Using Pain or Pleasure in Your Marketing

One recent afternoon as I was driving around running errands, I tuned into a local radio station that was hosting a radio-thon to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. When the DJ said, "Think about what your healthy child is doing right now, playing, having a snack, whatever… and then think of the kids at St. Jude" – well, I couldn’t pull over fast enough to whip out my wallet and cell phone.

Now, like you, I get a lot of solicitations either in the mail or even via email. Most of those get dumped in the trash or deleted. But what was different about this time? I mean, I literally stopped what I was doing (driving!) to pull over, take out my credit card, call the number, and make my contribution.


Easing the Nervous Buyer

After you’ve worked hard to put your product or program together, and spent the time and effort to write a compelling sales page for it, you don’t want to lose your potential customer or client right at the moment they are sitting there with credit card in hand – at the order link or order form.

Here’s a checklist of 6 ways to make sure that doesn’t happen:

__1. Reaffirm the decision

At the top of your order form, add a box that gives a synopsis of all the benefits your buyer gets for their purchase. List the features, the bonuses, and the guarantee. And tell them again that they’ve made the right decision.

There’s another benefit to adding this ‘here’s what you get in a nutshell’ box at the top of your order form. If your buyer is like me, they may skip through a sales page and go right to the order link to see the price. It’s the price isn’t right there, they will likely click on the order link to be taken to your order form to find out how much your offering is.


Your Free Taste Promo Checklist

One of the most effective ways of getting people to discover and try your products or services is by offering a Free Taste – which is just that, a taste of what it is that you offer. Free Tastes come in many forms: an ezine, an ecourse, an audio program, a special report, etc., and they are obviously free. It’s a tried and true marketing strategy that if you offer someone a free taste of what it is that you do, they are much more likely to become a paying client or customer down the road.

Once you’ve created your Free Taste, the next step is to market it to encourage people to sign up for your list. The following are 15 proven ways to promote your Free Taste:

1. Your email signature

In your email signature (your name and contact info that you put at the bottom of every email you send out), include a link that goes directly to the sign-up page for your Free Taste or to its respective autoresponder. Entice people to click through with a compelling question, followed by the link.

2. Your website

Make sure your sign-up form for your Free Taste is prominently placed on the home page of your website, as well as on every other page of your site. This way, no matter what page your visitor lands on, you’re giving them an opportunity to opt-in to receive your Free Taste.


What You Need to Know Before Hiring a Copywriter

There are a two main reasons why I think small business owners like you and I need to learn how to write our own effective copy. One is because it’s one of the most expensive tasks to outsource and the other is that no one knows your business better than you.

That being said, if you’re at a place where you can afford to hire a pro, then know that a really good copywriter can see your business with a new and fresh perspective. They know how to really draw out the key benefits of your offerings and how to get that message across to your prospects in a way that makes them eager to invest their money with you.

Here are my top tips for finding and hiring the right copywriter to work for your business:


VA Blog Tour arrives!

This blog is just one of the stops on Sharon Williams Virtual Blog Tour. Sharon is promoting the VA Industry and its Upcoming Online International Virtual Assistants Convention: May 17-19, 2007. Read more about Sharon at the end of our chat together.


Hi Alicia and thanks for inviting me to share information about the Virtual Assistant industry and how hiring a Virtual Assistant alleviates overwhelm. It’s great to respond to questions posed from a potential client’s point of view, as it gives me the opportunity to showcase what virtual assisting is really all about. So fire away!

1. As a solo business owner, I do EVERYTHING myself, but I’m drowning in the details of running my business. How would hiring a virtual assistant help me right away?

For starters, a virtual assistant can identify and quantify administrative tasks and the amount of time required to complete them. She can suggest methods to streamline operations and even create an operations manual to document and systemize processes. Because VAs are technology-savvy and have a treasure trove of programs that reduce time on task, we can recommend software to automate many of your processes, and eliminate that “drowning” feeling you are experiencing. Then, you can transition these duties to your VA while you concentrate on income-producing responsibilities.

2. I’m fairly non-technical in nature and get stuck running my business online more often than not. Can a VA help me with the technical side of running my business?

Actually, we live and breathe technology! Your VA can probably handle the majority of your needs; however, if unable, she will identify resources that can. Most VAs are proficient in back office operations software, such as Microsoft products, Adobe, Act!, TimeTrac, shopping carts, autoresponders, audio-recording, and much more; however, ever so often, even we are stumped. Because VAs form collaborative teams and are members of global networks, we can tap into our knowledge base of VA technology specialists for solutions.

3. I’m on a tight budget, but I know I need to hire some help if I want my business to grow. How could a VA save me money instead of cost me money?

It’s all relevant! If you are only looking at the amount you pay per hour or as a retainer you may not see savings, because a typical VA charges anywhere from $50 to $75 an hour, based on the services provided and her specialty. But, if you compare the rate ($50 an hour) to the cost of hiring a full-time staffer or even a temp, you will immediately see the cost savings.

Here’s a typical cost comparison chart:

Minimum # Hours/Day

# of Productive Hours/Day



Onsite Staff
(including benefits)





Temporary Staffing (including fees)





Virtual Assistant
(no hidden costs)





In essence, after you have paid a full-time staffer to man your office, take breaks and lunch and be productive only part of the day, you’ll also expend monies for benefits, furniture, taxes, etc. A temp is contracted through an agency and you are responsible for agency fees as well as even more nonproductive hours, because of time spent training and then ensuring she has enough work to keep busy. When hiring a VA, you only pay for time on task. That’s all! And, you are retaining the services of an expert in her field, someone with well-honed and up-to-date skills, willing to support your mission and goals. So, instead of paying for non-productive hours, you are billed only for time spent actually handling your assignments, which ultimately result in a huge financial savings.

Looking at the question from another prospective, if you traditionally bill your time at $150 an hour, and spend 3 hours performing a task (not including the learning curve), the value of that job is $450 (3 hours x $150). However, if you assign the responsibility to a VA, you can reduce or eliminate the learning curve, and the VA spends less time on task ($50 p/h x 2 hours = $100), resulting in a $300 savings. In addition, you gain 3 hours back of your own time to concentrate on responsibilities that fuel your passion, are income-generating and provide a sense of satisfaction.

4. Ok, I’m ready to hire some help! Where do I find the most qualified VAs to start interviewing?

The “most qualified” VAs is difficult for me to identify as the answer is contingent upon the qualities/qualifications you desire. Many VAs are generalists and others are specialists. Some have combined education, continuing education and corporate employment to develop their business. Others are self-taught or rely solely on skills attained from hands-on experience. I recommend that you identify the tangible and nontangible skills and attributes you require of your ideal VA, and then conduct a thorough screening and selection process to determine the best candidate to fulfill your needs.

Some basic qualifications, however, are:

  • A minimum of five years administrative experience or have completed a VA training program, or a combination of training and experience
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Determined to help their client succeed
  • Possess excellent customer service skills
  • Abide by a Code of Ethics
  • Possess a high level of proficiency of the services in their chosen niche
  • Possess reliable equipment and technology

Now back to “most qualified”. There are several associations, member groups and training programs with qualified memberships, actually too many to list here. Several VA groups offer a RFP system useful to preliminarily screen candidates. They include IVAA (, IAVOA ( , VANA (, A Clayton’s Secretary (, Home Secretarial Services (, Alliance of UK VAs (, and others. Several VA training programs list qualified graduates on their Web sites: VAU(, VA Training (, IREAA (, REVA Training Center ( and more. Information regarding all of these organizations is available at the, the world’s portal to the VA industry.

5. Several of my clients are VAs. What would attending the Convention do for them?

Lots! We’ve planned an information overloaded, jam-packed, three day event that can propel their businesses to the next level. Expert SEO specialists, subcontracting, negotiating, and Request for Proposal trainers are scheduled to present. Media relations, branding and networking experts will unveil ways to increase reach and income potential. Attendees can connect with the members of the global VA community, develop collaborative partnerships and leave with resources to help achieve their goals.

Wow Alicia, you’ve asked many thought-provoking questions. I hope I’ve provided enough information to aid in your search for your ideal VA.

Next stop? Back to for Corrie Petersen’s ( questions and tomorrow’s clue. and clue #1 can be found at

I’m not sure what Corrie has in store, but if her questions are as touch as Alicia and Laurie’s, they will require more homework. Oh, I almost forgot. Scrambled puzzle clue # 3 is iocaunnmmtioc. Clue #2 can be found at

Click here for a downloadable white paper on how working with a VA can increase business growth, stability and profitability. (

About Sharon Williams

Sharon is the Chairperson of the Alliance for Virtual Businesses ( OIVAC, and president of The 24 Hour Secretary an administrative, secretarial and internet-based marketing support services company. She is the 2006 recipient of the Thomas Leonard International Virtual Assistant of Distinction Award and co-founder of Virtual Business University ( an e-learning university for enrollees wanting to step towards their greatness.