5 Marketing Tasks That Can Be Outsourced to Virtual Assistants (VAs)

by | BiggerPockets.com

Let’s face it, most of us REIs are spending a good chunk of money each month to provide for our marketing efforts. We’re either subscribed to a direct mailing site, hiring someone to manage yellow letters, or buying bandit signs.

Whether that describes you or not, I’d like to suggest an alternative. Think about your monthly marketing expense. There should be a number in your head. Now think about taking that money and reinvesting that into your business. Instead of paying for the premium services that you’ve been accustomed to, think now of spending that money on hiring a full/part-time employee to slowly take over the reins of your marketing scheme. Now think of this person as a VA who works virtually from anywhere in the world.

The investment is obviously not for the faint of heart, but if done patiently and correctly, a VA is an excellent approach to turning your marketing scheme into a hands-free marketing machine.

What is a VA?

A VA, or Virtual Assistant, is someone who works remotely from anywhere in the world. They can be in the Philippines, India, or right here in the U.S. They will trade their time and skill set for a reasonable hourly rate or salary. Obviously, rates will vary depending on where they live, what their skill sets are, and how well they speak English.

How Can a VA Take Over My Marketing Campaign?

Commit for the long-term, and make progress slowly. Of course, you don’t want to place everything on their lap and expect miracles. But, you can slowly build their skill set to the point where they (and their team) can take over the day-to-day operations of your virtual marketing program.

Let’s get into some of the big marketing tasks that we are endlessly hampered with:

  1. Bandit Signs – A VA in the Philippines won’t be coming to your area to place hundreds of bandit signs around your neighborhood. But they can have the bandit signs printed, shipped, and they could even hire somebody on Craigslist to place them for you. (Note from the Editor: These signs are ONLY appropriate to use when legal in your area.)
  2. Direct Mail –I imagine most of the direct mailing websites out there are doing this? But if you are heavy into doing direct mailings, why wouldn’t you consider farming this out yourself. If you were to hire a VA to spend 40 hours a week, at $300 per month, to take your list and write as many mailings by hand as possible, how many do you think they’d get? Now compare that to what you’re paying your direct mailing company. If you needed more mailings, could you hire another VA and it be worth it?
  3. Screening – I know that using a VA to screen your potential sellers can be hairy. They potentially don’t speak very good English, or they aren’t very knowledgeable. But, you could at least use them to filter the voicemails that you get and tabulate them into an easy to read format. This would reduce the time you have to spend, and allows you to get right to the negotiations.
  4. Website – If there is an area that has serious potential for VAs to flourish in the REI world, it would have to be website SEO, social media, content marketing, video/audio editing, etc. The VAs that are out there are the best at this stuff. When I hired a VA for my website, I had tons of new backlinks in just a month. From a local SEO standpoint, do you know what that does?! If you’re looking to get leads through SEO, and you don’t have the time/expertise to get these things ironed out, a VA could do wonders for you.
  5. Data Mining – How good can your REI business be if you’re not bringing in deals to close on? Whether you’re an investor or a flipper, we’re all in the business of finding motivated sellers/leads. If your VA has extra time at the end of the day, there is plenty of opportunity for them to scout out potential leads through internet research. Anybody can find tons of data online, but who has the time? A VA is extremely effective online, and you’d be surprised at how much useful data they’d bring back to you. A great example would be to go through municipality databases to find home owners with addresses that are different than the property they own in that municipality (absentees).

If you’re starting out fresh, hiring a VA may not be the first thing you should be looking to do. However, if you’re a one-person show who is bringing in deals that are booking you solid, I would suggest thinking about it. If you’re in, then commit to it. Put in the time up front to give them the training they need. If there is a system or process to a certain task, write it down on a script for them to reference in the future.
Photo Credit: dollie_mixtures

About Author

Ian Kuchman

Ian Kuchman (G+) is a BiggerPockets.com contributor and community member . He is also an active real estate investor, engineer, blogger, and family man. Come see how deep the holes gets at the Moonlighting Investors Blog…


    • Shawn, what types of things are you using your VA for?

      I have recently been talking to a VA that has been hired through the BP marketplace and she says that she is also coordinating between the REI company she works for and the contractors/ banks. She also publishes investor updates, maintains the company blog, and maintains spreadsheets with deal/construction details.

      Thought this would be useful information too.

  1. I hear the interviewing and then the training followed by tracking useful work are added efforts and costs of using VAs.

    We might talk about what tools one uses to track daily output, interviewing??

    • Curt – Great point. It would be useful to continue this conversation on how one would track daily output and interviewing of VAs (perhaps a follow-up post?). Here are some of my immediate thoughts…

      If you use Elance or oDesk they have mechanisms in place to track your hired VA. Interviewing can be done through Google video chat or skype. I would only recommend Elance or oDesk for discrete tasks. This would be a great way to get your feet wet.

      If you use Virtual Staff Finder, they will take care of the entire interviewing process, and will provide you with a guaranteed candidate that will have experience and competence in what your looking for. Once you have your candidate, you will need to provide some initial training just to make sure your on the same page. Once they’re up and running you would manage them as another employee of your company. It’s up to you how you would track them. You could set up weekly meetings, set deadlines, make sure they have tasks to keep them busy.

      Indeed, there are some upfront costs associated with hiring anybody new to your business. This would be no different than hiring somebody for your office.

  2. Stephanie Dupuis on

    Have you created a system for communicating a “to do” list for the VA? Is this done daily, weekly, etc. When I’ve had employees, I’ve been able to systemize their job away from me having to tell the employee what to do – this truly freed me. Is this possible with a VA? I’m struggling to see this since the VA is not at the workplace with you – unable to progress through projects and other like a co-worker.

    • Stephanie – How have you been able to systemize the job of your employees to not require you telling them what to do? I would imagine you could accomplish the same results with a similar method.

      I agree that the name of the game is to systematize your business to require as little from you as possible. This is mainly why I’m in love with the concept of hiring Virtual Assistants.

      There are plenty of systems online for communicating things like “to do lists”. Evernote, Basecamp, Asana are all good ones out there. The most important thing about tools is that you make sure you and your VA agree and work well with which ever you choose.

      • Stephanie Dupuis on

        Hi Ian – Thank you for your reply. Working in an office environment, we had many repetitive tasks. Info to be entered, copies, docs to be delivered, etc. So we set up labeled boxes for the corresponding duties. If specific instructions were needed, either I or someone else attached a post-it with instructions to the doc, or a small note. Obviously, there’s a level of communication going on here, but minimal. It allowed the workflow to…flow. Writing this out, it makes sense you can do this digitally. Simply an organizational issue.

        I look forward to learning about Evernote, Basecamp and Asana.

        Thank you for the wonderful article.

  3. Good list, although I’d be cautious of getting backlinks from VA efforts. If not done correctly, you can get penalized in Google pretty quickly. I see each comment on my own blog posts and it’s fairly obvious when it’s a VA – at which I delete their comment and block their account. If you publish quality content and share it effectively, the backlinks should come naturally over a reasonable amount of time.

    • Michael, you make an excellent point. I am not trying to suggest that your intentions with VAs should be spammy in nature. Being a webmaster for many Real Estate websites, past and present, I understand the annoyance of spammy comments, whether from VAs or automated scrapping programs.

      There are more white hat methods for getting the “low hanging fruit” backlinks.

      • You make some excellent points about the practicality of using a VA to help manage a REI. I was wondering if you’re aware of a listing of accredited/recommended VA’s as a starting point for new investors.

        • oDesk and Elance is a good starting point. You can view VA profiles based on reviews. In addition, these sites make their VAs take various competency tests so that you can see what you’re VAs competencies are (i.e., english speaking skills).

  4. Interesting article.
    I had heard of and thought of using a VA for things like 3-5 before, at least in some capacity.
    The first 2 times though I had never considered.

    The doing the mail specifically is pretty intriguing. It would be interesting to see how many they can do and what the cost is vs. getting a mail house doing them. Since they are actually writing them the quality would have to be better than even the best hand written fonts you could get.

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