors will take time out of your day, but is an important thing. For those of you who understand the importance of doing the VA search right the first (and every) time, but who don’t have the time to dedicate to doing the search right, I’m here! Send me a note and let’s talk about how I can help you find your ideal VA and figure out exactly what you are looking for in your own ideal Virtual Assistant!

3 Steps to Getting Started with Your Virtual Assistant

First and foremost congratulations! One of the best things you have done for your business is hire a Virtual Assistant (and if you haven’t yet then these steps should be filed in an important place for when you do take the leap in your business). If you are like most, hiring your VA was just the first step and you are left thinking “now what?” So let’s get you started!
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Step #1 – Get it in Writing
Without a doubt protecting yourself is as important with your Virtual Assistant as with any other business relationship you enter. If your Virtual Assistant hasn’t already provided you with a document outlining his/her expectations for your relationship, be sure to ask. This will ensure there are no surprises in the future. For most this document is a simple agreement, but for some it can be a formal contract. Ensure that both parties have signed the document and agree to all of the conditions. You will want this agreement to outline the following critical success factors:
  • Pricing – this should not only include the actual price, but also pricing policies such as how time will be calculated, when billing will be done and how, and what guidelines are in place for price changes.
  • Responsibilities of Each Party – this should outline exactly what each party needs to “bring to the table.” For example who is responsible for final proofs? Does the Virtual Assistant need anything from the client to get started or proceed with a task? Outlining this in advance is important so nothing is overlooked.
  • Working hours – What hours will the Virtual Assistant be available? This is especially important for those working across time zones and you need to be aware of what time zone the working hours are being “quoted” in. Working hours should also outline what holidays the VA will be taking, including both statutory and personal holidays.
  • Communication – How will you communicate (telephone, email, skype, etc.), How often and how quickly will communications be returned? It is important that all of these factors be clearly outlined.
  • Standards – What will the average turnaround time be? What constitutes a rush job and are there extra fees for this? Some VAs charge a premium if a project is expected returned quicker than their usual turnaround time and it will be important for you to know this in advance.
  • Termination – how can either party terminate the contract? Just in case things don’t work out it will be important to know your “escape” clause!
Some like to also add in Non-Compete and Confidentiality clauses and if you are working on a project that this is important for you be sure to get it in writing. If you truly want to ensure your rights are protected consider having the agreement/contract written or reviewed by a lawyer.

Step #2 – Establish Tasks
As with any new relationship the biggest mistake we make is jumping in with both feet. I always suggest starting out small and as your relationship strengthens and you are ready to go longer term then add more tasks.
A great analogy my business coach once used was, it’s like dating. Way too many of us go for the gusto right away and get “married” immediately. Then when it doesn’t work out it is messy! Instead try a “blind date” this is the equivalent of a small project. If that works then go on a second date until you are ready to take the relationship to a more permanent commitment.

Step #3 – Sharing Files and Documents
Inevitably you will need to share documents and passwords with your Virtual Assistant so that he/she can do their job properly. This is a scary thought for a lot of people, especially before trust is really built. Here are my best tips for sharing with your Virtual Assistant.
  • Document sharing – use an online tool such as Dropbox or Google Docs. Make sure you maintain control of the Dropbox folder or the Google Doc ownership. This way if you sever the relationship you can simply stop sharing the files with your Virtual Assistant. Of course this will not stop your Virtual Assistant from keeping copies of your files, however what it will do is give you access to any files he/she creates on your behalf without worrying the VA will disappear taking your documents with them.
  • Passwords – without a doubt I would suggest using a password management tool such as passpack, lastpass or roboform, to name a few. These programs can allow you to share the usernames and passwords, but it can keep them hidden for your safety. Another good tool to use if you are having your VA do your social media is hootsuite. This way you only have to share a hootsuite login and not your personal passwords for your social media platforms.

Following these steps will definitely give you and your Virtual Assistant the best chance for success, but one last word of advice … open the lines of communication with your Virtual Assistant sooner rather than later. Ask them which of the three steps listed here they already have in place. After all there is no sense in recreating the wheel!


About the Author:

Yvonne WeldYvonne Weld is a Virtual Assistant matchmaker and she helps entrepreneurs find their ideal Virtual Assistant so they can have more time to focus on making more money in their business.

If you are having difficulties getting started with your Virtual Assistant or have questions simply about Virtual Assistants in general, schedule a free VA Q&A where I can help you navigate the Virtual Assistant world!  https://www.timetrade.com/book/66TR1

 

Good luck!

Best 3 Places to Find a Virtual Assistant

Teamwork Makes The Dream WorkOne of the most common questions I am asked by potential clients is “how do I find a Virtual Assistant?” Many people make the mistake of hiring a Virtual Assistant just because they met them at a networking function they attended and don’t take the time to make sure a) they are a good personality fit; and b) they actually have the skillset you need in your business. Finding a quality Virtual Assistant means doing a little research and today I am going to share with you the best 3 places to look for your ideal Virtual Assistant.

  1. Your Colleagues

First and foremost you should try asking your friends and colleagues who they are using as their Virtual Assistant. Referrals are a great first place to look because when someone else is recommending a Virtual Assistant it is usually because they are doing a “bang up job!” People love to share their “great finds” and it is the same with a Virtual Assistant.

  1. Online Directories

Another great place to look is Virtual Assistant online directories. Many of these websites will have a large database of Virtual Assistants who have joined their membership. This is a great resource for finding a number of Virtual Assistants all in one place! To find one of these directories simply go to google and type in “virtual assistant online directory.”

  1. A Virtual Assistant Matchmaker

A Virtual Assistant matchmaker is another great place to look for a Virtual Assistant. They will take the time to vet your Virtual Assistant for you so you know they have the skills you need in your business.

Hiring a Virtual Assistant for your business is a great investment! Having a Virtual Assistant in your corner means that you will have more time to spend on the money-generating activities and once you take this next step your business will soar to greater heights!

About the Author:

Yvonne WeldYvonne Weld is a Virtual Assistant matchmaker and she helps entrepreneurs find their ideal Virtual Assistant so they can have more time to focus on making more money in their business.

If you are having difficulties finding your ideal Virtual Assistant or have questions simply about Virtual Assistants in general, schedule a free VA Q&A where I can help you navigate the Virtual Assistant world!  https://www.timetrade.com/book/66TR1

Do You Have a Marketing Avatar?

One of the first pieces of advice I always give to my new clients is to create a “marketing avatar.” Simply put this means defining your target market or ideal client and creating a simplified image of this market as one single person. Before you can create this simplified image you need to ask yourself these important questions:

  • Are they male or female?
  • How do they earn their income?
  • What is their marital status?
  • Do they have children?
  • What is their age?
  • What is their income level?
  • Where do they live?
  • What activities do they enjoy?
  • What are their core values?

Of course, the list goes on and on, but the more you can define your ideal client the easier it will be to market to them. See the simple truth is this … it is so much easier to market to one single person that it is to a group of people. When you can create your marketing avatar and give him or her a face (and even a name) it will make marketing almost way too easy.

Let me give you an example.

If you were a health and wellness coach who had a target market that was defined by females in the 30-50 age range with a good paying job and a family, marketing to that group of women can be fairly simple especially if you get to know the general factors that would fit “most” within this group. This is where creating that marketing avatar can make it even that much easier!!

Here is an example of a marketing avatar:

Susan is a married woman aged 44. She has two teenage children that are active in their community with both sports and part-time jobs. Susan is an Executive for a local business, often travels for work and is very dedicated to her job. She believes wholeheartedly in leaving work at the office and when she is home she dedicates herself to enjoying the time with her family. She has one request of her family and that is that Sundays are family days and they all must honour that commitment.

Keeping this in mind, you just developed a new program for the busy working mom that will allow them to workout at home and maintain a healthy lifestyle without having to balance finding time to attend workout classes at the gym.

When you sit down to write the copy for your website, the content for the program or your sales emails will it not be easier to write each of these with only Susan in mind? Of course it will!! This is the role of your marketing avatar.

When I explain this to my clients they are so excited and can’t wait to create their own Susan. And remember the most important factor in creating your marketing avatar … there are many, many Susans out there. Even though you will be marketing to one, you truly will be marketing to the masses.

Good luck and let me know how you make out with your own marketing avatar.

Do You Make Your Mess Your Mission?

One of my favourite Entrepreneurs that I love to follow is Suzanne Evans. One of the many pearls of wisdom I have learned from her is the importance of making your mess your mission. In the last few months I have learned so many lessons and come up upon a lot of messes. I truly believe, as Entrepreneurs, if we are going to move forward in our business, it is important to take these lessons, learn from them and make it our mission to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. I have taken these messes and created a plan for 2013 that feels more authentic to me and will allow me to truly turn my mess into something that I know can help other entrepreneurs who may be facing similar situations.

Another thing I learned from Suzanne is that even more importantly, people resonate with you when you give a “human” element to your business and share your story. So that’s why today rather than continuing to hide I am ready to face these obstacles head on. It is time for me to take these experiences and move forward and get back in the game. So today I want to share with you the valuable lessons I have learned from these trying few months.

  1. It’s okay to make mistakes
    As a perfectionist I have spent so much time trying to build the “perfect” business; the problem is that this is an impossible pursuit. I 100% believe now that building a “perfect” business is more about taking action, even if that action is imperfect. Nothing builds a business faster than making mistakes and learning from them. The challenges that I have faced in the last few months have provided me with so many ideas about how to move my business forward and continue to face adversity head on.
  2. A supportive network is key
    I have felt like “such a mess” these last few months and it felt great to hear my business coach say to me, “you aren’t a mess you are growing and like it or not growing can be messy.” If you don’t have a great support network the challenges you face can definitely tear you down.
  3. It’s important to do what feels right and not what you think others expect of you
    Honestly this is the biggest, biggest lesson I have learned. I have been so busy building a business that I thought everyone expected me to build rather than one that followed my true dreams and passions. As much as I promote authentic marketing, when I was honest with myself I wasn’t being authentic in my own business anymore.

The last two weeks have been fantastic and I just know that someday soon I will be sharing even more details of my challenging end to 2012. Every successful entrepreneur needs messes to learn, move forward and build a business that is better as a result of it. As I said earlier the most important thing to remember is ACTION … you can’t expect to reach your dreams by simply dreaming and wishing!!

If you take anything away from this blog post, take this thought with you … marketing is such an important part of your business, market with authenticity, don’t be afraid to share yourself and your stories and most importantly market with consistency. This is my pledge for 2013; to be authentic and to be consistent!!

My mantra for 2013 is “It’s okay to take imperfect action” … this is why I believe I needed to face so many obstacles in 2012 is to give me the motivation and drive to take the imperfect actions in 2013 that I know will build a bigger and better business for me!!