As online businesses and entrepreneurs, we can all appreciate the power and value of data on the internet today. No longer do we need to download and install software to a computer and be limited to where we can access our work or data online. At the same time, the costs of data storage and web space are also now cheaper than ever. With so much information constantly being uploaded, created and accessible on the internet, the business of online security is booming. While all of this is going on, it’s also important to understand why and how your data is being stored and if it’s being protected in the process.
Quick Tips for Keeping Your Personal Data and Customer Information Safe
The ability to store thousands of digital files in a single location has eliminated the pressure that a person might otherwise feel to organize those files if they were physical documents or materials that were cluttering up a desk or bookshelf. The “out of sight, out of mind” principal helps a person to ignore the clutter that is likely buried in their personal workstations, laptops, tablets and smartphones. But that lack of organization elevates that person’s cybersecurity risks. A physical document that includes sensitive personal or financial information can be shredded and destroyed, but a digital file that contains the same information can lay hidden forever.
Safe management of digital files begins with organizing those files into digital folders according to a consistent filing structure. Businesses with several employees can use a commercial document management system to automate this task. Duplicate digital files should be deleted to avoid losing track of sensitive information. Create a separate index of files to allow easy access to and recovery of data. Folders and sub-folders can become overly complicated, and a business that is not relying on a management system should develop its own folder filing system and naming strategy to minimize those complications.
Even with such protections in place, the number of attacks on personal data and customer information is still growing daily. Kaspersky reports 62% of people have experienced attacks involving their financial data, while 61% of those people were never able to fully recover data that was lost due to a cyber attack.
Document management should be coupled with a data backup strategy. Some commercial document management systems automatically back data up into the cloud. If cloud backup is used, make sure that all data sent to the cloud is encrypted at the time of the backup process. If cloud backup is not used, data can be backed up onto external hard drives, SSD devices, or other media that is disconnected from any online environment and stored in a secure location.
Customer files and other sensitive data can be further protected with hashing and salting routines. Hashing will authenticate messages to confirm the legitimacy of an information request. Salting adds extra values to passwords to make them more difficult for a password hacking algorithm to guess. When used with end-to-end encryption, hashing and salting will create an even more secure data management environment.
The Business of Keeping Personal Data and Company Information Safe
While these tasks might seem simple enough, data protection is a 24/365 game of defense for nearly all businesses and brands in the world today. With company and customer data being more crucial to protect than ever before, Microsoft recently came out with their own stats and infographic on the matter. Highlights from the report noted the following:
- 140+ Days – The average number of days a hacker sits on your network before they are detected.
- $12M – The average cost a business is impacted by for each security breach.
- 72% of the U.S. workforce will be mobile by 2020, relying on devices other than their laptop to be productive.
- 87% of senior managers admit to regularly uploading work files to a personal email or cloud account.
You can see even more information through the visual infographic below.
Unfortunately, even the safest management of digital files will not guarantee their protection from hackers who are intent on stealing the information in those files. In 2016, for example, the commercial cloud backup provider, Dropbox, suffered a data breach that leaked details of more than 68 million user accounts. Information in those accounts that was encrypted or otherwise locked down with hashing and salting was better protected from loss, largely because hackers will go after data that is easier to access without wasting time trying to break through encryption and other protections. Still, those data files did fall into cyberattackers’ hands and still remain at risk of being unencrypted.
Even with the potential for a data breach at all times, data storage platforms like Dropbox are still in massive demand and their usage numbers just continue to keep growing over time. Take a look at the chart below to see how Dropbox has scaled from their initial launch in 2008 to having more than 500 million users today. The massive growth behind Dropbox all started with their referral program that would reward users with extra space in exchange for referring a new Dropbox user. The funny thing about this process is that Dropbox was already ahead of the data storage game before many other companies and brands jumped into the mix.
Eight years later and Dropbox is still the largest player in this space, thanks to their five times faster sync on average versus competitors, having released over 90+ product updates in the past year and also having 500 billion calls to the Dropbox API per year. All of this is ultimately in place to not only scale the company in size, but to also protect customer data and files as well.
In addition to the massive business of online data storage and data protection, there is also going to be a world of opportunities for affiliate marketers to make money in this space as well — which includes everything from data monitoring, spyware software and data notification platforms that are constantly monitoring personal information and mentions online. The more money and competition that flows into this space, the more money there are for advertisers, affiliates and the sites covering such data and resources.
Personal and Customer Data Manage Best Practices are Key
At the end of the day, the more we talk about data management and the potential downsides and hacks that come along with it, it’s simply a matter of keeping us all aware of such conditions and informing each other on better ways to protect our information. There is no doubt that online data storage and customer data will continue to be hacked and released on the dark web by hackers, but there are also some precautions everyone can do to keep their data safe. The unfortunate truth is that most of these leaks will likely come from other companies and brands that already have customer information, and will soon be attacked.
Good digital file management can therefore raise the bar for cyber protection, but it cannot stop a cyberattack that potentially compromises data in those digital files. The question that frequently comes up during a data file management project is “what is liability insurance and how does it fit into management of data files?” The simple answer is that cybersecurity insurance reimburses direct losses that a business might experience when hackers break through its cyber defenses, and provides funds to pay certain liabilities to third parties and fines from regulatory authorities that are levied when sensitive customer data is lost.
One of the more consistent recommendations for good data file management is that doing something is better than nothing at all, and that a management project should be started as soon as is possible. Hackers and cyberattackers are working every day to find new gaps in cybersecurity procedures as older gaps are closed off. Managing data files and adding cybersecurity insurance can keep businesses and individuals at least one step ahead of the hackers.
To learn more about the costs associated with cybercrimes and data leaks, be sure to always keep an eye on the latest data leaks in the business world, and also set up something as simple as a “Google Alerts” notification around your personal name to see when and where your information might be posted online.
5 Tips For Successful Property Management Marketing in 2018
Are you short on time? Obviously, we all are. This is likely even more true if you are an entrepreneur and run your own business. As much as other would like to think entrepreneurs are all super rich and make money online without ever actually working, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, this is how it is across most industries. When you are a business owner or an entrepreneur, there is a lot you have to worry about on a daily basis. This also applies to offline businesses that focus on property management, real estate, and more.
In addition to running your business, one also needs to know how to effectively promote it and to continually generate new leads, sales, and revenue over time.
While marketing isn’t something you can master overnight, when you put the time in, it yields major benefits. One, in particular, is an increase in clientele which means your business will grow. The problem is, most businesses know how to ‘run their business’, but not how to effectively market them online.
Don’t know where to start when it comes to property management marketing? Let’s take a look at a few effective ways to gain more clients and increase brand awareness.
Here we go!
Stay on Top of Reviews
As with any company, there are places for customers to go to share their good (or bad) experiences. Owning a property management company means you’re responsible for keeping both your client and the tenants happy.
Thanks to the power of Google and online reviews, just as important as what’s ranking on the first page for your name and brand, is the visible ratings as well. Search for something like “new york property management” and you will see results like the ones below. Even with a super high rating of 4.6, it’s likely the other two listings with a 5.0 rating will get more attention and clicks.
Unfortunately, controlling the influx of negative reviews isn’t viable. That said, see if you can reply to those who left one- and two-star reviews.
Normally, people turn to review sites when they don’t get a solution from a company right away. Instead of worrying about all the negative reviews out there, focus on solving their problems. You never know, they may edit their review to a higher rating after you replied.
Create Valuable Content
While those years of experience help you get your job done, you can also choose to share it with the digital world. Content creation, preferably in the form of blogging, is proven to generate leads.
When you create content that people find relevant and valuable, they’re going to share it with everyone they know. That gets your name out there which means those looking for a property management company will be more likely to hire you.
If hearing that term either has you confused or cringing, don’t worry. Search engine optimization is nothing to fear.
First things first, you’ll want to research which keywords people are using when wanting to hire a property management company. Once you have a handful or so, incorporate them in all aspects of your business—social media, website, even blog posts.
Don’t forget that local SEO is crucial as well. Take One Touch Property Management for example. They clearly state that they serve areas from West Palm Beach to Indian River counties. When you visit their site, you will also find a lot of ‘property’ related text on their site. Not only does this provide value to the end user, it can definitely help with SEO and long-tail/local rankings as well.
If you don’t have a blog or many content pages in place on your site, it’s best to try and create content like the example above for your main page. After that, you’ll want to focus on getting your name on other’s people websites. The art of the backlink can drive more traffic to your website (or social media) which can ultimately mean more sales.
SEO is something that’ll always require attention as search engine’s algorithms constantly change. It’s important to do an audit of your website and social media at least monthly to ensure you’re still relevant in the digital world.
Become the Authority within Your Industry
In the world of property management and realty, it’s important to have a great first impression and brand. When someone searches for your name in Google, what do they see? If it’s not great, this could instantly be losing you a lot of business.
Reputation management and controlling what comes up in Google for your name or brand can mostly be covered under the SEO tips above. However, there are others ways to stand out from the crowd and become the authority within your local area or niche realty space.
One such method is to get interviewed on other realty sites, take part in expert roundup posts. You can see a live example of this in the future of real estate roundup, which features answers from a bunch of realty experts. Not only does each expert get their name, expertise, and site featured, they also get the free exposure and branding associated with being on the site as well.
Another creative idea is to published visual content on sites like Slideshare, or creating free infographics that can be used to share realty and property management tips. This type of content can then be shared on other sites and then link back to yours — this improving not only it’s authority and traffic, but also it’s search rankings as well.
The more positive exposure you can bring towards your name and brand, the more likely you are to have a great first impression and better business experiences.
Work on Your Photography Skills
What makes a property sell? You could say it’s the amenities or how close it is to a park but ultimately, it comes down to the photos.
A perfect example of this can be seen in this example photo below from FitSmallBusiness. Along with the 27 expert tips on their site about how to showcase properties to get attention, the visual aspect is one of the most important factors. While both images below are the same, the one on the right clearly pops and makes you want to see the property more than the other one.
Blurry, grainy photos don’t result in sales. Photos that are bright and show off a property’s best features will.
But don’t think you need to hire a professional to get the job down. All you need is good, natural light and maybe a photo editing app or two to make details stand out.
Ready to Conquer Property Management Marketing?
While marketing is no easy feat, you can’t let it fall to the wayside. Dedicating time out of the month will ensure you’ll stay on top of your property management marketing game.
SEO, expert roundups, content creation and problem… it’s really all too much for one person to manage. If you need some help or guidance, contact me today and I’ll point you in the right direction!
How to Better Understand Your Products to Improve Customer Value and ROI
If you ask the average person what it means to create value with a product or service, most will probably say something to the effect of saving money or offering a substantial discount. They wouldn’t be wrong, but they wouldn’t be completely right either. It’s quite similar to the days of when an affiliate marketing conference is full of a bunch of ad networks and when you ask why they are the best, they will reply “We have the highest paying an best quality offers” — which got really old, really fast.
In the business world, we define value as the degree to which a product or service enriches life, fulfills a need, or solves a problem. Sales and marketing professionals long ago figured out that people don’t buy just to possess an end item or service, but to fix or improve something in their own lives or business. While this is especially true for B2C, it also holds for B2B as well.
Many businesses fail to close deals with other businesses because they don’t understand what their prospect is looking for (the Buyer Concept), and even worse, where they can create value for that business. We often default to saving cost and trying to underbid our competitors, but that’s a tactic that has become less and less effective as the years have gone by.
If we want to get the most out of our sales leads, and increase both our conversion ratios, ROI, and profit margins, we need to start understanding where we create value, and who our ideal customers are. This can often be done if you can imagine yourself as the actual customer of the product, but there are many other ways to improve on this as well.
Know Your Business
When someone asks you, “What does your business do?” you probably have a good answer already prepared. “We produce high quality automotive parts.” Good for you. But if instead you were asked, “How does your business create value?” what would you say?
Before we can hope to create a strong customer base, we need to understand what it is we really offer with our products and services. Cost is definitely an element that we can influence, and it plays a factor in many deals, with the majority of businesses, but it’s not the end-all, be-all that many perceive it to be.
This is often best accomplished by those individuals and brands that actually have a passion for what they do.
Value can also be quantified in saving time, avoiding hassle, increasing capability, ease of use, or access to new resources. Emotional factors such as reducing anxiety, fulfilling a dream, or making a new connection are also viable elements of value that you can introduce.
Regardless of what your product or service is, understanding where your business introduces value is the first crucial step to making the most out of your marketing and sales efforts.
Know Your Customers
Once you’ve established where you can introduce value, your next challenge is to identify what group or groups of people will readily buy from you, and more importantly, be a good fit for your business. Finding your ideal customer is a challenge that every business inevitably faces, but if you don’t, you’ll flounder to create a customer base that will sustain you, or allow you to grow.
The easiest way to understand those demographics that will make up your ideal customer is to create a Buyer Persona for each one. These are hypothetical, broad snapshots of the typical life, values and buying habits of the people you want to sell to. Buyer Personas are critical whether your focus is B2B or B2C.
The following decision and profiling examples are crucial when trying to figure out who your ideal customers are.
- Pool your personas into a few target groups.
- Get to know those personas.
- Create profiles for each persona.
- Develop content and messaging for each persona.
For example: if you make high quality automotive parts, you might create a Buyer Persona called Steve the Service Manager. Steve works in the Chevy dealership in his hometown, and his job is to make sure the service department runs smoothly. He values saving money, reducing time spent on each vehicle repair, and using high quality auto parts with a service life of at least five years, backed up by at least a two-year warranty from the manufacturer.
Your business makes high quality auto parts with three-year warranty; your pieces can be easily installed in most Chevy vehicles very quickly; you offer discounts on bulk orders. You just made Steve’s day.
It’s critical to know who will buy from you so that you also understand who won’t buy from you. You need to know who may be willing to buy but you can’t really help, so that you can avoid them. It’s not an effort to be more elite or high end (although you can certainly market that way, if that’s what you want your business to be). It’s about avoiding wasted time, money, effort, and buyer remorse.
Get the Leads; Close the Deal
Once you’ve established both where you bring value, and the customers who are looking for those same elements, you’ll have a much easier time prospecting and generating leads. Your next step is to ensure that your sales and marketing teams understand the elements you’re strong in, and where you’re lacking. To help your sales and marketing teams even further, you can even outsource your lead generating activities, saving you time and money, and allowing your teams to maximize their money-making efforts.
Understand yourself, understand your customer (or those you want to be your customers), and then cater your marketing efforts to those strengths. No matter the business market, the product, or the services provided… this is the business marketing strategy that continually works time and time again.
To use a cooking analogy – without a clear picture of what you bring to the table, and who wants to join you, you’re essentially opening a cookbook to a random page, preparing a meal, and praying that someone will eat it.
No it’s time to apply these same working methods and ideologies to your own business and marketing efforts.
7 Things to Remember When Creating a Whiteboard Explainer Video
Whiteboard explainer videos are a great way to communicate with your target audience. You can use whiteboard videos to explain a process, illustrate a new product, and even give a step-by-step tutorial on how to do something.
Explainer videos are one of the best ways to sell a product. Statistics and studies on explainer videos show they are one of the most effective methods of reaching people and keeping their attention through your call-to-action.
Types of Explainer Videos
There are many types of explainer videos, but they all have one thing in common: they explain a product, a service, a process, or a brand in ways that are relevant to the customer. Usually, the customer is looking for a specific kind of information to help them understand something about a brand or process. They find the explainer video on YouTube or social media that helps them make sense of things. This gives them valuable information they can then use to do whatever it is they need to do.
Some of the major types of animated videos are character animations, 3D animation, and stop-motion video. These are the most common. Character animations focus on characters that go through the action of a script compellingly and interestingly to portray a position or process that viewers want to know. These types of videos can be quite effective if they are backed up by a compelling script.
3D animation is the newest type of animation for cartoons like you might see in a Pixar Studios video such as Toy Story, for example. These larger-than-life animations attempt to bridge the gap between the earlier 2D animated cartoons and the real-world environment so that they have a more realistic look. Stop-motion video uses a type of ‘one-frame-at-a-time’ process that creates animations from time-lapse frames. This is an old-fashioned type of animation but is still used today in some contexts.
Why Whiteboard Video is So Popular
Whiteboard video is one of the newest types of animation that has caught on with the corporate and business world because of it’s potential to increase sales. People are compelled to watch these types of videos because of the way it takes you through the process step-by-step with a drawing hand. It’s like watching an artist in real-time. Perhaps one of the appeals is also that it seems to mimic a teacher writing on a board in a classroom. This may have some psychological significance to people who remember learning this way while they were a youngster in school.
There is also some psychological evidence that whiteboard videos and visuals keep the attention of the average person longer than other types of media. Not only is this being see across various markets and platforms, it’s likely also obvious when you come across a regular video and one that is an explainer video. There is just something about them that makes you want to keep on watching until the end.
If we take a look at some of the engagement stats from 2017, we will find that Facebook has found amazing success with the addition of video to their platform. Such stats include Facebook video being rated as the number one social channel for video, and Facebook video reach seeing more than 135% organic reach over photos alone.
Facebook isn’t the only one benefiting for visual and video marketing — as YouTube continues to see massive growth as well. The leading video platform is now reaching more 18+ year olds on mobile than any other cable TV network in the world today. You can see more of the latest video stats here, and how the future of the internet is clearly moving towards a visual and video standard.
Why do whiteboard videos work so well?
One of the main reasons whiteboard videos work so well for explainer videos is that the viewer follows the whiteboard as you “sketch out” or write the information and they feel as though they are looking at a “live” drawing that is unfolding before their eyes. Most importantly, they are more likely to follow your presentation to the end so that they hear or see your call-to-action and act on it.
7 Things to Remember When Creating a Whiteboard Video
If you want to create a stunning whiteboard video that your audience will connect with and remember, keep these seven things in mind before you start.
1. Find a reliable designer for your software solution to create whiteboards.
Most people don’t have the time to create their whiteboard video. While there are some online solutions that you can do yourself, it still takes time to put the animations and graphics together, add music, text, and titles, and render it to a final video that people will appreciate and respond to. One great solution is simpleshow.com. With this solution, you’ll be able to put in your order for a whiteboard video and have the professional team at Simple Show do it for you.
If you would like to try your luck at creating an explainer video on your own, while also saving some money in the process, they also have a self-serve solution at mysimpleshow.com. Again, there are no design skills or technical experience required. It’a all done through a simple drag and drop platform.
2. Focus on your primary message.
One of the problems that arise when creating a video explainer is that your message can be confusing to the viewer. You need to focus on the specific message that you want to communicate without complicating it for the viewer. You can do this by cutting out the clutter that might be inherent in your message and summarize your points in an organized way.
3. Make it entertaining.
One of the reasons people love to watch animated videos is that they are entertaining. The movement of the animation keeps the viewers’ attention while you explain the most important points of the product or company you are advertising. Even corporate executives prefer watching an animated or whiteboard video over a “talking head” or live action video due to the level of interest they have in this format. Most executives also report that they prefer animated or whiteboard video formats over text-based information.
Need an example of just how entertaining and attractive animation can be? Just take a look at one of Google’s daily creations of their name and logo in the art below.
4. Focus on the characters.
One of the main reasons people connect so easily to animated or whiteboard video is because the characters draw them into the action. People connect to the characters more than the action itself. Then the character takes them through the experience via their dialogue and action that they do in the video or movie. By creating interesting characters that people like and can relate to, you will be able to pull in your target audience and keep their interest through your entire message. Getting them to your call-to-action is the goal, and whiteboard animations can do this for your brand.
5. Write a great script.
Most whiteboard videos use a “drawing hand” to present your message, drawing pictures of things and objects that are relevant to your message. The script is important because it helps take the viewer from the introduction to the conclusion by drawing and narration. The narration is important because it is the audio part of the video that helps keep the attention of the viewer through the journey. Well-written scripts are critical to keeping their attention and focusing on the most important part of your message. If you don’t know where to start with a script, sketch out what you want to include in your script, then give your project to a professional whiteboard creator to put it together for you.
Explainer video scripts can be broken down into three parts like in the visual below. The beginning, middle, and end, will each play an important role in the progression of your storyline and video.
6. Use color and graphics to improve engagement.
You may not know this, but you can include color in your whiteboard videos. Many people think you can only create black and white images or videos. Depending on the software system you use, you can often color in the background or much of the whiteboard animation including scenery and objects. This may make the video more compelling for your viewers. Add graphics, titles, and narration also to draw in more views and engage your audience.
7. Focus on your call-to-action.
Your call-to-action (CTA) is the result of your work, and you should always focus on this as the most important aspect of your whiteboard presentation. Every frame counts, but ultimately, you need to keep the attention of your audience until you get them to the final frame where you present your call-to-action.
In the final CTA, you should include the following things:
- Specific actions you are asking them to do
- Link to click on to perform the action
- Contact information
- Website URL or landing page
The presentation itself should do the selling so don’t try to keep selling in the call-to-action. Think of this as the final part of your performance that you create to invite your viewers to action. If you have done an excellent job within the central part of your presentation, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting people to click on your CTA.
This is the goal of a whiteboard presentation if you are selling something. If you want people to subscribe to your newsletter to be reminded of upcoming offers or other things you are trying to promote, you can also include these in your call-to-action.
How to Get Started with Your First Whiteboard Explainer Video
When it comes to creating a professional and exciting whiteboard explainer video, one of the first things you will need to decide on, is if you want to create one on your own or outsource the process.
As mentioned earlier in the article, there are plenty of professional solutions out there to choose from, or even a few self-serve video creation tools that can be quite useful as well.
No matter what solution you go with, take a look at some of the example videos that can be found on each of these sites. Once you’ve made a decision on the best option for you and your brand, it’s then time to let the experts work their magic, or putting in the time and expertise to bring your idea and content to life.
Once you create a whiteboard video, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it a long time ago. Start creating compelling content for your target audience today.
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