Meet Monica: Alliance Virtual’s Theater Junkie Talks Bangs, Books and Broadway

Advice and Support,Support — Tags: , , — joanna @ 11:14 am on April 23, 2015

Monica Ochoa, Alliance Virtual Offices

At Alliance Virtual, we like to work with an open door. We want our clients to see exactly what’s going on so they know who we are, what we’re doing, and who they’re working with. As a client, that’s a basic but very important right.

So in the nature of transparency, we recently opened the door on how Alliance Virtual Offices, a virtual company both by name and by nature, gets things done.

We told you that we work with people right across the globe, from North America and Mexico to Europe and beyond. It’s not always easy – as we explain in our blog. But it means we get to work with the best people in the business, rather than just those geographically close to us.

So now that we’ve told you how we work, we want to tell you who we work with. This is the really fun part, because we get to ask our staff all sorts of silly questions (strictly in the name of customer service, of course).

So we’re kicking things off with the lovely Monica Ochoa, Member Service Representative at Alliance Virtual Offices. She’s been one of our star players since February 2011, and she likes to talk… a lot.

AVO: Can you walk us through a day in the life of Monica?

Monica: A typical day at work will involve A LOT of calls and emails. Calls from new clients, calls from current clients, calls to members (owners and managers of our 600+ locations), follow up calls, follow up emails… Let’s just say that a typical work day for me is having the phone glued to my ear!

AVO: What do you love most about your job?

Monica: I guess I like the unexpected compliments. I know how that makes me sound, but whenever a client contacts me after they have been confirmed in a new address, just thanking me for my help … it’s a feel good moment for me.

We have our clients’ best interests at heart and we are not just trying to sell to them, we are trying to help their business succeed. So when they feel taken care of, to the point where they actually take the time to thank me personally, it means a lot.

I also like the trust that Frank (CEO), Mike (Chief Marketing Officer) and Toshi (Operations Director) have in me. I’ve grown with the company over the past 4 years and I now have a lot more responsibilities.

I also really enjoy the team at the office. We work hard but we also like to joke around and sometimes just take a break and talk about our weekend or the last movie we saw.

AVO: And what do you like the least?

Monica: Ha… Well, I guess the part I like the least is being on the receiving end of an unhappy client. It happens sometimes… not a lot, and it’s not necessarily our fault, but when it does it’s SO stressful.

AVO: Do you have any hobbies outside of work?

Monica: I do! Where do I start? I love to travel, and I LOVE going to the theater. I am a Broadway junkie. I am actually on the production team of a concert we are doing, for the second time, to help raise funds for a school that helps children with cerebral palsy.

I also enjoy going to the movies and reading. Actually, for one of my work anniversaries with Alliance the team gave me a gift card for a bookstore. They know me :)

AVO: Where did you go on vacation recently? And where are you going next?

Monica: I went to a music festival in New York. Next I am planning a trip with my friends to Vegas, I’ve never been so I am pretty excited about that.

AVO: Tell us something you’d rather forget…

Monica: I gave myself bangs… That was memorable, embarrassing and funny… NEVER AGAIN BANGS! Never again.

AVO: If you could work at any ABCN location in the world, where would it be?

Monica: NEW YORK! NEW YORK! NEW YORK! NEW YORK! NEW YORK! NEW YORK! Pleeeease? :)

Backer of Small Business Contest: How to FAIL in 350 Words

Backer of Small Business Contest - submitting your entry

Last week we launched our Backer of Small Business Contest, in which we’re giving away $500 to one lucky small business.

To enter, simply tell us in 350 words (or less) why your company deserves a $500 investment, and how it would help your small business grow. The contest is running until midnight (EDT) May 1 2015. So there’s still time to enter, if you haven’t already.

But wait! Before you go jumping in at the deep end, let’s think about the entry process.

As a small business owner, you know more than anyone the importance of planning. Which is why we’re asking you to really think carefully about your submission.

Take this opportunity to send us something that’s concise and straight from the heart. To help you create something meaningful, and to really turn our judges’ heads, we’ve outlined some examples of good and bad submissions below:

Bad Example

Describe what your company does:
“Our company is a foreign exchange business. We provide foreign exchange solutions and portfolio management for interested parties.”

Tell us why you need the money and how you’ll use it:
“We need to develop a new website. $500 will help us pay for a developer so we can get more clients.”

Good Example

Describe what your company does:
“ABC Financial Consulting is a small consulting firm in Atlanta, GA. We focus on services in accounting, business valuation and a host of financial services, mainly for startup, small businesses and entrepreneurs.”

Tell us why you need the money and how you’ll use it:
“We are a growing financial consulting firm who started in 2013. Our 5-year plan includes national and global expansion, but first, we want to find new paths to reach customers within our home state. We’ve found the best way to reach local customers is through word of mouth, as this tends to introduce more informed prospects with a higher conversion rate. To expand on this line of inquiry, we have developed a basic client referral program. We want to expand this plan in a variety of ways, including empowering our teams to use social media out reach, but our budget is limited. If we won $500 we would invest it in a better referral tool, like FriendBuy or ReferralCandy, and use the tool to closely track the performance of referrals and conversions. We believe this program alone will enable us to grow our sales pipeline by 30% in 2015, which will give us a solid footing for future expansion – both at home and abroad.”

Spot the difference?

The first example is poor because it’s far too light on detail. We don’t just want to know about your line of work. We want to get to know your business, why you do what you do, what makes you tick, and your plans for the future.

Don’t gloss over the important stuff. Get into the nitty gritty – give us stats, facts and real feeling.

The second example isn’t the full 350 words, but it doesn’t need to be. You might not have your own in-house wordsmith (yet) so we’re not expecting beautiful prose. But what we are expecting is a heartfelt entry that you have taken time to research.

We want you to tell us exactly how much difference $500 will really make to your business.

Like we said, your entry needs to turn our judges’ heads. If it’s full of cold hard corporate fluff, it’ll fall on deaf ears. But if it’s got feeling, meaning, and heart – with a few stats thrown in for good measure – then you can bet your bottom dollar it’ll be worth the full five hundred.

Enter Online Here

Thanks PicJumbo for the image

Backer Of Small Business: We’re Giving Away $500

Alliance Virtual Offices - Backer of Small Business contest

We’ve just launched a new campaign to support small businesses. We’re calling it the Backer Of Small Business, and we’re giving away $500 to one lucky business owner.

Why? Because we’ve been there. We know that for bootstrapping businesses the world over, a few extra dollars (or Euros, or Pounds, or Yen) really can make a world of difference.

Here’s how it works:

  • If you own, run or manage a startup or small/micro business, go to: www.alliancevirtualoffices.com/500/
  • Tell us in 350 words why your business needs the money and what you would do with it.
  • Be human about it. Don’t just paste your company bio and hope for the best. We’re for real, and we want to know that you are, too.
  • Don’t forget to hit ‘Submit’ when you’re done.

We’re opening the contest to all small businesses, regardless of industry or location. Our judges are Frank Cottle, CEO of Alliance Virtual Offices, and Viveka Von Rosen – the LinkedIn Expert herself.

You don’t have to be a client of Alliance Virtual Offices to enter. In fact we really don’t mind if you have no intention of using our services. We just really, really want to help small businesses like you to get ahead.

If you win, all we ask is that you take part in a quick interview for our blog and share the love on social media.

Oh, and spend wisely!

Find out more and enter online here: www.alliancevirtualoffices.com/500/

Quick Facts

  • Enter online from April 1
  • Submission deadline May 1
  • We’ll announce our decision on May 22
  • Open to clients and non clients of Alliance Virtual Offices
  • Meet the judges: Frank Cottle and Viveka Von Rosen

Five Things You Didn’t Know about the CEO of Alliance Virtual Offices

Advice and Support — Tags: — joanna @ 2:48 pm on March 30, 2015

Frank Cottle, CEO Alliance Virtual Offices

You probably didn’t wake up today wondering what it is you don’t know about Frank Cottle.

(If you did, I’m very impressed and a little freaked out.)

The reason I want to tell you a bit more about me is because I want to learn more about you, too.

Here’s why:

This year, the whole Alliance team is focused on what I’ve always devoutly believed in: developing personal relationships in business. Just because we share a business relationship doesn’t mean we can’t have closer personal ties, too. That leads to mutual understanding and respect — the keys to fruitful long-term business relationships.

Now You Know

Since we have to start this new relationship somewhere, let me tell you some things you probably didn’t know about me.

  1. My first business success was with Ardell Yacht & Ship Brokers. I thought I would retire after that business, but I was in my 30s, and I could only do so much surfing, paddle boarding and wind surfing (as a matter of fact, perhaps my hips would have preferred I not do so much windsurfing).
  2. I entered the serviced office industry in 1979 with three other partners, and over the years we grew our business center portfolio and the Alliance Network to more than 600 partner business center locations in 44 countries. We are able to serve our clients in most major markets globally.
  3. I have two artificial hips due to an abundance of windsurfing and downhill skiing all my life. I’m just hoping the knees aren’t next. Fortunately, I have a great personal trainer to keep me on track just to be sure.
  4. Unless I am travelling or have in-person meetings, I always work from my home office on Fridays.
  5. Most of my meetings are virtual, on conference calls or through video. Our Alliance team is mostly virtual, and most of our partners, suppliers and clients are not in my area. We use Gotomeeting and Skype extensively, along with a handful of other productivity tools.

Now you may have a little more insight into what drives the Alliance team and me.

How about you?

Let’s start connecting. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and give us the chance to do something else we love to do – talk about you, our customers and partners.

We Want to Talk to You – Often

Advice and Support — Tags: , , — joanna @ 12:14 pm on March 26, 2015

Frank Cottle,

We have always aimed at making our customer service the best around. While we think we are doing pretty well, we know we will always have a lot more work to do.

Now we’re focusing our efforts on understanding our clients better so we can create and deliver the best possible products, services and support.

The only way we can do this is to build personal relationships with each of you.

Even though we may never meet in person due to the virtual way we do business, and the physical miles between us, we can connect.

Let’s Do Social

We want to understand more about you and your business needs. So tell us! Nothing fancy required. Just good, old-fashioned conversations with a twist. We’d like to engage with you through social media.

My LinkedIn account is in the top one percent of LinkedIn, and I invite you to participate in the lively discussions we have there.

Our Twitter account is also quite active, but we’re going to kick it up a notch by focusing on more Twitter conversations with you.

So, are you with me? I hope so. We’re looking forward to connecting with our clients more closely and more frequently.

We also have a lot to give in return. We are about to launch a contest to give away money to small businesses looking to bootstrap. We also are about to start a referral program where we give our clients account credits for referring business.

We want to do a lot more than that though. That’s why we want to engage and learn more about you: to deliver on your needs.

Let’s get started by following each other on Twitter. We have multiple people in charge of working on our Twitter account, but usually it’s Jo Disney and she often ends her tweets “~Jo” so you know it’s her.

Connect with us on Twitter, and tell us who you are and what you do. We’ll follow you back, and Jo will likely continue the conversation in some way.

We look forward to meeting and socialising with you, the ‘virtual’ way.

Frank Cottle
CEO, Alliance Virtual Offices

Our Dispersed Team Wasn’t Working, Until We Did This.

Teamwork

Never mind dispersed. The Alliance Virtual Offices team is what you might call ‘globally scattered’.

Just picture this. The company is spearheaded in the U.S., with a CEO in Newport Beach, California and the Chief Marketing officer in Lexington, Kentucky.

Over in Las Vegas, you’ll find our CFO plus a close-knit team of receptionists.

A few thousand miles further south is our Director of Operations in Monterrey, Mexico. Head northeast across the Atlantic and meet one of our marketing team in Northampton, England, and another in sunny Dubai, UAE.

We’ve been known to work with great people right across the globe, even as far-flung as Sydney, Australia.

Not to mention the location of our clients of course. Most are based across the U.S., with a sizeable proportion in Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, and other European locations.

Collecting the pieces

Given that we’re virtual by name, it probably comes as no surprise that we’re virtual by nature too. In fact, we’ve been working across geographical borders for years.

The big question is: How do we bring our globally scattered team together?

And how do we keep things humming along smoothly? How do we work and communicate across time zones? How do we maintain visibility of objectives, tasks, and workflow?

We’re glad you asked!

It’s all down to a bit of tech, a dash of calendar planning and good ol’ fashioned communication.

Okay, that might sound a little too easy. It hasn’t always been a breeze, and there are always challenges involved when distance and time separates you from the people who are integral to driving your business forward.

“You never completely replace the benefit of sitting right next to your colleagues,” says Mike Sullivan, Chief Marketing Officer at Alliance Virtual Offices (he’s in Lexington, KY).

“Sometimes I come up with an idea and I need to share it with the team immediately. But when it’s 4:00 pm here, it’s 9:00 pm over in England and midnight in Dubai. So it has to wait.

“That’s frustrating and disruptive. But rather than let it become a problem, we came up with a way around it. Because working this way is so much better and more productive for us than the traditional, centralized 9-5.”

If it wasn’t, we probably wouldn’t be in the virtual officing trade (Alliance Physical Offices doesn’t really have the same ring to it). We had to find a way of replicating the benefit of sitting side-by-side, while working thousands of miles apart.

So here’s how we do it:

1. We Use the Right Tools:
The right technology is essential for anyone working with a dispersed team.

CommunicationA smartphone is important, not so much for calls but for keeping tabs on email, social media and software data – like getting alerts if there’s a problem with your system or website.

When you’re working with an international team, you need communication that everyone can use happily. We know that everyone we work with has Wi-Fi and a laptop, so we use Google Hangouts to chat and make video calls – we know when staff are online when they’re signed in. Some people prefer Skype, so we keep a Skype chat window open too.

When we have a larger group call, we use GoToMeeting – the screen-sharing ability is particularly useful. And Asana helps keep projects humming along nicely. We use it to assign tasks to individuals and attach deadlines. We know Asana sends timely reminders about upcoming deadlines too, which means less person-to-person chasing.

2. We Share Documents:
Another handy bit of kit is Google Drive, because email is so yesterday. Rather than pinging revised documents backwards and forwards, we created a shared drive with Google Docs and keep all our files in one place.

Whenever we have a call together, we make a point of keeping meeting minutes in the Drive, and requesting that ALL edited or new documents be kept in there. It also helps with visibility because at any time, any member of the team can look up a document and see the latest revisions.

3. We Schedule Regular Catch-Ups:
Everyone has a recurring conference call in their calendar. For most people it’s weekly, for others it’s two or three times per week, depending on workloads and projects. This is pretty important. Not only does it give us a chance to have a proper chat, as close to face-to-face as we can get, it also gives each team member a deadline to work towards. No-one likes logging into a meeting without something to report, so it helps keep things on track.

Another important thing about video calls is the human element. “We’ve been working with some members of the team for years, yet we’ve never actually met,” said Mike. “It seems a bit crazy, but so long as we stick to weekly calls, it works just fine.”

4. We Have ‘Alliance’ Days:
Alliance Virtual Offices employs permanent staff alongside freelance marketers. The right freelancer can bring plenty of great skills to the table – but there is a downside. Freelancers work with other businesses – not just ours – so it can be tricky to schedule work around their other marketing responsibilities or benefit from their sole attention.

To get round that problem, we started assigning ‘Alliance days’. It might be a specific afternoon or a couple of days per week. We try to work it so it fits across time zones, meaning no-one has to stay up too late or get out of bed at a crazy hour. When you know which ‘day’ is assigned to you, you have clear visibility over what that person is working on, and you can ping them via chat to ask questions or discuss ideas.

5. Communication is EVERYTHING:
The glue that holds everything together is communication. However you communicate – whether it’s by chat, phone, email, or video – you really must keep it going as often as possible.

“A lot of our people work at home, alone, or in a coworking space, and it’s easy to lose sight of objectives when you’re not sharing the same space as your team,” said Mike. “So we communicate as often as possible to keep priorities fresh and to gain visibility over tasks and deadlines.”

And so?

“We’re not a conventional company, so the conventional 9-5 doesn’t work for us,” added Mike. “This does. It’s flexible, agile, and it suits our virtual business. It suits our clients too, as working across time zones means we can react to things faster.

“These processes we’ve implemented have really reduced the number of iterations and time between iterations dramatically. One simple document that used to take 3 weeks to complete, now can be done within 3 to 4 days with much higher quality output due to the improved focus and process.”

Teach us something new! We’d love to know how you keep your dispersed team working together effectively. Let us know here, on Twitter or on Facebook.

Thanks to SumAll for the awesome images

Is Freelancing the Future of Global Business?

Advice and Support,Start-up Guides — Tags: , , — joanna @ 8:53 am on February 10, 2015

Freelancing

By 2020, it’s estimated that 40% of the workforce will be freelancing.

That goes for full and part-time freelancers including contractors and moonlighters. With flexibility becoming the new currency and traditional job perks taking a back seat, these are exciting times for solopreneurs.

What’s more, this burgeoning band of merry workers is uncovering more opportunities than ever before.

And we’ve got the stats to prove it. In 2014, Freelancers Union commissioned a survey alongside Elance-oDesk to find out more about America’s freelancing community. In September 2014 it released its findings and, boy, were we shocked (in a really good way).

Here’s the skinny:

  • 34% of the American workforce – that’s 53million people – are freelancing.
  • That’s more than the total combined populations of 25 American states. Put another way, if those 53million freelancers all stood on each other’s shoulders, they’d be taller than 10,000 Mt Everests.
  • The American freelancing workforce is adding $715billion to the economy every year.
  • 32% of freelancers said they have seen demand for their services increase in the past year, compared to 15% who said they’ve seen it decrease.
  • 43% of freelancers said they expect their income to increase in the coming year, while 11% expect a decrease.
  • 77% said they make the same or more money than they did before they started freelancing.
  • 36% of moonlighters, or part-time freelancers, have thought about quitting to freelance full-time. That equates to more than 4 million people.
  • 80% of traditional workers said they would be willing to do additional freelance work if it was available. Only 20% said they wouldn’t consider moonlighting.
  • There are barriers holding people back from freelancing. These include a lack of stable income (50%); difficulty finding work (47%); getting paid on time (31%); and paperwork and administrative overhead (13%).
  • However, technology is helping people find work. 65% said the Internet had made it easier to find freelance work; 42% have found and completed work entirely online; and 31% said they can find jobs online in less than 24 hours.

The research adds further proof to the belief that freelancing is growing fast. As more companies open up to the benefits of outsourcing and more skilled people go independent, the opportunities are set to expand.

Not to mention that this sector is pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy. That amount of input can’t go unnoticed, which suggests the freelancing community could be in for greater supportive measures over the coming years. This in itself could further attract more would-be independent workers into the fold.

Indeed, the report found that 77% of freelancers said the best days of the freelance job market are still ahead, and 65% believe freelancing is more respected than it was three years ago.

Plus, the research shows that younger workers are more likely to go freelance, which is only set to further expand the sector. 38% of Millennials (workers under 35) are freelancing, compared to 32% of those over 35.

All things considered, freelancing could well become a significant force in the future of global business. What do you think?

Check out the report in full here.

(Oh, and if working without walls sounds like your perfect career move, we’ve got a virtual workplace solution for that)

Image source

4 Marketing Predictions You Should Prepare for in 2015

Start-up Guides — Tags: , , — joanna @ 6:00 am on February 3, 2015

Marketing tips for 2015

Every business wants to get ahead of the game. And what game could be more important than marketing?

Handled correctly, marketing is the business power tool that brings in customers, increases loyalty, bumps up turnover and gives your business a leg up over the competition. But as with every power tool, you’ve got to know which one is right for the job.

When was the last time you blew the dust off your SEO strategy? Or read up on the latest content marketing methods? Times they are a-changin’, and to keep up with the competition, it’s time you sharpened those marketing power tools.

With that in mind, here are 4 marketing tips for 2015 with the help of industry guru, Neil Patel.

1) Brush Up Your SEO: Be prepared for more algorithm changes this year. Panda and Penguin shook things up a few years ago, and Patel predicts more of the same very soon. Ultimately, we’re advised that it will become much harder to manipulate search listings through SEO strategies, so Patel says it all boils down to good ol’ fashioned business.

“Focus on creating a better product or service”, he says. “And you’ll have to keep improving the content on your website.”

That doesn’t mean you should stop SEO altogether. Continue to focus on it, but bear in mind that techniques change. Ultimately, search engines want to reward good, honest sites and companies rather than those that invest in quick-win tactics.

2) Content is Still King: One constant we can still rely on is good content. As Patel says, you must keep improving the content on your website. That doesn’t just mean good words – it means real, usable stuff that your readers and customers can take away with them. Like research, good advice, helpful guides, free tools – that sort of thing.

And how do you get your content ‘out there’? “A lot comes down to the social media accounts,” says Patel. “Social media will become the cornerstone of blogging… For example, my personal blog is already getting 25,000 plus visitors a month. It’s not because my content is better than everyone else’s, but it’s because I have a large social following. With that social following, I can make almost any new blog, within my niche, popular.

“Companies will start seeing more value in social media, and they’ll spend thousands of dollars a month on building up their social media accounts.”

Don’t just sign up to every social media channel you can get your hands on. Get onto a small handful of channels that suit your sector, and focus on doing it well. Work slowly to build up a followership, connect with people both inside and out of your industry, and engage with them. Chat with your connections and post useful content – which includes your own beautiful content, of course.

3) Old School Marketing is Coming Back: SEO and PPC and digital this-and-that isn’t everything. Remember, people still like to talk. Patel gives the example of Gary Vaynerchuk, who plastered ads all over New York City for his new book and included his phone number.

“The campaign was so effective that it not only caused his cell phone to blow up, but it helped him sell more books at the same time,” he says. “Some of these creative marketing campaigns will yield an ROI, while others won’t. It is all about testing, and you’ll see companies doing more of this in 2015.”

4) It’s Time to Get Personal:

Patel says that personal branding is proven to generate a positive ROI for businesses – yet it’s rare for business owners to do this.

“Just look at my name. My Neil Patel brand is actually larger than some of the businesses I own according to Google Trends. And I’m able to leverage it to drive more signups to my business.”

Why can’t you market both your business and yourself? Patel has been doing it for years, and in his words “it has done wonders”. Okay, so maybe you don’t want to be the ‘face’ of your corporation. You’ll have to closely manage how you present yourself both on and offline. But the returns could be well worth it.

Ultimately, business is becoming more transparent, and 2015 could see a real shake-up in marketing techniques. The opportunities are there for the taking – it’s just a matter of finding what works for you and your business, and sticking with it.

In Patel’s words: “Don’t ever be afraid of change. Instead, learn to adapt. And if you can adapt before your competition, you can win.”

You can read more of his advice here.

Image source

Alliance Virtual Offices: How To Add a Voicemail Greeting

Advice and Support,Support — Tags: , , , , , — joanna @ 9:26 am on January 15, 2015

You can’t always be in the office or sitting by the phone. So here’s a definitive guide for Alliance Virtual Offices customers on how to set up a new voicemail greeting to welcome your callers.

First things first. Go to the Alliance Virtual Offices customer login section (need help doing this?)

Just for reference, you’ll always find the ‘Account Login’ at the top of the page (pictured below). It’s here that you can find your latest invoice, check your business details and make any adjustments to your account.

Alliance Virtual Offices - Online account login

Here’s a full explanation on how to login and find your account details.

Creating a Voicemail Greeting

Now you’re all logged in, let’s take a look at how to set up a voicemail greeting to welcome callers when you’re out of the office.

  • In your Account, click ‘My Virtual Phone’
  • Click the ‘Greetings’ button
  • On the ‘Manage Greetings’ page, click the orange ‘Add a Greeting’ button on the right hand side
  • You now have three options. Tick the appropriate radio button to record your greeting, as follows:

o   Text to Greeting: Type your message in the box provided, select a ‘voice’ from the dropdown list, and then test it by clicking the ‘Preview’ button. You can personalise it further by adding special sounds using the options provided.

o   Record from Phone: Record a personal message using your phone handset. Click the ‘Click to Record a Greeting’ button, enter your phone number and then click ‘Call’. Begin recording after the prompt.

o   Upload New File: You can also record a personal message via other means, and save the file to your computer. Once you’ve done this, click the ‘Choose File’ button and then click ‘Upload’.

Always preview your message before you save it to your system. To do this, click the ‘Preview’ button and ensure the volume is up on your PC so you can listen to the full message. Once you’re happy with it, click ‘Add’ and then ‘Save Greeting’.

You can add notes and assign a name to your greeting – such as ‘My Voicemail’. You can also allocate it to a specific extension. Otherwise, leave the ‘Restricted to’ option set to ‘All’.

Activate Your Greeting

Now that you have recorded a new voicemail greeting, make sure it’s switched on and attached to the appropriate phoneline or extension:

  • In your Account, click ‘My Virtual Phone’
  • Click the ‘Users & Extensions’ button
  • Find your extension, and then select the ‘Edit Settings’ button (on the right hand side)
  • Scroll down to the ‘Voicemail’ section and ensure the ‘Status’ is set to ‘On’
  • If you wish to use a message you have already saved, select ‘Standard Greeting’ and then choose the nickname you set previously (eg. ‘My Voicemail’)
  • You may wish to include a prompt for callers to leave a message, in which case select the option to ‘Play this message after my greeting’

From this page, you can choose whether or not to activate the Voicemail Transcription to text service, and you can also specify how you receive notifications of new voicemail messages – either by email or text message (SMS).

Take a look at all of these options and again, always test the service yourself once you’ve activated it.

As always, if you need further help with setting a voicemail greeting, just get in touch! Our customer support team is available throughout the working week and we’re always happy to help.

Location, Location, Location: Putting Your Business Where the Business Is

Advice and Support — Tags: , , , — joanna @ 11:11 am on December 19, 2014

Put your business on the map with a virtual office

How do you make the most of your location to boost your business?

Marketing expert Brett Relander has an answer for that. He wrote a great post – ‘Cut the Competition Down to Size with Location Based Mobile Marketing’ – to help small businesses get found more easily.

Smartphones are big business in marketing, and because your customers carry them around wherever they go, location is a big factor in trying to catch more potential spenders.

“More than 75% of smartphone users make use of location based services to gain information about businesses near their location,” says Brett. This ranges from getting directions to reading local reviews of your company.

“Businesses that are investing in efforts to increase their location-aware audience base are reporting improved conversions,” he added. “Preferred tools include QR codes, click-to-call, coupons, and mobile apps.”

Brett offers some great advice on the latest cutting-edge location-based marketing techniques, including RFID tags and geo-fencing.

You can read more about that on Brett’s blog. But first, let’s go back to basics.

Try these starter tips to help you get a firm footing in the world of location-based mobile marketing:

1. Get to Know the Platforms
The big social media platforms offering location-based services include Foursquare, Loopt, Yelp and Facebook. Try to identify which ones your customers are most likely to use based on age, interests and location. Sign up for the most relevant and download the apps to your phone.

2. Claim Your Business
Fill out details of your business on your chosen apps and maps. Add a badge to your website or on your front counter displaying your platforms – eg ‘We’re on Yelp’ – to try to encourage customers to interact.

Make sure your business is listed on search engine maps too, like Google and Bing, as well as the main service applications like Apple Maps. Check and edit your information to ensure it’s bang up to date.

3. Engage!
Don’t just jump on a platform and forget about it. Using social channels like Foursquare is a great way to engage with your customers. Promotions will help you to get noticed too. For instance you could offer customers a discount every time they ‘check in’ or leave a review. That will help to push more content to your profile and encourage customer loyalty.

Ready to put your business on the map? Try out these tips and let us know how it goes. We’d love to hear your feedback.

And if you’re looking to get noticed in a new location, a virtual office is a great way to get there. You can bag an impressive business address virtually anywhere in the world from Wilshire Boulevard to Wall Street, Champs-Elysees to Piccadilly.

It’s just one of the many ways Alliance Virtual Offices can help your small business grow. And grow. And grow…

Check out www.alliancevirtualoffices.com to find out more.

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