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The Do’s and Don’ts of Digital Marketing during Lockdown

Digital marketing during lockdown: do you invest time into it, or pull back?

It’s true what they say – when it comes to your brand, out of sight is out of mind. According to a survey carried out by Kantar, just 8% of 35,000 respondents thought brands should stop advertising.

Just 7% of consumers think we should stop advertising due to the coronavirus outbreak

Marketing Week

However, there is a clear expectation that companies should be communicating in a different way: 78% of respondents thought brands should be helping them in their daily lives, 75% said brands should be informing people of what they’re doing and 74% have a belief that companies should not exploit the situation.

It’s time for businesses to adapt their digital marketing during lockdown:

The coronavirus has caused drastic shifts in both consumer needs and business goals. It’s important to adjust your marketing strategies and messaging accordingly—not just to stay relevant, but also to prevent coming off as insensitive. Here are the do’s and don’ts of marketing through the Covid-19 crisis:

DO – Communicate:

Contact all existing customers to demonstrate strength, partnership and availability. Adapt your spending from in-person marketing/sales events to digital channels and let everyone know 2 things:

  1. How you will be operating during this period – will hours be changing? Will there be a shift in services offers? You may want to think about updating your Google My Business page to reflect this.
  2. How you will be helping – listen to your customers and empathise with what they need from you during this time. What are the crucial ways in which you can help them?

DON’T – Hard Sell:

As the economic cost of the coronavirus outbreak continues to rise, businesses and consumers alike are anxious and uncertain about the future. If you didn’t like a hard-sell approach before, how do you think people are going to react to it at the moment? The answer? Not well.

Instead, educate about your topic: are there any resources or tips you can provide on your services/products?

DO – Empathise:

If there is one good thing that is emerging from this crisis, it’s that we are seeing the humanity at the heart of many companies. This is a scary time for many people, and you should take that into consideration when planning any external communication.

DON’T – Bury your head:

It is true that there are many companies that got this very wrong when this all started, but it doesn’t mean that you should bury your head and remain silent throughout this period. If your company refuses to adapt its company messaging throughout this, you will immediately come across like a tone-deaf business.

Instead, find the sweet spot between silence and storytelling by communicating things like what you’re doing to help, how your company is coping with working from home, and providing consistent transparency around your brand and its services.

DO – Be authentic:

There seems to be a new definition for professionalism developing across digital channels. Video conferencing at home with children running around and partners proffering coffee becomes a natural element of work, and corporate suits get hung up for when all this is over. Embrace it in your messaging and communicate honestly as a brand. Now is not the time for lifeless, impersonal messaging – avoid corporate talk and bring a personal, yet positive approach to your customer communication.

A great example – Heinz:

The maker of Heinz ketchup has created its first advert that was directed and shot by plant employees. The video shows workers in plants in Fremont, Ohio and Champaign, Illinois, with voiceover work by Dana Cockrell, a line operator at that Illinois plant:

We got you America

DON’T – Overlook the bigger picture:

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and look at your business changes from their perspective. Is your online customer journey leading them to pages that now seem outdated? Are you promoting your products/services in places where they might find them?

Summing Up:

Make no mistake, this is a tough time for almost everyone. But there are three valuable opportunities through digital marketing available due to the coronavirus lockdown.

First, there is a long-enforced pause in the tactical minutiae of daily business that allows you to see the big picture. Second, the virus presents you with the time to remedy some of the long-standing issues that your moment of reflection has subsequently revealed. And finally, the pause in trading enables you to fix those issues once and for all, before the wheels of commerce grind into motion again.

WebThe Do’s and Don’ts of Digital Marketing during Lockdown

The Secret to Success

Brian Stokes, Managing Director at ITCS, discusses his secrets with us to running a successful company that continues to expand 15 years on.

“When beginning ITCS all those years ago, my vision was to create an IT Computer Services Company that delivers the support, software platforms and technological solutions that are essential for business success.” 15 years on, and ITCS are still doing just that! In this blog, we look at what traits are essential for any entrepreneur / Managing Director of a successful company:

The Ability to Deal With Risk:

As an entrepreneur, the MD has always operated effectively in an environment filled with risk and uncertainty. ITCS created growth through what was one of the longest lasting recessions on record. Brian and the Directors have calculated, managed and mitigated a lot of risk while developing ITCS through the years. This risk – even in good economic times – is ever more apparent when dealing with new technologies, along with fuelling the aspirations and growth of the company.

Being Results Oriented:

Brian and the team are definitely results oriented, always taking ownership to get the task done. He has a “can-do” attitude and demonstrates common sense with his decisions and actions, allowing him to cut through and resolve problems that may divert others.  His business judgement is sound and has become stronger over the years with each experience, decision or recommendation.  Not only does Brian desire to make a contribution to results, he needs to see the results of his contributions quickly, not measured in years!

Energy & Ambition: 

High levels of enthusiasm and energy is consistently generated, much higher than would be reasonably expected.  Brian has engrossed himself in work for the past fifteen years; he is clearly enthused by achievement, as there is no sign of him slowing down! This is evident with massive growth and office expansion plans, all set for the year ahead (watch this space…). He is fully committed to the company, its goals and overall success. This energy enables ITCS to tackle projects as they come up and finish them, time and time again. Entrepreneurs don’t have someone looking over their shoulder.  If they don’t get it done, the company will fail. Brian says “being an entrepreneur is neither a part-time nor a full-time job. It’s a lifestyle”.

The Desire to Keep Evolving:

Brian has always been willing to accept much higher levels of responsibility than is the norm in any position he has taken on. He has always acted as a strong role model. He trains and coaches others, and takes a leading role much earlier than would be expected in a normal corporate environment. Entrepreneurs are extremely competitive, they don’t take no for an answer and are unwilling to lose. Many companies are formed out of such competitive natures – ITCS being one of them!

Being a Team Player:  

While being a team player is not always seen as a trait of an entrepreneur, Brian argues this point. “Being a good team player and surrounding yourself with other talented entrepreneurs is a key factor to success” He asserts. He recognises how his role contributes to the overall effort and prosperity of the organisation.  He accepts accountability and ownership and expects others to do the same.  He also recognises the roles and contributions of others and sincerely applauds their efforts.

Multitasking Connoisseur:  

Being a successful business owner is reliant on being flexible to accept new opportunities, assignments and responsibilities.  Brian can perform more than one role until the incremental duties and functions assumed can be assigned to co-workers in newly defined roles.  He is also willing to dig in and do grunt work tasks which eventually will be performed by lower level employees.

Improvement Orientated:

More than willing to challenge existing procedures and systems in a constructive way, Brian suggests changes and improvements frequently and encourages others to do so also.

Finally and most importantly:

Believe in and Empower each and every employee

Gone are the 1950s ways of working when the boss wielded all the decision-making power, that hierarchical style is not the way to work as a team. Empowering your employees is the way forward. To be successful, empowerment requires that managers trust their staff; trust that they will make the right decisions and that they will be effective in achieving their goals.

When people are self-determining and self-managing at work, they have a greater sense of job satisfaction. With this comes increased motivation and drive to do a great job. So staff are more effective in their roles and more productive; not to mention happier.

Greater autonomy also stimulates creativity and helps generate ideas, bringing more innovation to the business. This fuels the development of new products and services, or enhances business processes, all of which helps drive business success.

WebThe Secret to Success

ITCS Apprentice Awarded Permanent Job Role After Completing Qualification

ITCS’s latest apprentice, Conlan Davies, has completed his training and accepted a permanent position at their Bridgend based offices as a Level 2 IT Support engineer.

Conlan, 22, was offered the apprenticeship after a week’s work experience, and has excelled in his role.

As part of his apprenticeship, Conlan was involved in a number of different projects as he developed his capabilities and gained practical experience. He began in the workshop repairing hardware faults, and due to his knowledge and excellent manner with clients, quickly became situated on the support desk.

“It allowed me to better my knowledge within a Windows server and networking environment” says Conlan, “My apprenticeship has allowed me to become confident helping clients, and I’m now very familiar with many technical domains” Conlan is comfortable resolving issues within areas around Active Directory, Group Policy, Network Security (firewalls/spam filters), Mail Hosting Platforms (Microsoft Exchange/Office 365), VPN (ipsec, L2TP, PPTP, SSL), Proactive Maintenance (Backup Solutions/Compliancy Reporting), Virtual Environments, Switches and Servers, as well as your general DNS, DHCP and Router Management.

He has also recently been involved with mail migrations to an Office 365 solution from a POP/IMAP or Microsoft Onsite Exchange platforms. “I’d really like to master these migrations in the next few months”, says Conlan.

ITCS is committed to supporting the development of talented young people with apprenticeships, student placements and graduate opportunities; the Directors believe that nurturing new talent is a key component of the company’s long-term workforce development.

ITCS are working closely with Bridgend College to develop specialist modules and to encourage apprenticeships within the technology sector. We recognise the importance of investing in the next generation of IT engineers and work closely with the college to tailor modules that will allow our current employees to train our apprentices to the highest standard.

Conlan said: “My colleagues have supported me since my first day and ITCS has really helped me during my apprenticeship. I felt comfortable and part of the team very quickly, even though I was still learning on the job, because the directors ensure that everyone’s opinion is valued, regardless of their job role or seniority. I’m really happy to have been offered a permanent role at ITCS; I’m looking forward to working on bigger projects and taking on more responsibility”.

Matthew Mutlow, Operations Director, said: “Conlan integrated into the business very quickly and is a valued member of our team. He has worked hard during his apprenticeship and we are delighted to be able to reward his efforts by offering him a permanent job at ITCS.

“Apprenticeships are an important part of our workforce development. We strive to offer people opportunities to develop their skills, but also to develop themselves, as people. I’m sure Conlan will continue to thrive as a permanent ITCS employee, and we look forward to welcoming more apprentices into the fold to develop more budding engineers.”

WebITCS Apprentice Awarded Permanent Job Role After Completing Qualification

6 of the best business apps to save you time

There are 5.7 million businesses in the UK. 99.9% of that 5.7 million are SMEs. They are the backbone of the UK economy.

Even if running your business is your life’s passion, you can still feel like everyone wants a piece of you. You’re expected to wear a multitude of hats; from admin to sales, marketing to accounts, the list can seem endless.

You also never seem to switch off – which often means working from your phone.

Innovative and smart business owners are always looking for ways to be more efficient, so they can focus on what drove them to head out into the world of self-employment in the first place.

But what’s the best productivity software to use? In a digital world of apps and programmes, all promising to make you the ‘most productive’, it can be difficult to sift through and decide which is best for you.

The truth is, they’ll all help you get the job done, provided you use them consistently and collaborate effectively. But we’ve pulled together a shortlist of user-friendly apps that will help you in your quest for ultimate efficiency. Here are 6 apps that we believe will help you be as productive as possible, and make life slightly easier as a business owner:

1. Wunderlist: More than a to-do list

Wunderlist allows you to manage all of your to-dos in the cloud.

Wunderlists’ UI is very fast and easy to use. The features are easy to find and everything flows together smoothly.

In a nutshell, Wunderlist is a cloud based task-listing tool. It’s designed for companies of all sizes, and the app helps its users to schedule, manage and track all their projects from one easy-to-use platform.

The software works and will sync across platforms, meaning it can be used on Windows, OS X, web, Android and iOS.

What’s great about Wunderlist is its straightforward interface. Wunderlists’ UI is very fast and easy to use. The features are easy to find and everything flows together smoothly. Creating lists, managing tasks, and categorizing them according to level of priority are made easy. You can assign deadlines to team members, filter tasks, and display the schedule–and as you get to know the software, you’ll uncover some other great features too.

The software was taken over by Microsoft in 2015, too – which means it benefits from Microsoft’s security patch updates.

Download Wunderlist Here:

app store button

2. OneNote  – Microsoft’s most underrated app:

onenote logo

The app is a powerful hidden gem that lurks in the shadow of its’ better known siblings: Word, Excel and PowerPoint. But don’t be fooled. This app is a little cracker.

OneNote is probably one of the most under-used and underrated app in the Office series. The app is a powerful hidden gem that lurks in the shadow of its’ better known siblings: Word, Excel and PowerPoint. But don’t be fooled. This app is a little cracker.

What if someone told you that there was a program available to you ALREADY in your Office 365 package? One which integrates with Outlook task lists, behaves as a file storage folder, has database functions, and looks like a notebook?  Well, there is. Welcome to OneNote by Microsoft!

People hear OneNote and instantly think of it as another note-taking app – which, yes, it is. But it is also versatile. The software allows you to store most file types inside of it, so you can take notes in a meeting or for a project, and put all related content right next to it. You can also record audio or video notes to yourself directly in the app.

Download OneNote to your phone here:

3. Pocket, the reading list app:

Pocket is basically a virtual space to hold articles, videos and other content for easy viewing later.

This handy little app lets you keep track of anything interesting you find online to read later.

It’s a tale as old as time: you see an interesting article on LinkedIn, get called into a meeting, and bookmark the tab for later. Then you forget, open up a new tab, until you open more and more browser tabs, add bookmarks you’ll never find again, or maybe email yourself links for later reference.

Pocket is basically a virtual space to hold articles, videos and other content for easy viewing later. This isn’t limited to web links – users can download content for offline consumption – and if you really like what you see, you can share with other Pocket users, or share them to social media directly from the app.

Pocket’s free version works well, but the Premium version goes further by dropping the ads, making your content a permanent resource, and providing lots of advanced features (for approximately £30 a year).

4. Lastpass, A free password manager:

LastPass can quickly generate strong and secure passwords, then save them in an encrypted vault.

If we’re all honest, we know we’re meant to have strong passwords, but they’re a nightmare to remember. Not to mention having to generate new, strong passwords all the time, having to enter a 16 character password into a tiny mobile screen, and then having to remember all the different versions – passwords can be stressful.

That’s why a good password manager is essential to any business owner with more than 50 different passwords on their mind. LastPass can quickly generate strong and secure passwords, then save them in an encrypted vault. Your latest passwords are immediately available across all your devices, so whatever you’re using, LastPass will automatically log you in with a tap.

5. Moment – For the procrastinator:

Once you know how much time you’re wasting on Instagram or trawling through your Facebook feed, you can set daily limits for apps.

Moment is an extremely clever app for those of us who struggle to stay off social media, games, and other online distractions when we need to be productive. The app tracks how much you use your device every day, and you’ll be alarmed at the results.

Once you know how much time you’re wasting on Instagram or trawling through your Facebook feed, you can set daily limits for apps. You then get a notification, or if you’re a serial alarm snoozer, a flood of notifications, to get you to stop procrastinating. Annoying, but effective.

6. DocuSign – sign documents online

Docusign is the client-based company’s best friend. It’s a cloud based e-signature solution that’s usable across all devices and a multitude of platforms. The platform can be used to sign various types of documents including business contracts, school permission slips, agreements and approvals.

Not only will this app save you time, but it will also save your company tons of paper, and improve the turnaround time of contract signings – how much easier is it to sign something on your phone and email it, rather than printing it, signing it, scanning it, then emailing it back?

You can CC anyone when you send out a document, and everyone involved is notified when it is completed.

It also lets you know if someone has opened the document but hasn’t signed – allowing you can reach out to your client and ask if they need clarification on the contract.

Download phone versions of this app here:

In Summary:

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to apps that’ll help your productivity. The list of productivity apps really is endless. If you have any other programmes that you like to use, let us know!

Web6 of the best business apps to save you time

Benefits of Office 365 for SMEs


Office 365 graphic

FACT:

Office 365 is used by over 55% of businesses worldwide.

Office 365 offers SMEs endless benefits. But why is it so popular? This article examines some of Office 365’s main benefits.

work anywhere 0ffice 365

1. Work anywhere there’s an internet connection:

Office 365 is a cloud based service – this means that you don’t have to be sitting at your work desk to access it. You can work from home, abroad, your local cafe – from a PC, laptop, tablet, or your phone. The software boasts an up-time guarantee of 99.9% – no more server failures or system updates meaning work comes to a halt.


2. Collaborate with ease:

Every member of your team who needs to contribute to, or edit a document, can all work together on the same version, with changes being made in real time. This saves the inevitable (and all too common) confusion of having multiple versions of a document floating around.


3. Totally Flexible:

Office 365 has multiple options and packages – meaning you are able to select a platform that’s suited to your individual business needs. You’re also able to add and remove licenses with ease; cloud usage can be scaled to align with the growth of your business. Furthermore, business owners no longer need to worry about purchasing expensive extra servers – you simply alter your subscription plan to account for all end users.


4. Monthly Subscription:

Further to the subscription plan mentioned above, Office 365 is a subscription-based service. This makes the software a far more manageable solution for smaller operations, who may work better with a predictable monthly fee. It also helps with business cash-flow, as the month to month style payments can allow your financial teams to plan out the annual budget in an easier way.


5. Robust Security & Reliability:

With Office 365, you gain lots of cyber security features to keep your data safe, including Encrypted Email, Data Loss Prevention, Mobile Device Management and Advanced Threat Analytics.


6. Expert Support:

Migrating to Office 365 through ITCS gives you access to out support team, meaning that if there’s a problem you can’t solve alone, we are there.

Still unsure? Contact us today for expert, impartial advice about the best cloud solution for your business.

WebBenefits of Office 365 for SMEs

Developing Trust in a Digital Environment

How demonstrating security around your IT Systems allows businesses to gain competitive advantage in a digital age.

TRUST IN A TIME OF DIGITAL DISRUPTION

Trust is crucial to attracting and retaining customers. It’s no secret that as digital engagement continues to evolve, both business and consumer markets are demanding trustworthy, secure digital experiences.

As technology innovation progresses, customers have a higher standard of expectation on how organizations deliver digital products and services, and see cyber-security as integral to their digital experience.

There seems to be a gap in perception forming between clients and organisations when it comes to technology: “Twenty-first century enterprises use technology to enable consumer engagement, realize value from intangible assets, and develop the workforce of the future,” says Greg Bell, KPMG Global Co-Leader, and Cyber Security. “But these models should be broadened to include cybersecurity as part of the investment, enabling organizations to change faster, while reducing risk.”

OPPORTUNITY AND THREAT

Business and consumer markets are fully aware of the upsides of technology advancement; they are also becoming increasingly aware of the risks that come along with it. It’s a rational concern: we are constantly reading about organisations on the receiving end of a cyber-attack, with leaked information such as passwords, activity logs, and financial records.

Clients are concerned, and rightly so, about how this will affect them personally – they’re less worried about how the security breaches will affect the organisation in question. As organisations continue their transformation journeys, those that are able to address their consumers’ concerns can have a competitive edge.

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS

Brand trust used to be developed through consistency (and persistency) in messaging. Although this still has a part to play, growing customer knowledge means that companies now need to prove their trustworthiness as a brand. It’s easy for companies to overlook the potential ramifications of losing trust. Executives will often think about production disruption and loss of intellectual property – however, tarnished brand perceptions can permanently damage your business.

Chief Privacy Officer at Immuta agrees, “Security and privacy concerns can no longer take a back seat in the product / service development lifecycle — not simply because of the value of security and privacy alone, but for their business impact as well.”

BE PROACTIVE

So what can be done? Businesses need to be proactive in risk minimisation, and a plan should a breach occur. Communicating this to customers will help build trust and enhance the overall experience with your brand. Clients see value in companies providing more transparency and communication to assure cybersecurity protections are ongoing and present. When organisations take the time to align cybersecurity as a business priority, and invest in it properly, they create positioning as trusted leaders and providers. Reputation and trust are precious attributes that both consumers and businesses seek in this digital age.

Ultimately, understanding customers expect you to have some sort of cybersecurity measures in place will go a long way in keeping them happy and maintaining their patronage.

WebDeveloping Trust in a Digital Environment

VoIP FAQs: What is a Soft phone?

A soft phone isn’t actually a phone at all.

A softphone is actually a piece of software – similar to Skype, or Slack, that enables you to make phonecalls from other devices, such as your smartphone, tablet or PC.

If you have a softphone, a headset, microphone, and VoIP provider, you can place video calls and Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, calls.

What’s Great about a Soft phone:

As remote working becomes increasingly popular, the versatility and portability of the softphone is proving extremely appealing for many clients.

With a softphone, you can do many of the things that you can do on your desk phone, whilst unifying communications throughout the business so no call goes unanswered. With a Softphone, you can:

  • Place, receive, and transfer calls
  • Manage your contacts
  • Set call waiting and do not disturb settings
  • Update rules for how calls forward
  • Reroute calls
  • Call with a single click
  • And more

Why You need a Soft phone:

Although no one is exactly throwing their desk-phones away yet, the flexibility of VoIP has allowed business owners to easily use a mix of both handset and soft phones to allow for business versatility.

There are a range of benefits of using soft phones in your business. In addition to significant cost reduction, Soft phones:

  • Are easy to obtain and use
  • Can save money in comparison to desk phones
  • Lower monthly service charges and international call costs
  • Advanced calling features — even video conferencing
  • Adding and removing users easily
  • Provide portability: employees can work from anywhere whilst retaining the same phone number
  • Present a unified and professional company image
  • Integration with CRM systems

Should I get rid of my desk phone?

The reality is that every business is different, and therefore every businesses communication strategy will be different. The choice between the Desk phone or Soft phone solution is a question that many businesses have to grapple with.

Both IP Desk phones and Softphones have got their pros and cons. You’ll need to take your business individual needs into consideration to determine the most appropriate phone solution.

If you need help or advice determining what solution is the most appropriate for your business, get in touch with ITCS Business Telecoms .

WebVoIP FAQs: What is a Soft phone?

World Password Day should Be Every Day!

It’s World Password Day: when you look back – even as little as ten years – cyber security has never been as important as it is today. Businesses and Consumers both store some of their most sensitive details live behind online password protection. Financial information, confidential files, official documentation, personal photos, the list goes on. With intimidating statistics coming out about hackers and business all the time (Did you know there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds?), it seems that keeping sensitive online data safe needs to be at the top of everyone’s priorities.

With this in mind, World Password Day seems to present the perfect opportunity to be diligent about ensuring our passwords are secure. A few tips to keep in mind include:

1. Make your passwords 9-10 characters long:

Most websites recommend an 8 character minimum, but we would recommend using a minimum of 9 or 10 characters on all passwords.

2. Check your password vulnerability:

Go to a site such as haveibeenpwned.com – this is a completely free site built by one of Microsoft’s Regional Directors. Type in one of your passwords and see if your chosen code-word have been compromised in a breach and are generally available to hackers. If they are, change them wherever they are used.

3. The No-Name Rule – but expanded:

Do not use common passwords, and do not use basic personal details within your passwords. Info such as your birthday, family members’ names or pets’ names is easily guessable. According to security company SplashData the two most commonly used passwords are “123456”, and “password” – a dream for hackers and fraudsters.

4. Complex is Best:

Strong passwords normally incorporate a mixture of the following:

  • Uppercase characters
  • Lowercase characters
  • Base 10 digits (0 through 9)
  • Nonalphanumeric characters: ~!@#$%^&*_-+=`|\(){}[]:;”‘<>,.?/

5. Lather, Rinse… but DO NOT REPEAT:

Do Not Re-Use Passwords! Password reuse is extremely common. It’s extremely risky, but it’s a regular occurrence, because it’s easier to remember one or two passwords, and people aren’t aware of the potential impact. But, repeating the same password across several sites means if a hacker discovers just one password, all personal info is suddenly at risk. Therefore, it is crucial to diversify your passcodes to ensure hackers cannot obtain access to all of your accounts at once, should one password be somehow compromised.

Overall, it is absolutely crucial to ensure that your passwords are as secure as possible, every day – not just on World Password Day. CyberCrime is only escalating, and neglecting the defence of your network is simply allowing your data to be hacked. Secure your passwords now, and make sure you keep vigilant to the risks that we all face.

If you have any questions or concerns around computer security, please don’t hesitate to contact the ITCS support desk on 08456 444 200, we are always happy to help.

WebWorld Password Day should Be Every Day!