July 24, 2018

10 Steps to Keeping Your Business Safe Online

10 steps to keeping your business safe online

Online security is becoming increasingly important for both start-ups and established businesses. The NCSC reported that if you’re a SME there’s around a 1 in 2 chance that you’ll be subject to a cyber breach. Not only is your business then at risk but these breaches could result in costs as high as £1,400.

With more threats appearing, your business needs to stay secure. But, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Here’s 10 steps to help keep your business safe online:

1. Managing risk

Create a list of your assets and consider the potential risks to your business. Examples of typical assets that need to be considered for security include laptops, smartphones, and data. You might want to number these in order of importance.

2. Passwords

Make sure that you use secure passwords for any important information and accounts and try to make sure that these are fairly complex to avoid a breach. It is recommended to create a long password using a passphrase that you can easily remember or store your complex passwords in a password manager.

3. Preventing viruses

You can get a computer virus from opening suspicious attachments, using unchecked portable devices such as USBs, clicking links from suspicious emails or downloading files from untrusted sources. So be sure to use an anti-virus software and activate a firewall.

4. Security settings

As well as ensuring all your software is up to date, you could consider noting down the serial asset numbers for your computer and backing up your data regularly. Additionally, you should keep your web browser up to date and activate a pop-up blocker.

5. Browsing and sharing safely

If you’re out and about as a business owner regularly, it could be beneficial to encrypt all your personal and confidential information so that you can freely use public Wi-Fi and still browse and share files safely.

6. Securing your own equipment

If you’re using personal devices for business activities, make sure they’re protected and encrypted. Add passwords to all your mobile devices and use antivirus software if possible. When an employee leaves, make sure you change passwords and permissions.

7. Peripherals

If you use USB devices, be sure to encrypt the data on them to ensure confidentiality because they’re susceptible to viruses. If they’re not fundamental to your business, simply don’t use them.

8. Training

All of your staff should have proper training to make them aware of your security policies. They should know all of the potential cyber threats, main risk areas, and consequences if your security is breached.

9. Monitoring

Regularly check the reports that your security software offers to detect any suspicious activity. You can also check the logs for operating systems and email accounts.

10. Managing security incidents

It’s important to have a process to manage security incidents should they occur. Run regular backups to your data so that you have a copy should you lose your data to malware such as ransomware.

Thank you for reading these tips. You can find more information in this article, or you can download our guide to keeping safe online for micro and small businesses.


July 10, 2018

Five Reasons Your Marketing Campaign Isn’t Working (And How to Fix it)

Not getting the desired results from your marketing campaign?

Here, we look at the common problems that plague marketing campaigns and how you can overcome them.

One: You’re not targeting a specific market segment

It might be true that a lot of people are in the market for your product. But do they all have the same personality? Do they all respond to the same benefits? Do they all have the same problems? In most cases, the answer is no.

And this is where many SMEs fail. They don’t take the time to research and profile their target audience. As a result, they don’t realise that within the audience there are nuances.

For example, some people might be more concerned about safety. If you wanted to target them, you wouldn’t lead the campaign with a headline about value-for-money, you would lead it with a compelling statement about safety. Not targeting a specific market segment is one of the commonest stumbling blocks.

Solution: Devote some time to researching your audience. Build up a profile based on demographics and psychometrics. You could even take it a step further and develop detailed buyer personas for each segment.

Once you have a clear perception of your audience, you can then consciously tailor your marketing campaign to suit the specific characteristics of each particular segment.

Two: You’re not giving yourself and your team enough time for planning and preparation

Another common pitfall is the ‘I want it done yesterday’ mentality. Many small-business owners feel under pressure to market their products or services. So they come up with an idea at the last minute, scramble over to PeoplePerHour and then hastily tell a copywriter, ‘I need an email campaign written by tomorrow’. Inevitably when the campaign fails it’s the poor creative that cops the blame. This kind of rush-rush approach is a weakness for many business owners.

Solution: Get into the habit of planning well in advance. If an event is planned for the summer and it’s crucial to your business objectives, then start planning and developing the marketing campaign at least six months before. Don’t leave it to the last minute.

Advanced planning gives your creatives time to master the brief and come up with properly developed and tested ideas.

Three: You’re cutting corners with your direct mail copy

Do you value copywriting as a genuine marketing skill? Or do you think anyone can write persuasive copy, so therefore you don’t need to spend much money on it? A cheap writer on Fiver will do?

Big mistake! As they say, ‘buy cheap, pay twice’. It’s true for furniture, and it’s true for marketing. Badly crafted copy could be the thing that’s ruining your campaign.

Solution: Hire a professional copywriter, one that can prove they have the talent and experience needed to get results. You may spend extra money, but the return-on-investment will be worth it.

Four: You don’t know about the AIDA marketing model

When it comes to their own special expertise, small-business owners are fantastic. But when it comes to marketing, they tend to lack knowledge and experience. Which is why they don’t make use of the AIDA model.

AIDA stands for:

● Attention

● Interest

● Desire

● Action

Essentially it’s a funnel into which a prospect is drawn. You grab their attention; get them interested; and then cultivate desire so they take the all important action i.e. make a purchase. Different stages of this funnel require different types of marketing communication. Being unaware of this tried-and-tested model could be the one thing that’s holding your campaign back.

Solution: Learn about AIDA! There are plenty of free resources online. After a few hours of research you’ll be up-to-speed quite quickly. Once you’ve learnt it, you can then use it as a framework around which to build solid marketing campaigns. In other words, you won’t be fumbling around in the dark.

Five: You stopped at the first hurdle

Defeatism is an easy trap to fall into. You’re spending time, energy and money on a campaign that’s not hitting the planned targets. It’s a natural conclusion to reach: it doesn’t work, so give up on it. However, you could be throwing away valuable experience and data. It’s normal for campaign strategies to grow and evolve. By stopping at the first hurdle, you could very well be stunting your own marketing growth.

Solution: Don’t give up! The Japanese have a great concept known as kaizen, which means ‘continuous improvement’. The idea is that you should be always striving to improve things. In respects to your marketing campaign, instead of giving up, analyse the situation: What went wrong? Are there any good points? What feedback are you getting? How can it be improved? What does the data say? (etc.) Use this analysis to improve the campaign . . . and have another go!