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VersaTrust has been serving the Texas area since 1997 , providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Not long ago, uploading a video to the internet was still a new and novel concept, but now we have access to multiple services for live video streaming. Most of these are free and offer great opportunities for increasing your visibility with little to no investment. Let’s take a look at 6 different ways you can utilize live internet video to increase your business value.

Business Introduction/Behind the scenes

If your company is new or suffering from low visibility, one of the best things you can do is give customers direct access to your staff and your product. A great use of live video is to take viewers on an office tour, show them how a product is made or even broadcast your business’s launch event.

 

Make sure to invite as many viewers as you can, but remember that most live broadcasts can be saved and viewed later. This is a video you’ll likely want to keep available after it’s finished.

Ask Me Anything (AMA)

Depending on your product or service, you may be getting a lot of conceptual questions about innovative ways to use it, what direction the company is heading and so forth. There’s no better way to address these questions than to do so in a personal and unscripted AMA segment.

 

If there’s a good turnout make sure to keep questions and answers moving in relevant and interesting directions. There’s nothing wrong with updating everyone on what you had for breakfast, but addressing service bugs or product feature requests is going to be a lot more beneficial for wider audiences.

How-to

Whether it’s a soon-to-be-released product or simply rehashing an existing one that’s getting lots of support requests, there’s no better way to guide customers through a ‘how to’ process than step-by-step, face-to-face.

 

Not only does this help to show existing clients the best way to use your product or service, it also allows potential consumers to see both your product and your customer service philosophy in action. Saving these videos can be invaluable as you continue to get questions on the product or service outlined in these videos — it’s an easy way to build a video reference library for sales and support.

Webinar

Although all of the previous uses can be categorized as ‘customer service’, there’s no reason you can’t simply open a help desk broadcast and invite viewers to join with their support questions. If you advertise this as a customer service broadcast and steer clear of any conversations that deal with non-support related questions, you may be able to tackle more than one client’s questions at a time and no one can ever complain that contacting your support line is frustrating or tedious.

Announcements

All of the live broadcast services are deeply integrated with social media. Whether it’s Twitter or Facebook, post updates about an upcoming announcement along with a scheduled time and take the chance to make your product or service announcement far more interesting and personal than a press release or faceless status update.

 

Text based announcements and pre-recorded videos severely limit how you address the ‘fine-print’ questions from customers. Think of this as a chance to hold your own personal press briefing and address questions after your scripted announcement.

Promotions

In the same vein as live announcements, use social media to promise a special promotion to anyone who tunes in to a live broadcast. Before it begins, create different thresholds for how big the promotion will be depending on participation. Once you begin, check how many viewers you have to decide whether to augment or reduce the scope of what you want offer. In addition to being a more dynamic method for releasing promotions, it will create motivation among your customers to interact more directly with your company.

 

Socialmediatoday reports that Facebook users spend three times longer watching live broadcasts than pre-recorded video. Combine that with Facebook’s announcement that live videos are more likely to be promoted to the top of news feeds and you’d be crazy not to utilize live broadcasts.

However, there are a handful of different services to use for live video broadcasting and deciding which one is the best for you can depend on a lot of different variables. Call us with any of your questions and we’ll be happy to assist you in adding value to your business with today’s best live video services.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Just because your IT provider has a plethora of awards and certifications under its belt doesn’t mean that you can blindly hand over your business’s future to them. Often times, there are some aspects in your business continuity plan that tend to be overlooked by your provider. We have rounded up some of these issues that could appear when you enact your business continuity plans.

Over-optimistic testing

The initial testing attempt is usually the most important as it’s when IT service providers can pinpoint possible weak points in the recovery plan. However, what usually happens is a full transfer of system and accompanying operations to the backup site. This makes it difficult to look at specific points of backup with too many factors flowing in all at the same time.

Insufficient remote user licenses

A remote user license is given by service providers to businesses so that when a disaster strikes, employees can log in to a remote desktop software. However, the number of licenses a provider has may be limited. In some cases, more employees will need to have access to the remote desktop software than a provider’s license can allow.

Lost digital IDs

When a disaster strikes, employees will usually need their digital IDs so they can log in to the provider’s remote system while their own system at the office is being restored. However, digital IDs are tied to an employee’s desktop and when a desktop is being backed up, they are not automatically saved. So when an employee goes back to using their ‘ready and restored’ desktop, they are unable to access the system with their previous digital ID.

Absence of communications strategy

IT service providers will use email to notify and communicate with business owners and their employees when a disaster happens. However, this form of communication may not always be reliable in certain cases such as the Internet being cut off or with spam intrusions. There are third-party notification systems available, but they are quite expensive and some providers sell them as a pricey add-on service.

Backups that require labored validation

After a system has been restored, IT technicians and business owners need to check whether the restoration is thorough and complete. This validation becomes a waste of time and effort when the log reports come in a manner that is not easy to compare. This usually happens when IT service providers utilize backup applications that do not come with their own log modules, and have to be acquired separately.

 

These are just some of the many reasons why business continuity plans fail. It is important for business owners to be involved with any process that pertains to their IT infrastructure. Just because you believe something works doesn’t necessarily mean that it works correctly or effectively. If you have questions regarding your business continuity plan, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

ImageMagick, one of the internet’s most widely used image processing services, is susceptible to attacks that may put your site at a huge risk of exploitation, according to recent reports. The discovery of this vulnerability means attackers could potentially steal your site’s data, or corrupt it entirely. Let’s take a look at what your SMB should be doing to protect itself from this security flaw.

What is ImageMagick?

ImageMagick is a tool that allows sites to easily crop, resize, and store images uploaded by third parties. Vendors continue to improve user interfaces and experiences by consolidating functions into all-in-one packages, which means administrators are becoming increasingly unaware of what specific services they are actually utilizing. ImageMagick is deeply integrated into countless web services and many webmasters may not even be aware they are using this unsafe software.

How can an image make my site vulnerable?

Recently, it was discovered that images can be uploaded that force ImageMagick into executing commands and permitting attackers to remotely insert harmful code into vulnerable sites. Images are actually made up of complex code that is translated into photos, icons, etc. Different file extensions use what are called “Magic Numbers” to define their file types. Manipulating these numbers allows attackers to exploit a flaw in ImageMagick. The service scans the uploaded file, and attempts to decode the source information whenever it detects the file is not what it claims to be. Scanning that code and attempting to rectify the file misappropriation can then trigger whatever was hidden inside the image and result in remote command of your site.

How should I protect my site?

ImageMagick has admitted knowledge of the security flaw and promised to release a patch very soon. Until then, experts advise implementing multiple workarounds to keep your systems safe. However, if you’re not well acquainted with your web server and its code, then it’s wise to consult an expert instead of attempting these changes on your own.

 

For those who are familiar, follow these steps. The first is to temporarily incorporate lines of code that preemptively block attackers from exploiting these holes. Those lines of code, and where to insert them, can be found here.

The next step is double checking that any image files utilizing the ImageMagick service aren’t hiding any harmful information. This can be accomplished by opening an image file with a text editor, and checking for a specific set of letters and numbers at the beginning of the text that define what type it is. The list of these “Magic Numbers” can be found here, and will reveal if an image is hiding its true purpose.

Ideally, administrators will halt all image processing via ImageMagick until a patch is released from the developers.

Data security is one of the most crucial aspects of any SMB, however, keeping up with the constant flow of security exploits and patches can be overwhelming for administrators of any ability level. Why not contact us to learn more about keeping your network secure and protected from exploits like this one?

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

From free information products such as ebooks to brochures and email campaigns, today’s marketers have a wealth of tools and tactics at their disposal. While content marketing and social media garner most of the attention in the marketing world, it’s easy to forget about tried and true techniques that are as effective today as they were twenty years ago. Recent data supports that one age-old sales tool in particular is still incredibly effective today, and even beats out some newer marketing tactics. What is it? Let’s take a look.

What is one thing every consumer has in common? They all love to save money. This is why the marketing technique of offering coupons is still as effective today as it was decades ago. Shocked? Don’t believe this is true? Well, let’s explore some statistics.

A recent report by Valassis, a large marketing firm that serves clients across the globe, provided some enlightening information on the effectiveness of coupons. Here’s what they discovered in terms of how coupons influence consumers.

  • 82% of all consumers are more likely to buy from a brand they wouldn’t normally because of a coupon
  • 85% are influenced to try a new product because of a coupon
  • 84% are more likely to switch brands because of the weekly specials on offer
  • 24% choose to shop at another brand’s store over their preferred because of better advertised bargains

This same report also uncovers some interesting data about brand loyalists, revealing that 78% are more likely to buy from a brand they wouldn’t normally patronize, due to a coupon. While this number is surprising close to the amount of total consumers influenced by coupons (as mentioned in the first bullet point above) this next bit of data may come as more of a surprise: 43% of brand loyalists have a more positive view of a company that offers coupons over those who don’t.

 

While this recent report goes a long way to revealing the benefits of coupons, how do they compare to another common marketing offer used today: free information products?

The appeal of coupons over information products

According to one marketing firm based in Waterford, Connecticut, a coupon was chosen 9 out of 10 times over an ebook when offered simultaneously. This raises an interesting question: why would a coupon be more effective than a free ebook or other information product? Let’s look at some common psychology triggers at play here.

 

Broad appeal – simply put, coupons have mass appeal. While information products are likely to be seen as more valuable to those with a higher education, a coupon can appeal to all income brackets – from the very wealthy to the very poor.

Instant value – to gain results from an information product requires a time investment and action. For example, if a customer receives a free 30 page ebook that explains how to get the best discounts on electronic equipment, he or she needs to read the book and then take action (and possibly create a plan) to gain the rewards of that time investment. Many consumers would rather spend their time doing something else, but a coupon on the other hand offers immediate value. Simply hand it over to the service provider, and you save money instantly. What’s not to love about that?

Uniqueness – the online marketplace is flooded with free information products. While they’re still an effective tool to gain a prospect’s email address, far fewer businesses offer coupons on their website, especially in the small business sector. By offering a coupon, you provide a free offer that immediately separates you from the pack.

The point here is that just because a marketing tool is popular doesn’t mean it’s the most effective. This is why we encourage you to review data and statistics before implementing any marketing technique in your business. It can save you a whole lot of time and also make your business stand out.

Want more valuable business information that can help you connect better with your customers? Curious to learn how IT can help collect data more easily? Call us today to find out more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.