How To Hire A Great Virtual Assistant For Marketing
Thinking about hiring a virtual assistant for marketing? Then you’ve come to the right place!
In this article we’ll look at what small business owners should consider before making a hire. And list the steps to finding the perfect person for your business.
Let’s get started!
Why Hire A Virtual Marketing Assistant?
If you’ve never hired a remote worker, the idea of working with someone you don’t meet in person takes some getting used to.
I get it. Hiring in-house is WAY more intuitive. But here are a couple of reasons why small businesses gravitate towards remote help.
Productivity: remote workers are up to 13% more productive than the in-house alternative. That’s HUGE!
In 2015, Stanford University professor Nicholas Bloom published an influential article about remote work. The article highlighted the results a Chinese travel company achieved by allowing 500 employees to work from home.
Over the 9 month experiment they experienced a 13% jump in productivity from their remote workers. Which is roughly equivalent to an entire extra day of work per week. Plus they saw a 50% drop in employee quit rates.
The experiment was so successful that they offered work from home to the entire company.
Availability: Remote workers are actually available! The week this article was published, the USA announced a 3.4% unemployment rate – the lowest rate since 1969. Getting the talent you need is no longer as easy as it used to be. If you want to get great help (without blowing your entire budget) you’ll need to be flexible about where you look.
Affordability: Remote workers are often less expensive than their local counterparts. So you can access a wider talent pool, and usually end up paying less.
At Sales Higher, we regularly work with virtual sales assistants from all over the world. And in my experience they are very effective, easy to manage, and great value for our investment.
What Kind Of Tasks Are Required?
The first thing you want to do is make a list of what your new hire will be doing.
Make your list as detailed as possible. Then review it carefully. Think about every activity in detail.
It’s tempting to think a marketing assistant can magically take over all your marketing requirements, without breaking a sweat.
They probably won’t.
If you’ve got a massive list of things you expect your assistant to execute then you may be setting yourself up for disappointment.
Figure out how long specific tasks will take before you allocate them to someone else. Be really conservative about your time estimates. Things generally take longer than we expect.
Marketing Professionals Come In Different Stripes
This is an article about hiring the perfect remote marketing assistant for your business. So the first question needs to be whether you even need a marketing assistant?
In some cases working with a freelancer might be more appropriate. You can provide work on a project basis. And easily switch to a new provider if needed.
In other situations a marketing agency will be a better fit. Especially if they have experience producing the specific outcomes that you require.
So before you hire a marketing assistant, explore your other options, too.
Creative Help? Or Execution Assistance?
There are two ways a virtual marketing assistant can help your business grow. And there’s a BIG difference between the two.
Do you need help creating marketing content?
Or do you need assistance executing marketing tasks?
Maybe you need assistance with a bit of both. But which one is the MAIN focus?
A remote marketing assistant is AWESOME for helping with administrative tasks. Need a hand scheduling meetings with potential clients? No problem!
How about some help managing your social media marketing? Done!
Keyword research? Piece of cake!
You need to be more careful about hiring for creative tasks, like writing. Anyone can claim they’re a great writer. But it’s not something you can train them to do. So check their abilities carefully before making them part of the team.
What Kind Of Tasks Are Required?
“Marketing” encompasses a HUGE range of activities. It’s tempting to try and find them all in one person, but you’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you do.
Consider everything that’s required to publish a blog article for a small business. The assistant needs to be able to…
- Be proficient at keyword research.
- Do effective content research to find supporting information.
- Write the post itself.
- Create or edit images to support the article.
- Make the article friendly for search engine optimization
- Edit the article.
- Publish the article in WordPress or another CMS.
- Write powerful meta-tags and other publishing optimization
- Post the article to social media platforms
- Share the article via cold email marketing
And all that is just for a simple article! There are a LOT of different skill sets on that list of tasks. And you might be expecting too much if you want one person to be expert in everything related to marketing your business.
Limit The Scope Of Virtual Assistant Work
No one has ever asked. But if I had to share ONE piece of advice to make a great hire, it’s this. Limit the scope of work to as FEW tasks as possible.
With some training anyone can excel at a single task. If they only do one or two things, they’ll eventually become truly great at them.
The more tasks you add to the list, the less likely they are to excel at all of them. No one is good at everything.
One of the advantages of hiring virtual staff is that you can find the talent you need. Which means you can hire multiple people to perform multiple functions. Give yourself greater flexibility by hiring one person for each of your different needs.
They don’t all need to be full time!
Prepare Your Onboarding
Your onboarding process needs to be great no matter what. You already know that.
But for virtual teams the onboarding process is doubly important.
When we’re working face-to-face there’s a lot of informal training that happens. New staff absorb lessons just by being around the rest of the team. And you’re usually around to catch problems before they become a bigger issue.
One of the advantages of hiring remote is less oversight – no micro-managing!
But it can also lead to problems. Sometimes virtual marketing assistants think they understand their tasks. But in reality their work differs from your expectations. And that’s not good!
A killer training process ensures that quality control is never an issue.
You can think of onboarding as a 3 step process:
Training: Share the information you think your team will need to do the job properly. Go into as MUCH detail as possible. Consider using videos so you don’t need to recreate the information experience for every new hire.
Applied Knowledge: Anyone can watch a video and feel like they know what to do. Give your new marketing assistant some real projects to work on. Stay with them while they do the work. And make sure they apply the tools, techniques, and principles you shared in the training phase.
Scheduled Review: Soon your marketing assistant will be ready to work on their own. Create a formal review process for their work so you always know what’s going on. This will enable you to address any issues you identify. And it’s a great way to quickly strengthen the quality of their work.
How To Hire A Virtual Marketing Assistant
Once your onboarding plan is ready, it’s time to hire your first remote marketing assistant. Yeah!
Make A Brief Assessment Test
By now you should know EXACTLY what tasks your marketing assistant will be engaged in. As mentioned before, keep the number of activities as small as possible for one person. You can always hire other virtual marketing assistants to help you do other tasks.
Ask yourself what specific skills you are looking for in an assistant. How should they behave to excel in your role? At Sales Higher, we don’t need assistants who know everything. But they DO need to be able to use initiative to look things up on their own.
Make a test that gives the applicant an opportunity to show off their abilities. The test should be short, and ideally take less than 10 minutes to complete.
The important thing is to match the tested activity with the actual work the applicant will be doing. Sales Higher provides B2B lead generation services so we spend a lot of time finding email addresses. So we test applicants on their ability to do the same.
Depending on how much communication is required, include a short answer section. You’ll get a good sense of how well your applicant can express themselves. And flag any potential problems early.
We’ve found these short tests are EXCELLENT hiring filters.
You Need Volume To Find A Great Hire
The BEST thing you can do for your business is get lots and lots of applicants. The more applicants you get, the more likely you are to find the right remote marketing assistant for your business.
Here’s what we’ve found:
For every 1000 applicants only about 100 complete the short assessment. We can eliminate 90% of applicants without doing a single thing. It is a MASSIVE time saver.
The test is designed to be achievable by anyone. Some people already know what needs to be done. Others need to put in a bit of effort. But for every 100 applicants that complete the assessment, only about 30 provide satisfactory answers.
From the 30 remaining applicants we shortlist 10 for an interview.
And from those 10 solid applicants we make a strong hire with 100% confidence.
The key number here is 1000 applicants. If you only have 100 applicants, you won’t have a deep applicant pool to draw upon.
A great place to start is Facebook. Look for groups that are built around virtual assistance and ask the moderator if you can post a job request. Most of the time they’ll be very happy to allow you to post.
There are also several VA network sites. For example VirtualStaff focuses on Philippines-based VAs who are looking for work.
The key is to get as many solid applicants as you need to find the perfect person for your marketing role.
Other Hiring Considerations
Hiring a remote assistant for marketing is no small thing. And you don’t want to repeat the process more often than necessary. So here are a couple of additional things to look at to make a great hire.
Education Mismatch: What did they study at school? Is it related to the role you’re offering? Someone who just passed the bar might be happy as a marketer short term. But they’re probably looking to get into the legal field. And they might not be with you in a year.
Career Goals: I met with a young woman who had a long history of working in theatre. With a few questions about her career goals it became very obvious that she needed temporary employment until she lined up another theatre job. She was planning to leave as soon as possible.
Personal Situation: Picture yourself in the situation of the applicant you’re interviewing. Is the role a great fit for their situation? If not, be careful about offering it. When their situation evolves, so will their employment status. For example, a student who is graduating in 6 months will likely seek new employment as soon as they leave school.
Hiring Your Ideal Virtual Assistant For Marketing
Finding the right remote marketing assistant can make all the difference to your small business. So to summarize:
Hire for a single skill. Hire part timers if necessary.
Get a large number of applicants – go for volume.
Test your applicants on tasks they’ll actually be doing.
And consider their long term suitability before you make a short term hire. You only want to hire once!
How about you? Do you have any tips for finding the perfect remote marketing assistant?
I’d love to hear what you find works best. You can message me on Linkedin or send a message on our contact page.
Look forward to hearing from you!
Matthew Murray is the Managing Director of Sales Higher. He knows any company can THRIVE with enough qualified sales leads. So he’s spent the last decade helping companies meet engaged prospects and win new deals.