So many business cards, so little time

ToEarlier this month Time Saving Heroes had the pleasure of exhibiting at The Big Bolton Expo, hosted by thebestofBolton.  Having attended a number of different expos, both as an exhibitor and a delegate over the past three years, I can honestly say this was hands down the most professional, friendly and well run event I’ve been to.

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The organisers did a great job of being on hand to help with any questions, and were always friendly, calm and fun to talk to.  At other events I’ve seen the people “in charge” running around like headless chickens, which I always think leaves a poor impression.  It also makes them very unapproachable if you do have a query.

With such a well-run event it’s impossible to come away, no matter what side of the stand you were on, without a handful of business cards and a bunch of new contacts to follow up with.  While it’s always important to follow up, after splashing the cash on a stand, it’s imperative. You need to justify that time, effort and just as importantly the financial expense.

This is where a VA can come in handy.  I know some businesses have a team behind them, and some may even have a whole marketing department, but for sole traders and SMEs this is not the case.  After spending a whole day exhibiting, you’re going to want to crack on with “work” the second you’re back in the office the next day, and then, before you know it, an entire week has passed and you’ve not sent a single email.

Admittedly, the contacts aren’t going anywhere, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow up in a timely manner.  The longer you leave it the harder it might be for someone to remember you, and any conversation you might have had.  Sending an email the next day leaves a good impression – it shows you’re organised, if nothing else.

How a VA can help

Here at Time Saving Heroes we have a number of clients that we only work with after expos and conferences.  It’s the only time they need to use our services.  Whilst every client in this situation is different, here’s what we do for most:

  1. If the client is local they will either drop off their new pile of business cards, or we will collect from them. If they aren’t local, they tend to take photographs and send them to us via email/Dropbox etc.
  2. Once we have the business cards we collate all the information in to a spreadsheet, which can then be easily uploaded in to their CRM systems. If we have access to the CRM system itself we will upload the data directly.
  3. If any information is missing from the business cards/leaflets we will take the time to search this out. It might be that there’s no Twitter handle on the card – so we will look to see if the business or individual is on social media, and find all relevant links.
  4. For most clients we will have pre-written their initial contact email, and now we will send it out on their behalf. It might be a specific email, or it might be in the form of a newsletter, depending on the client’s preferences.
  5. We will ensure we make contact with all businesses and individuals on behalf of the client via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other platform they deem to be relevant.

 

After that we can help schedule certain individuals for further follow-up, as well as writing any other emails and/or newsletters that the client might want to send.

 

If you have been to an expo, conference or any other networking event and are worried that you don’t have time to capitalise on the new contacts you’ve made remember Time Saving Heroes. We are your secret weapon in the fight against time. Call 0161 883 2024 for more information.

 

 

Your message is not important to us

Despite the impression I like to give, I am only human, and that means even I the-ever-writing-Lu can find it hard at times to come up with content.  Thankfully this week I’ve been given a bit of a hand by some really bad customer service experiences on social media.

One of the most popular services we provide at Time Saving Heroes is social media management.  Whilst we offer a whole host of services in this area, for the most part people just want regular content posting out via their networks.  However, I always try to remind people that it’s not about what they sell or do, but how they engage and build relationships with their audience/customers.

Some people get that, some just don’t.

Never is this more pronounced than when you look at how people manage their business pages Facebook Messenger.  On countless occasions I have stumbled across a page, found the content interesting, liked it, commented and proceeded to follow.  In time I have found myself actually needing to find out something – so I hit the trusty “Send Message” button and wait.

Sometimes I have to wait a few hours – which even the most impatient of individuals can probably live with.

Most times, I have to wait a week, or longer.

In some instances no reply comes at all.

For those of you who have Facebook business pages can I just ask – why are you taking the time to set up a page, fill it with content and to add all your contact details only to ignore your potential customers when they bother to reach out to you?

What the Hell is the point?!

Not only are you potentially missing out on a sale in the here and now, but actually you are leaving a really bad taste in someone’s mouth.  Having managed numerous business pages over the last few years I totally get how annoying “the public” can be.  The seemingly endless barrage of questions that are time consuming to respond to – and they don’t end up buying anyway.  Yes, I get it, but sorry buttercup, that’s what you’re there for.  It’s called customer service.

It’s like having a phone, and never bothering to answer the bloody thing!

If you really don’t want people to get in touch with you via direct messaging, don’t offer it as a method of communication.  And if you are going to offer it, make sure you manage it properly.

If you don’t have the time, then you need Time Saving Heroes.

Why snooping on snoopers can improve your networking

A fair few weeks back I wrote a piece on LinkedIn Premium, and the advantages the paid for version had over the free one.  To be honest I focussed solely on the LinkedIn Learning feature, which I think does give you a bit more bang for your buck.  However, there’s a lot more you can do with Premium which makes it worthwhile.

Most of us are aware of the ability to see who has viewed your profile as it’s available as an option on free accounts. However, you can only go back and see the last five person, which means if more than five people view your profile in a day … well, you can do the math.

With a Premium account this isn’t an issue as you can see everyone who has viewed your profile (and a lot more information besides).

Now, you might be wondering what the big deal is.  After all, these people took the time to come across your page, had a snoop, and then disappeared in to the distance without saying howdy.

It’s true, but then how many times have you looked at a profile and just not bothered to make contact?  Why is that?  Perhaps you didn’t know how to make an introduction. Maybe you wanted to be connected by a mutual contact? Maybe you got distracted.

There’s a whole host of reasons (besides lack of interest) as to why someone might view a profile and then not reach out.  If there’s a genuine reason that took them away, but the interest remains, wouldn’t it make sense for you to try to initiate contact instead?

I will usually send a message to people who have viewed my profile to see if I can help with anything. Personally, I customise mine rather than sending a generic text, but that’s a personal call.

In my experience this is a great way to make new contacts, and to extend your network; however, again it all comes down to how you work your contact lists and actually network with the people you are now connected with.  Don’t allow LinkedIn to become the graveyard where potentials go to die.

 

You gave us 3 headlines – we gave them sparkle

Back in February we asked people to get in touch with content ideas they wanted attention grabbing headlines for.

We might have underestimated how many people would get in touch, and have actually been somewhere inundated with suggestions – some of which we have to confess we’d love to read the actual blogs for!!!

However, we’ve chosen three to work with and are going to use our tried and tested formula to give them a headline makeover.

 

Ben R – Health benefits of chocolate

Frankly we thought this headline might be enticing enough – it’s chocolate, and apparently healthy, so of course we want to read on.

However, it’s not very “sexy”.  It would be easy to spruce this up by combining any of the tips we mentioned last week:

  • 5 amazing health benefits of chocolate
  • Lose weight by eating chocolate now
  • Why eating chocolate is better for you than broccoli
  • How you can use chocolate to kick start your diet

These suggested headlines are more likely to illicit a reaction in a potential reader, and encourage them to read on.

Cathy S – Sell your home quickly

If you’re in the process of selling your home, who wouldn’t want to sell it quickly?  This would be an amazing article to read, but the current headline is so boring I’m probably just going to skip by it.

However, adding in some figures or adjectives might grab my attention and imagination a little more. We suggested trying:

  • People sold their homes five times quicker by doing this
  • 7 unbelievable tricks that will sell your home quickly
  • Sell your home in 24 hours with our top tips
  • How to sell your house in a day

Following our suggestion, Cathy chose one of our headlines as well as her original one.

The difference was striking. The original headline “sell your home quickly” had a 5% open rate; whilst our headline had an 80% open rate. It really does make a huge difference.

Stephen P – The difference between successful and unsuccessful writers

We’ve collaborated with Ste in the past, and know he is more than capable of coming up with a better headline than that.  We feel a test coming on – challenge accepted, Sir!

This current headline gives us no reason to read on.  Is there one difference, many differences, will you explain them, will it help us in any way?  There is no way of knowing unless we click and read, and to be honest, we’re too busy to take the chance that the content is as bad as the headline.

Instead, the following suggestions are bound to get people thinking, and might speak to something inside them:

  • What successful writers do that the rest of us don’t
  • Do this and your content will be a hit
  • 3 things successful writers do that you’re not
  • How do you make sure your writing is hitting the spot?

These headlines pose questions that you’re going to want to find answers to, or they promise to tell you things you’re dying to know.  People who want the answers to these issues are precisely the right audience for Ste, and as such he is speaking directly to them with these revised headline.

 

Give it a try

Why not experiment with some of your previous headlines, and republish content you’ve written in the past.  We bet you’ll have a better click-through rate if you spend a bit more time on the sundae, rather than assuming your headline is just the cherry.

 

Why are you wasting time on non money making tasks?

Here at Time Saving Heroes we know when you work for yourself you’re constantly trying to juggle the tasks you need to do to keep things ticking over, and those that will generate more income.  It’s not too bad at the beginning, when you’re just starting and maybe the phone doesn’t ring as much as you’d like. Then, the second the work starts pouring in, that takes your attention and everything else starts to slip just a little bit.

If you want to keep your eye on the strategic side of your business, why not consider outsourcing any of the following tasks to a Time Saving Hero?

  1. Receptionist duties (call answering, customer support)
  2. Lead generation (for example, LinkedIn)
  3. Creating forms
  4. Client invoicing (and sending quotes/estimates)
  5. Bookkeeping
  6. Expenses/mileage claims
  7. Preparing agendas for meetings
  8. Creation of document templates (or email templates)
  9. File organisation
  10. Data scraping/management

 

There’s so much more a Virtual Assistant can offer, but these are some of the key tasks that will allow you to focus on what you need to achieve to move your business forward.  Imagine how much more productive you could be if you weren’t constantly bogged down in the non-money making tasks that demand so much time?

To find out more simply give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

 

 

 

It’s not about the money, money, money

When I was younger I had a number of customer facing jobs. For the largest part, I loved them; however, the downside was often the customer. Despite what they tell you at Front of House School, the customer is not always right. In fact, the reality is, on occasion, the customer is just a pain in the proverbial.

As is often the case when you are a lowly waitress, retail assistant or bar maid it is easy to imagine what it might be like doing a job where you aren’t directly at the coal face, having to put up with people’s bad moods and attitudes. Of course, it doesn’t take long to realise that actually, no matter where you are in the hierarchy, the chances are you’re going to have to put up with someone’s sh!t. That’s employment.

So then, when you decide to embrace the life of the self-employed bod, it can be tempting to think you’ve finally broken free of the shackles, and you really can tell people where to go if you feel like it. Of course, you can even if you are employed, though it’s safe to say you’re unlikely to be welcomed back for your next shift (and yes, there does speak to the voice of experience).

My point is, when you run your own business you can be forgiven for thinking, initially, that you are completely autonomous; but you’re not. At least, not if you actually want to earn any money, which is kind of the whole point. If you want to pay the bills, you need to be able to send the invoices, which means, for at least a while, you’re going to have to take jobs where you can find them.

They might be poorly paid, not really worth it jobs; they might be too time consuming or it might be that the customer is a complete and utter [insert word of your liking here]. We’ve all been there, and that’s just one of the realities of business.

However, it doesn’t have to be for long. I remember when I just started out, a much respected client of mine told me that the ultimate goal, for him at least, was being able to cherry pick the work he did, and the people he did it for. His plan was to be in a position whereby he wanted to earn the money his clients would pay him, rather than having to earn it.

I didn’t think much of it at the time, other than being pleased his goal meant he needed an extra pair of hands, and therefore secured me a regular income stream. Now though, over three years later, I completely understand what he meant, and confess to having embraced the ideology myself.

When it comes to my clients I have one job: to make their life easier. It doesn’t matter what task they need completing – social media, content writing, credit control, research – I’m there to save them time so they can get on with the more pressing aspects of their business. And I’m damn good at my job. Not being arrogant, it’s just true.

That said, I realised while I was great at helping other people out with their time issues, I was getting bogged down in my own. I’d be chasing after potential leads I’d been passed, and spending not insignificant amounts of times warming people up. I’d go over proposals with them, sketch out complicated editorial calendars, listen to their insane to-do lists and come up with plans to help them move forward.

I invested.

After chasing and chasing I’d invariably get to the point of securing the deal, and starting work. Then, the inevitable happened. The client, who was never 100% in to begin with, didn’t engage. Therefore they didn’t see the benefit, and when cash flow became the slightest bit of an issue (which it invariably did because they weren’t actually engaging), I’d get binned.

And my invoices would go unpaid.

And my emails would go unanswered.

I am a huge fan of trusting your gut, sometimes you just get a feel that someone is going to be a bit too difficult to work with. Don’t get me wrong, I love a challenge, and I have clients who do challenge me; however, that’s because of the nature of their work, or the tasks they need me to do, not because of their attitude.

While I understand the argument that you have to be consistent and relentless in your pursuit of particular clients, I actually don’t bother myself. If you don’t want to work with me, that is fine; I have no interest in forcing you and badgering you. There are other clients who do want to work with me and they are deserving of my time, energy and efforts, so it’s no loss to me.

Laid out bear on the cold digital screen I know I may sound a little bitter and twisty, but actually it’s not about that. It’s about knowing my worth.

Do you know yours? Ask yourself, honestly, how much time do you spend chasing down things that are genuinely a waste of time at work? Maybe it’s not leads, or clients, maybe it’s using the wrong social media platform, or not automating your invoicing. Perhaps you’re spending too long managing your email, or you’re not compiling effective to do lists. Are you mis-managing your time, or taking forever to write a blog post that could easily be outsourced to someone else?

Now is as good a time as any to ensure you are using your time more productively.

How a VA can turn you in to an Air Traffic Controller

It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a boss, are self-employed, or a stay at home parent; chances are you regularly find yourself wondering if you’ll ever get to the end of your “to do” list.

 

Let me tell you now, no you won’t.

 

The reality of life, whether personal or professional, is there’s always something else.  As you work from the top, clearing items off, someone will be adding to the bottom.  If you’re really strapped for time, you’ll find yourself firefighting – only the really important and urgent stuff will get done.  Which is great, but that still means you’ve got this lengthy list of “other” things you need to find time to get around to.

 

Personally, I used to find the fact that there was a never-ending list waiting for me at home, or in the office, really stressful.  It was always there, in the back of my mind, no matter what else I was trying to do.

 

And then one day I finally accepted, that it’ll never get done.  There will always be a list, even if the items change day by day, the list remains.  Looking at me, with its evil judgmental eyes, whispering “you’re not good enough, you can’t beat me”.

 

Many of us feel the pressure to clear the list, to somehow prove that we’re on top of things.  Admittedly, it feels great when you tick items off, but clearing an actual physically written down list proves nothing.  There’ll be other things on there that you didn’t put on that list.  There is always something else.

 

This is the point I always try to drive home when I start working with a new client who wants VA support.  Invariably clients come to me and they feel completely overwhelmed.  They’re stressed because they have “so much to do and not enough time to do it in”.  They’re working late, barely seeing their kids, not sleeping or eating properly and are in danger of burn out.

 

Just as worrying, they’re in danger of falling out of love with their business.  Which then makes working a chore.  Just another thing they have to do, rather than something they have chosen.  This thing that keeps them away from the things they love, and helps them pay the bills.  For those that have cashflow problems, it’s not even doing that.  It’s just a millstone around their neck.

 

A friend of mine is an Air Traffic Controller in London.  I’ve heard him talk about how difficult the job is, the pressure, the speed with which everything moves, having to keep your eyes on so many different things, and I’ve asked him how he manages.

 

The answer’s simple.  Instead of looking at every single plane that’s circling around out there, you focus on one at a time.  You look at your planes, the ones that are taking off, coming in to land, or are just passing overhead.  You look at the bit you’re in control of, and you let your team mates worry about the bits they’re in charge of.

 

He said it’s impossible to look at all of it, you’d go mad; but yet, business owners invariably try to do just that.

 

Yes, a VA can undoubtedly help – it gives you another pair of eyes on the screen, and allows you to focus on your planes.  However, I promise you this is not a sales pitch.  I’d rather leave you with one important thought:  You can do anything, but you cannot do everything.

 

Give yourself a break.  Stop worrying about the list, and instead focus on one thing at a time, do that exceptionally, cross it off, and then move on.