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My “Entrepreneurista” Challenge Day #8 – Upgrade your Virtual Assistant Business Branding!

Every day, for at least 90 days, I’ll write on this blog on the topic of how to start a virtual assistant business and how to become a virtual assistant. I will share my experience of aspiring woman entrepreneur. I’m based in Paris, France. Being bilingual, I want to reach out to a global clientele and I am currently on the planning phase of my international online business, a virtual assistant business. I plan to launch it in March 2012.

In this post I share the top reasons why I will work hard on my business branding and why you should too!

As announced in my previous post, today I’m going to talk about virtual assistant business branding. On my way to start my successful, professional and profitable virtual assistant business and becoming a virtual assistant, I have noticed the following trend: many virtual assistants think small. Well I’m here to tell you this…

It’s time to think big!

If you read my previous posts, you know that I come from a creative background. I have spent more hours than I want to admit on Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, WordPress and countless afternoons on “geeky” webdesign blogs and forums. I definitely would love to see more virtual assistants take their online communication to the next level.

Let me explain this. I think that there are many virtual assistants who, after taking care of the legal, financial, insurance and tax aspect of their businesses start immediately to work with clients and leave the work to do on their small business branding to an other day. And it’s all wrong.

Allow me be absolutely blunt in the next lines… I can imagine the top 3 reasons why, as a VA, should you be a solo VA or part of/managing a Multi-VA business, you may not want to change much your current virtual assistant business branding:

  1. You feel clueless: you wonder where to start, how to do it, you don’t really know the message that you want to convey through your marketing efforts
  2. You feel cheap: you don’t want to have to “bother” graphic designers with quotes requests – in reality, you fear that you may not be able to afford such services or that the fees of such services hurts your income for a short or long while
  3. You feel skeptic: you wonder if it will really have an impact on your business because after all, whatever is your virtual assistant business branding right now, it got you clients and will keep doing so, right?

By the end of this post, I will have addressed each of these points in depth, so you will not feel clueless anymore: you will know exactly how to get started working on your VA Business branding and how to get the results that you want and nothing else; you will not feel cheap anymore: actually, it will come from the feeling that you will know exactly what kind of value you are expecting for your money (and you can set any budget you want for this); you may still feel skeptic… but I will share with you how business branding helped me in my business.

One thing that I would like you to consider is that your business reflects your personality. If your business was a a mirror, what would you see through it right now? Someone who is not sure about her skills, shy about getting payment, almost hiding online – or someone who is confident in her skills, knows her worth and embraces it every day in her business? Here is food for your thoughts:

Your brand is created out of customer contact and the experience your customers have of you” – Stelios Haji-Ioannou, Chairman, EasyGroup

In short: if you want to have a successful business, start to think big and work hard on your virtual assistant business branding! Sure you have clients right now, but how would you feel if your business branding attracted nobody else but your ideal clients?

You have been in business long enough to know that attracting clients is one thing, converting them into regular paying clients is an other thing. Quality business branding attracts your ideal clients and because they are your ideal clients, they already see and appreciate the value that you are offering. Ultimately, they are easier to convert and are likely to remain loyal to your business.

How can your virtual assistant business help your clients?

Are you offering administrative services? Technical? Creative? If you look at these words, they convey a different set of emotion and visual expectations.

For instance, if you are a “creative” VA (doing webdesign, graphic design and the like) you may want to ensure that your website presents a creative feel, whatever is your vision of the word “creative”. Ask your clients what they think about your website: did they think you were offering creative services right from the start? If your potential clients are confused as to what you are offering when they check out your website – they may leave it to find someone who presents his/her offering better. It means that without even knowing it, you are already losing money.

Even if you are a solo VA who mostly works with other VAs, you MUST set yourself apart from the crowd. Look at it this way: the competition in the virtual assistant industry is global and to stop worrying about the next gal’/pal’ (your competitor) you must start taking action and work on your virtual assistant business presentation.

Psst, here is my secret…

…I used to obsess over my competition. I would spend hours wondering – what are they doing better, why are they better, how can I achieve the same results, why is everybody noticing THEM and NOT ME, etc. (yes, don’t worry, we ALL have these questions in mind at some point in our businesses.)

That’s when I discovered that it was all down to one simple thing… branding!

And even more than branding – personal branding. So dare to be yourself and be proud of it! Express it in your virtual assistant business branding and you will naturally start to attract and convert clients who are ideal for you. You know why? Because based on how you present yourself online, your prospects will automatically know that you are the perfect person for them and become clients.

I want to share my personal experience with you: I have spent days – admittedly an entire week – crafting my website, the website that you are visiting right now. But I do not regret it and plan on always working on it. You see, I know from experience that my clients spend an average of 30 minutes visiting my website before deciding to contact me and an other 30 min in consultation before deciding to hire me. That’s about one hour to turn prospects into clients. They know that based on their projects and on their style, we are a perfect match. Personal branding is that powerful.

If you take a close look at my website, you will quickly notice that…

  • I have made sure to have matching colors on all its elements: my links, the icons on the different widgets on the sidebar, etc.
  • I also added creative bits, such as the handdrawn heart next to my logo at the top of the website
  • I also put a large photo of myself (that is actually a quick photo taken at a wedding!) next to a few lines. This image is visible right from the start, when you start browsing my website. In these lines, I explain who I am and what I can do for my clients

I’m very proud and happy of my website because it reflects my personality and my style. I know that the persons who decide to work with me after checking out my website are definitely a good fit. My clients often refer to my website for the various parts that they want added to their own: social media icons, bold statement of who they are and what they do, etc.

Having a clear business branding will decrease by half your client screening process – you will instantly know that they are the right clients for you and that they already love what you do.

Trust me… Take your virtual asssitant business branding seriously – it’s worth it! And if you still hesitate because you fear it’s final, do remember this: you can always change your branding in the future. In fact, you are likely to change it as many times as your business vision changes. I discovered it myself: it’s an inherent part of running a business…But you have to start somewhere.

On this topic, I really love this quote:

Success means never letting the competition define you. Instead you have to define yourself based on a point of view you care deeply about.’ – Tom Chappell, Tom’s Of Maine

[ TAKE ACTION NOW ]

Stop everything you are doing right now!

  1. Think about this for the next 5 minutes: what makes you unique? Why should a client hire you and nobody else? What words do you wish people associated you with when stumbling upon your website, Facebook page, etc.? Write all your thoughts down.
  2. Then start drawing how your ideal website, facebook page etc. would look like (yes yes, even for online projects, everything starts with a pen and a paper!) You may want to modify it over the next few days until you feel 100% sure that your vision really “feels” like you.
  3. Once you have at least your website’s sketch ready, start asking your family, friends and business contacts what would be a realistic budget for your project. You want to be sure that you have the budget for this before going further – because then you will start saving money for this project instead of rushing and not getting the results that you want.
  4. You can then start to ask your family, friends and business contacts to recommend web designers  who are within your budget.  You can also contact several webdesigners on your own, as long as you like their portfolios.  I highly advice you to stick to WordPress webdesign/web development solutions. It is extremely important: WordPress-powered websites guarantee you to keep the control over your website long after the webdesign project is over (this is why I freakin’ love WordPress and recommend it to my clients, family and friends!)

Now you know that whatever is the price you are ready to pay for this project and whoever does it – the result will feel like “you”… and no other VA can compete with your essence, can they?

Tomorrow I’ll showcase a gallery of my 7 favorite VA Businesses websites, and explain why these virtual assistant businesses got it all right – besides bonus hints on how you can get their top tactics same on your very own website.

Hey… Want to connect with me on the web? There’s 2 ways to do that!

[ Photo Credits ]

In the comments below, share with me the link of your VA Business website!