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Gone Phishing: Don't Take the Bait
The 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report indicates that one third of cyberattacks involve phishing traps. These scams involve imitating a reputable source to induce staff to reveal sensitive information. As companies increase awareness of these cons, cyber criminals increase their efforts, making tactics more sophisticated.

How can you protect your company?

First, educate yourself and staff about current phishing techniques. Cybercriminals often use links embedded in emails to direct employees to unsecure sites. A second common method is to spoof a sender email address and request secure data. Scammers may also impersonate a known IT department or vendor and ask for sensitive information over the phone. Recently, phishing tactics have expanded to texting, which can be particularly effective, since staff may be more distracted and less vigilant when it comes to these informal interactions.

In addition to education, protect your business from phishing methods by using appropriate security software and remaining current on all updates. Use spam filters and web filters to block malicious content. Develop solid security protocols for password protection and encrypt all sensitive business data. Don't forget to require encryption for telecommuters, too.

Even with the best measures in place, you may be susceptible to attacks. To fully protect your business, establish appropriate insurance coverage. Cyber insurance policies offer protection for these situations. If you suffer a data breach, data loss, business interruption, or other expenses due to cybercrime, insurance is essential for covering the resulting costs.

Contact our office to find out more about available coverage for your company.

Have You Tapped into Texting to Engage Customers?
Texting, also called SMS, is a simple yet effective way to engage customers and prospects.

Texting's brevity, instant delivery, and prominent position on a consumer's mobile phone make your message stand out, even if only for a few moments. And unlike with an email that may end up in a spam folder, people are generally motivated to read text messages. Adobe reports the open rate for text messages is up to 98 percent, versus about 20 percent for email.

Text messages not only reach customers, but they drive engagement with them. Many buyers consult their phones when making purchases, and their purchase behavior is often influenced by the product and pricing information, coupons, and other relevant information made available to them in the moment.

SMS allows you to communicate with customers on a personal level. You can send a reminder about an upcoming appointment or thank them after a visit.

Texting is also an effective way to publicize new products and/or services, promotions, event notifications, flash sales, and special offers.

Your text messaging strategy should complement your other marketing efforts. When you sign up for text messaging services, you will be assigned a dedicated 10-digit number (long code), and customers must give you permission or "opt in" by sending a keyword to your long code.

Integrate your efforts by publishing your long code on your website, in emails, on social media, and on promotional materials like vehicle signage and flyers. Use these opportunities to encourage customers to opt in to receive your texts.

Once they've opted in, make customers happy they did so. Offer convenient interactions and relevant content via text that add value to your services.

Mastering the Accessibility of Social Media
Social media is a great way to connect with current consumers and reach potential new ones. But social media can be a double-edged sword, too, as customer complaints and poor reviews can gain traction and spread quickly online.

How can you successfully incorporate social media into your business operations? Here are some tips.

Respond quickly to both messages and reviews. If it's a negative review or a complaint, do what you can to address the matter ASAP. If it's a question, give a prompt response, even if just to say, "I'll get back to you soon with a specific answer."

Respond to feedback and reviews respectfully. No matter how rude or unfair a customer may be, remain courteous and professional. Don't argue with the person, as this will only generate more negative comments. Try to use the opportunity to understand the issue, fix the problem, and improve your reputation.

Start a Facebook group and build an online community around your brand. Invite members to share opinions, ask questions, and communicate about your products and services.

Use chatbots. Increasingly, people reach out to businesses using Facebook Messenger, and you can respond using Messenger's chatbots. By setting up Q&A triggers, you can have the bot answer FAQs about location, hours, and service offerings. For more complex queries, a live operator can take over at any time. When you create scripts for your chatbots, make them as friendly and human-like as possible so the bot reflects positively on your business. Leverage this technology to save time and make service more convenient for you and your customers.

Don't Let Vandals Get the Best of Your Business
Candy. Jack-o-lanterns. Costume parties. Halloween can be full of fun. It can also be full of mischief.

While some people are out trick-or-treating, others are out vandalizing. Whether they are simply trying to impress their peers with a prank or are serious criminals set on destruction, vandals can do significant damage to businesses. Statistics database reports that graffiti alone costs U.S. cities $12 billion a year in cleanup.

Is your business protected from such incidents?

This prankster season, take a few steps to keep your company out of harm's way. Try the following tips.

Put a policy in place. Is your company covered by vandalism and malicious mischief insurance? This type of policy protects against losses you experience due to vandals.

This coverage is part of many basic commercial policies, but it's important to confirm that you have this coverage in your package.

Vandalism and malicious mischief insurance can also be written as an endorsement to your policy if it is not included in the basic coverage.

This insurance is particularly important for properties that are not occupied 24/7. If vandals know your business location is empty at night, for example, they know when they can strike with less risk of detection.

Of course, business owners would rather avoid acts of vandalism in the first place. In addition to getting insurance coverage, take these steps to deter vandalism on your premises.

Use good security measures. Install adequate lighting to keep your property well-lit at all times, and replace any burned-out bulbs immediately. Consider break-resistant glass if your property features large windows or glass-door entries. Equip the property with video cameras to monitor activities. The presence of cameras may deter vandals completely, or, if not, you can at least use the recording to catch the criminals.

Establish a perimeter. Use fencing or even shrubbery to keep vandals at bay. Choose plants that feature thorns or scratchy leaves to discourage close encounters with your property.

Partner with the police. Always report any acts of vandalism to neighboring businesses or to your own. If the police aren't aware of it, how can they help? If they know of high-incidence areas, officers may be able to increase patrols in those regions.

Ask around. Have any other businesses in your area experienced vandalism? Gathering information can help you detect any patterns or particular risks for your region. With this information, you can take appropriate steps to prevent future attacks.

Form ranks. You may have heard of neighborhood watch groups. Did you know similar groups exist for businesses? Business watch group members help reduce crime by watching one another's properties. If one doesn't exist in your community, check the National Neighborhood Watch website for information on how to start one.

Respond rapidly. If vandals do cause mischief on your property, act swiftly to make repairs. This lets vandals (and customers) know that you care about your property. A good insurance policy can help cover your costs to make these quick repairs more feasible.

Contact me today with any questions you may have about your insurance needs for the approaching holiday seasons.
How to Win Big in Today's Economy
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This Month-Prospecting
Prospect simply means "to search for." But what do you do with customers once you find them? Nurturing those leads is essential to turn prospects into sales and cultivate lifelong customers. Use the following links to sharpen your skills.

What prospecting techniques lead to well-nurtured customers? Try these:
9 Effective Sales Prospecting Techniques You Should Be Using

Cold calls are tough. Learn 25 ways to encourage a prospect to have that initial conversation with you:
25 Time-Tested Ways to Schedule a Call With a Business Prospect

Where should you invest your time prospecting? Here's how to qualify potential leads to invest time strategically:
A Dirt-Simple System for Qualifying Sales Prospects

What forms of prospecting have you tried? Are you tapping into the most effective email initiatives? Here's a helpful overview of automated emails:
How to Nurture Your Prospects Toward The Sale

A host of tools are available to help small business owners nurture prospects in today's market. Try this library of resources:
37 of the Best Sales Prospecting Tools for 2019
This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter.
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