Whether a new VA or one with heaps of experience, it doesn’t matter. We’re all in the same boat when it comes to landing new clients, the only difference is someone with experience is more likely to know how and where to look.
The ‘how’ is equally important to the ‘where’. In fact perhaps even more so. The reason is that sometimes, particularly as a new VA, we think the best approach is casting our net wide in the hope that something will bite. Rarely does this approach work. Yes, you may gain a client or two using that tactic, but you’ll perhaps find that they’re not the right fit for you and your business so won’t necessarily turn into a long-term client. Or they could turn into a long-term client but you won’t enjoy working with them as much, since the work may not be what you enjoy or be in your area of expertise. In the latter scenario, this unhealthy client / VA working relationship will suffer over time and inevitably fizzle out.
Of course, in the early days it’s important to gain a client or two for your self-confidence, to get experience and feel like your business is taking off. If you can relate to that, one of our previous articles New VA? Building up your Client base is also worth reading.
But regardless of what stage you’re at, if you’re looking to grow your VA business by landing the right clients, these five suggestion may help in your search:
1. Know who you want to work with.
What niche do you specialise in? What type of business do you want to work with? Don’t worry if you’re not sure, there are always ways to find your key target market, even when you think there aren’t.
Think about their demographic: age, gender, values, personality type, location, etc. Think also about their industry-type: start-ups, sole traders, mid-range businesses, etc. Are they within a specific industry – if so what is it? Doing this exercise will help define your ideal client. For example, you may realise that someone in their 20’s fresh out of University starting up a new business isn’t a good fit for you, simply because you’re not comfortable working with that demographic. Alternatively, you may realise that your interest lies in local tourism and decide to target small business owners within that niche.
Figuring out what type of client will best suit your business is the key to getting them – you’ll be able to target them better and you’ll be more passionate about undertaking work for them. If you don’t know, it’ll be a lot more difficult to find a client that you’ll want to, or be able to, hold on to.
2. Know where to find them.
Once you’ve determined who ‘they’ are, it’s time to find them. Of course we all know about social media and networking events at your local Chamber of Commerce. Both of which are good ways to find new clients. Albeit the former can be difficult and generally takes a lot of time, and the latter whilst is a great way to network and meet potential clients, may not deliver your ideal client (although this obviously depends on whether your ideal client has a local business or not).
So where else can you look?
Find events, forums and communities that ‘they’ participate in – both online and offline. Be prepared. Go to their playground and get involved.
If you can’t physically attend an event, then don’t forget about Twitter. Hashtags are widely used at live events for those that can’t attend. By getting involved you still may have the opportunity to find new clients. But at the very least you’ll stay up to date with relevant news relating to your ideal client, which you may be able to use later down the line.
You’ve chosen that industry/niche/person for a reason. So do your research, find out the latest topics that could be bothering them, the latest events they’ll be attending, the support that they’re most likely to need and start up a dialogue.
3. Know how to entice them to your services.
So you’re attending the right events, have joined the right communities and forums and are regularly interacting on social media channels, but how do you get them to use your services? This is where a great 5 minute elevator pitch could work wonders. Unfortunately not all of us are good at coming up with those on the spot, even after practising for hours in front of the mirror! So for those without that in your tool belt, what could you do to close the deal?
- Business cards. Hand these out at every given opportunity and make sure they contain all your contact information – name, website, email, telephone number(s), Skype details, etc … (oh and don’t forget to get their business card too!).
- Business website. Make sure it’s up to date with clear information about your services, rates and ways to contact you.
- Strong call to action. Include one on each page of your website to encourage the prospect to call, sign up to your newsletter, etc. Whatever you want them to do when they land on your website, make sure it’s obvious.
- Free giveaways. Give away free information – in the form of a blog, a free eBook, or via social media channels and forums. If your key target market is searching for information and you have the answer, offer it to them for free. Gaining new clients is often about building relationships. You may not get their business straight away, but if you keep providing a solid, informative, helpful service, they will think of you first when they need additional support.
4. Follow up.
The above points lead nicely on to the ‘follow up’. Okay so you’ve put in the hard work. You’ve slogged away at researching, networking and enticing. You’re feeling pretty good with all your efforts. But then what?
Surely you’re not going to let them slip away by leaving it months before getting back in touch? By that point, it’s likely to be too late – no matter what great information you provided, you will have slipped their mind.
Depending on how you interacted with them and what information you provided them will determine when you follow up. Just don’t forget to do it.
5. Partnering opportunities
This final point can be a great way to attract new business, and often bigger business. As a Virtual Assistant you may have a broad range of general skills, but only one or two specialist skills, if any. Partnering with another VA offering complementary skills may help sell your services better. For example, you could partner with a VA specialising in website creation or design that complements your copywriting skill to offer a fuller service. This strategy has helped many VA business grow their client base and increase their income substantially.
Do you use any other tactics for landing the right clients?