Matt Brown of FredricPR says he now has more free time each day to take on new paying clients because his H.Y.V.A.™ Virtual Assistant handles all his back-office work which enables hims to focus on delivering email marketing and PR results for his clients. (<<<— Check out the video below to find out why he’s excited about our Virtual Assistant services!).
Owen: Hi, my name is Owen McGab Enaohwo and welcome to H.Y.V.A.™ and what I do here is I empower entrepreneurs to be able to focus on their income producing activities and today I have one of my clients, Matt Brown from FredricPR today to come on here and so we can learn from his story. So, Matt, you are a PR expert and also you do a lot of e-mail marketing for your clients. So, I want to also learn a little bit about your business. What do you do?
Matt: Sure. Well, basically I am a small entrepreneur at the moment. My only team consists of your people but at one point I had 5 people working for me in-house and so forth. We used to do a lot of PR and most of our clients came to us because they wanted to get out in the news and they wanted to get into news articles, get on radio shows, gets on television. Most of them were actually kind of a split between businesses getting their businesses [01:17] audio interruption and also authors and speakers because originally we came from a publishing background but that’s a whole other story.
Since I joined up with you guys, I’ve been working out of my current client load from public relations and focusing more on e-mail marketing simply because while the economy was really, really bad, I was getting PR for people but it wasn’t turning into a lead so it wasn’t turning in to closed business as much as they would like and I was subsidizing in order, so that they got value. I was doing a lot of e-mail campaigns about the PR that they were getting and that is what converted more people into business.
Owen: And I like what you said to because like all entrepreneurs, we start a business and we pivot, we find a new direction and certainly you started out with PR and now you’ve pivoted into e-mail marketing and I like that. So, can you tell us more details on how that goes in regards to how you do e-mail marketing for your clients? I’m curious.
Matt: Well, right now I’m focusing on business to clients that are sure in the $5 million a year range to maybe $20 million a year range. And most of this businesses that I do business for they sell a product, they sell a service most of the time that is kind of a bigger ticket item, not something where you want a million people to buy but where you want to feel, something maybe starting at $5,000 maybe that’s because it’s an annual contract or because that’s just a singular project.
Owen: And it can me make see the value in the e-mail because this is a large ticket item, stuff like that involves no constant drift e-mails or a campaign that you send information after information getting them to the point where they actually buy, right?
Matt: Yes, there’s a lot of nurturing involved in it. The idea is to position my clients in front of [03:27] audio interruption from databases and so forth and educate that audience on how their need, wants, desires, difficulties and frustrations can be addressed by what my client has to offer. It’s not a lot of sales, it’s mainly education with only a very little sales being offered maybe “if you want more help call us,” that sort of thing.
Through this, I managed to help clients bring in millions of dollars in contracts, get windows with people like Morgan Stanley and I can’t exactly name them all but Fortune 500 Companies [04:07] at them because these people [04:13] audio interruption to say in the e-mail just relevant to them.
Owen: How much type of work was depending on you, before you hired a VA?
Matt: And I think this also kind of goes into what you were sort of asking before, it was “What inspired me to get a VA?” and the answer was that there was actually two particular months where I had money or business than I could handle and it wasn’t that all that money was coming in. It was, “I had to do the work to receive the money.” There were contracts in that and I couldn’t possibly do it all so then I thought, “Well if I can’t fulfill it all then I can’t grow.”
So by getting started with the virtual assistance that I’ve been using then as a process development resource saying “Okay, what is it that I have to do and what is it that somebody can do for me? And if somebody else can do this for me what is it that they need to know?” So since I start working with you guys, one of the biggest problems that I have, the selling points was I spend about an hour, I definitely spend an hour a day just processing all the e-mails that go into my e-mail account just so that I can figure out what was important and what I needed to see.
And now, it’s actually kind of cool. My inbox is actually empty with the exception of that 100,000 e-mails that came in maybe 3 months before the VA’s were there but each day a little bit of that gets processed more and more because we get down to zero which is really cool.
Owen: So, let’s see if we can paint this correctly so the audience can understand. Before you hired a VA, it was more about a feeling of you had all these work come in but because of the limited amount of hours that you have personally as the person who’s doing the work to handle them. You say, “You know what? You cannot do the work yourself” which means that you’re going to end up losing the money because the money gets paid when the work is done. So you essentially said, “Let me go ahead and hire a virtual assistant so that I can free up more time and handle this task so I can get paid,” that was the inspiration as to why you went ahead, right?
Owen: I’m also curious now, you’ve given us an example of how things was in regards to sort of what kind of e-mail and the load of e-mails that come into you daily. What is it now? Anyone who’s listened to this obviously will say you probably would have had some initial fears and reservations about hiring a VA. If you don’t mind what were those initially?
Matt: Yeah. So, initially my budget was really cash strapped so to be able to just in terms of small operations it was line item expense and what did I do, I looked around at several different people that offered what you do and I could get into why I went with you over them if you want.
Owen: That would be nice. We want as much information, I mean feel free to share their name if you want.
Matt: I don’t exactly remember their names, I think there was one called Tasks Everyday and one called – I don’t remember the other one but anyways what I thought that you did that got me interested very much was the very first time I went to talk to you because I’ve been wanting to work with a VA for a long time. I said to you, “I want to work with someone, it’s a lot of money for me”, you said, ” Do you have your systems in place” and I said, “No” and then you said ” Well, here’s what I recommend is go to basically these places where you could hire people temporarily just on the spot and so forth and practice a few systems. I don’t want your business until you have some systems because I want to be able to actually help you and I don’t think you’re ready for our help yet.”
So I was really impressed with that and then about 6 or 7 or 8 months later I still didn’t have systems in place but I did identify the hour a day that I was spending on e-mail that I could turn into a system so then that’s when I began. I looked at you again, I look Task Everyday, I looked at a few other places and something that you did that I could remember that I really liked was that you offered basically a free-trial to give it a try and it was through that that I was able to say, “Okay, can I serve up this e-mail issue and somebody else take care of it for me.” And I remember when that first got done I got so excited I didn’t do anything that day. I mean, it’s not that I didn’t do anything; I took a lot of time off. “Wow, okay that’s resolves” and so that’s the chance of why you guys was because of the way you structured it.
Initially, you said “I don’t want your business, I want to help you in the long run I don’t want to do something just Wednesday, Tuesday” and then secondly the being able to take it one step at a time with an intro first and then go one month later and see what we’d do with that, “That was great.” In terms of fears, money is money, right? So you spend money and you should get results on it. So one of the challenges now is if I have more free time, how I can use it productively to get more business and by being able to have your team so eagerly set on figuring out how to relieve my time especially now things are starting to come together really quickly.
I’m really comfortable with my current virtual assistant, he’s great and I know I have a team that some other people that come in and out and work with me and they’re good too but just today, I thought “I don’t need to do that” and then I hopped on a screen share real quick, spend about 2 minutes talking into it, saved it, that file automatically went to a folder that my VA is going to see tomorrow morning or later today because the task doesn’t have to get done until maybe 2 or 3 days from now and then they’ll review it and if they have questions, they’ll ask me otherwise they’ll start it. And they’ll pause for a moment ask me I’m doing it, confirm they’re doing it right and then continue and that’s just giving me the confidence of, “Yeah, I don’t have to do that.”
Owen: And you made a great point to just now is that what I’ve noticed with you and your VA’s is you always continuously try and go out there and create kind of a video demo of how you need something done. So once you have it, it’s in the system now they take it over from there. and I mean, this is a thing where they talk about working, literally you’re working on your business as oppose to working in your business because VA’s are doing the work but you are basically creating system around that. What kind of challenges you have with that initially and how you come from that point to that ways like you look at everything like I got to create a system around it?
Matt: What type of challenges do I have?
Owen: Yeah, what type of challenges did you have with that when I initially said that, “This is what you need to do first right in regards to having system?” Now it’s something that it seems so easy for you, I see your video show up every now and then, the VA’s, they handle it but it’s something where the mindset has changed to where now you send in a procedure on how to do your work. So, how was the try on this first and how is it now better for you in regards to doing that?
Matt: When I create a system, I don’t know how much detail I need to provide to make it successful and I can create tons of documentation on something that could be overkill or do under documentation and it would not be useful. Also, I’m a type of person that really benefits from having a dialogue with someone. If I’m just talking to myself about it, I can go around and around but if I’m creating it to somebody else, it’s a lot easier for me to get it out.
So through some trial and error with your team, I’ve identified the types of things I could trust that they could handle. I don’t have to type which means I don’t have think and write. I can just show them on my computer and I don’t have to because the software that I’m using and the way I have my software systems setup, all I have to do is press a button, press another button, record what I’m doing and point things, press “send” and then type a little note and then it shows.
The other thing is if I don’t provide enough information for them to do what they need to do then by the fact that they’re going to stop after doing, I say about 10% of the task and then asking me to review it, I can look at it and course correct how much more information that they need. I can add addendums to those videos if it’s training for clarity. So, I can air on the side of less information than more information because I have that safety check and also because they’ll tell me if there’s a problem. So, that’s really neat.
First, that doesn’t work for everything but there is now because we’ve been working with each other long enough. There’s a number of things that I’m familiar with that I know that it’s a type of thing that they can do really well. There’s some things that are a little bit different and more difficult and I’m not sure if it’s necessary in my business or not and if I really wanted those tasks to be taken care of [14:21] audio interruption or I talk to Mars and try to get somebody else with that skill set which we talked about doing for a few things but I haven’t gotten to the point of doing that yet so it’s fine.
Owen: But the beautiful thing now is that you have this free time to be able to figure out when next to take your business. What idea you want to try for your business as oppose to before where trying to meet up with a work that you were doing before that was not even a time for that.
Matt: Right. Another thing that I find that’s very helpful is its concept of “micro-participation.” One, I was talking to a colleague of mine and I was saying you know I’d have my VA help with that and they said, “Why would you do that?” I like, “It takes like 15 seconds or it takes like a minute actually it takes like 2 minutes, there we go” So, they say, “Why it only takes like 2 minutes? It’s going to take more time and energy for you to manage and monitor that somebody else does that” and for me it was just 3 minutes on the video and then they took care of it and specifically more what I’m talking about there is let’s say for instance there’s a type of inquiry that we typically get and I’m not going to tell you exactly what it is but maybe it’s, “Do you guys have this product?” or whatever and there’s a typical response to that.
Well, the VA’s, they are integrated into my e-mail so all the communications I have outgoing, ingoing they have access to and that’s the trust factor that I actually put into because of you and how you manage things. And I said that, “If I wanted help I’m going to have to trust people otherwise putting up all the security measures to that is going to be difficult” and it’s several months and there’s been nothing missing.
Owen: And the thing trust takes time to build because you can’t just imagine you hire a VA today and then tomorrow they do everything. I mean you got to start from somewhere.
Matt: And that’s what you told me too, is take time to build and I don’t think I handed over all my password list until like last month and it’s been fine but anyways the micro-system. So, I do a lot of business and communication through my e-mail. The fact that they are integrated in my e-mail, that they know how to read my e-mail, and tell me what the things I want to see. If there’s a standardized type of response, all I have to do is either take a 2 minutes or less video to tell them what that response is and setup a folder to drop the e-mail into so that they can reply for me or I just create or I already have the folder existing. I see the e-mail and I drop it into that folder and I call that folder “Team to Handle” and then there’s subfolders for specific tasks that are general.
They’re few seconds, maybe they’re more than a few seconds but I don’t have to handle at all but I know it needs to get done.” I could drop it there and they could take care of it for me. For instance if I’m having a conversation back and forth with someone and then it’s about scheduling and then we agreed on a time, all I do is drop that e-mail into my team to handle/schedule e-mail and then next thing I know it’s on my Google calendar and “that’s great” and yes I can go to my Google calendar information, it will take less than a minute but at the same time it’s just a second to drop into that folder, I know how to do it and I don’t have to think about doing it which means I don’t have to derail my train of thought for whatever it is that I’m thinking about.
So, I think that’s pretty neat, I’m kind of excited about that system. The other thing that I was going to say is the “Team to Handle” folder, there’s a number of things that I can look at and go, they can figure this out and I just drop it in that folder and then what happens is we have a little system for me to be able to know when they work on something and what the results of them working on was it off or something like that. I can fly and then they course correct it. So that they learn that “this is what you want to do with it. This is what you want to do with it, this is what you want to do with it” or something like that.
Owen: And [18:38] audio interruption because anybody who’s listen to this understands that you’ve come to a point where you always try to create systems on how you do your things and how your business and your team at H.Y.V.A.™ works with you but there has to be a point where you make a decision as to okay, for every task which task should you spend time and invest that time to actually create a procedure for how it’s done. How do you make that distinction in your business, “where I’m trying to get at?”
Matt: Yeah, that’s a good question. At the moment, what I look for our tasks that the resources that they need are at their hands. For instance, we have shared files and they have access to my e-mail account and my calendar and my entire contact database. So, there’s a number of things that they have the resources to due. If it’s something that going to be a reoccurring thing, for instance, one of my clients, we do a lot of e-mail marketing for there. Research, they do market research and there’s a number of inquires that go back and forth about people getting paid and so forth and I have the VA’s continually track that in excel files so that I know the standing, “Okay this person finished this survey and this person got paid and so forth.”
And it’s not the entirety of my operations or anything but that’s just a few, most of that automated but there’s a few that fall through, most of that is automated but there’s a few that fall through the cracks. So, anyways the point is I can identify that this is something that’s going to be continual but then the other side is if it’s something’s that’s going to take longer, if it’s not continual that’s going to take longer. If it’s not continual that’s going to take longer than 2 minutes or take longer than 5 minutes, maybe it’s a better statistic than I would just do a quick recording of my screen. I tell them what to do and then I save it in the folder it’s just all is says is quick and then they review it and then they take care of it.
Owen: Wow, I like that.
Matt: I like it too.
Owen: That’s good. And so anyone who’s been listening to this so far wants to maybe concentrate hi in virtual assistant. What’s that one thing that you might want to leave with them to help them pull the trigger and moving the right direction? You might be hiring a VA from H.Y.V.A.™ but anyways I just want to give them some [inaudible] they could take home I guess.
Matt: Yeah. And I highly recommend you guys for a lot of people. So, I think everyone’s business and needs are very different but if you have the kind of the standards I set appointment, I set reservations. If you go to the H.Y.V.A.™ website and look at the stack they talk about there and if you brought any of those things and they’re just basically generic then it’s kind of a no brainer to do. If you’re not exactly sure how to use a VA because I’m still figuring out to generate the most amount of value for my business because like I said before if I have everything off my table then that means I have to be true entrepreneur and come up with how to generate more money which who knows I could figure that out or not.
So at some sense, it’s nice to stay busy but anyways I would say for me, what I did was I looked at it as not an hour by hour thing, like I’m paying this much, how much, “Oh my God” it took this much money to get this much done but more than that, I’m going to invest in this and I’m going to give it a few months and I’m going to grow my system with them which means that if you are able to afford the extra, the amount it is without and take yourself a few months to work with them and train them and train yourself, it’s 50-50 thing. It’s how well I work with them and how well they work and they do a pretty good job and I do a pretty good job and we can all do better.
Owen: So essentially you’re saying if you really want to focus on working on your business as oppose to in your business kind of VA particularly from H.Y.V.A.™ might be the best way to go because we actually force you to do that we want to change that mindset and get you working on your business.
Owen: Okay, well I really appreciate the interview. Thanks so much for doing it and just so anyone who’s listening so far wants to probably get a hold of you for e-mail marketing services or possibly PR. How best can they do that? Matt: Well, if they went to my website, I have all the contact information on there, that’s FredricPR.com, again, that’s FredricPR.com. That would be the easiest way to get a hold of me.
Owen: Well, Matt. Thanks for doing the testimonial. I appreciate it.
Matt: Thanks, Owen. All right, take it easy.
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