All posts by Andy Walker

Andy Walker is CEO and Senior Strategist at Cyberwalker Digital. He is the author of five books and is a well known technology expert. Andy is a former G4TechTV host and currently appears in the media as a commentator of the Internet and all thing technology. He is co-authoring the book "Super You: How technology is revolutionizing what it means to be human" with CWD's Kay Svela.

How much time and money should you spend on marketing your startup?

When you are starting your own business, it can often be tricky to know how to divide your time and your budget most effectively to deal with each of the different aspects of successfully running a company. One of the most important aspects to consider is marketing.

How much of your time to invest in marketing

When you are first starting your business and have not yet built brand awareness, marketing is one of the most essential ways to spend your time. When you start out, you are likely to have significantly more time than you have money to spend, especially if you have not yet built a customer/client base. During these early stages, you may even be able to spend the majority of your time on marketing (as long as you do not neglect other vital aspects of running a business).

This time can be taken to try out different marketing techniques and channels, choose your brand personality, and generally work out what works best for you. Once you have set up reliable marketing channels, the time needed to spend on marketing can decrease, but you will still need to regularly update and monitor channels such as social media accounts. As you gain more business, time spent on marketing can likely be reduced, usually to somewhere between 10% and 20% of your total weekly working hours. As time spent is reduced, financial investment in things like paid ads can likely increase.

How much of your budget to invest in marketing

There are many expenses associated with starting your own business. For example, if you are starting a business in the state of Florida, you are legally required by the government to have workers compensation insurance if you employ four or more members of staff, and/or if your business is in the construction sector.

Deciding what percentage of your business’ budget to invest in marketing can depend on what sector your business is a part of. Not only do certain sectors have fewer expenses than others, but taking an active approach to marketing is also more essential in some sectors than in others (although some marketing is vital in all sectors). Businesses in sectors such as banking, transportation, and energy have on average some of the lowest percentages of their budgets spent on marketing (usually less than 10%), whereas consumer goods providers spend around a quarter of their budget on marketing.

If you are not sure how much of your budget to allocate, a good general rule-of-thumb recommended by business experts is to aim for approximately 10% if you are looking to grow your business, although this can be reduced to around 5% if you just want to simply maintain your current level of brand visibility. When starting out and aiming to get clients/customers, marketing will be more important and worth more funding than later on when you have a consistent client/customer base. Of course, the specific percentage of your budget will also depend on your sector and overheads.

How data analytics can help you

Using data analytics can help you to identify the most profitable marketing channels for your business, which can make your time and your financial investments more efficient in future.

Being adaptable to changing circumstances and regularly revising your marketing budget, strategy, and timetable can help you to create improved ROIs on your marketing activities.

How Social Media Branding Can Transform Client Relations

Are you looking for strategies to improve audience engagement on social media platforms? Branding can help make this a reality. Let’s delve into the details of how it works.

What Is Branding?

Branding is a marketing strategy that involves developing an identity to set your business apart from others. It includes elements like your name, logo, and the way you communicate.

When you create your brand identity, you lead consumers to understand what they can expect from your company. On social networks, you have access to a large audience of potential customers.

How Branding Can Transform Your Social Networks

Maybe you’re wondering if social media branding is worth the investment. Here are some of the most critical benefits:

Immediate Brand Recognition

When you take the necessary steps to differentiate your brand from others, social media users will instantly recognize your company. In this way, you can attract attention amid busy Facebook and Instagram feeds.

Increased Trust

Building a brand requires consistency. You need to express the same mission and values repeatedly. It’s also essential to maintain a unique tone and voice in your publications.

When your social platforms show that your company has a unique and attractive personality, you’ll earn your audience’s confidence. They’ll understand they can trust this business to maintain a consistent nature and values.

Basics of Social Media Branding

Now that we’ve seen some advantages of branding let’s look at how to make it happen. How can you develop a consistent style for your social media content?

First, you’ll need to define how you want to portray your brand. Essential elements include:

  • Logo
  • Profile and cover images
  • Username
  • What to include in the description of your organization?
  • Image styles
  • Palette – for example, bold or pastel colors, one tone or several
  • Personality – Is your brand friendly, sophisticated, intelligent, or informal?
  • How you deal with competitors

Once you decide on your brand attributes, you’ll need to post frequently enough that users see your publications and interact. Usually, this means making new content available daily.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning can make processes more efficient, as Octopart blog articles explain. However, people crave human interaction, and it’s essential that your social media interactions feel personal and not mechanical.

Posting Strategies

Many specific strategies can help you get excellent results quickly. Popular tactics that top brands apply on social media include:

  • Tags and mentions
  • Hashtags
  • Captions
  • Educational content
  • Specific content for each platform

When you tag or mention a person or business in a post, they get a notification. As a result, they may become curious and engage with your content. They might even share it so more people see it.

Hashtags make your content searchable and help potential customers find your brand. They also drive engagement.

By putting captions on the links, you share, you lead your followers to understand why the post is relevant to your brand. You may also succeed in convincing them to interact with the publication.

Teaching your audience is another essential strategy since many people turn to social networks for educational content. When followers understand they can count on you to provide accurate and relevant information about your specialty, they’ll keep coming back to learn more.

If you have social media accounts on multiple platforms, you’ll need to adapt your content to fit each platform’s unique style. What works on Facebook might not do well on Instagram or Twitter. Every site has best practices that inform how you must post.

Refining and Reworking Your Strategies

When you start implementing these strategies, you’ll need to test what works best for each platform. Study insights and analytics at least once a month and make any necessary adjustments. Constant monitoring allows you to continue improving your brand recognition.

Summing It Up

Social media branding can make immense positive changes in the way people respond to your company. It can bring quicker recognition and greater trust.

Clearly defining your brand image and using specific strategies can bring excellent results. Consistent evaluation is necessary to improve any weak areas you identify. Doing all these things can transform the way an online audience relates to your brand.

Why Cyber Security Marketing is a Must

Whether you’re a vendor or a creator of cybersecurity software, marketing your product is critically important for your business’ success. Moreover, as cybersecurity experts are more than aware, informing consumers, workers, and business leaders about the threats they might come across online can dramatically reduce phishing, malware, and ransomware attacks – saving businesses billions of dollars each year. Getting your message out when you’re a cybersecurity provider might feel difficult, but this article argues that it’s an absolute must for anyone working in this crucial space.

New Threats

Most businesses and individuals are aware of cyber threats. They may have had a social media profile hacked in the past, or there might have been news stories about some of the most famous data breaches in recent history. However, consumers and business leaders, many of whom already use a cybersecurity system, are less aware of the developing nature of online threats. This is a key message to communicate to consumers: the ever-changing nature of online threats. This means that businesses should always review their cybersecurity offerings and should be prepared to switch providers if they find a blind spot in their protection at any time.

New Platforms

While the likes of Microsoft Teams and Slack have been around for many months, the cybersecurity risks and provisions that serve businesses on these relatively new platforms have only followed suit fairly recently. The result is that thousands of businesses are using online communication and team collaboration platforms which contain well-known backdoors that hackers can penetrate to extract data or inject malware. These Microsoft Teams protection tips, courtesy of McAfee, go to show just how important new security systems are in protecting businesses that have rushed to onboard with new platforms – especially since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Varied Providers

There are dozens of different cybersecurity providers online – all of which offer slightly different packages to businesses that use different forms of technology in their backend. CEOs and business leaders are simply not equipped to scour through the online space to find the perfect cybersecurity solution for their firm and, even if they had the time, they wouldn’t know what they were looking for. Instead, cybersecurity providers can communicate the benefits of their product through smart marketing, including guest posts on tech websites and features in comparison lists and online reviews. 

More Customers, More Data

As any cybersecurity whizz will tell you, the more customers they serve, the more data they receive on the capacity of their product to protect businesses. With this additional data, engineers are able to spot patterns of attacks and data breaches more easily, leaving them with plenty of information that they’ll use to patch up weaknesses in your product, making for a more competitive cybersecurity solution over time. This is a final, important benefit of marketing your cybersecurity product: the more consumers use it, the more insights you’ll receive on how you can tweak and improve it over time. 

These four points serve to urge cybersecurity firms, consultants, and professionals to market their knowledge and the products they sell for the good of businesses across the world. 

Why Do You Need to Use Captions?

Video content without any closed captions is like a musician or band playing to an empty auditorium. You may feel as though you have put all of your hard work into creating something, but you are not playing to a full audience. You need to know that we live in an online oriented society and it is no longer an option to create content that is not captioned. People all across the world are now engaging with content all the time and every single one of them has very different needs. If you use captions then you may find that it is very easy for you to engage with all of them and reach them efficiently.

It makes your content watchable without sound


In this day and age, people are always on the go. You don’t want to be blaring your device to all and sundry. Captioning makes it easier than ever for people to watch streams and this means that your audience can watch whatever they want with ease. If they are on public transport and they do not have any earphones or if they are in a very quiet place where they are unable to play sound then you can still engage your viewers without having to worry about this. Some 83% of people in the US watch media without sound, and 80% of people are more likely to watch a video when the captions are available rather than just skipping through. The main reason for this is because captions make watching videos much easier. If you want to add captions then automated transcription software is a
fantastic tool to have in your business toolbox.

Hands on keyboard
IMAGE SOURCE: Pexels.com


Boosting your Audience Attention

Captions make it much easier for you to capture your audience’s attention and keep it. Videos that have a longer viewing time need captions because this will help you to get your message across and it will also make it much easier for you to rocket the potential of your content from run of the mill content to great content. Captions have been found to boost the comprehension of the video and audio content and can also create a positive learning experience among students too.

Improving Accessibility

Did you know that 5% of the world’s population has hearing issues? This is a huge amount when you think about it. In fact, it equates to around 460 million people. They won’t be able to access your content if you do not provide them with some kind of caption.

Captions will support those who are hard of hearing or deaf and it will also encourage them to follow your content. The more accurate the captions are, the better. This is one of the many reasons why you should invest in audio descriptions as well as captions because it helps people to have a better understanding of what you are showing them, and it also helps them to feel much more connected to your media. In the world of business, captioning is incredibly important as it shows your audience that you care about them and it also means that you can get way more engagement out of every video that you show.

Top Tips for Creating a Lean and Mean Healthcare Marketing Budget

Healthcare marketing can be hard. But if it was simple, then everyone would be doing it. Producing an effective healthcare marketing plan shouldn’t be too difficult. But for many people, it can become a real challenge.

A health care professional who already uses marketing wants to improve and grow their practice, but the resources needed to do this are scarcer than ever. The practice may already have a number of resources, but your competitors have increased what they can offer patients. And then there are hospital advertising and marketing budgets that need to be split between a number of departments and (sometimes competing) interests.

How Can the Lean Principles Work in a Healthcare Organization?

Lean is designed to help get rid of waste while increasing value to customers. Waste is any process that reduces value to a client, or the client doesn’t think it has any value.

The Lean methodology identifies these wastes:

  • Inventory
  • Transportation
  • Waiting
  • Motion
  • Over-processing
  • Overproduction
  • Defects

The Lean methodology is usually associated with the manufacturing industry, but healthcare organizations and hospitals can use it to reduce or eliminate waste. Some of the areas that could be improved through these practices include:

  • Medical errors
  • Billing
  • Providing staff with the correct equipment to serve patients and stakeholders
  • Reducing the waiting times in offices and emergency departments

Many hospitals and healthcare organizations are now using this methodology to improve patient care and achieve more with less. Click here to learn more about lean principles in health care.

How do Lean Principles Improve Health Care?

There are a number of ways in which the Lean principles can help improve the healthcare industry including:

  • Reducing patient waiting times – this is one of the main complaints of patients accessing health care organizations or hospitals. Lean methods look at how we can reduce the amount of time people spend waiting – for example, by delivering test results through technology instead of a member of staff collecting them.
  • Manage inventory – having too much stock can lead to issues with storage, expiration dates for medicines and increased overhead costs. Technology could be used to keep track of supplies that are used regularly and order them accordingly.
  • Decrease defects – one of the best ways to reduce defects is to change to an information system that is technology-based. Doctors will be able to keep track of their patient records without having to rely on a patient’s memory.
  • Reduce overproduction – overproduction in healthcare includes providing higher levels of care than needed, ordering unnecessary tests, higher level doctors performing tests that less qualified (and cheaper) staff could perform.
  • Limit movement – movement identifies how information, inventory and staff move between different departments. Rooms that have the correct supplies and equipment on hand will reduce the amount of movement and time needed.
  • Reduce costs – all of the principles above will help reduce costs in the healthcare industry. You can also apply the lean principles to your marketing and advertising efforts.

The annual budget in healthcare settings and hospitals often challenges people to do more with less. Lean principles can help improve your marketing budget and plan in a number of different ways. Below are some of the best tips to help you create a lean and mean marketing budget and plan:

1. Work Out What Your Goals and Objectives Are

You need to work out what your marketing and advertising priorities are. Work out which priorities are the most current and likely to affect your bottom line. Sort them into actionable, specific and measurable numbers. Don’t just follow your competitors; you need to stand out. You need to focus on ensuring you get a positive return on your investment.

2. Know What Counts and Play to Your Strengths

Marketing efforts that don’t have enough money spent on them often fail. Find out what tactics don’t work in your marketing plan and change them. Concentrate resources that can be measured and quantified and where the impact is at its peak. It’s better to focus on a small number of amazing marketing ideas rather than attempt a large number of mediocre ideas and not spend enough money on them.

3. Times Change and You Need to Too

The tide of patient consumerism, healthcare reforms, hospitals acquiring practices, and many other changes mean that you need to constantly examine the marketplace, the target audience and the competition. Your marketing efforts need to change and leverage meaningful market trends while recognizing and avoiding fads that will pass.

4. Outsource if Needed

Most businesses assume that they will save money by doing everything themselves, but this isn’t always the case. In many cases, getting professional advice and help for a short period of time during a project is usually the most time-efficient and cost-effective solution.

5. Training is Important

The main objective of all healthcare marketing endeavors is to increase custom. Therefore, it’s extremely important that individuals within each department understand and support the plans and have the tools and knowledge in order to achieve them. A marketing budget that doesn’t include training is incomplete and won’t help convert opportunity into revenue. Improving employee knowledge and training will help to increase overall performance.

6. Changes May Need to Be Made

Nobody can produce a perfect plan or budget. It’s hard to anticipate everything that will or could happen. Opportunities often present themselves suddenly, and disaster often occurs without any warning. It’s always advisable to budget in a way that allows for changes to be made in case unforeseen circumstances occur.

7. Budget Annually, but Analyze and Alter the Budget Monthly

It’s important to produce an annual budget, but you need to make sure that you continually review what’s working well and what could be improved. It’s advisable to schedule a time (at least once a month) to analyze your marketing efforts and how effective each part of the budget and marketing has been. Spend any additional money on areas that are working well, and re-think, change, re-design or get rid of parts that are underperforming.

Marketing is important in all business in order to attract customers. Marketing in a healthcare organization or hospital can be extremely tricky, particularly when you only have a small budget to follow. Follow some of these top tips above to create a lean and mean marketing budget for your healthcare organization.

5 IT Security Tips For eCommerce Businesses

Whether you are hoping to sell physical products or services through your start-up business, the internet offers a huge wealth of opportunity for bringing in revenue. Therefore, so many businesses have invested heavily in an eCommerce company website, a digital marketing strategy to bring visitors to the website and convert them into customers. While eCommerce websites do offer a simple and effective selling platform, there is more to setting them up than meets the eye. If your business’ eCommerce website is not created securely, you may be leaving both your customers and your business open to attacks from cybercriminals. 

1. Use a secure website host

When you ask customers to enter their personal and financial information into your site, you are taking on a lot of responsibility. You need to ensure that customer data and transactions are stored confidentially on the server by choosing a secure website host. The server or host is where the website ‘lives’ so it’s important to choose a secure option which can be easily scaled up or down to meet your changing business needs. 

2. Encrypt your system

In addition to using a secure website host, you also need to ensure that a cybercriminal cannot intercept customer data by enabling a secure socket layer (SSL) protection on your website. The SSL certificate encrypts all data moving between the website server and the customer’s browser. The SSL certificate protects customer data from being intercepted via the browser, but cybercriminals can still attack your system from the back end, so you should also be using encryption tools on your servers and databases. Even if the data is stolen, it won’t be usable as it will be encoded.

3. Carry out regular testing for vulnerabilities

Vulnerabilities in your website’s security could leave the door open for a cybercriminal to gain access. It’s not enough to wait and see if your security is breached – this could spell operational downtime, financial and reputational losses or even the end of your business. 

You need to be proactively looking for your weaknesses, so you can fix them before an attack takes place. This is called penetration testing and is best carried out regularly by an external company specializing in MSSP cyber security. They will try to hack into your system as a criminal would to identify weaknesses and tell you how to fix them. These companies can also provide security monitoring which will detect unusual activity or attempted attacks before they cause damage so you can take steps to prevent them.

4. Make sure you are compliant with privacy laws

Online privacy is a big topic all over the world and businesses which do not take care of their customer data diligently face severe consequences. In 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was passed in Europe. If your website is open to European users, you need to be compliant with the GDPR, including obtaining explicit consent to send them marketing materials and keeping them informed about how their data is stored and shared. If you are found to in breach of GDPR, you could face hefty financial penalties. 

5. Back-up your business data

Unfortunately, cybercriminals are always coming up with new ways to attack websites, and it’s not always possible to prevent them. Make sure you put in place a strategy for backing up your data securely so that in the event of a data loss, you can retrieve vital information for your business.

What To Consider As You Launch Your New Business

There’s a lot to think about and do when you’re getting ready to launch a new business. In the digital age, it’s not as simple as putting an open sign outside your door and hoping people see it and stop by.

Marketing your business should be a top priority for you so you can begin to build a book of loyal clients. Consider the following elements as you get started and are trying to decide where to focus your time and attention. Manage your time wisely and put your to-do list in priority order so you can achieve all that’s on your wish list and move your business forward. 

The Future

You should consider the future of your business and realize that what occurs is sometimes unpredictable. Set yourself up for success and growth by securing small business insurance for your company. You never know what will happen or unfold down the road; therefore, prepare yourself to deal with any unfortunate circumstance that may come your way. You’re going to have assets and employees to protect and will want to ensure you don’t get caught up in any costly mistakes.

The Quality of Your Website

Furthermore, consider having a website ready to go when you’re launching your new business. You want to have a robust online presence right from the start and a place where consumers can go to learn more about you. However, don’t just create a website, make sure it’s user-friendly, mobile-friendly, and contains essential information for answering any questions consumers might have as they browse through it. Have your employees test it out before it goes live so that you can confirm it’s free from any errors.

Promoting Your Products & Services

No one’s going to know about your business or what it is you do when you first open. Therefore, figure out a game plan for what you can do to market your products and services successfully. Make sure your marketing strategy includes both online and office tactics to help you get in front of your target audience at the right time. You might want to consider launching email campaigns and engaging on social media to help you drum up interest in what you’re selling.

Developing High-Quality Content

As you launch your new business, you’re going to want to consider how you can continuously develop high-quality content. Think about publishing a blog as a way to share exciting news and facts with your audience and posting your articles to your social media accounts. Be consistent with creating and sharing information so that you can build a strong following over the years. Hire a team of marketers who can manage your online accounts and respond to questions and comments.

Conclusion

There’s a lot to consider as you launch your new business, so it’s vital you stay focused and don’t become easily distracted. Put these ideas into motion, and you’ll likely find you’re able to attract attention to your business and secure loyal customers. Get off on the right foot so you can avoid any significant setbacks right away in your entrepreneurial journey. 

How to USE Data in Your Business

Data collection and analysis is imperative for helping to improve your business model and maintain successful trade. In every industry, data is used as a tool to determine strengths and weaknesses in all aspects of how a business is run. Here are a few ways you can utilize data to help keep your company going strong. 

1. Marketing 

The ways in which you market your products/services and how they are perceived by consumers or clients is one of the most important things for your business. Monitor how people react to your advertising techniques and see what people respond to the most. Using this data will help you to identify which groups respond best to certain campaigns, and how you can reach a larger audience.

2. Budgets

Data collection can help your business finances a great deal. By determining what aspects of your company have higher costs, and whether or not that money is being returned in revenue, you can create better budgets for each department. For example, if you’re spending a lot of money on social media advertising but the target audience isn’t engaging, you will need to re-evaluate whether it’s worth as much as you’re spending on it. There might be more cost-effective ways you can reach consumers, which is what you will use data collection to learn more about. 

3. Customer service 

Listening to feedback from your customers is the best way to improve the products and services you provide to them. Having a strong, effective customer service department in place will improve your company’s reputation and encourage people to use your business time and time again. Utilize the data that is collected from their feedback comments to make sure you’re providing the best customer service in the business. 

4. Company Operation 

As data collection will branch out to all aspects of your business model, this means it can help you improve your overall operations. Each department needs to be working at its best to ensure the highest standards of service. It’s worth investing in quality olap and other data analysis programs to improve this opportunity in your company. It can also help you to figure out which staff members are performing at their best and worst, so you can delegate promotions where they are deserved and let people go if they aren’t pulling their weight. 

5. Innovation

Using data to track future trends and changes in the industry is the only way you are going to keep the company relevant and ahead of the game. By looking at both historical and current ways of trading, you will be able to make informed predictions about how things are going to progress in the coming months or years. This information presents you with the opportunity to become leaders in whatever industry you work in, making sure you stay in business. 

Data is so widely used now by companies across every industry that it would be foolish for you not to do the same. Utilize this data to keep your business moving forward and even to take over your competitors in the ranks. 

3 Tips to Improve Your Digital Marketing

3 Tips to Improve Your Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is a powerful tool used by businesses to advertise their products and services, increase market reach, enhance brand reputation, and boost sales and revenue potential. Modern companies can take advantage of a huge variety of digital marketing strategies, including search engine optimization, social media marketing, and affiliate marketing. To help you market your business effectively, here are three tips to improve your digital marketing today by our strategist Kay Walker

1. Focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 

SEO should be a key focus in any digital marketing strategy. When used correctly, SEO will make your website more visible and improve your search engine rankings. This should increase organic traffic to your site, boost conversions, and generate more sales and profits in the long run. Content is an essential part of SEO because it allows you to reach and engage with your audience. For instance, a beauty salon may post a series of blogs on the top beauty treatments to try or ways to enhance your natural beauty. When someone searches for this information on Google, the blog should come up, and the salon will have the chance to build a relationship by offering valuable advice. SEO can be complex due to regular updates with technology and algorithms. Experts at an SEO company in San Diego advise how “it’s important to maintain your site with optimizations and regularly updated content.” This will help you to stay ahead of the changing SEO landscape and take advantage of new updates. 

2. Track your social channels 

One of the most powerful digital marketing tools available to modern businesses is social media. Social channels allow companies of all sizes to connect with their customers, increase their market reach, and advertise their services and products on a global scale. However, it is only effective when used correctly, and you should be actively monitoring the performance of all social channels within your marketing strategies. Tools like Google Analytics can be used to track your performance on social media platforms by providing valuable information on things like the number of shares and overall engagement. This will allow you to tailor your social media marketing to make it more effective in the future. You can find advice on how to track social media in Google Analytics

3. Understand your audience 

You cannot implement effective digital marketing strategies if you don’t know who your audience is. Market research will allow you to better understand the needs of your customers and create marketing campaigns that will engage and captivate your target audience. Audience analysis is now easier than ever and can provide you with valuable consumer insights such as buying trends, potential barriers, and socio-demographic characteristics like gender and age. Overall, audience analysis helps you create a clear picture of your target audience and how to reach them most effectively. This will help you improve your overall marketing strategy and enhance the customer experience. Ideally, audience analysis should be conducted at the start of any new digital marketing campaign.