Call Us: +852 6380 1248

Bauhinia Blog

Google Search Operators

Search Tips for Google

In the previous post, Search Tips for Google we explained how to use two of the Boolean Searches – AND and OR? That was just a warm up! Today, we are introducing you to some more commonly used Google Search Operators. If you want to enhance your searching possibilities, spend some time on the followings:

1. Related:

Results of similar contents to the website specified by the URL after the related: operator will be shown. Beware that it should not have space between the operator and the URL.

Example:

  • related:support.google.com/websearch/answer/2466433?hl=en

(More sites related to Google search operators will be displayed.)

2. Link:

The link: operator can be used for quick searches for pages being directed to a certain domain. This is not a thorough search action for all the pages linked to the specified URL, but a general one. Beware that it should not have space between the operator and the URL.

Example:

  • link:www.bauhiniasolutions.com/

(Web sites created by us have been found because most sites have a link pointing to our homepage.)

3. Define:

Google can filter out all kinds of definition for any terms specified after the define: operator. This is based on having a concentrated dictionary bank. Beware that it should not have space between the operator and the URL.

Example:

  • define:business

(results will show literally the meanings of Business.)

4. Quotation Marks “….”

Words between the Quotation Marks will be searched as a phrase in the exact order. With this tool you can search using a phrase, not just one word. Phrases can be part sentences or something like the song lyrics or a quote.

Example:

  • “Minds are like parachutes”

(You may get the rest part of this specific quote, its origin and speaker, instead of a passage with words located randomly and individually.)

5. Parentheses (….)

Results will first process the command enclosed in the Parentheses, then the words outside using other operators.

Example:

  • (virtual OR online) AND assistant

(System will show the sites or files with the word virtual or online or both of them first, then sort out those with assistant from the found ones.)

Bauhinia Solutions Flower

There are many ways we can assist you with your business administration or marketing needs. Feel free to schedule a call with Nicole and explore how we can support you.

Choosing Your Business Colours

Choosing Your Business Colours

When thinking about your business in terms of your corporate identity or logo, have you given much thought to colour or specific tones?  Ideally the colours should reflect the type of business you operate.  The colour or colours chosen are the personality of your business and must be clearly identifiable in all forms of media whether online or print.

Colours, like flowers, carry their own meanings and although when we choose our colours we may not consciously consider these, it is interesting to know the meanings behind them.

  • Black – power, elegance, mystery
  • White – innocence, purity, perfection
  • Purple – luxury, extravagance, creativity
  • Green – growth, harmony, freshness
  • Blue – stability, trust, intelligence
  • Yellow – happiness, energy, joy
  • Red – desire, strength, love
  • Pink – feminine, soft, innocence
  • Orange – success, enthusiasm, determination

Selecting the colours you wish to represent your business can be difficult as you want to be confident that you are conveying the right impression.  The use of too many colours could result in a busy or unbalanced look.  Limit the colour palette you wish to work with to maintain the style and the personality of your business.

Knowing your potential customers as well will, or at the very least, should affect the final colours you choose.  If you opt for a rich splash of pink on every page, know that this will not inspire men to shop at your store or use your services.  Strong colours or contrasts may prove to be less popular with the older generation however will draw a much younger audience who are inspired by new trends.

Another issue that many websites seem to overlook is the actual text and background colour of the site.  Many colours when used together can impair readability and this can be daunting for your visitors.

Note however that there is no need to stress over your colour choice unnecessarily.  Often the above mentioned information is taken into account on a more subconscious level and is already reflected in your chosen set of colours. Once you’re ready, the next step is to discuss your business colours with a graphic designer who has branding experience. They will be able to ensure your colours work well together and represent you, and your business.

Nicole Graham | Business Mentor, Strategist | Hong Kong

Bauhinia Solutions Flower

If you require assistance with your business administration or marketing, schedule a call with Nicole to discuss your needs.

Photo Credit: A National Acrobat

How To: Turn Off Conversation View in Gmail

How to Turn Off Conversation View in Gmail

In previous posts we have outlined instructions on how to use canned responses, create labels and create email filters all in Gmail.  We hope you are interested in discovering more features of Gmail and how you can adjust your own account settings.

In this post, were going to introduce you another feature that you may find a challenge to work with, especially if you have sent and received replies to a number of emails, discussing the same topic.  This feature is known as ‘Conversation View’ and it’s function is to group all email replies with the original message allowing you to keep track of the conversation thread.

The challenge with this ’email stacking’ is that emails get lost easily and then you have to go searching for a reply amongst a number of replies stacked on top of one another.  It can get confusing if a person replies twice to the same email, without you having replied to the first response.  On a positive, if you send an email with a different subject line, the email conversation starts fresh.  This works well until someone replies and discusses an entirely different topic, the “new topic” email can get lost in amongst the “original subject” email thread.

To turn off conversation view in Gmail:

  1. Click the gear icon on the top right corner of your Gmail account page
  2. From the drop-down list, click on Settings
  3. In the General tab, the 7th option down is Conversation View
  4. Click on the option, Conversation view off

Once you have turned conversation view off, Gmail will separate out every email and you will be able to view your emails in the traditional view.  This is a personal choice, there is no right or wrong way to manage your emails.  You make the choice this is right for you.

Bauhinia Solutions Flower

There are many ways we can assist you with your business administration or marketing needs. Feel free to schedule a call with Nicole and explore how we can support you.

Part 4: Buying Banner Advertising Space

Buying Banner Advertising Space

After reading our posts, what is banner advertising? and does banner advertising work? and familiarising yourself with the common terminology of banner advertising, your business is ready.

You have a website, you know what you are selling, and you are ready to start advertising online!  (What? You don’t have a website? Stop reading right now and go to our blog post, 8 Different Types of Website. When you have a site, come back here and then we can talk.)

So – you are ready. But how can you make banner advertising work for you? Certainly, if you can partner with an agency or freelancer (or us!) to help you strategize and buy your ad space, do. Experience is well worth the money in this arena. But, if you are thinking you want to go it alone, here is what you absolutely must know about placing space.

Your campaign can be broken down into two prime areas of consideration: The Strategy and The Ad.

Start with your strategy, because until you know who your market is, what the specs are for the space you are buying, and what kind of budget you are working within, you can’t design an ad. You may be saying, “But I already know my market and I know my budget.” No, you don’t. What you know is your business’ market and your total marketing spend. The other two pieces will fall into place shortly, but not until after some work and research.

Start off by defining your goals. What will make your campaign a success? Are there definite milestones you want to hit? Be specific. “More sales” and “Get new customers” are not actually goals; they are generalizations of success. Choose a milestone such as “Increase website traffic by 10%” or “Get 10 new inquiries”; you can then discover how much money you need to spend to achieve that goal and your strategies going forward can be much more accurate and directed.

Next, get targeted. Where will you place your ad? Google? Facebook? Website.com? Take some time to brainstorm a bit and think about where you potential audience might be? Think outside the box to broaden the possibilities – a famous pizza chain found great success targeting hungry students by advertising on Dictionary.com. Once you have decided the best possibilities to place your ad, start the research – download the media kits or contact sales to get pricing and performance information. If you engage sales – don’t be embarrassed – tell them you are just trying this out and ask if they have any introductory offers or starter packages, as they often will run specials or give you a preferred rate the first time you place an ad. Biggest and most expensive aren’t always best, and a good campaign will likely have a mix of ad units and locations. Decide what is right for you, how can you use your budget most effectively, and how much do you want to spend where. You may decide on a single avenue or multiple, but take a moment to reassess that your goals and opportunities are aligned. Adjust what needs adjusting.

Lastly, decide on a program that will allow you to sufficiently test your efforts (a single weekend will not provide sufficient data for any decision making – give it time – 3-4 weeks is best) and validate your decisions, and again, allow you to make adjustments where necessary.

When you finally have a plan in place, you can start creating your ads – multiple ads, even if all you are doing is Google Adwords. Your ad may be just a matter of providing text and a thumbnail image or you may be required to provide a creative file based on specifications from the website owner/seller.

The ad itself should be:

  • Clear – one message, idea, or offer. Pictures should be easily digestible and relevant.
  • Simple – can a child understand it? How few words can you use to get your idea across?
  • Branded – colors, logos, styles should match your website so the reader doesn’t think they have accidentally gotten to the wrong place
  • Include a Call to Action – quite literally, “Click Here” or something like it to instruct the user to click. Believe it or not, there are still people who don’t know that 90% of their screen is clickable…
  • Include a Promise to Deliver – why are they clicking here? For what? Click here… for more information, to register, to find out more, for your chance to win… you get the idea.
  • Include a Landing Page/Destination URL – where the reader goes once they click your ad. This page is critically important, particularly if you want them to take an action such as registering for a newsletter or shopping a particular product or course. Except for rare occasions, this URL is almost NEVER your domain name, but rather, a sub-page thereof.

Remember: less is more. If a stranger can’t understand everything there is to understand about your ad in under 2 seconds, your ad stinks. Start over.

Finally, try A/B testing – for any space, create to similar but different ads – a different image, different call to action, etc. Place those ads to run against one another so that they are receiving the same time of day, the same days, etc – running concurrently on the same site. After 3-4 weeks’ time, compare ad metrics and learn from the data, rather than your instincts, to which ads people are responding best.

As always, remember, advertising is a process. The internet is ever changing and always moving, and as such, so should your banner advertising strategy. There are visual trends, technology changes, traffic fluctuations, and new websites selling space. The sooner you accept that it is never ‘done’, the more successful your online efforts will be!

Best of luck and let us know if you want some help.

Virtual Assistant, Elizabeth Loennborn

Photo Credit: Jeff Sheldon, Unsplash

5 Types of Virtual Assistants

5 Types of Virtual Assistants

As Bauhinia has evolved, so has the team and one misunderstanding people have is that a Virtual Assistant (VA) is a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Speaking from experience, this is not the case. Let’s face it, none of us are all-knowing, and have endless free time in our days.

In the early days VAs were offering home-based secretarial services and as the Internet evolved, so did the skills of the Virtual Assistant. Today the term is used to describe people who utilise online tools to work virtually and through the broadening of the VA’s skills, different types of Virtual Assistants were born.

There are no official “types” however many people in the industry would generally agree the following are common:

1. Administrative / Generalist – This is one of more common types of VA’s and where the term Virtual Assistant originated. These VA’s would manage your administrative and secretarial duties such as organising appointments, managing your diary, handle emails, organise travel, format documents, create PowerPoint presentations, update your expenses, send invoices, etc.

This is the foundation of Bauhinia and where the business started. This is still a core service today.

2. Digital Marketing / Social MediaDigital Marketing is broad and therefore some VA’s narrow in on Social Media only. Within these roles, some VA’s will write their content and implement your strategies, while others will assist with your strategy and implement, leaving the content creation to you. Tasks can include content research, finding quotes, creating images, finding engaging questions, sending newsletters, managing Google adwords, monitoring statistics, etc.

We do a bit of everything as clients have different needs, however if a client is promoting a personal brand, we recommend that they create their own content to ensure it is authentic to who they are.

3. Technical / WordPress – These Virtual Assistants are good at all the technical stuff such as setting up emails, fixing technical errors, creating backups of your website, etc. With all the online tools available today, some technical VA’s work only with WordPress, and others know their way around online marketing systems and shopping carts. These include SimplyCast, Infusionsoft, Ontraport, 1ShoppingCart, Shopify, LeadPages, OptimizePress, etc. For those focussed on WordPress, they would be able to assist with monthly maintenance and updating pages. You may find that some generalist VAs can assist with WordPress.

Due to the type of clients we currently have, we are strong on WordPress with over 5 years experience creating WordPress sites. We understand what a number of the online tools can do, however haven’t had the opportunity to work with many of them.

4. Graphics / Graphic Designer – There are different levels to this type of VA – one who can create lovely images for social media and presentations, and one who has more branding depth. They use software that is specifically for design purposes. Some Graphics Designers can create simple flyers and brochures, and generally follow your existing style guide. The more experienced designers understand brand concepts and they will generally help clients to create a visual representation of themselves through colour and imagery.

For any sort of branding work, we refer clients onto a Graphic Design team who would be able to better assist, however if a client needs social media images, small advertisements or simple flyers, we have a designer on the team.

5. Product Launch – These VA’s work more with online businesses who launch products or programs throughout the year. They understand the sales funnels and all the steps to a successful launch.

Due to the type of clients we currently have, we’ve not been involved in the start and finish of a launch. We’ve supported clients in different aspects throughout their launch but not managed the process.

Our goal is to provide our clients with an ‘all-round service’ while utilising the team’s strengths, therefore we have part-time Virtual Assistants who support our Client Managers and specialise in specific areas.

Nicole Graham | Business Mentor, Strategist | Hong Kong

Bauhinia Solutions Flower

If you require assistance with your business administration or marketing, schedule a call with Nicole to discuss your needs.

Coordination of Special Event

Support by Bauhinia Solutions

There are times when Bauhinia Solutions is called on to manage special events for clients, from wine-tastings and networking events, to workshops and trainings.

Our Support:

In this instance, we were asked to manage the backstage events of an internationally accredited medical examination, which required a role-play practical assessment. The details of the assessment were highly confidential, and a breach would result in the disqualification of results for all examinees, as well as financial and legal repercussions for the client.

Six months prior to the event, we were asked by the client to be in direct contact with the examiners, sorting staffing and ensuring eligibility and confidentiality of the team. We contacted several sources for acting staff and hired more than 20 actors based on age, gender, nationality, and language requirements to work over the two-day exam. We then managed dissemination of sensitive materials to the cast, and ensured that invoicing, billing, and expenses were covered and accounted for, and all stayed within budget.

During and after the event, we maintained contact with the client, cast, and examiners to further streamline process and event flow, and gathered feedback from the examiners to insure improved process for subsequent events.

The client has now been contracted for this event several years running and it is an annual event on which they can depend.

Bauhinia Solutions Flower

There are many ways we can assist you with your business administration or marketing needs. Feel free to schedule a call with Nicole and explore how we can support you.

Photo Credit: Nicole Graham, Bauhinia Solutions

Search Tips for Google

Search Tips for Google

How often have you heard the term ‘Google it’?

This statement tells us how vital and common the Google search engine has become. However there are times when you can’t find what you’re looking for and in these situations, it might be better to search multiple keywords at the same time. This type of search is known as a ‘Boolean Search’ and it enables you to give multiple instructions to help find your results.

Today’s post focuses on three search tips using ‘AND’ and ‘OR’ search operators.  We will also share the types of results you can expect.

1. AND Search Operator

Results only containing all the terms connected by the AND operator will be shown, so the more criteria you type the less results are found. People use AND operator to limit some more definite resources.

Examples:

  • virtual AND assistant
  • virtual AND assistant AND “Hong Kong”

(Normally AND is set as a default operator, so searching virtual assistant Hong Kong will provide the same results as searching virtual AND assistant AND “Hong Kong”.)

2. OR Search Operator

Results containing either or both of the terms connected by the OR operator will be shown, so the more conditions you enter the more record is found. People usually use OR operator for terms of similar ideas to include larger number of resources.

Example:

  • virtual OR administrative assistant
  • virtual OR administrative assistant OR secretary

(The results will contain at least one of the words, so you may find links that have the words virtual assistant, administrative assistant, secretary or a combination of these.)

3. AND and OR Search Operatores

The searching system will fulfil the requirements joined by AND operator first, then those joined by OR.

Example:

virtual AND assistant OR secretary

(The results will be related to virtual assistant or secretary.  This is the same as typing virtual assistant OR secretary.)

These search features can be applied to other search engines such as Yahoo.com, Bing.com, DuckDuckGo.com and ChaCha.com.  It does take a little time to learn however once you know to search online, it will save so much time. Good luck!

Bauhinia Solutions Flower

There are many ways we can assist you with your business administration or marketing needs. Feel free to schedule a call with Nicole and explore how we can support you.

Outsourcing – Why All Solutions Are Not Bauhinia Solutions

Outsourcing, Not All Solutions are Bauhinia Solutions

I recently read an article about a virtual office-outsourcing nightmare. It was well worth the read, and it made me think.

I understand that although I have been working from a virtual office for all 15-plus years of my professional life, still, for much of the world – virtual often equates to fictional. At the same time – I am very much real. The entire Bauhinia Solutions team is very much real, but with new methods of working, we must adopt new expectations and methodologies, particularly when it comes to communication and data-sharing.

Hiring a virtual assistant can be a nightmare if you aren’t quite accustomed to how things will work and most certainly, if you hire a random off the internet, living in a far away land, from a culture with which you do not identify, and whose native language is not your own. Pitfalls (or challenges) such as cross-cultural communication breakdowns, different standards of excellence, as well as differences in working hours or public holidays should be expected. For some people, and for some tasks, this can be perfectly acceptable, but for most professionals who wish to be represented in a professional and expert manner, a far off assistant like one might find in India or the Philippines might not fit the bill, unless you are, of course in India or the Philippines.

Going local, but still virtual, can insure you are better grounded in your relationship with your VA on all fronts. I like this quote from the writer,

“At some point it dawned on me that I’d stumbled upon the fatal flaw inherent in any virtual-assistant relationship. To be truly useful, an assistant needs to understand everything about your life and work. An assistant is a confidant. But it’s impossible to develop a deep, trusting relationship with a guy you know only by email – a guy who communicates with you in canned professional-ese, who must be monitored by security cameras to make sure he doesn’t rob you.”

I can’t put it better myself. This is a relationship. It requires time to develop, and should be nurtured. While remote, and perhaps even more so because of it, there is an intimacy that grows when you find The One.

But the article also highlighted some flaws in task deployment that are worth mentioning.

Case 1:

“I gave him his first task. I needed a flight from San Francisco to Minneapolis. I gave him my dates. I wanted times and prices. …But after sending him my request, I heard nothing. After 40 minutes, I sent him a follow-up to make sure he’d received the task. About 40 minutes after that, he responded: “Yes I have received your email and I have started working on it.”

Huh. This task should have taken him about 10 minutes; why was he just getting started after a nearly an hour and a half? Around noon – about three hours (and $30) after I’d assigned the task – Mr F finally sent me an email to say he was done. Now I saw why he’d taken so long: Instead of looking for the best two or three flights that conformed to my calendar, he’d created a spreadsheet listing all the details of 10 flights.”

Can you spot the series of flaws here?

First, the task was insufficient in delegation detail for a new client-VA relationship. It would have been better to say, “Please find flight options for Point A to Point B, on XXX dates. This is a top-level inquiry for times and prices only. Please use no more than 30 minutes on this task.” While that may sound excessive, in a new relationship, your VA is trying desperately to impress you and deliver excellent work. Not communicating an expectation of detail and time usage is simply a misunderstanding that stems from two parties having different goals from the task.

Second, a virtual assistant, unless you have pre-agreed working hours or are hiring them full time, are also managing other clients. Sending through a request and waiting for immediate action is unrealistic. Mark tasks with realistic urgency, due dates and/or times, and gain a commitment of completion from your VA. Following the request above should have been, “The flight is in X weeks, so I would like to select a flight as soon as possible. Can you please come back to me with options no later than tomorrow at 3pm.”

Case 2:

“The weekend was coming up, and I didn’t need Mr F on Monday morning. I told him to be ready to work on Tuesday. But on Tuesday I heard nothing. Not on Wednesday either. The whole week passed.”

Unless you set the expectation (make an appointment) for your VA to contact you at a certain time, they are waiting for you to delegate tasks to them. Again, a VA will be working with a number of clients and is very rarely just sitting around chasing people for work. The best VAs are in high demand and are usually scheduling tasks days in advance. Remember, your VA is virtual and part-time. It is the client’s job to let the VA know when, what, and how. It all comes back to communication and expectations.

Finally, hiring a VA is not only an oddly intimate relationship, you need to know what you really want out of it so that you find the right partner. Do you want someone to run mundane or routine tasks from your work week? If so, you need to be willing to set up formal SOPs and guidelines so that you can insure consistency throughout the work, particularly when it comes to tasks such as diary management and invoicing. Keep in mind, you are often also on the hook for the cost/time of education and training on your systems. Alternatively, are you looking for an expert VA that can take your business to the next level – do the things you can’t or don’t want to? This is a completely different type of service and requires a VA with a totally different (and existing) skillset.

At Bauhinia Solutions, for example, we offer straight admin packages as well as marketing and strategy packages. We have team members that specialize in different types of work, so we work hard to match clients with the right VA, and actually, some clients enjoy a mix – getting a broad range of services through a Client Manager who then manages task breakdown within the team. Our most comprehensive support is kind of like having an administrative assistant, a marketing manager, and on-call IT all rolled up into one.

So, is hiring a VA right for you? Hopefully this article has enlightened you, answered some questions, and will help you avoid common pitfalls going forward. Good luck!

Virtual Assistant, Elizabeth Loennborn

Bauhinia Solutions Flower

If you require assistance with your business administration or marketing, schedule a call with Nicole to discuss your needs.

Photo Credit: Death to the Stock Photo

Advertisement Banner for Launch Promotion

Bauhinia Solutions Portfolio

Project: Create Advertisement Banner

As part of the launch of her newly created app, The Dream Register, our client ran a competition and promoted the opportunity to win One Direction tickets. The advertising campaign was through Facebook. This was the advertisement we created for her.

One Direction Advertisement

Bauhinia Solutions Flower

If you require assistance with your business administration or marketing, schedule a call with Nicole to discuss your needs.

Photo Credit: Damian Zaleski, Life of Pix

How To: Create and Use Canned Responses in Gmail

Email Templates in Gmail

Business users, on average, send and receive 121 emails daily. When receiving this many emails, typing the same reply or sending the same message over and over again, can be a time waster. We use Gmail (GoogleApps for Business) and a solution we’ve found very useful is the Canned Responses feature. If you are familiar with Outlook or Mac Mail, a canned response is equivalent to the Email Template.

By using Canned Responses, you can pre-write your email content and respond easily to those frequently asked questions.

Before creating a canned response, you do need to enable the feature:

  1. In your Gmail account, click the Gear icon (right-hand side of your email window)
  2. From the drop-down list, click on Settings
  3. Click on the option, Labs (third last heading)
  4. Find the Canned Responses feature and then click the button, Enable
  5. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the button, Save Changes

Now with the Canned Responses function enabled, the next step is to draft your message:

  1. From your inbox, click on the button Compose and type your message
  2. Delete your signature (if you don’t, will appear twice in every new email)
  3. At the bottom-right corner of your message, next to the trash can, click on the down-arrow for More Options
  4. Move your mouse to Canned Responses and click on the New canned response… option
  5. Type the name for your newly created canned response message and click on OK

Now you are ready… next time when you need to use your canned response:

  1. From your inbox, click on the button Compose
  2. At the bottom-right corner of your message, click on the down-arrow for More Options
  3. From the Insert section, click on your saved canned response
  4. Edit where it applicable to do so, add your recipients and click the button, Send

Note: you can also edit or delete your present messages under the headings ‘Save’ or ‘Delete’.

OK… it’s your time to test it out.  Enjoy the convenience of canned responses!

Bauhinia Solutions Flower

There are many ways we can assist you with your business administration or marketing needs. Feel free to schedule a call with Nicole and explore how we can support you.

Page 1 of 1212345...10...Last »

Client Feedback

Can't Recommend Highly Enough

"I can’t recommend Nicole and her team highly enough as people and professionals." - Sally Dellow, Executive Coach, Dramatic Difference

{Read More Testimonials}