How Backup Solutions For Small Business Save Heartache

Living a digital life does not come without its moments of angst, stress and sheer panic, especially for small businesses that rely on technology and the internet for their revenue. So many things can go awry, but the one that instills more fear than any other and is almost always unaddressed is loss of data.  It’s a situation that can be easily avoided by having the right backup solutions for small businesses in place, and no it doesn’t have to cost you a small fortune for peace of mind!

Backup solutions for small businessEveryone is scared about the prospect of arriving in the office, coffee in hand, ready to start the day to find that the hard drive that they knew was well past due for replacement has finally given in and fried, or that their website was hacked and they have no way of recovering the website.

This type of loss for a small business can be devastating, but it is an issue that can be easily recovered if only some initial precautions were taken. I cannot even count the times that I’ve been called in to fix an inaccessible/hacked website or to try and restore data on a fried drive where the customer does not have any backups. It’s a heartbreaking situation especially if nothing can be done to retrieve the data or at least retrieve it in a cost effective and timely fashion in order to get the business back up and running.

Digital storage used to be super expensive, but this has not been the case for almost a decade. Nor does it take a huge amount of time to back data up these days – most of it can be set up to be done automatically, so you don’t even need to take manual backups.

Whatever has caused the lack of access to your data, you need to have contingencies in place so that you can get your small business and/or website back up and running as soon as possible. My suggestion for this is a two-fold belt and braces approach.

Firstly, get some cloud storage that will synchronize all your data directly to the cloud for you. You can even set your website to back up directly to your cloud storage solution in most cases, meaning no manual intervention after the initial set up. Companies that offer good solutions at good prices dropbox, SugarSync, Apple iCloud, Microsoft Skydrive, and even Google. An average sized small business should have to pay no more than around $10-$20 per month, depending on how much data you have. Some solutions are even free if you only have a very small amount of data.

Secondly, get yourself a portable hard drive, so that you can backup your data and keep a copy of it somewhere physically near you, but away from the office! Sometimes cloud storage may not be available when you need it, they have outages too for a variety of reasons – natural disasters, technical issues, hacking to name but a few. A Western Digital My Passport 1TB drive will cost you a one off amount of around $100. Most small businesses  don’t need an intricate bespoke solution.

It’s cheap and easy to make sure that you can get your business back up and running as soon as you possibly can. Don’t leave it until after a disaster has struck to look into backup solutions for small business.

Do you have a solution in place that works for your small business? Let us know in the comments below!

Guerrilla Marketing: Using OSINT for Target Identification

Ok, so I know that’s a super vague title for a blog post. If we are going to talk about Guerrilla Marketing and how to apply it to your business, we need to first talk about how to determine, find, and target ideal prospects. Remember from my last post, Guerrilla Marketing is “Going after the conventional marketing goals but doing it by using unconventional means and a fair bit of imagination.” So, let’s talk a little bit about how to find your targets using Open Source Intelligence(OSINT)

Planning your operation

With the availability of data, acquiring bulk loads of data is the easy part. Segmenting and sifting through that data is the tedious part. A lot of this tedious work can be circumvented if with proper strategy and planning in your war room.

Narrow your Demographics

Let’s say you sell a software that will help small businesses do a better job with engaging on their social media platforms. So who is your ideal customer? Many consultants would say that any small business needs your service because every small business needs to take an active part in social media now days. Yes, this is true on a surface level, but that doesn’t mean that every business out there is your ideal prospect.

If you are having a hard time figuring out how to narrow your focus, simply make a list of who you would really enjoy having as a client or customer. If you really like working with woman owned businesses, make that your first qualifier. We’re gonna narrow it down even further. Say you were in the military and would like to work with Veterans. Great, now we are only going to be looking Female Veteran owned businesses.Now, we are starting to get somewhere, but we need to analyze further. Are you good at selling yourself over the phone? What about webinars? How about face to face meetings? If all of these are equal strengths for you, great, but if not you need to focus on the area where you excel. See where I’m going with this? Just keep brainstorming so you can further refine your target demographics.

Utilize OSINT for Recon

Cool, so now we know that you want to focus on Female Veteran Owned B2C Business that are active but not entirely successful with their social media in a 50 mile radius of your location. There are many tools out there to help sift data for you. Since we are looking for businesses that are somewhat active with social media, the first tool I would use is FollowerWonk. Even their free version can be extremely helpful, so go plug in basic keywords pertaining to your demographic and they will find only twitter profiles that match your query. Best part is they rank them by influence so it’s easy to get a narrow list. If you aren’t finding enough leads through FollowerWonk, I would recommend doing the same search in Twellow. Twellow is basically the yellow pages of twitter. By now you should have a list of people who fit your demographics. Since we are doing Guerrilla Marketing here, we need to now find out who they are as a person. What are their interests, backgrounds, passions? What is going to be an easy door for you to open to them, so they actually pay attention to your offering? Take the people you find and do searches on them in of course Google and Bing, but for better more personal results I recommend using DuckDuckGo and especially Blekko.

Once you follow these steps, you should be able to identify who would make a great prospect for you, and know enough about them to make engaging and conversation very easy. A tool I recommend that everyone take advantage of is Rapportive. Rapportive is a plug in for Gmail that takes the person whose email address you have and finds every social network profile they have and their latest posts. A great tool for building your lead base if all you have is an email address.

I’m sorry for making this such a long post, but now we have the framework in place to effectively build upon and implement our next steps in Guerrilla Marketing.

What are your favorite tools do to find and identify your ideal prospects? Please leave a comment below

Have we Allowed Our Society to Become Data Obsessed

Data collection has gone to obsession in our society. Agree, or disagree? I won’t be making a case in either direction with this post, but I do think it is something worth looking at. With the introduction of technology, and the fundamental shift in communication that social media has afforded us, we are now inundated with data. Clearly anybody in the social media space understands what I am referring to, but if we dig a little deeper, we find that data obsession is everywhere.

Baseball DataWell Johnny, it’s a 3 to 2 ball game in the top of the 7th, with left handed hitter Bobby Batter facing right handed pitcher Pauly the Pitch Maker. It’s a beautiful Thursday evening here at the ballpark, 65 degrees with winds about 8 miles an hour from the west. Did you know Johnny that Bobby is hitting 213 in the bottom of the 7th, on a Thursday night with winds out of the west at 8 mph at 65 degrees. Well that is only for right handers etc. etc. etc.” Get the picture? That’s just in a sports application.

Lets take a look at this in terms of Social Media. You are under contract to build a social community for company X. You’re getting paid good money, you’re putting your time in but the process is a slow and meticulous one. You understand that – you made that clear in your initial meetings with your client. But even though, your business owner wants RESULTS, YESTERDAY! What do you do? Here is where the problem begins. So many normally good, “white hat” people are turning to “black hat” practices to get results fast, to satisfy their business interests. The business owners obsession with the numbers (data) has festered into an obsession for the social media manager. Hence, the “faker” problem that we are seeing in the Social Space.

It makes me wonder where else this manipulation of numbers is occurring. What about ROI? ROI (what I refer to as ROE… return on engagement) in social media is difficult at best to measure. Many of the indicators (relevant or not) that business owners are obsessed with like FB likes, restaurant reviews, klout score etc are all easily “gamed” by using black hat practices. I don’t know about others, but for myself, I am trusting numbers, less and less.

What about you? Do you still trust social media numbers? What other causes do you see feeding this monster? Please leave a comment below!