Email Warning: Potential Malware on Your Site

A client recently forwarded to me an email he received from his hosting company (no names mentioned but you all know of this one, and their constant upselling techniques). The email indicated that a routine security scan had detected potential malware on his website. Please reread that sentence…we’ll get back to it later.

I called the company behalf of my client and they simply repeated that one sentence before quickly launching into the recommended action to be taken, for a fee, stating that it would rid the site of all malware within 30 minutes and continue to scan weekly for future incidents. The cost for this piece of mind for one year was ONLY $250 (guess what? That means it will cost another $250 next year). If you’re in a position to toss that kind of money around, you need not read any further. However, because work with small businesses (by choice, I simply love them), my clients can’t afford to spend that kind of money on anything that isn’t necessary.

The representative went on to tell me that the site doesn’t have an SSL so every time someone logs in to the admin panel to add content, change a photo, etc. we are doing so in an insecure way that may allow Malware in. I deferred on the purchase of their Express Malware Protection which was also offered with “a free SSL (a $70 value!!!)” saying I was not authorized to make such a decision without prior client approval.

Now, let’s go back a bit to their original notification that a routine security scan had “detected potential malware” on the site. Note the word “potential”. Not verified, not definitive…just potential. I contacted Jennifer O’Neill of MoxDog Media Solutions, a trusted web designer that I’ve used a number of times, and who designed this client’s site about a year ago. I sent her the report which included approximately twenty links that “might potentially contain malware” and discovered they were all in a folder that contained files from the previous website, simply for reference while working on the new one. We no longer needed this folder so she simply deleted it; problem solved and money saved.

I read her the notes I took during my phone conversation with the representative from the hosting company. Here’s what she told me…
If your website it designed to collect client information then yes, you want a secure connection. However, despite that this client accepts payments through his site, information is not collected there, but instead, his customers are taken to a third party secure site for that transaction. (To be sure you are on a secure site for such transactions just look for HTTPS in the URL. If it’s not there, don’t use it).

Jennifer further explained “Google is locking down sites and their goal is that ideally, in the future, all websites will have an SSL, but at this time they are not enforcing it. Armed with this information, some hosting companies are using scare tactics to get customers to purchase added products and services”. Let’s face it, all it takes is words like “Malware” and “hacked” paired with the suggestion that your site is not secure to get many customers to pony up the extra cash.

Should you receive an alarming notice from your website host (or any other opportunistic entity), followed by a pitch to purchase added products and services, tell them you are not authorized to make this decision (it’ll buy you some time). Before hanging up, be sure to ask lots of questions and take notes. It’s always a good idea to check with an impartial third-party expert on the matter and these notes will be helpful. Should you get an SSL for your site? Perhaps. Do you need a weekly Malware scan of your site. Maybe. But I want you to make those decisions based on facts, not out of fear.

I should note, the company in question provides wonderful customer service and great prices on hosting, but business is business and they’re looking to increase revenue. As with anything, always remember, “Buyer beware”.

To read more about SSLs and the benefits and disadvantages go to https://www.sslshopper.com/why-ssl-the-purpose-of-using-ssl-certificates.html.

Reproduction or use of this article in anyway must credit the author, Debbie Bolduc, and business, BizBuzz Marketing Partners and provide a link to this site. 

Six Tips to Overcoming Social Media Overwhelm

By Debbie Bolduc, BizBuzz Marketing Partners

If you’re a small business owner, you undoubtedly feel overwhelmed by all you have on your plate. To make it worse, everywhere you turn you see information about the importance of using Social Media to keep up with today’s marketing trends. You understand the concept of building relationships because it’s a known fact that people tend to do business with those they know. You know what the experts recommend, but just can’t find the time to figure it all out.

Many of you have embraced Facebook to some extent, but admit you don’t have the time available to monitor it and dream up creative, engaging posts; never mind taking on the daunting task of blogging. Add to that Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and countless other social media options and it’s easy to understand why many of you throw in the towel before you even get started.

Perhaps you’ve established a social presence but seldom find the time to maintain it. In many cases this is worse than not having one at all. Failure to engage with your Fans, Connections and Followers is as damaging to your business as leaving emails and phone calls unanswered. So what can you do?

Here are six tips to help you overcome Social Media overwhelm.

1. Start small. Don’t feel it’s necessary to use every social media channel. Choose one and master it before moving on to another. Each one has its pros and cons. Most businesses start with Facebook because of its appeal to the general public and relative ease of use, but some businesses benefit more from other channels. Knowing your target market and where they hang out online is the key to making the choice that’s best for you.

2. Delegate. If you have the option, assign the task to someone else, but don’t underestimate the job. Managing Social Media isn’t as mindless and quick as many people assume. Do it yourself for a month to get a better understanding of the time it involves. Create guidelines regarding what you expect, allow and require from your company’s social media usage and train someone in proper protocol.

3. Ask for guidance. If you aren’t comfortable or familiar with social media, reach out to someone for help. This doesn’t mean getting your teen nephew to show you the ropes. He won’t know the business side of social media or have the necessary knowledge of marketing. Look for a marketing consultant or social media coach to work with for a short period.

4. Stop thinking it’s free. While there are no fees for using Social Media, your time has value. Decide if you can manage it without taking time from the work you get paid to do.

5. Let the pros do it. Just as you pay an expert to fix your plumbing, find a qualified Content Manager to handle your social media interaction. It need not be a huge expense and the outcome will be consistent, brand-savvy outcome-driven Social Presence that you wouldn’t most likely achieve on your own.

6. Cut your losses. Times have changed. If you’re still allocating all of your marketing budget to newspaper and yellow page ads you’re wasting money. By reducing these costs you can free up the funds needed for Tips 2-5.

If you, or the assigned person at your business, could use some training on how to better used social media in your marketing, or would like someone to co-manage it, please contact BizBuzz Marketing Partners to discuss options.

 

“Do as I Say, Not as I Do”  

My deskIf I had a dime for every time I heard that phrase growing up, I’d be a rich woman sipping fruity drinks under the shade of a palm tree by now.

Despite this, I have to admit that as a self-employed marketing pro, I’m guilty of neglecting my own marketing while coaching my clients to improve theirs (you know the old adage “Cobblers’ kids are the last to get new shoes” (with all due respect to Jim at Daub’s Cobbler Shop who tells me his kids’ shoes are not neglected). Luckily for me, business has taken care of itself. However, all businesses, mine included, have occasional lulls and that’s when I fall into the same faulty thinking I advise my clients against, “What can I do today to drum up new business now?. The answer, aside from sales calls, is nothing.

You see, marketing is a slow process. No one thing on one day is going to bring you an immediate influx of sales . I often hear, “I ran an ad and got no response”. One ad? Really? And you didn’t have a line at the door? Color me shocked!

Marketing is not sales (please read that aloud at least three times). Marketing is like networking (which I realize is a form of marketing, but that’s a topic for another day). When you attend a networking event, you don’t expect to seal a deal with a new client on the spot, but instead, to introduce yourself to as many new people as possible, getting to know enough about each one to appraise their need (or lack thereof) for your product or service, and briefly make them aware of what you have to offer professionally. To keep from boring them and making them want to run and hide the next time they spot you in a crowd, you include a helpful industry tip or relevant small talk to exhibit your professional expertise (keep it short, no one likes an opportunist) and a willingness to share your wisdom without expectation of anything in return. They may not have a need for your service or product right away, but when they do (or when a friend requests the name of a reputable company in that industry) your name will be the one that comes to mind first.  In marketing this is called “top of the brain”.

Again, it’s not fast, not a magic pill to be swallowed for immediate results. Because of this, there is no good or bad time to market your business. People often say “I don’t need to promote my business now, this is my busy season”. But then they come to me when things get slow and money is tight asking for fast, inexpensive results. That’s.not.how. this.works. The best time to market your business is every day. Build the awareness of your business, your brand, your differentiators while business is good, and funds are available for those out of pocket costs (such as professional help-check out my site and give me a call!) and your slow periods will be fewer and less desperate.

Now excuse me, I’m off to take my own advice. I don’t get the same high from it as I do marketing other people’s businesses, but I, like you, need to tend to it more.Hey, what can I say; I never claimed to be perfect.

Hiring Professional Help- A Valuable Reminder

We’ve all surely heard some variation of the expression, “The Cobbler’s children have no shoes”. Well, I admit, I’m guilty. I can market everyone else’s business without a problem, I actually enjoy it, but I fail when it comes to my own.

worn out pink shoes 2Well, after an embarrassingly long delay, I finally put the necessary time into completing the redesign of my own website and have to tell you what a relief it is to be done. Truth be told, the experience was agonizing. I hated writing my own content, breaking down what I do in a way that answered the questions I get asked most, yet I knew my horribly amateur old website (thrown together with no professional help years ago) was hurting my image, probably discouraging prospective clients from working with me in some cases. I knew it had to be done ASAP, and yet it took over a year to complete, because I kept putting it aside.

On the other hand, it was a great reminder to me, of why I do what I do. As a marketing professional I find that the majority of business owners are too close to the subject to affectively market their own service or product. It often takes a fresh set of eyes to see it objectively. To quote another well-known expression, we “can’t see the forest through the trees”.  They too let subpar marketing languish too long, tying to go it alone, or perhaps procrastinating to the point that they do nothing at all.

We business owners know what we want to tell everyone, but often that’s not the thing that people need or want to know. We also fail to understand how those outside our industry perceive it. The things we find most basic may not be basic to them at all. Our opinion of our trade may not match that of the general public.

Someone on the outside sees our business from the perspective of the average person, the good, the bad and the ugly. We are too close to it, too biased, to see it as others do and we know too much about the industry to realize how little others understand it.

This is what I do every day and yet I struggled with my own. For those who don’t work in marketing, I know it is even more of a challenge. It’s ok to seek professional outside help in any trade. The results are much better and take a fraction of the time to complete. Please, learn from my experience. You don’t cut your own hair, why try to do your own marketing?