Can a Virtual Assistance save your time or just cost you money?

Need some more arms and legs in your business? Can't afford a full time staff member? Consider offshoring your work, but only after you read this blog! 

After many years of thinking about outsourcing marketing work overseas, I finally took the plunge and engaged an agency six months ago. Since then we have had some ups and some downs, but overall a very positive experience for all concerned. I also just hired my first Virtual Assistant to manage my personal brand.

This blog is to share my top three learnings from outsourcing your marketing work overseas. 

Asia Offshoring team and Andrew Ford from Social Star

 

Top 3 Outsourcing Tips

1) Have a trusted partner:

One of the reasons it took me so long to start offshoring was I didn't personally know anyone running agencies overseas. I was approached my times by people in my network, however they were either selling the service from Australia, so were not in the local country themselves to supervise the work. Or they were overseas, but I didn't know them well enough to fully trust the process.

Trust in business is a funny thing. It is a combination of do you like someone enough to work with them and do you think they are credible enough to get the job done. 

When my old mate from Hewlett Packard days called me to let me know he had moved to Manilla and started an offshoring agency, I immediately wanted to try it. We were mates as well as business friends so it was a great fit. 

My personal brand agency, Social Star, was growing fast and we needed more support, but I was a little concerned at the quality of work. I tested a few jobs and they really did put in the extra yards. There were some limitations to the work they could do, but I soon found the sweet spot for their skills and experience.

However, I realised that if I could train them on my unique marketing model of e-ttraction, then we could grow together.

2) You have to train them:

Don't expect your Virtual Assistant or off shore agency to know how your business runs and all the tools you use. Like any new employee they need training on the way you work. 

Once my trial with the agency had been successful I invested in flying to Manilla to train their staff on our business philosophy, the specific tools we use here at Social Star and our processes. It was a great chance to visit the Philippines for the first time and catch up with my old mate. Plus I wanted to see how they operated and worked first hand, meet the staff and form a relationship with them. Because I run a travel business in my spare time, it ticked many boxes for me.

After years or running marketing in Asia for Hewlett Packard I learnt that the investment of time and money to sit in someones office, take them for a meal and get to know them, pays significant dividends to your relationship over time. A physical trip is a bit too much for only one VA, however as we will be hiring many staff for our clients it was necessary for me to go there. For most clients Skype training would be sufficient, however if you are keen to travel more, it is a great experience to see how they work!

Training complete I had a much stronger idea on what they could do and where they were lacking. Prior to the trip we were having some ups and downs with our work quality, which made me realise the vital importance of a really strong brief. Without the proper guidance on what to do, when and clear expectations of the outcome, you will not get the results you desire.

3) Have a strong brief:

It might seem obvious to my marketing friends that a strong brief produces a strong result. But at times when you have a thousand things to do and time is short, it's easy to skip the details in the brief. Especially when you know the work so well and presume that others do too.

My advice is to give them the work you can provide a detailed and specific brief now. Then grow that work over time to include more complex tasks, but only when you have the time to measure and monitor the results. If we have an urgent job that I haven't trained them on, we give it to our local suppliers. Once I know I have trained the overseas team can thoroughly, then I can give them the work.

Conclusion

So is hiring a virtual team cost effective? In the short term probably not. They require time, training and care to be efficient and effective. However, in the long term I consider that an investment in a long term employee.

If you have been thinking of hiring a virtual assistant or off shoring some marketing work, I would be happy to share my experience with you and give you some more specific advice. Just send me a message here and we can set up a time to chat on the phone.

I hope this blog has been of interest and useful. Check out my other blog on some of my other experiences in the Philippines here

Cheers Andrew


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Andrew Ford

Social Star, Level 4, Suite 402, 517 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Australia

Marketing expert Andrew Ford, the founder of Social Star, has discovered the secret of ‘Powerful Branding’. With a fire for unleashing people’s inner brand and developing business models to generate profit from an individual’s passions, Andrew leverages ground-breaking digital and social media marketing techniques to create digital strategies for clients to attract maximum opportunities. Having established a strong name for himself in the field, Andrew blends traditional business techniques with now-necessary tools for entrepreneurs to achieve scale, quality, and influence in their niche. Andrew’s comprehensive business background and qualifications consist of a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) (RMIT 2003), a Graduate Certificate in Management (MBA Executive Program, University of Sydney 2005), and a Masters of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (Swinburne University 2011). Continually on the cutting edge of his own education, Andrew has tested his marketing theories in forums such as the BCG Business Strategy Competition, which he won in 2005 against all Victorian MBA schools, and the Venture Cup Business Plan Competition (Swinburne University 2003), which he won in the Masters category. With experience working at Hewlett-Packard, Sensis (Telstra) and IBM, Andrew also has mentored dozens of junior staffs to help them achieve their professional goals. Meeting and influencing high-profile public figures helped Andrew to realise just how many professionals require more understanding and control of their public brands or appearance, and need help with the skills to use the many amazing free tools at their disposal to generate success. At Social Star, Andrew consults with clients to uncover their personal brand – both where it is today and where it can be tomorrow – and refine and define how that should be displayed in social media in order to attract their perfect target audience. Andrew mentors his clients to rapidly grow their business’ audiences, resulting in larger potential client bases and higher revenue. Applying formulas that integrate over twenty years of Andrew’s business experience and fifteen years of formal business education, Social Star specialises in building clarity and velocity for clients’ brands using the ‘Understand, Build and Leverage’ methodology. ‘Having a Personal Business enables people to have an authentic, congruent connection with their valued clients and partners, using their brand as the bridge,’ says Andrew. ‘I’m highly driven to work with the new breed of entrepreneurs and small business owners – people who have a passion for making the world a better place. Traditional business models are stepping aside as people follow their innermost dreams and my role is to see them operate within their values while creating wealth. Some people think you have to sacrifice what you love to be successful in your business, yet it is actually the opposite. Follow your passion and success will come.’ Lecturing at Swinburne University from 2009 to 2011 on brand dynamics and digital marketing, presenting at numerous conferences, and consulting to hundreds of clients, Andrew has seen his philosophy work that if you follow your unique path, based on your skills, experience, values and goals, you will automatically attract the opportunities you desire and achieve the success you deserve. Living his mantra, Andrew has created a successful business and attracts high-profile clients including musicians, athletes, authors, models, entrepreneurs, professionals and small business owners, helping them find their ‘why’ in their business and fulfilment in their lives. Business for Andrew is more than work, it’s personal. Running a personal business means that he is able to fulfil all of his values rather than separating his life from work. It supports his two boys while providing social opportunities, educational development, fitness opportunities, spiritual fulfilment and many valuable friendships. Social Star has now become the vehicle for Andrew to crystallise his mission in the world, to help people love what they do, supporting his ‘why’, that if more people loved what they did, the world would be a better place.