Monday, November 11, 2013

Growth Hacking with Virtual Assistants

Virtual Assistant Slides 
I first heard of virtual assistants when I read The Four Hour Work Week by +Tim Ferriss. I even tried hiring a VA back in 2007 and found that it took more time to manage the VA than to do to kinds of tasks that I was asking him to do. We were getting ready to leave the country and I wanted to find storage for my Tesla Roadster which I was sure would arrive before we left to live in Saigon.  (It didn't.) In retrospect, trying to explain to a guy in India that I needed a garage space for my electric car, was maybe not the right task.

Fast forward to 2013 and I'm trying again. After reading APE where +Guy Kawasaki  recommends contacting reviewers on Amazon and inviting them to review your book, it got me thinking. Could I leverage the same group of folks to get them to review the Sensr.net webcam recording service? How could I find reviewers on Amazon that might be interested in reviewing or blogging about Sensr.net?  

Camera Product Reviews

It's all about the camera models.  To use Sensr.net you need to have a webcam, IP camera, or network security camera. In fact that's how we get most of our users today. They are trying to figure out how to use their Foscam or Dlink camera to FTP images or setup the firewall.  They Google "Foscam FTP" and end up on our site.

The Amazon reviews are a great place to find folks who know what an IP camera is to begin with. The Foscam FI8910W has 3,488 reviews right now. To put that into persepective, the Sensr.net site has fewer than 20 thousand registered emails at this point.

So how can we leverage these product reviews to spread the word about Sensr.net? My idea was to pick camera models that are popular on Sensr.net and then go through the reviews and create a list of folks who have reviewed the cameras. My friend Erbil Karaman suggested to me that to effectively use a VA, you must create a script of what you want them to do. I pretended I was the VA and created a Google spreadsheet with the information I want to track and practiced going through the reviews while filling out the spreadsheet. It seemed pretty simple.  Now to find some VAs.

The oDesk Experience

After listening to a recent Gweek podcast where +Kevin Kelly discusses hiring virtual assistants to help with his new book Cool Tools, I was inspired to go hire some VAs. I decided to use oDesk for this, mainly because I already had an account there, but this was my first time actually posting a job. It went very smoothly. Within an hour I had verified my account, created a job posting, and folks around the world were applying.

I decided to choose a few different VAs from different parts of the world to see how they would compare. So far I've hired three VAs and each one is working on a different camera model that I care about. I'm paying between $1.17 and $3.33 per hour and definitely seeing a difference in the quality of work. You get what you pay for.

When this is all said and done, I should have a hundred or so folks who seem to care about IP cameras.  At that point, I need to figure out how to contact them.  I'll probably try sending a personal email, tell them about Sensr.net, and see if they are interested in updating their review on Amazon to include a few words about how our service works with the camera that they reviewed.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.  Please leave a comment if you have other suggestions on how to use VAs or the data that they are collecting.


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