Why You Should Outsource Content Marketing to Virtual Assistants

Why You Should Outsource Content Marketing to Virtual Assistants

Content marketing is one of the most heavily outsourced services to virtual assistants. This is because businesses have not allocated enough funds to support an in-house content marketing team.

According to a study by Marketo, businesses only allocate on average 26% of their budget to content marketing which may not be sufficient to support all of the required functions and activity.

Content marketing is also considered a specialized task which does not fall under the core competencies of many companies.

Thus, outsourcing content marketing to virtual assistants remains the most viable option for a number of reasons:

Lower Costs. In the same study by Marketo, it was revealed US companies which fund in-house content marketing departments spend anywhere from US$10,000 for a company of 10 employees to US$182,000 if the company employs over 1,000 people.

The median salary of a content writer from the US is estimated to be US$40,000 or US$3,333 per month. By outsourcing content writing to a Virtual Assistant, you can lower your costs significantly because you only pay for productive hours.

For example, if the Virtual Assistant charges $10 per hour and works 20 hours per week, your total expense in fees would only amount to US$800 per month.

Consistency. Let’s assume for argument’s sake that you have the requisite skills for a Content Writer. Would you allocate 2 to 4 hours, 5 days a week writing content?

The pragmatic answer should be an emphatic “No!” Why? You are the business owner. Your time is best allocated to functions that demand your attention. These are the ones that increase the size of your bank account.

Effective content writing requires consistency. You have to stick to a writing schedule which includes research, coming up with drafts, edits and proof reading.

Content writing also needs consistency in distribution. Your Virtual Assistant can schedule its publication through your social media networks and related community blog sites.

Leave content writing in the capable hands of a Virtual Assistant and focus on areas that need your time and focus.

Quality. Now let’s assume the opposite, you don’t have the ability to write great content. The question here is: Would you allocate time in the day to learn how to write great content?

Again, the answer should be an emphatic”No!” Why? Again, your time as valuable and is best served where it will generate revenues for the business.

Content writing is not just about having the ability to write. You should be able to write content that is fresh, unique, relevant and engaging enough to compel readers into action.

Further, you have to learn how to use keywords to make your content searchable.

Knowledge is important and there will be a time and place to learn new skills.

If you want your business to gain traction, content marketing is the way to go. And if finances are tight, outsourcing content marketing to virtual assistants will be your best option.

By outsourcing content marketing work to virtual assistants you can stay on your budget and be assured of the consistency and quality of work.

Why You Need a Real Estate Virtual Assistant

Why You Need a Real Estate Virtual Assistant

You know a real estate Virtual Assistant is needed when this scenario happens to you too often.

After several months, you finally landed a meeting with one of the biggest developers in your state. He is planning to list some of his commercial and residential properties with you. While you are in the middle of the conversation, your cell phone starts ringing.

Even when you refuse to answer the call, every few minutes it keeps ringing or vibrating on silent mode.

Sales calls are part of the life of a real estate agent and so are receiving inquiries. Unless you can clone more of you, the best option is to hire a real estate Virtual Assistant.

Here are 5 reasons why you need a real estate Virtual Assistant:

De-clog Tasks and Responsibilities

As a real estate agent, you can have so many things on the agenda on any given day. Focus on the primary tasks and delegate non-essentials to your Virtual Assistant. These tasks include:

  • Phone handling
  • E-mail filtering
  • Calendar management
  • Appointment setting
  • Preparation of documents
  • Preparation of presentation materials

There are other tasks that you should outsource to your Virtual Assistant. But it is also not a good idea to overwhelm him or her. If needed, hire a second one to make sure everything is attended to promptly.

Organize Your Business

Once you have de-clogged your tasks, ask your Virtual Assistant to organize your business.

In real estate, transactions are covered by a variety of documentation depending on the state. Your Virtual Assistant can have these organized efficiently so that any document can be made available upon request.

The Customer Relationship Management or CRM is an important feature of the real estate business. It needs to be regularly updated so agents will know the status of each prospect and all of the latest information when needed.

Increase Your Productivity

Hiring a Virtual Assistant will have an immediate impact on your real estate business.

When your non-essential tasks have been delegated, you now have more time to focus on activities that are directly related to the business of selling real estate.

You can meet more clients and discuss business without being interrupted by calls. You will be more prepared because the Virtual Assistant can conduct market research and prepare your presentation materials.

  1. Convert Leads into Sales.
  2. Relieve Stress.
Guidelines on Remote Location Outsourcing

Guidelines on Remote Location Outsourcing

If you’ve been thinking about remote location outsourcing, you are not alone. Many companies around the world are shifting toward remote location outsourcing as a way to cope up with the unpredictability of the global business environment. If you want proof, all you need to do is watch the news on TV or read the business section.

Remote location outsourcing means delegating or transferring select services to another region where comparative cost advantages and economies of scale exist. Foremost of these cost advantages is labor.

If you are a company based in Australia, it will cost you AUS$18 per hour to hire a Full Time Employee or FTE. Factor in benefits, incremental cost of rent, Internet and contingencies and the average cost of an FTE will easily hit AUS$ 27 per hour.

If you were to outsource those services to a similarly skilled worker in the Philippines, it will only cost you AUS$ 12 to AUS$ 16 per hour inclusive of benefits, rent, Internet and other utilities. Assuming cost of labor accounts for 30% of revenues, then the estimated operating cost per hour Australia is AUS$ 90.

Thus, by outsourcing to the Philippines you save up approximately 87% on your cost of operations. It may not be that simple but definitely, outsourcing services to a remote location will reduce your cost of business.

But outsourcing to a place like the Philippines or other premiere destinations such as India, China and Brazil can be a complicated process. If you plan to outsource to a remote location, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Research about outsourcing. Prepare a market study and distribute it among your team members. In addition to online research, interview companies that have outsourced services.
  • Study the culture. Learn everything that you can about a region’s culture; their history, language, practices and traditions. Develop an understanding on how their values and their belief systems.
  • Reach out to regulating agencies. Create a short-list of prospective outsourcing services providers by contacting local regulating agencies. Find out which companies are in good standing then conduct due diligence.
  • Schedule a visit to the region. If your budget should allow it, plan a visit to the region. Contact representatives from your short list of candidates so they can assist you and give a presentation of their services. You can check the current state of infrastructure in the region and immerse in its culture.
  • Moderate expectations. When visit a region which presents significant comparative cost advantages do not expect much in terms of infrastructure. There is always a trade off when costs are lower.

In the case of the Philippines, its Internet services have been among the slowest in the world. Yet, companies continue to outsource to the Philippines because of lower overall cost and high quality of work.

The beauty of having a global economy is that it allows businesses to find opportunities in other regions. Outsourcing bridges distances across oceans without generating significant costs and still render excellent quality of work. But you have to know what you are getting yourself into when outsourcing to remote locations.

How to Get More Value out of your Outsourcing Agreement

How to Get More Value out of your Outsourcing Agreement

Since the 1970’s outsourcing was a strategy that was utilized by companies needing to reduce the cost of business. Back then, it was more of a stop-gap measure. A policy that would come in whenever business conditions were not ideal for revenue generation. Focus would then shift to stream- lining in order to maintain profitability.

However, as global business conditions became more unpredictable and unstable, companies looked to outsourcing as a double edged sword. It could be a strategy that would not only stream- line costs but also improve revenue generation.

Silicon Valley, USA. It was in the mid- 1990’s that technology firms in Silicon Valley started outsourcing services to technology companies located in India. Not only were the US companies able to reduce costs but the Indian IT companies were able to improve products, services and quality of deliverables.

Soon, more outsourcing agreements were entered into between US and Indian companies.

By the new millennium, as equities markets collapsed around the world, businesses began outsourcing services as a way to remain profitable. From the year 2000 to 2016, global outsourcing has been on an uptrend. It has grown from a US$45 Billion industry to a US$105 Billion industry.

But not all outsourcing agreements have a happy ending. There are a number of engagements that turned sour.

So what went wrong?

Technical and fundamental issues aside, many of the faults can be found at the human level. If you want your outsourcing agreement to flourish you have to change your approach and view it from a different perspective.

Keep an Open Mind

No one can lay exclusive claim to knowledge. Just because you are the client, it does not mean you know everything. You are the expert at what you do. But so is the outsourcing services provider. Whether you contract a Virtual Assistant or an outsourcing company, you should keep an open mind and allow the service provider to do what they do best.

Adapt a Strategic Partnership

When you have shared interest, you stay on the same course. Get your outsourcing services provider involved in the business. It is a great way to foster trust and remove fears and biases that inhibit productivity.

Take the Time to Build a Relationship

The best way to manage a business engagement is to understand how the “other side” works. This is especially true if your outsourcing services provider is from a remote location like India or the Philippines. There are social, cultural and behavioral nuances that exist. The best way to overcome them is to develop a better understanding of these traditions.

Moderate Your Expectations

Outsourcing has been proven to be an effective business development strategy. But it is not a “magic formula”; neither is it the proverbial “lighting in the bottle”. It takes time for success to manifest in outsourcing. There is the Learning Curve that you must respect. But if you keep your expectations to manageable levels, you will succeed.

Before considering a strategy of outsourcing services, do some research and learn all you can about the concept. Then write down your goals, objectives and expectations. From there you should take the time to qualify your ideal outsourcing provider. Taking a more purposeful approach to outsourcing will translate to long term growth and sustainable success.

4 Frequent Objections to Hiring Virtual Assistants

4 Frequent Objections to Hiring Virtual Assistants

Outsourcing services to virtual assistants is becoming a global phenomenon. More businesses are adapting outsourcing services as a mainstay business strategy and the Virtual Assistant is an important component. But for those who have given virtual assistants serious thought and hesitated, you are not alone. It is understandable that you have apprehensions to someone who works on the other side of your PC.

Here are the 4 frequent objections to hiring virtual assistants and how you should put the answers in perspective:

1. “What Tasks Will I Outsource to Them?”

Outside the place of work, hiring a Virtual Assistant is no different from hiring a Full-Time Employee or FTE. You have to know first why you are hiring before determining what to delegate.

If you are outsourcing work to virtual assistants for the first time, start out on a conservative note. Delegate non-essential tasks such as e-mail filtering, calendar management, appointment setting, phone handling and limited correspondence until such time you become confident with your Virtual Assistant.

2. “Nothing Beats Shared Space Collaboration”

This objection may hold weight 10 years ago as the Internet was slowly gaining popularity.

Today, you have a host of online tools and programs that will make shared space collaboration easier and more effective. Here are some of the programs available online:

  • Project Management – Asana, Bitrix-24, SalesForce
  • File Sharing – DropBox, Accellion
  • Communication – Skype, Slack, Viber

You can even use social media. For example, create a closed group in Facebook and use it as a forum to communicate with members.

3. “I Can’t Trust anyone when it comes to my Business”

Whether you hire an FTE or a VA, you have to accept one harsh reality: you cannot do everything yourself. It’s less a question of trust than it is a matter of effective time management.

By hiring a Virtual Assistant, you will be able to allocate more time to handle the activities that translate to more dollar and cents for your business. Besides, trust is not a value you give openly. It takes time for anyone to develop trust whether in the real world or the virtual world.

4. “Dealing with Social, Cultural and Language Issues is a Waste of Time”

This is a common objection for business owners who are thinking of hiring virtual assistants from remote locations like the Philippines, India or Brazil.

First off, there is a reason why these countries are leading the world in global outsourcing. Yes, there are significant cost advantages to be realized but more than that the quality of work is world class. If you study the history of outsourcing, many point out to the success between Silicon Valley’s ventures with IT companies in India as the jump off point.

Meanwhile, the Philippines which boasts of a 98% literacy rate and the number 1 ranking in business English according to GlobalEnglish has its outsourcing industry growing by 20% every year.

It does not take much to understand the culture. Research online, watch videos and talk to Filipinos, Indians or Brazilians in their local communities. It will be time well-spent.

The best way to know if outsourcing services to virtual assistants is for your business is to give it a try. Start out with one Virtual Assistant and take it from there. Your first small step may lead to a big leap for your business.


What Are the Risks of Outsourcing to Remote Locations

What Are the Risks of Outsourcing to Remote Locations

We all know outsourcing services can greatly reduce cost while improving productivity. If you want to reduce costs even more, you should consider outsourcing services to remote locations where labor costs are lower and the market is rich in talent. But as with all ventures there are risks to outsourcing to remote locations. The good news is these risks can easily be mitigated:

Political and Social Unrest

The best outsourcing destinations in the world also have a reputation for political and social unrest. The Philippines has been in the news lately and has made headlines more often than it has in previous years.

A new volatile, unpredictable and unconventional administration has seen the country’s equity markets spiral downward and a spike in concerns on safety, peace and order.

But you should not worry about outsourcing to the Philippines because it is business as usual. Filipinos have gone through similar periods of unrest and continue to remain focused on accomplishing tasks.

If there is stoppage due to unrest, companies have contingencies in place such as having office-grade facilities at home for employees to work with.

Language Issues

Language issues will persist because perspectives will always be different. How you relay instructions may be perceived differently by people who reside in remote locations. Some may feel intimidated to ask questions because they believe it may be taken against them.

The best approach is to request the remote worker for feedback. Instead of asking if the instructions were understood, ask for the instructions to be fed back to you. More specifically, instruct the remote worker to take you through the entire process.

From there point out mistakes and correct the remote worker. Keep the feedback loop going until you are certain the instructions have been understood 100%.

Cultural Nuances

When you outsource services to a remote location, you should always anticipate cultural nuances to influence the working relationship. Each country has its unique culture which has been shaped over the last few generations. The practices and behaviors of a people are a result of these experiences.

You have to research and develop an understanding of these practices. If you plan to hire virtual assistants or engage the services of a third party provider from the Philippines or India, you have to respect their traditions and practices. These have been inculcated in their values and are part of who they are.

Concerns on Infrastructure

Infrastructure should be a serious concern because it could affect the quality and timeliness of deliverables. The premiere destinations for outsourcing services such as the Philippines, India, Indonesia and Malaysia have been flagged for having slow Internet service.

In the Philippines, many outsourcing services providers use multiple back-ups with some enlisting the services of foreign companies such as PacNet Australia as the primary provider. It is also a standard feature to have 24/7 back-up power in the event of electrical outage.  

Virtual assistants will usually have at least 3mbps primary ISP and 1.5mbps for back up.

Outsourcing services as a strategy has to be subjected to the same risk-reward process for decision-making. Overall, the benefits remain much greater than the risks. The keys are to be prepared before undertaking the venture and ensuring contingencies are in place for any eventualities.



5 Valuable Tips in Assembling Your Virtual Team

If you’re planning to diversify your current business and venture into new markets or industries, the most cost and time efficient way is to assemble a virtual team. A virtual team is composed of virtual assistants each one tasked with a specific set of responsibilities related to the group’s purpose.

Here are 5 valuable tips on how to assemble a virtual team for your business:

1. Identify the Skills You Need

Before you start the recruitment process, you have to identify the skills you need for your outsourced service. For example, if you are planning to outsource Digital Marketing the skills should include:

  • Web Designer/ Developer
  • Graphics Designer
  • SEO Professional
  • Social Media Manager
  • Content Writer

Once you have identified the skills, create an individual list of responsibilities for each position. The list will be used to draft their respective “Scope of Work”.

2. Hire a Project Manager

The first position you should hire is a Project Manager for a number of good reasons:

  • The Project Manager will assist you in assembling the virtual team.
  • Start building a strong relationship with the person who will be entrusted to manage your virtual team.
  • Capitalize on the experience of the Project Manager to fine tune your business.

In our previous example, the SEO Professional should be the Project Manager because his or her work carries over to the others. So among all the personalities, it should be the SEO Professional who has a firm understanding on the responsibilities of everyone else.

3. Set Up Job Posts

Create and set up job posts in various networks. Your initial objective is to acquire a list of candidates then slowly qualify them.

Make sure the job posts pose a challenge to the applicants. Here are a few tips on how to craft your job post:

  • Make it exceptionally long; as long as the network would allow.
  • Include a lot of details.
  • Use long, drawn out sentences and large paragraphs.
  • Add a key pre-submission instruction somewhere in the middle of the content.

You job post can help qualify the candidates by helping you determine which applicants read the instructions carefully and thoroughly.

4. Create a Short List of Candidates per Skill

Do not hire the first candidates who submit their applications per skill. Always create a short list of 4 to 5 candidates so you can have the benefit of making performance comparisons.

Check all of their papers thoroughly. It is very important that the candidates include references and copies of their portfolio. Do not treat these submissions only for show.

If contact numbers or e-mails are provided, make the effort to reach out to them. If website links are provided, check the authenticity of the sites.

5. Subject all Candidates to Thorough Testing

Lastly, make sure all of the candidates will be subjected to thorough screening and testing. These include the following:

  • Preliminary interview
  • Test on basic skills
  • Test on technical skills
  • Test on logic and reasoning

Since you are assembling a virtual team, include a group test in the qualifying process. Ask your Project Manager to work with different sets of teams for a paid limited engagement. The Project Manager will assess which ones are able to work well within a team setting.

A virtual team is a great way to expand your business. You can have the important tasks delegated to experienced and highly-skilled people while you shift focus on new business development.