Tag Archives: marketing virtual assistant

Changes to the Facebook newsfeed

What the changes to the Facebook news-feed mean for your small business

Over the last month, you will have seen online that changes are being made to the Facebook news-feed.  In a nutshell, the plan is to fill your personal newsfeed with more content from family and friends and less with public content.

This is great as a personal user but not so great for us as small businesses. However, there are things that you can do to make sure your page is still seen as much as possible in people’s newsfeeds.  Watch my video or read below for advice on how to overcome the changes:

  1. Make your content engaging
    Make sure that your content is engaging (you should be doing this anyway).  So rather than posting ‘salesy‘ posts think about what you can give your followers that will help them.  This way they will be more likely to like, comment and share your post.
  2. Set aside a budget for adverts
    You will need to put aside some funds for Facebook advertising in your marketing budget. This is not all bad news as the adverts are reasonable price wise and you can really drill down to target your ideal client with criteria such as age, gender, location, behaviours etc.
  3. Plan your content
    Schedule your content in advance, this way your content will naturally be more engaging and structured
  4. Use Facebook Live
    Live videos are great as people really seem to like interacting in ‘real time.’ Just make sure you have great wi-fi and remember it doesn’t need to be a Steven Speilberg production!
  5. Join other social media platforms
    Get out there on other platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn so that your business can be found easily – if you need help with these platforms pop me an email as I offer one-to-one tutorials
  6. Set up a Facebook group
    Depending on the type of business you have a Facebook group may work well and is a great way to interact with tips and advice
  7. Check your statistics
    Keep an eye on your Facebook statistics so you can see which times and days your followers are online and gage any drop in interaction from the new changes
  8. Set up the ‘see ‘first’ notification
    On your personal newsfeed set up the pages you enjoy the most so that you see them first in your newsfeed.  For example I have Sky News so I can see their content first when I log in (watch my video to show you how to do this)
  9. Help out other small businesses
    And finally don’t forget to help other small bsuinesses by liking, sharing and commenting on their posts so that it helps them to get seen in the newsfeed.If you would like help with any aspect of your social media then pop me an email for a free, no obligation, consultation to see how I can help.

    You can also follow my Facebook page for free marketing and business tips.

Facebook live tips

Facebook live tips for your business

What is Facebook Live?

Video is now becoming hugely popular across all social media platforms and is a great way to engage your audience both on personal and business pages.  As you will be aware Facebook has now introduced their live video option for all users and allows you, as the name suggests, to broadcast to Facebook live.

The beauty for businesses of being able to broadcast in real time is that it allows for instant interaction with your follows and shows the real person behind the brand. Facebook has also reported that live videos get 10 times more comments than regular videos.  All this continues to build on the know-like-trust relationship with your audience.

I have just helped one of my clients, who are a UK registered charity, to broadcast live from their annual Ball and Fundraiser.  Some people were unable to attend the evening but were still able to get involved by watching live.  We also broadcast our silent auction so that those watching from home could take part at the same time online. Our followers enjoyed interacting, popping on and saying hello in the comments even asking what was on the menu that night and who the live band were! Not only did people feel involved but from a PR point of view for the charity this was a great awareness exercise as we also encouraged everyone watching to share the live link to all their friends on their personal feed.

As Facebook live is becoming more popular clients are asking me for tips and advice on how they can use it to help their business, so in this blog I give you some guidance on how to actually broadcast, how to get your audience involved and some ideas on what subject to go live with.

Tips and advice

  1. How to actually broadcast live
    To start a live broadcast simply click the ‘live broadcast’ button which you will see at the top of your business page. Those that follow your page will get a notification that you are ‘live’ but ensure you give your video an interesting headline so that people will want to watch you.

    Click the go live button

                   How to broadcast on Facebook live

    2.  Plan ahead
    Plan your live broadcast in advance so that you know what you’re going to talk about and make sure you promote the fact that you’re going live to all your followers on Facebook but also across your other platforms and to your email list. If you would like to test a video and practice first then you can set the privacy to ‘only me’

    3. You’ll need a good internet connection
    Make sure that your wi-fi or 4g connection is strong so that the video doesn’t cut out and make you look unprofessional

    4. Background noise
    Be aware of any background noise and try where possible to keep this to a minimum.  Of course sometimes the background noise will add to that ‘live’ feeling so judge for yourself when it’s appropriate.

    5. Get your viewers to subscribe
    During your broadcast get those watching to subscribe to live notifications by tapping the follow button so that each time you go live they will be notified and can tune in

    6. Interact
    Going live is a fantastic opportunity to interact with your fans in real time so make sure you do so.  If you’re talking during a broadcast don’t worry if you pause for a second to read the comments and respond this will be expected and is all part of engaging

    7. How long to broadcast
    The longer you broadcast the more likely people are to discover and share the video so try and aim for around ten minutes if you can.  The maximum time is currently 90 minutes

    8. Be consistent
    When you start to use the Facebook live feature continue to do so to keep fans engaged, it might be good to broadcast every week at a certain time for example but this will of course be dependent on your type of business

    9. Close the broadcast
    At the end of your video don’t forget to ‘close’ it by thanking your fans for watching, letting them know what you’d like them to do next (call to action) such as visit your website, email you etc. You can also remind them when you’ll next be live

    10. Content ideas
    If you’re wondering what on earth to talk about during a live video think of how you can help your fans, here are a few of my suggestions: teach people how to do something such as cook a certain meal; give advice on your area of expertise; interview someone; offer a Q and A session; give your opinion on some current news; review a product or book; perform a song or type of sport; go live from an event you’re hosting or attending.  If you use images or music in your video just be careful of the copyright laws.

If you’ve never ‘gone live’ on Facebook before you are now armed with lots of tips and advice so there’s no excuse not to give it a go – good luck!  You might also find my blog about using video in general for your business useful so check it out.  If you feel you could benefit form a one-to-one social media tutorial then pop me over an email, I offer a free consultation so we can discuss how I can help.


Become a networking Ninja

8 tips to make you a networking ninja!

In this blog, I look at ways to help you get the most out of attending networking events. Not everyone enjoys going to networking meetings but for the majority of businesses, it is a vital part of building their client base.  The key thing to remember is this is not an opportunity to just ‘chuck’ business cards at people, attend one event and expect the business to come rolling in! Networking is all about getting to know people, building trust and relationships so that people will want to work with you.  Also, keep in mind that not everyone in the room will need your service/product but that doesn’t mean they don’t know someone else that will so continue to build a relationship with them so they feel confident enough to refer you to their wider network.

1. Business cards
It sounds obvious but
take along your business cards, I’ve met quite a few people that have forgotten them. They don’t have to be expensive if you’re on a small budget.  If you have tangible products some networking groups are happy for you to also take these for people to see.

2. Elevator pitch
Have your elevator pitch ready and make sure you’ve practised it over and over. Keep it concise telling others what you can offer them, where you work, who your ideal clients are and your goals. Change it about a bit as well so if you’re coming across the same people at events they won’t get bored hearing the same thing every time. Ideally, this should be a one minute pitch, many drag their pitch out and people switch off. In the networking group I run everyone gets a minute to pitch, this way it is fair on all attendees.  We then break for informal networking so people can connect further with those they’d like to know more about. 

Relax, you won't be the only nervous one in the room

Relax, you won’t be the only nervous one in the room

3. Icebreaker
Have an icebreaker question ready for when you first meet someone. Perhaps ask ‘what’s your story?’ The important part is to listen to the answer. Think about what you are able to offer this person and if you can’t help them do you know someone who you can refer them to?

4. Diversity 
Try and keep a diverse network. It’s good to network with like-minded business people but also try and get along to events for your chosen professional body.

5. Don’t panic
If the thought of networking leaves you in a panic it’s a good idea to turn up at the event early. There will be fewer people there leaving you to start a one-to-one conversation which will help you relax a bit before everyone else arrives.

6. Be consistent
It’s important that you keep attending the same networking groups so that you build up trust with others. People are more likely to buy from someone they know. 

7. Stay in touch
If you connect with certain people and feel you could work with them then arrange to meet them separately for a coffee so you can learn more about them and their business. I’ve also met some great friends, as well as clients, this way.


Follow up any leads the next day

Follow up any leads the next day

8. Follow up
Once you have been to a networking event make sure you allocate some time in your diary the next day to follow up any leads and connect with new contacts online.

If you have any networking tips then please post them in the comments below.

For more business tips read more from my blog.

Tips to get more Instagram followers

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a great way to tell your story through photographs and is becoming hugely popular with over 500 million people (14 million in the UK) now taking to the social media platform to share their life in pictures.

Instagram users tend to be mainly women (68%) under the age of 35, although more and more men are signing up, and come from a diverse community with equally diverse interests.

Instagram users are growing rapidly

Instagram users are growing rapidly

Why use Instagram for my business?

As the platform is growing quickly and offers a unique way of sharing a photographic story then Instagram is great for small businesses and even better if your target audience is women under the 35. It’s also wonderful if your products or services are easy to photograph such as cakes, jewellery or dog walking for example.  I love the way you can use hashtags to highlight the topics you’re discussing and you’re not limited to a certain number of words.

I’ve set out some tips below of how to attract more Instagram followers and build the ideal audience for your small business:

  1. Use great photos and ideally ones that are square in size as this is the layout Instagram prefers and will therefore save you time on cropping 
  2. Include a great intro bio with a link to your website or landing page where you can collect leads

    Include a great Instagram bio with a link to your website

    Include a great Instagram bio with a link to your website

  3. Support your business network by sharing and tagging your client and supplier posts
  4. Don’t forget to include hashtags – take a look at what’s trending at the time and if appropriate use these
  5. Currently you can’t use links within your posts so instead use a Call To Action telling your followers to go to the link in your bio
  6. Combine the use of video and photos as videos are very easy to upload but try and keep them short
  7. If you offer a service that doesn’t have tangible products don’t let this put you off.  You will always find a photo to link in with what you’re talking about.  Uploading photos of your team or what’s happening in the office is great content 

    Share Instagram posts from your clients and suppliers

    Share Instagram posts from your clients and suppliers

  8. You can get carried away snapping great pictures so be careful not to bombard people with your updates, once a day is enough
  9. Instagram needs updating from your moblie so to save yourself time scedhule your content in advance
  10. Finally don’t forget to include a link to your Instagram account across all your other forms of marketing such as Facebook, Twitter, your website and in your email signature and newsletter

Need help setting up your Instagram account or managing it?

If you’re not sure how to set up an account or simply don’t have the time to research and post your content then I offer this service to my clients, so for a free half an hour consultation to find out more drop me an email rachel@lighthouseva.co.uk or call 01303 647101

You can also sign up for my free newsletter for great marketing, time and money saving tips straight to your inbox.





Tips to create a fab video for your business

Why use videos?

A video is such a great way to inject your personality into your brand.  It shows the real you, the way you talk, smile, explain things. People buy from those they like and trust and a business video will help establish these traits enabling you to connect with your audience. Once someone gets a ‘feel for you’ they are more likely to buy from you. Here’s an example of one of my videos:

Videos on your business website will help you achieve all of the above but will also push your site up the Google ranking making it easier for potential customers to find you. Remember your video doesn’t need to be a Steven Spielberg production so you need to get over that fear of talking to the camera and what you look like and get yourself out there!

To give you confidence here are my tips to get you started:

1.   Work out what you’re going to say and pop a few bullet points on a post-it-note

You can buy an external mic like this online

You can buy an external mic like this online

2.  Make sure the location you are recording in has good lighting and is quiet.  I find it best to have my laptop slighter higher as well so you’re not looking down (this can be quite unflattering!)  You may also need to buy an external microphone (like the one I have in the picture, which I think costs around £10 online)

3.  Look presentable.  I’m not suggesting you go and have a make over but it’s important to look professional

4. Use your video  software on your computer or I also use screenomatic which is great for screen sharing. Place your post-it-note with your bullet points just under the camera to prompt you so you don’t forget what you’re saying

Use a post-it-note with bullet points on to prompt you

Use a post-it-note with bullet points on to prompt you

5.  Speak slowly and relax, remember not to use industry jargon – if you’re not happy you can re-record!

6.  Watch the video back to make sure the sound and lighting is okay and that the background behind you looks professional (no snoring dogs or an untidy desk!)

7.  Include a call to action – what do you want your viewers to do after watching your video

8.  Get sharing!  Pop your video on your social media sites, website and YouTube Channel.

9.  Most of my clients look at me in horror when I suggest they create a video and say they wouldn’t know what to talk about.  So a few ideas include: a tutorial on how to do something, showing how a product works, introducing a member of staff or a virtual tour of your shop.

Pop over and subscribe to my YouTube Channel to get some more ideas and free marketing tips.


Tips for creating great email marketing content

Creating great email content

My recent blog looked at the importance of email marketing and why you should be doing it to help get you more clients.  Building trust and relationships with your current and potential clients is what will make them more likely to buy from you in the future and this form of marketing helps to do this. In this blog I give you some tips on how to make your content fabulous so that your customers keep coming back for more!

  1. Keep your content nice and simple. Don’t use industry jargon that your audience may not understand. Try and relax the way you write, make it a bit more informal like you’re writing to a friend.

    Use a call to action so your subscribers know what you want them to do

    Use a call to action so your subscribers know what you want them to do

  2. Keep the sub headings within your email/newsletter punchy – business owners are busy so your simple text will allow them to scan over the content quickly.
  3. Use a call to action – what do you want the reader to do after they’ve finished reading your email? Do you want them to sign up for more? contact you?
  4. Know your target audience (yes that one again!). The more you know about those on your list the more you can tailor your content to them so they want to know more.
  5. Make sure your content is up to scratch – it’s all very well sending an email that looks pretty but if the advice and information within is poor people will unsubscribe.
  6. If you’re promoting an offer include a deadline so that people only have a certain time to claim it.  This makes people act quicker on taking up your offer rather than thinking ‘oh I’ve got loads of time to
    Proof read your content

    Proof read your content

    claim that as there’s no deadline’ and then they forget about it.

  7. Make sure you proof read your emails so that your content looks professional. Perhaps get someone else to read over them for you.

If you would like some help creating your emails and newsletters then this is a service I offer to my clients.  Contact me for your free consultation to see how I can help you.

Tips if you’re self employed

When you first take the plunge and become self employed if can feel extremely daunting.  There is no longer a manager to tell you what you should be doing each day or week – it’s all down to you. It is however extremely rewarding if you get it right and can allow for that all important work/life balance.  Here I have compiled a few hints and tips to help you get a bit more organised, I hope they help.

  1. Set a cut off point in your working day.  If your hours are 9am-5pm then don’t answer emails or calls after this time.  Set your boundaries so that you have time for yourself and
    Don't pretend you have lots of employees if you work on your own

    Don’t pretend you have lots of employees if you work on your own

    you’ll be more productive.

  2. Manage your finances carefully. Allocate one day a week where you sit down and keep your budget document up-to-date so that you’re not overspending.  It’s a good idea to also have a separate bank account so that you can keep your business and personal finances separate.  It doesn’t need to be a business account to start with either.  If you really hate keeping your accounts then outsource to someone who can help you.
  3. Don’t pretend you’re a huge corporate company if you’re not.  If you work alone then market yourself this way and be proud of it, don’t pretend you have a huge team of employees.

    Learn, learn, learn!

    People want to work with someone they can trust and that can deliver what they promise.

  4. Keep learning!  This is so important.  Keep reading about what’s going on in your industry, keep up with the software that will enhance your business and attend webinars and courses to learn new skills (there are many out there that are free).
  5. Make sure you have registered with HM Revenue and Customs and that you find out which taxes you need to pay.  HMR&C has its own YouTube Channel with lots of useful free webinars to help you.  it goes without saying of course to make sure you complete your tax return!  If you’re not sure how to do it then invest in a good accountant who can do it for you.
  6. Have a business plan and make sure that you re-visit it regularly to ensure you’re reaching your goals and know what your objectives are for the future.

    Keep on top of your budget

    Keep on top of your budget

  7. My final tip is to make sure you establish a good working routine.  Make sure you allocate a certain day for each of your regular tasks and stick to them. For example I set aside every Friday for my own marketing and admin work.

If you have any self employment advice please feel free to share and if you need any help getting yourself organised then contact me for your free one hour consultation rachel@lighthouseva.co.uk


Can I pick your marketing brain package

The LVA ‘can I pick your marketing brain?’ package

Pick my marketing brain…

The LVA ‘can I pick your marketing brain?’ package came to fruition as many customers asked if they could just ‘pick my brain’ to get some advice on their marketing and PR for their business.  They wanted a few hours of my time to point them in the right direction and give them my expertise to kick start their marketing.

I offer a block of three different set prices and times as follows:

  • Two hours for £140 (We’ll discuss your business and I will explain some basic marketing concepts and give you tips to start your promotion, good for start-ups or for people new to marketing)
  • Three hours for £210 (We’ll discuss marketing ideas, I’ll look at your current marketing,suggest ways you can improve and which tools from the marketing mix will work specifically for business)
  • Four hours for £280 (We’ll look look at all the above and I’ll also provide a written document for you to refer to with written suggestions on how to take your marketing forward).

The sessions can take place either face-to-face if you’re within 5 miles of Folkestone (or are happy to travel to Folkestone) or via Skype or telephone.  (Please note mileage and call costs will be additional to the package price and the 10% first time client discount does not apply. Payment must be made in full before the mentoring session(s) takes place and payment is non-refundable).

If you would like to ‘pick my brain’ please leave your details below and I will send you some further details about each package and contact you to book you in.

Yes please book my LVA ‘can I pick your marketing brain?’ package!

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7 money saving tips for your business


Saving your small business money…

In this blog I share my advice on how to save some costs if you run a small business and in particular when you first start out as it’s all too easy to get carried away when you first launch  your business. Don’t spend your cash on stuff that’s nice to have, instead spend it on what you actually need. Of course once the money comes in and you’re a huge success (which you will be) then have all those things that are a bonus, after all you’ve worked hard for them!

Tip 1: Make sure you are networking with the right people
Do you really need to spend money joining expensive networking groups and associations? Some charge an awful lot of money and there are plenty of good free groups that you can start your networking with or ones that are cheaper, and then as your profit grows look at maybe joining those that charge more. If you are going to pay out make sure that the group has your ideal customers in it.

Tip 2: Trial software before you buy
Software for your business can be expensive and it’s tempting to think that you need the top version of everything to make your business better. Remember however, that the software is only a tool to help you. There are lots of free software packages out there and if you do need to pay for one use the free trial first that’s often on offer to see if it will be of use to you long term.


Keep on top of even the little expenses

     Keep on top of even the little                       expenses

Tip 3: Don’t go crazy with stationery
Do you really need that truck load of stationery with the fancy logoed folders that will still be in the cupboard next year? Buy the essentials but don’t go overboard, you can add what you find you need in small quantities as you go along (which may include those fancy folders!)


Tip 4: Advertise to your ideal client only
Do you really need that highly expensive advert? When you set up your business you’ll get bombarded with offers from newspapers, radio stations and websites and they’ll tell you they’re doing you a wonderful special offer and ask you how can you possibly refuse! You’ll remember in my marketing tips blog I talked about finding out where your ideal customer will be – if the advert you’re paying for is not reaching that ideal customer you’re wasting your money.

Tip 5: Why Canva is fabulous
I want to share a piece of free software called Canva with you that helps you create graphics so that you don’t need to pay out for a graphic designer to begin with. You can add text, shapes, upload your own photos or use theirs (some are free and some only cost a small fee), there is so much you can do with it. It even creates the graphic for you in the correct size (i.e. for Instagram or Facebook) so that you don’t need to resize your graphic www.canva.com

Piggy bank

You know how the old saying goes “Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.”

Tip 6: Trade shows can be very expensive
I often hear people say ‘I need to go to a trade show to get my business out there.’  However, the stands are extremely expensive and you need to consider extra expenses such as staff time to man the stand, travel, food, free promotional items, it all adds up. You can attend trade shows without having a stand and this is a good way to find out if it really is for you first. Remember my rule – if you do attend make sure it’s where your customers are definitely going to be.

Tip 7: Seek help with clients who are late payers
No matter how well you check out your clients you may get one that never pays your invoice on time. Chasing these clients yourself costs you time and money so it might be a good idea to seek a specialist to help you with those outstanding invoices. Make sure you have a contract in place detailing the process if your client pays late or refuses to pay.

I hope you’ve found my money saving tips useful. Be careful with your money and figure out what you really do need as your business grows so you don’t waste your cash when starting out.  Feel free to share of any of your money saving tips in the comments below I’d love to hear them.

Contact Rachel:

Email: rachel@lighthouseva.co.uk
Phone: 01303 647101


7 time saving tips for busy business owners

Time – you can never get it back

As a busy business owner time is precious and time is money.  Being organised can help you achieve so much and help you really focus on giving your customers the best service they deserve.  If you can get this right the PR surrounding your business will be fabulous which means people will recommend you,  and relationships and trust with current clients will continue to grow from strength to strength.

As a virtual assistant I help business owners to save time daily, it’s what I’m here for, to help them with those necessary but time-consuming tasks so they can focus on their clients.  Below I give you seven of my tips to get you organised by saving time.

My top time-saving tips:

  1. Get help with your admin
    Can you get help with your admin tasks?  If you’re spending too much time on your admin (which doesn’t actually make you an money) try and outsource it so you can focus on the more important aspects of your business.
  2. Remove distractions! 
    We all get so distracted in today’s world. Do you really need to check your personal social media page every half an hour or keep opening your emails?  Put aside a set amount of time per day to open and respond to your emails and then focus on other tasks.  Leave your Facebook page alone until your coffee or lunch break. If you work from home make sure your friends and family understand they can’t contact you during work hours.

    Shut down social media

    Shut down social media

  3. Automate tasks
    If you can automate tasks do so.  Can you write and schedule your weekly social media posts (with Hootsuite) and some of your emails (with MailChimp)?  Try and automate your bills but be careful to keep an eye on your budget.
  4. Write a to-do list and stick to it
     Prioritise your list so all the important tasks are done first.  It’s quite satisfying ticking off the things you’ve done!  It’s also a good idea to make a
    personal to-do list as well so you don’t feel overwhelmed trying to get that work/life balance.

    I love a 'to-do' list!

    I love a ‘to-do’ list!

  5. Don’t put things off
    If you have tasks that need to be completed weekly – such as your invoicing – try and organise to do them on the same day each week so you get into the habit of completing them. More importantly, don’t keep putting things off!
  6. Do the jobs you hate first
    Always try and complete the worst task of the day first.  There’s always a job in your business that you’re never going to enjoy so try and tackle this head on in the morning so it’s out of the way.
  7. Finally don’t be too hard on yourself!
    Make sure you have a coffee and lunch break, you’ll be more productive if you do.  This goes for if you work from home as well.

    Take time out for a break

    Take time out for a break

If you have any other time-saving tips feel free to share them in the comments box below.

If you need help with your admin and/or marketing and are looking to outsource it then give me a call on 01303 647101 or email rachel@lighthouseva.co.uk for a no-obligation discussion to see how I can help you.

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