On 25 May 2018, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will apply to all businesses including SME’s.
Many smaller businesses have said: “we will wait and see what happens post Brexit.” If the Government decides not to implement GDPR rules post Brexit then EU businesses will still need to be compliant with the GDPR for at least ten months. However, it is highly likely that the Government will implement equivalent GDPR rules post-Brexit.
The GDPR is designed to help safeguard data protection rights for individuals and it introduced a set of rules across the EU stipulating how organisations should handle data relating to individuals. So, if your business holds personal information such as names, addresses, customer lists or HR records you need to be compliant with certain requirements of GDPR.
As an SME you may be exempt from some of the more rigorous steps, eg. the need to appoint a data protection officer. As a SME, if you are able to demonstrate that you have a GDPR compliant data protection clause in place you may find yourself at a competitive advantage over your peers when it comes to tendering for new business.
There are several simple steps that you need to consider to make sure you are compliant by 25 May 2018. The key points being:
Know what data you hold, where it is coming from and what you plan to do with it. It is important that you understand and record what ‘personal data’ you hold as a business, how it was captured, how it is held, how you use it, and where it is going.
As I create e-newsletters for my clients I am really concerned about consent. Are you relying on consent? The definition of consent has been tightened so that it must be ‘unambiguous’ when given.
If you are using consent you will need to get it retrospectively for existing customers. Requests for consent will also have to be presented in a manner that is completely separate, so they can no longer be hidden within other policies or small print on your website. Where you are relying on consent to process ‘personal data’, being able to prove how you obtained it will be vital.
Right of data access. Individuals will have a number of rights when it comes to how you look after their ‘personal data’. Make sure you have appropriate processes and templates in place so that the data subject rights can be met within the new time scales.
Know what constitutes a personal data breach. You should try to develop and encourage a culture where your employees feel comfortable in self-reporting when they have made innocent mistakes, such as sending an email to the wrong person - the root cause of the vast majority of data breaches.
Review terms and conditions and supplier contracts. Where a contract involves personal data, it is essential to analyse the relationship between the parties.
Conduct due diligence on any suppliers that process ‘personal data’ on your behalf or jointly or in common with you to make sure that there are adequate protections in place to cater for the GDPR. This could be by either asking them to complete a due diligence form to capture what measures they have in place (which should then be reviewed to make sure that they are sufficient) or by conducting an on-site audit.
Where your suppliers (as processors) are processing ‘personal data’ on your behalf (as a controller) you have an obligation to update your contracts with them to ensure that “processors” are contractually obliged to provide GDPR compliant data protection standards. It is worth noting that if you act as a processor for other companies, they will be looking to amend your contract with them on the same basis, and new customers will increasingly focus on this.
Understand whether you need to appoint a data protection officer (DPO) if your core activities involve ‘large-scale’ monitoring or processing of sensitive personal data.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOU FAILING TO COMPLY WITH GDPR?
The fines for non-compliance Failure to comply with the GDPR could be up to 4% of a company’s global turnover (for the preceding financial year) or €20 million (whichever is the higher) Although many small businesses believe it won’t apply to them, the ICO has already demonstrated their willingness to impose financial penalties against SMEs, although they will be considering the business’s ability to continue trading following any financial penalty.
WHERE CAN SME’S GET ADDITIONAL HELP/SUPPORT?
While compliance with the GDPR may seem labour intensive, it will ultimately exist to make sure that you are able to best protect your customer’s personal data. If you fail to protect personal data there can be a massive detrimental impact on the reputation of your business. So, compliance with the GDPR and the protection of customer’s personal data is in the best interests of your business and in the protection of your hard-earned reputation.
There are so many resources available to help you make sure you are compliant with GDPR by 25 May 2018. However, The Information Commissioner (ICO) has prepared a Data Protection Self Assessment Tool Kit for SME’s. You can use the ICO’s Checklists to assess your compliance with data protection law and find out what you need to do to make sure you are keeping people’s personal data secure. Once you have completed each self assessment checklist a short report will be created suggesting practical actions you can take and providing links to additional guidance you could read that will help you improve your data protection compliance.
Finally, I am not a GDPR specialist – I am just aware that I need to put processes in place to ensure that the personal data I hold follows GDPR guidelines. If you need advice on GDPR then I suggest you get in touch with Sally Stanier of PIM Consultancy, who has provided me with invaluable advice on data protection issues.
How I can help you
I can help you stay in touch with your clients who have “opted-in” by creating professional e-newsletters! Need help – then please get in touch.
Do you know who your target audience is? If not, then you could be spending a lot of time targeting the wrong people. So how do you know who your ideal customer is and how do you then attract that customer?
The goal is to paint a picture of who your ideal customer is. You’ll likely have other types of customers, but focus on the ones that you enjoy working with, and who you want more of:
Then review your brand message. What you say about your products or services will either compel or repel your "perfect customers". What is unique about you? What makes you different from your competitors? That is why I encourage my clients to clarify their message before we start on their website design. social media marketing or e-newsletters.
Once you've gone through the exercise of identifying your perfect customer, you need to find them. To do so, you should explore where the conversations are taking place. Where are your potential customers discussing their issues and problems? Where are they looking for solutions?
Where you might find your perfect customers
Search engines like Google use keywords to attract customers and to search for customer problems which you may have the answer to. For example, if you are a florist, you need to search for phrases such as “How do I keep my wedding bouquet fresh?" Then, comment on discussions that are happening within those search results.
Set up internet alerts. You can use web alerts to get notified when new content appears relating to your key words
Industry magazines, blogs, or forums. Find out which are the most popular & active communities in your industry and find ways to add value into those relevant conversations. (Find these through internet searches, trade shows or social media referrals) Customers trying to find an answer to their problems will be found in these places.
Facebook. Search Facebook to find relevant business pages. For example, if you are a florist, search for pages that discuss holidays, weddings and other similar life events.
Twitter hashtag conversations. Search for popular hashtags to identify relevant conversations. Using the florist again you might use #Sayitwithflowers. Once you find the conversations, you can offer expert advice to meet new prospects.
LinkedIn groups. Search for industry-related groups that your company can join and become part of those conversations. For example, as a commercial florist, you can join a hotel décor, interior design, or venue discussion group. Again, offer advice, tips and expert insights, but don't overtly sell your product or service.
Instagram for the florist! Set up your account and start to post images of you buying and creating your bouquets. You might also create short videos explaining the types of flowers you are using and why - adding to your expertise.
So, you are about to start creating your new website but where do you start when choosing the colours for your website?
Over the years, studies have shown that people make subconscious decisions about whether to buy a product within 90 seconds of viewing it and 90% of that judgement is based on the colour alone!
The next time you go into a department store you will see that all the "SALE" signs are in red. It's not because the Store Manager likes red, its because red is one of the few colours that immediately gets a person's attention.
Do you often think that environmental organisations use green because it's the colour of trees and grass? You are wrong! It is because green represents growth, wealth, peace and health.
An overview of a few other widely used website colour themes:
BLUE - represents trust, stability, security, peace and calmness and is often used by business and banks. Blue is also the preferred colour of both men and women.
ORANGE - represents friendliness, enthusiasm and creativity and encourages people to take action such as buy now or subscribe now.
Before choosing your website colour scheme do your research - who are your target customers - what do you want them to do when they visit your website.
If you need a simple, mobile friendly/user friendly website which you can easily keep-up-to-date without having to pay ongoing website developer fees, then call SunflowerVA today.
A good blog posts speak to your target audience. Find out who is buying what you’re selling and write for them. It's as simple as that!
If you sell “websites” then you are not selling to website developers! Blog posts should be easily readable during a coffee break and should not be more than 250-350 words. Your readers will switch off if they need to scroll down the page. If your blog is over 500 words, then reduce the word court by tightening up the wording or provide a part 1 and part 2. When people read online they tend to skim read.
Good blog posts are quick and easy to read
Just because something is short doesn’t mean it’s easy to read. When people read online, they skim read so make your post is easy to skim read by cutting content up into sections and lists.
Good blog posts say something interesting and useful
It’s OK to write a blog post about a quick thought, but make sure it’s a whole thought, not half of one thought and half of another. Would what you’re writing change the way your reader thinks about an issue? Put together your blog idea, email it to a friend and ask them if it makes sense.
Old news can be useful for your readers
You could start with: last year, I wrote a post on how to use Facebook for beginners….
Good blog posts don’t have to be works of art
As long as your posts are useful or interesting, your readers will keep coming back for more.
Good blog posts show, not tell
Don’t tell your readers that your company is fantastic; write interesting content so that your readers are the ones who say your company is fantastic. Use facts and examples to build trust with your readers.
Good blog posts have a compelling title and lead paragraph
Make your readers want to read your post right away. But don’t promise something with your title and intro that you then don’t deliver.
Good blog posts are SEO optimized
A great title is vital but you need to strike a balance between catchiness and SEO or keywords but don’t fill your blog with keywords so it becomes uninteresting. Too many keywords and you will be penalised by Google too.
Good blog posts include a call to action
Even if it’s just a call to comment or connect on Twitter, blog posts should end with something that moves your reader to a next step. Do not, however, ask people to buy something at the end of a post. Hard sells in blog posts will lose your readers’ trust.
I hope you find these tips on how to put together a good blog post useful but please continue to look at competitor blogs and see what is of interest to their readers.
Finally, if you have enjoyed reading my top tips, please pop over and LIKE MY FACEBOOK PAGE where I will continue to provide lots of tips and advice and how to get the best of your online marketing.
YOUR MARKETING MESSAGES:
YOUR TEMPLATE DESIGN:
THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN DESIGNING YOUR TEMPLATE:
If you need help in setting up your Mailchimp e-newsletter account and branded template, then get in touch with Sunflower VA today on 07515 806840