How a Virtual Assistant Can Help You with Your Holiday To-Do List

The Holiday Season is upon us, and we all know that means…the growing holiday to-do list!  Why not let a Virtual Assistant help you conquer that list?

A Virtual Assistant can help your business or you personally with:

Holiday CardsA_Stack_Christmas_Cards_and_Envelopes
We all know that sending out those holiday cards takes up a lot of time.  A Virtual Assistant can send those cards out for you!  Do you send out a family update letter?  A Virtual Assistant can format that letter for you.  Do you send out an e-card?  A Virtual Assistant can manage (format and send out) that mailing for you.  Handwritten envelopes to e-cards – no job is too big or too small.

party_clip_art_35295911Reservations or Party Planning
Oh, those holiday parties…what a bunch of planning goes into those events!  A Virtual Assistant can plan that event for you!  From reservations to music to clean-up, why not let someone else management that event for you?

Gift Givingcgift7
Having a hard time deciding what to send your clients for the holidays?  Let a Virtual Assistant help you order those gifts and make sure that your clients get them on time.  Need help finding the best deal on a “must-have” item on someone’s wish list?  A Virtual Assistant can find that deal and purchase it for you.

Virtual Assistants don’t just help a business (or individual) during the holiday season.  They can help year-round!

If you need help with any of the above, please consider Clark Virtual Business Solutions.  Contact us today!

64% Of Social Media Referrals Come From LinkedIn

WHAT?! 64% of all website referrals come from LinkedIn? With all of the other social media sites out there, this fact shows how powerful LinkedIn is in the business world.

What does your company’s LinkedIn page look like? Is it active? Do you post on a regular basis? That’s the only way information about your company is going to get out there. Let Clark Virtual Business Solutions help you with your LinkedIn page (and your other social media sites)! Take back the precious time you need to run your busines and let us worry about your social media marketing.

The below article is the inspiration for this post.

64% Of Social Media Referrals Come From LinkedIn

Posted by UK Marketing Network on October 23, 2013 at 9:30

According to new research by Econsultancy, LinkedIn has become the most effective social media channel for reaching consumers and helping them discover more about a brand.

The professional social networking site represents almost two-thirds (64%) of all visits to corporate websites from social media. In comparison, Facebook accounts for 17% of all social media visits to company sites, while Twitter scored an even more modest 14%. Interestingly, referrals from Twitter are increasing, while those from Facebook are falling, the research found. The results were based on a two-year study of 60 corporate websites, with an average of two million monthly visits, Econsultancy said.

The research may be important to businesses because many of them still prefer to focus on channels like Facebook and Twitter. While these two are undoubtedly more popular among users, it appears that the users who care most about brands are on LinkedIn.

According to Econsultancy, the link between social media and a company’s corporate website is very important. One of the key reasons for that is the fact that social media conversations are often not controlled. In such cases they can be diverted to the corporate website, where the environment is more controlled.

Updating the website frequently and posting fresh content can make consumers turn to the website as a source of information, rather than relying on rumours on social sites, Econsultancy said. However, in order to achieve this, companies should help users discover their website in the first place and this is where LinkedIn has considerable power.

Turning A One-Star Review Into A Five-Star Opportunity

The below article was the inspiration for this post.  It covered just one aspect of online reviews.
Many business overlook their online reputation.  Yes, they review the comments on Facebook & Twitter, but what about the business reviews on sites such as Yelp, FourSquare, Google Places, Citysearch, and Yahoo reviews?
There are so many sites out there where discruntled customers can voice their opinions and a business might not even now about it.  One bad apple CAN spoil the whole bunch!  One bad review can effect the next person who looks up information on your company.  They might have came into your business, but this one bad apple spoiled it.
Business owners need to be proactive in making sure all their (past, current & prospective) customers are happy.   Never mind the time it takes to constantly review these sites.  Owners don’t always have the time to constantly visit these sites and followup with the reviewers.
That’s where Clark Virtual Business Solutions comes in.  We review your current online reputation and make sure that all your customers are happy.  If there is an issue, we let you know and advise you on what steps to take to make the customer happy.  If you’d like, we will even take care of it for you!
Once an initial review is done, Clark Virtual Business Solutions can manage your online reputation.  We will constantly review your online reputation and manage to keep your business reviews positive.
Happy customers lead to more customers and we all know that leads to SALES!

Mike Michalowicz

CEO, Provendus Group

October 17, 2013
Don’t let a negative online review scare off other customers. Instead, use these specific steps to turn that review to your advantage.  With the number of public review sites, it’s increasingly difficult to sweep customer complaints under the rug, and your very best move is to tackle the problem openly and honestly.

One-star online reviews are inevitable for active, successful businesses. Whether you operate a food truck or run a housecleaning business, someone, somewhere will find a reason to criticize your business or your staff and they’ll post about it online.

Before you decide how to address the lousy review, it’s important to understand just how potential consumers process the information they read on review sites.

The first thing consumers look for is the ratio of good reviews to bad reviews. For our purposes, we’re going to assume that one-star ratings aren’t the norm for your business and that your ratio is heavily skewed in favor of good reviews. So potential customers look at the ratio of good to bad reviews to determine if bad service is the norm for your business. Once they’ve figured out that it’s not, then they read the lousy reviews—it’s a train wreck that savvy consumers have learned to examine carefully.

What they’ll discover is one of two things: Either your one-star review is warranted—someone has a legitimate gripe—or it’s a flagrant, unwarranted attack. In either case, your response will guide the consumer’s decision to trust you with their business. Let’s look at how you should handle each of these cases.
Making Lemonade Out Of Lemons
If the one-star review is unwarranted—posted either by a jealous competitor or an unreasonable customer—your response can help potential clients see the truth of the situation. Let’s say you run a cleaning service and there’s a complaint from an anonymous user who claims you neglected to clean all of their rooms, damaged their office equipment and overcharged them for your services.

First of all, your response should never be argumentative, and you should never justify your behavior. Most times—especially when you suspect the complaint isn’t from a legitimate customer—your first step should be to professionally and clearly ask them to help you sort out the problem. Explain that you have no record of the transaction (or of them as a client) but that you’re committed to making the situation right. Give them your contact information and ask them to contact you. If a reasonable period of time elapses without contact from this “customer,” then you can post a follow-up, explaining that you have done everything in your power to locate the customer and have been unable to.

Since the complaint about your service has been made publicly, you have the opportunity to demonstrate that you work hard to ensure that your legitimate customers are more than pleased with your product. Potential customers who read online reviews know that some reviewers are impossible to please, and your reasoned, professional response will help differentiate the reasonable complaints from the unreasonable ones.

From time to time, even the very best businesses make mistakes, and occasionally you’ll have a customer with a legitimate gripe. With the number of public review sites, it’s increasingly difficult to sweep customer complaints under the rug, and your very best move is to tackle the problem openly and honestly.

Say you own a bed and breakfast and you have a legitimate customer complaint about bedbugs in one of your rooms. How you handle this complaint will have a very real effect on prospective visitors, so you need to get it right. Don’t deny the problem, but instead accept responsibility and discuss the solution you’ve implemented. Explain that a traveler did indeed introduce bedbugs to one of your rooms and that you’ve paid to completely remedy the problem.

If it’s appropriate, you can also offer to compensate a customer who’s had a bad experience; the offer of a free night’s stay may well soothe even the most irate customer. The very best outcome of one of these justified negative reviews is to show that you’re honest, thorough and respectable.

In general, the proliferation of public consumer reviews is a very good thing because it gets customers to participate in the success of businesses they support. It’s also a useful source of information about parts of your business that you might not otherwise be aware of. Repeated complaints about a surly bartender in your restaurant might warrant a little investigation, and you may actually have the chance to improve your customers’ satisfaction.

No business owner is thrilled to see a lousy review, but smart business owners use the lousy reviews as an opportunity to shine.

Why Social Media Is Not Working For Small Business

I found this article on Eelan Media.  Although it is focusing on UK small businesses, the same is true for small businesses in the US.  Owners don’t have time to focus on social media marketing.  It is very time consuming.  That is where Clark Virtual Business Solutions comes in.  We take care of your social media management and give you the return on investment that you want.

We partner with your small business and work hand-in-hand with improving your social media marketing.

 

Why Social Media Is Not Working For Small Business

"Business Man Using A Tablet Sitting On A Cloud With Social Media

According to a survey by Sage 51% of  UK small business owners use social media for acquiring new customers or generating sales lead, however despite the enthusiasm many are struggling to navigate the online ‘jungle’ and obtain benefits from the growth in social media and its use for marketing. Similar findings were also reflected a recent report published by Manta.  55% of business entrepreneurs they surveyed were using these platforms even though more than 60% of the group said that they were not seeing a return on investment from their online engagement.  Clearly from the outside looking it this is not a good signal for those who have a small business and want to gain a competitive advantage via the online market, therefore it is worth taking a closer look at why social media marketing is not working for some companies.

Infographic about SME use of social media

Research indicates that one of the primary reasons why social media is not as productive for small business as many believe is the amount of time small businesses are spending on social media.  The Manta’s survey, points out that more than half of small business owners spend less than three hours a week online despite this representing an increase in time from 2012-2013. This statistic has been reinforced by Dave Kerpen, founder and CEO of Likeable Media and author of the New York Times best seller Likeable Social Media, who explains that many small business that are still failing at social media, either do not spend enough productive time on the right platforms to bring about significant results or they spend time doing the wrong things,  such as selling before listening. To get the best returns from the time and resources invested in social media it is extremely important that companies set themselves SMART (specific measurable achievable realistic timetabled) targets at the outset, take the time to fully  understand the various social networks they intend to engage with and develop different and appropriate information for each of them.

The utilisation of word of mouth marketing, the spreading of valuable information on Twitter, Facebook, and beyond are the central topics of “Likeable Social Media”. In his book, Kerpen contrasts the growing expertise of the consumer, their increasing desire to be heard and the growing popularity of social media with the lack of knowledge amongst small and large corporations many of whom are struggling with the use of social networks in a business environment. Kerpen encourages companies to deliver exciting and attractive online material for their clients and suggests that entrepreneurs should think of Social Media as if it is a cocktail party, where everyone is happy to listen to what others have to say (so long as they are boring and talking about themselves all the time), rather than seeing it as a sale platform.

Kerpen suggest that businesses focus on the following three actions if they want to see an improvement in the return on their investment in social media and build a more active on line community of raving fans:

1) Always start with your current customers. It is far easier to persuade people who have already done business with you to do more. Identify ways to offer incentives for taking action on line e.g. put up signs in your store offering 10% off to those who like you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter etc. Your customers’ friends on their social networks will notice  and be encourage to take similar action which this will help generate more qualified fans.

2) Use Facebook’s targeting system to reach people who like things related to your business, products or services. Then keep them on the platform by driving them to like your page rather than your website. Facebook users spend on average 405 minutes per month on the platform so it is much easier to encourage them to take action towards your brand on the site then off it.

3) Share great content with your fans, e.g. pictures of people, videos and comments related to the kind of services you offer. Better yet, ask your customers and fans to share their best photos.

Another reason why social media hasn’t been favourable for some small companies has been put forward by Ted Rubin, social media expert and regular contributor on Mashable. Rubin suggests that being on social media is a patience game and therefore “return on relationship takes time”. In other words companies should focus on building loyal relationships with their clients, answering customer services questions and building a community instead of  just seeing these platforms as places to obtain leads.

Both Kerpen and Rubin views are in line with our philosophy at Eelan Media. Customers are the central assets of every business, therefore entrepreneurs should bear in mind that obtaining a return on investment from the online market place (which when translated means happy satisfied customers who buy more) is only sustainable if they embrace the customers needs by implementing what we call the Business HUG strategy. Business HUGs are all about hearing, understanding and giving back incredible value to your customers in a way that makes your company stand out in the crowd.

How is social media working for your business? What tips can you share with other small businesses for getting the best return on social media investment? Please share your thoughts we love reading them

The Perks of Hiring a Virtual Assistant

iMysecy did a great job summing up why someone should hire a Virtual Assistant (VA).

The Perks of Hiring a Virtual Assistant

Posted by: iMysecy | on September 9, 2013

You can do all the hard work all you want. I am sure you have to! Why not, every businessman and every entrepreneur needs to do so for the benefit of his thriving business or company. Surely, we don’t want our very own company or firm to get left behind in the competitive world of commerce. But then, let us face it. You also don’t want to do all the work now, do you? Especially if it involves every minute detail of the job – such as answering phone calls, arranging for appointments, and checking emails. You can’t just do every small and intricate detail in your job when you can actually focus your energy on the bigger concerns of your business such as how to increase your revenue or make your product or service marketable. Indeed, every business and organization aims for growth and development. But if you are the business owner or the entrepreneur, I am sure you would definitely need some of sort of help. If it would have been possible to have another extension of you, it would have been better. But no, you cannot. Thus, the better option would have to be hiring someone who can help you.

This someone wouldn’t just have to be a regular employee or a regular staff in your office. If you are keen enough, this option will not be convenient and cost-effective for you. Because of the innovation our technology now offers, there are better ways to avail of service that can aid your company and that is through outsourcing. Yes, the best alternative for you is to outsource a virtual assistant. He is also considered to be an independent contractor that can provide administrative, secretarial, content writing, marketing, retail and other related services to various clients from a home office setting. There are various benefits of hiring one.

Its benefits:
■They require no training at all

Normally when we hire people, we let them undergo training because it is the employer’s responsibility to enhance the skills of its employees. But in this case, you don’t need to because they are already equipped with the much needed expertise and skills for the job.

■Office Space is not required

When hiring an in-house employee, certain supplies and materials must be provided in order for him to work. This would mean an additional expense on your part. But this assistant has and uses his own personal supplies and equipment.

■They are hired on a per need basis only

This would be very cost-efficient for you because there are times that most businesses have seasons that have low to no work even and to maintain in house or office employees on such times are just but unnecessary expenses already.

■You are freed of employee fringe benefits and employee taxes

They are considered freelancers, thus they are not technically considered as full time employees. Being so, you, as an employer, are not required to file for their SSS benefits, tax forms, and other benefits being enjoyed by a regular employee.

■They are highly available

Unlike regular employees who only work strictly between 8 am to 5 pm, they have a more flexible work schedule. You can even discuss your preferred work schedule with them so both of you can come to a common agreement on what preferred time would he be working.