Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We've Moved and Other Big Changes!

You've probably noticed I haven't been around much the last few weeks. We've been busy creating the Chief Virtual Officer website and blog. Our goal is to help new and aspiring virtual assistants now that they are business owners and no longer employees.

We've launched our new website and blog! All the great information you found here can now be found at the Chief Virtual Officer blog. In addition to my blog posts, we're adding blog posts by two additional business coaches, Joel D Canfield and Jerry Kennedy. Joel is my husband and business partner. Together we offer coaching for virtual assistants. Jerry is another business associate and has been a sales trainer for many years. So come on over and join in the conversation.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Increase Your Productivity With a Business Plan

Raise your hand if you have a business plan. Does your business plan include specific goals, strategies and actions to increase your productivity?

You may feel, as I once did, that creating a business plan will require more time, money and thought than you want to expend. Besides, you're not really sure how a business plan can help you in your day to day business or increase your productivity.

I learned that creating a business plan does not need to take as much time or money as I thought. I came to understand the real value of having a plan with specific action steps I could take on a daily basis to increase my productivity.

Do you have a business plan and if so, does it include specific steps to generate traffic, leads and revenue?

At Canfield Kennedy InstantBizPlan.com they help you write a business plan in under two hours. Download your free report "6 Mistakes That Could Destroy Your Business...and How You Can Avoid Them".

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sell an Outcome

I recently read some information about marketing that I found very interesting. It's important to market in order to grow our businesses. If we are doing the same old thing we have been doing to market our business, it becomes stagnant and our business does not grow.

The thought I found interesting was instead of selling or marketing the service, let's sell an outcome. Instead of saying "I provide administrative services", say "I save service providers time and money".

This is an important mind shift for many. Prospects and clients need to understand what outcome they can expect from using our products and services.

How do you sell an outcome?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Organizing Your Home Office with a Whiteboard

Today is Improving Your Office Day. This past year we made a major improvement on our home office. We added whiteboards to help us stay organized. There's a small one to the right of my desk that I can just reach over and jot a quick note down. I use it to see at a glance my goals for the month.

Behind my desk is a very large whiteboard that is used for ongoing projects. It lists what needs to be done and by when and who the task is assigned to. It's helped us all stay more focused on what needs to be done.

What will you do to improve your office today?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Constructive Criticism: Be Specific, Be Kind

The correct use of punctuation and grammar is especially important when distributing marketing materials to prospects and clients. Improper use of punctuation and glaring typos can quickly turn a prospect's interests elsewhere. So I try hard to proofread anything before I send it out and often have a second set of eyes double check.

However, there are still times when something slips through the cracks. Perhaps we meant to type 'an' and instead typed 'and'; it may be we used a superfluous apostrophe. We get so excited about our topic that we type up that blog entry and post it and then we realize we made a typo. It happens to all of us and these occasional slips are not the end of the world, though we may feel they are at the time. But if our material often has they same type of mistakes, we may need to consider what we can do to change that.

As embarrassing as it is to have an error pointed out, I appreciate it when one is kindly brought to my attention so I can correct it and work harder not to allow the same type of mistake in the future. When a mistake is brought to my attention, it helps me stay on my toes and proofread my work with a more critical eye. In my coaching practice, I help other virtual assistants pay attention to the details of their written materials and when it's necessary to bring a mistake to their attention, it's with the goal of helping them present themselves in the best possible light to their prospects and clients.

Recently I posted an article on a local online paper and shared the news with many other virtual assistants (VAs). One of the VAs sent me a message to let me know of typos and grammatical errors she found in a particular paragraph of the article. Her message did not point out any specific errors and she concluded by saying perhaps I needed an assistant to help me proofread.

Since none of us like to have errors pointed out, my first reaction was to get defensive. But if there were errors, I did want to know about them so I could correct them if possible and be more careful in my proofreading in the future. So I pulled up the article so I could find the errors. When I couldn't find any, I asked two other people to review the article and they couldn't find the errors either.

Now I felt defensive and offended. Not only could we not find errors, this person had framed the message in such a way that it felt she was attacking me; not that she was trying to kindly help me. To make it even worse, the subject line of her email to me had a typo. I took a moment to calm down and thought perhaps she saw something we missed and I really did want to know what the errors were so I could fix them. So I replied and let her know how much I appreciate it when mistakes are pointed out so I could correct them. I explained that my husband had proofread the article and couldn't find the errors. I asked if she could give me specifics so I could correct them; otherwise, I stood behind my work. I chose not to point out in my reply that her subject line had a typo.

Unfortunately her reply stated that if I didn't know what the errors were, she didn't have time to go back and find them and point them out to me; that if I didn't see them, I should stand behind my work. This reply really made me upset. If she had been willing to give me specifics when I asked and I felt her motives were because she actually cared about me and my work, I wouldn't have felt so offended and upset.

After typing up a scathing response, instead of sending it, I deleted it. There's no sense in throwing mud around; no good purpose would have been served. Instead, I chose to write this blog post. My purpose in writing this post is to emphasize the importance of being specific and kind when offering constructive criticism.

How can you offer kind and specific criticism? If the roles had been reversed, here's how my message would have read:

Dear Mary (name has been changed),

I saw your article posted on your local online paper about the virtual assistant industry. Congratulations! The article was interesting and it's good to see more people becoming aware of the need for virtual assistants.

As a fellow VA I know you always want your marketing materials to be the best. I did note a typo in paragraph two (you typed 'and' when you meant to type 'an') and a small grammatical error in the third sentence (give specific example). I know how challenging it can be to proofread and catch everything.

Congratulations again on the great article!

Your fellow VA,


What are your thoughts on this? Was I too quick to be offended? How would you have handled this situation?

To every VA out there - Keep up the good work!

Friday, September 25, 2009

4 Online Marketing Tips

1. Social Networking - Use social networking responsibly. It can be addictive and time-consuming. I suggest joining Twitter andFacebook and perhaps one more specific to your industry. Maintain a complete and updated profile. Then start connecting with people. Don't just connect for the sake of adding another contact. Really take time to get to know the person you are connecting with.

2. Blogging for Business - Schedule time to create blog entries. Start with two entries per week. Don't forget to go out and contribute valuable comments on other blogs in your industry. I'd recommend trying to make two valuable comments per week to begin.

3. Newsletters
- Your newsletter should provide interesting and valuable information. Stick to a consistent schedule of sending it out.

4. Articles - Write interesting and informative articles. These can be used in your newsletter, on blog posts, posted on your website and submitted to article directories.

What's your favorite online marketing tip?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Build Relationships to Develop Loyal Clients

The key to word-of-mouth referrals is to build relationships that develop loyal clients. When your clients trust you and know your customer service exceeds their expectations, they will go out of their way to promote you and your services to others.

So how can you build relationships that develop loyal clients? You begin by giving your prospects something of value. Provide a free report and valuable information in a newsletter. Your newsletter should not just be an ongoing pitch of your services. Provide something of value - tips, advice, and resources they can use in their business. This helps build trust in your expertise.

Once a prospect becomes your client, continue providing valuable information. Let your clients know of any specials or events that may interest them. Connect with them on Facebook and comment on what they are doing.

What do you do to build relationships and develop loyal clients?