30 11 / 2011

Most entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized business owners have grasped the concept that a press release is a more powerful marketing tool in the digital age than it ever was in the Dot Com Boom. However, often these press releases don’t generate all that buzz and all those SEO benefits that the marketing “guru” said they would.

Why? Usually because the press release stinks. That may sound a little blunt but it is quite true.

It’s Literally Exploding with Keywords: At Virtual Assist USA, we do believe in the value of SEO and have the expert practitioners on staff to handle it, but only if it is done the right way. Keyword stuffing is rampant these days , especially on the free press release sites and it is simply laughable. If your headline reads “Pittsburgh Accounting Service Launches New Website About Pittsburgh Accounting and Pittsburgh Accounting Advice,” leave the press release writing to someone else.

You Write a Press Release a Day: Since the world figured out the value of press releases for marketing purposes some people have just gone a little press release wild.  Some companies send out press releases daily, stuffed with nonsensical keywords and a noted lack of any actual news. The result? Their Internet presence consists of dozens of these rather useless missives and the publics’ opinion of them, as well as Google’s, as adversely affected as a results.

Too much jargon: Have you ever read a press release that is so stuffed full with nonsensical jargon that it makes your head spin? We can honestly say that most of these authors have to be using the Web Economy Bullshit Generator. Trouble is, that was created as a bit of fun, not as a template to write by, but we swear some people apparently never got the joke.  A good effective press release has to be understood by everyone. Save the jargon for next corporate summit.

Goes on Forever: A press release need to grab the reader’s attention within the first 10 words or its chances of being picked up (or even generating a click-thru or conversions) are minimal. Keep your press release short, sweet and to the point. No one cares that new chef comes from Wichita but is a Mets  fan with three beautiful children and a dog ; all they care about is how his food tastes.

29 11 / 2011

Most companies and business owners determine what figures they want to hit (six, seven or eight) – and then they figure out the strategic steps they will take to get there. They work so hard at that goal – the destination – that they miss out on the journey. At Virtual Assist USA, we focus solely on the journey – what we do, what we want to do and how to keep servicing our clients to the highest possible standards.

Here are three rules that we live by and preach to our clients… until one client suggested that we share with the world, so here goes!

1)      Treat every new business idea if it’s the first one that you’ve ever had: Pretend you have no idea what you are doing. When you approach something with this frame of mind, you will undoubtedly be able to ask for the help that you need from the experts. Remember: surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are!

2)      Growth takes time: In the age of the internet, it’s easy to want everything yesterdayWe beat ourselves up if something doesn’t go viral instantly, and we wonder why we aren’t ranked in Google’s top SERPs. The best and most successful businesses took years to build. Breathe and enjoy the ride.

3)      Learn some, think some, play some, work some: Keep a sense of perspective with your work. Find balance in your life. Your life should involve more than working 80 hour weeks (get a Virtual Assistant to help you with that!). Life is short, and you will never regret the time that you spend with family, friends or even by yourself. If you find that you’re working too much, a change is in order.

29 11 / 2011

"When a small business grows like eBay did, it has a multiplier effect. It creates other small businesses that supply it with intellectual capital, goods and services."

Meg Whitman 

28 11 / 2011

Use your holiday merry making as an opportunity to connect with people that can help make you a success. These networking strategies should help get you started.

  1. Pre-Party: The idea here is that if someone else is throwing a great party next Saturday, use the evening’s festive mood to your advantage! Call five people you know are going to the party and either invite them to meet at your place to go over together or have them meet you for a drink on the way over. Choose your mates wisely, and use this pre-party get-together to ensure you connect with some of your top targets for the night instead of running the risk of not getting to them at the crowded main event.
  2. Hire a ride, or provide the ride If you’re going to drink at a holiday party, it goes without saying that you should call a cab to play it safe. But don’t be afraid to supe-up the style. Hiring a chauffer will add a touch of class to the event, enable you to take a larger group of friends for eve-ending drop-offs, and is surprisingly affordable. Or, consider ditching the drinks and being a designated driver. You’ll be offering a hugely valuable service, a currency that could definitely get you invited to a lot of parties!
  3. In the season of giving, ask! It is the season of giving, so ask for the job (or client, or contract) that you want. Everyone seems to be more generous around the holidays, so take advantage of that spirit. Let everyone know what you, or your business, will be up to in the upcoming year. Then, it’s very simple, ask for the referrals!
  4. Have fun! I think a willingness to have fun can be everyone’s secret weapon during the holiday season. Focus  on how approachable you’ll seem to everyone who sees you having a good time.
  5. Activate your family connections You’re bound to see a lot of your family in the coming month, so it’s no time to take for granted the people who like you, care about you, and will go to great lengths to help you succeed. First, make sure you’re prepared to help them help you. Before you see them, schedule some time to reflect upon the one passion that deeply fuels you, your goals for the next 90 days, and the kind of people you need to connect with to be successful. Then put your desires out there to your family. After all your efforts to build relationships in the business sphere, you might be shocked by what turns up in your own backyard. Who knows whom your brother-in-law knows until you give him a chance to activate his network for you.
  6. If this season’s not in the cards, choose another With all the parties to attend, end-of-year deadlines to meet, and the rush to gather gifts for everyone on their lists, people absolutely get lost in the clutter of the holiday season. It’s no surprise that holiday cards get lost, too, if only in the piles of red and green envelopes everyone receives this time of year. That’s why years ago I chose to stop sending out holiday cards, for these holidays at least. I’ve made it a habit to get in touch with people on their birthdays or anniversaries because people are much more impressed by what others do for them on their very own “special days.” However, it’s quite a lot of work to do this year-round. So I’ll propose an alternative: Skip the cards this holiday season and pick another holiday in the upcoming year for sending celebratory mail. I have friends who send me an annual Halloween card, and since it’s an uncommon practice, the gesture really stands out. Thanksgiving’s probably not a bad choice, either, just to reach out and say how thankful you are for them and your relationship. There are many more fine days to reach out to your friends, though. Pick the one that works for you. In your office, give what’s really important This year, try handwriting simple, heartfelt notes to your employees or colleagues as thanks for contributing to the success of your organization or as compliments on the special talents they possess. Your sincere thoughts will be more important and valuable to them.

28 11 / 2011

We believe that each of these books will greatly impact your big idea, keep it growing and make sure that the empire you are building doesn’t crumble. Be sure to tell us what you think!

1) Killing the Practice Before It Kills You: How Throwing Out My Business Model Saved My Life: The author, Dr. Ron Arndt, really nails it as he shares his life-changing story with great detail, and brings to light the realities of a fast-paced entrepreneur.

2)      The Fred Factor: This is a favorite of our president, Danielle. This book was given to her when she was in corporate America, working for an IT Consulting and Project Management Training firm. The author, Mark Sanborn, was inspired by a Denver postman, Fred Shea and  this is a particularly moving story.

3)    The Art of the Start: As far successful entrepreneurs who just keep getting it right go, you can’t find too many better than Silicon Valley icon Guy Kawasaki. Once “chief evangelist” at Apple Guy has gone on to start a number of wildly successful ventures as well as become the author of one of the most red blogs in the world. This book gives a greater insight into both his thought processes and his methods as well as offering more than a little great advice.

4) Guerrilla Marketing: Jay Conrad Levinson’s groundbreaking book is now a classic but if you have not read it, you need to. This is one of the best resources for any entrepreneur who needs to understand how to market their company more effectively – which is all of them.

5) Seven Habits of Highly Successful PeopleAlthough Stephen Covey’s book was written to apply to anyone it is especially good for the entrepreneur as it offers so many great strategies to help them deal with all the instability and uncertainty starting a business brings.

27 11 / 2011

fastcompany:

Unpredictable Rewards And Our Dwindling Attention Reservoir
Do Twitter’s Activity feed and Facebook’s Ticker give you anything you really need to know? Not really. But maybe that’s not so bad.

fastcompany:

Unpredictable Rewards And Our Dwindling Attention Reservoir

Do Twitter’s Activity feed and Facebook’s Ticker give you anything you really need to know? Not really. But maybe that’s not so bad.

(via fastcompany)

27 11 / 2011

This is the problem that so many small business owners have! Hiring a virtual assitant can help solve it! 

This is the problem that so many small business owners have! Hiring a virtual assitant can help solve it! 

27 11 / 2011

 

Our worlds are jam-packed with statistics, opinions, guidelines and data on how to operate and manage a successful business. Yet, most business owners struggle to cohesively take that information and write blogs.

They don’t realize how important blogging is to an overall marketing and SEO strategy.

Google’s latest algorithm, developed earlier this year, changed the game for many businesses. Websites that had previously been at the top of SERPs (search engine results pages), sunk to the obscure 5th page.  The reason for this change is that Google is now looking for fresh content, relevant keyword-dense information and frequently updated pages. In a word: blogs.

  1. To get started writing blog posts, keep track of all of the developments in your industry. Think of how they affect your client’s problems and your solutions. Simply bookmark it in your web browser.
  2. To aggregate all of this information, subscribe to RSS feeds or hire a Virtual Assistant to compile the information. Work closely with yourVirtual Assistant to organize these steams of information, use SEO techniques and create an overall master strategy.
  3. Short posts are okay, too. You can post a link to a relevant piece of industry information and offer 3-4 brief sentences that outline your opinion on the issue. As common sense dictates, avoid politically-charged comments.

The most important piece of advice: do not neglect blogging. Consistently follow up with your plan. Stay up-to-date with the latest SEO techniques. Work closely with your Virtual Assistant team to follow your plan and constantly adjust it. By blogging, you maximize the potential of your online success. When you have more visibility online, your revenue stream directly increases.

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27 11 / 2011

 

1. Own Your Keywords By Putting Them In Your URL:
For example, my URL is www.virtualassistusa.com. When I launched my site, there was not a large search volume for “Virtual Assistants, USA”. However, I know that as the industry gains popularity in foreign countries, lots of people will be searching for American Virtual Assistants, or USA Virtual Assistants. The benefits to me – I will always own this URL and whenever someone searches that name, I will always come first. Think about the power of incorporating your keywords into your brand name or URL.

2. Tell a Consistent Story
You walk into a high-end restauraunt. The waiting area is beautiful, and the decor is clean and modern. You go to use the restroom, and you find that it’s dirty and there are cracks in the walls. Not nice! Think of this example when you evaluate your website. Everything there has to be consistent with your brand. You can have top-notch graphics, but if the copy is boring, it doesn’t matter. There are a little details, but they are very important – make sure that you don’t have invalid links, 404 errors, long loading times or a haphazard navigation. Also, don’t convulute your your site telling all about you. People don’t care about you, they care about them. If you make their experience on your site a positive anad easy-to-us one, they will reward you with their business.

3. Viral, Baby!
The internet offers the “little guy” so much. Million dollar businesses are run fom dining room tables. Rely on viral marketing – encourage it and make it impossible for people not to talk. Create “referral sheets” to pass out to your clients and referral partners, that outline the benefit they get from referring business to you (ie free hours or a gift card for dinner) and give them “talking points” to say when discussing your business. Easy and free!

4. Don’t Pay for Advertising
Some businesses are especially bad at this, because they begin advertising before they havea brand. Use banner ads – the click through rates are generally very low but they generate a lot of brand awareness. They are big, colorful, and people don’t have to click on them to learn about you. If they don’t click, you don’t pay – but they do recognize your name. Repeat a single, simple, compelling message – over and over again.

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