Pete Cogle

Managing Director of Suffuse Solutions Ltd, a new media and social networking business, based in Lindfield, West Sussex, UK. "Enabling conversations through compelling content and social networking"

Mar 122014
 

I was recently commissioned to update not one, not two… but three websites for the lovely Anita Hayman in Burgess Hill.

Body with Anita

Body with Anita

Body with Anita is her newly rebranded website with classes in Zumba, Fitsteps, Pilates, Tai Chi, Ballet and Clinical Massage.

Tamarind Treatment Rooms

Tamarind Treatment Rooms

Tamarind Treatment Rooms has been updated with a whole new section on Treatments and there’s now an Online Shop.

Sussex Beauty Training School

Sussex Beauty Training School

Sussex Beauty Training has been updated with a more easily navigable list of classes, and will be updated again later in the year with New Classes and online booking facilites.

Take a look and tell me what you think!

 

 

Oct 282013
 

Basie - aka WordPress 3.7There’s a new version out of wordpress today. Big deal, you might say, there are always new releases of wordpress and associated plugins.  Well, hopefully this one will be a real winner, because wordpress say it includes the following features…..

  • Updates while you sleep: With WordPress 3.7, you don’t have to lift a finger to apply maintenance and security updates. Most sites are now able to automatically apply these updates in the background. The update process also has been made even more reliable and secure, with dozens of new checks and safeguards.
  • Stronger password recommendations: Your password is your site’s first line of defense. It’s best to create passwords that are complex, long, and unique. To that end, our password meter has been updated in WordPress 3.7 to recognize common mistakes that can weaken your password: dates, names, keyboard patterns (123456789), and even pop culture references.

These have got to be good things, right?

  • Stronger passwords: certainly. The number of hacks and attempted hacks is rising and anything to make stronger passwords is good.
  • Updates while you sleep?  Maybe. Most of the time wordpress upgrades without a hassle, but I always update my own sites first before I update my client’s sites. Just in case in goes wrong. And, if you’re a control freak like me, you really need to ensure there’s a backup before an upgrade. The last thing I want to do is wake up and find out 10 or more sites are down and clients are unhappy.

So, I’m looking forward to testing this feature, but unless you know exactly what you’re doing and know how to re-install an old version, I’d just wait a while until techies like me give it a thumbs up or thumbs down!

 

 

Jul 292013
 

You Have Been HackedYou Have Been Hacked!” – Probably some of the most frightening words a website owner can read. Either they find out because they can’t access their site or perhaps because a customer has noticed.

I’ve helped try and recover hacked websites 3 times in the last couple of weeks.  Plus it’s also happened to me, so I know the pain and frustration it can cause.

People always ask me “Why do people do it?” and the answer is invariably…. “Because they can“. Hackers hack for a variety of reasons. Sometimes just to highlight vulnerabilities. Sometimes to see what you will do in response, and sometimes to come back and do more damage if you do nothing.

I don’t want to be alarmist, but hacking is on the increase, so here are some hints and tips to help you recover your site quickly and without frustration:

  • Take regular backups. Restoring a backup is the easiest way to get your site back to normal. So how often do you do it? Monthly? Weekly? Or perhaps you’ve never taken one? Make it a regular event, perhaps before signing off on a friday evening?
  • Keep your backups somewhere safe. If you have a cloud storage account like Dropbox or Google Drive then you should be able to keep these safe in case you delete the backup by mistake or have a PC problem.
  • Have a strong password. It’s obvious, but if your website is “ilovecats.co.uk” and your password is “1l0v3c4ts” then you make think you’ve been clever replacing letters with numbers, but you’ve not been clever enough!  Don’t chose a name followed by 1,2 or 3 either! It’s all far too obvious.
  • If you have a WordPress website:
    • You need to backup two things: 1. The software (which can be quite large) and 2. The database (which is often quite small). How backups are taken varies depending on your hosting provider, but if you have these two things you should be able to recover quite smoothly.
    • Try and avoid having an “admin” account.  Make sure the account is called something else.  Hackers always look for the obvious.
    • If you have an “admin” account, create a new account with the administrator privileges, then log in as that new account and delete the “admin” account.
    • Always keep up to date with the latest software versions. These often have security vulnerabilities patched.
    • Always backup before and after a major software upgrade, or any major changes…..just in case something gets broken.

If you’re not sure what to do then feel free to give me a call on 07531 785283 or email me at suffuse.solutions@gmail.com and  I’ll see if I  can help you.  If you want me to backup your website and do regular maintenance then I’m happy to offer that as a service.

I can’t guarantee that you’ll not be hacked, but knowing that there’s a recent backup, and the software is up to date, is the best way to get your site back online quickly and painlessly.

Jun 122013
 

Robinson AcademyIt’s always a great feeling when you release a new website into the world, and your customers really appreciate it.  This week, we helped create The Robinson Academy website.  This is a new business, run by Becky Robinson in Eastbourne, teaching all kinds of drama to all age ranges, as well as speech training.

It’s a big change for Becky, as she leaves behind a career as a primary school teacher. So, please welcome her and her new business and take a look at the website. Maybe you could benefit from Drama Tuition?

May 312013
 

Gian Zumbathon

Not only am I taking part in Gian Da Silva’s Zumbathon this weekend, but Suffuse Solutions is proud to be one of the sponsors. There’s still time to come along on Sunday at the Dolphin Leisure Centre in Haywards Heath and help raise some money for charity as well as have a good time dancing and enjoying the show.  There will be some video to follow!

 

Apr 142013
 

In my last post, I focused on my clients who know what tools to use to communicate, but don’t know what to say. This post I’m going to focus on the others:  those who know exactly what they want to say, but don’t know how.

There are two possible reasons for not knowing how:

  • The technology confuses them, or
  • They’re using the wrong words.

Let’s focus on the latter for a moment. Even the most proficient of wordsmiths can get their messages in a twist using blogs and social networks. Why?  Well it’s all down to the way we interact.

Consider this scenario: you walk into a business networking meeting and introduce yourself. Do you:

  1. Loudly tell the first person you meet what products or services you produce, and then without waiting, move onto the second person and do the same until you’ve shouted at everyone and then you leave.  OR
  2. Introduce yourself to the first person you meet, ask their name and what they do and see what common ground you have and wait for an opportunity to meet some of their friends or colleagues.

boringIt’s obvious isn’t it?  But why do people always assume that blogging and social networking is just about the first option and get pissed off when they’re not famous in five minutes?

Just like the world of physical networking, you need to set your expectations correctly. Sometimes potential clients will show no interest in what you have to say.  At other times you may have a seemingly great interaction that peters out and goes nowhere. Sometimes it’s only after you’ve shown up at a networking meeting for the 4th time that someone recognises you and says ….”Oh yes, you’re that guy that does…… I was thinking about that just the other day….”.

So think about these hints and tips:

  • Don’t aim to sell any products or services. Just aim to have a good conversation.
  • Don’t hog the limelight. Shins some light on your customers (or potential customers).
  • Listen to what your customers are saying.  Ask questions to make sure you understand. Repeat what you think you know, just to make sure.  You should be actively learning, not selling.
  • After reflection, comment on what you’ve learned.  Show how you’ve adapted an idea or a product specifically to solve a customer’s problem.  More than often, you’re solving other customer’s problems at the same time, and it shows you’re a trustworthy partner.

Think about it. Are you more likely to get work if you’re the sort of person that asks questions, tries to solve customer problems and actually listens to what they say, or if you’re the person that just sells, sells, sells.

Apr 092013
 

My clients often fall into two categories:

  • They know exactly what they want to say, but don’t know how, or
  • They know what tools to use to communicate, but don’t know what to say

In this post I’m going to focus on the latter.

Blogs are awriters-blockbout telling stories.  Stories about you.  Stories about your business, your products and your services.  Stories that will engage people, stimulate them, annoy them, entertain them and inform them.  But it’s not just about telling and selling.  That’s what your website may be for in the long run, but your blog is that opportunity to tell people about you.

How you came to be in business itself may be interesting tale. Perhaps one you’ve told at a business meeting, or down the pub?  What was the moment you’d decided to take the plunge and start your own business?  What was the catalyst? What has kept you going?

These stories are gold dust. They are the foundation of your business, the reason behind your passion, the thing that drives you on.  You’ve told them before, but probably only in a verbal setting. You’ve never written anything other than a shopping list, but yet you know one of these stories that clinched a sale, built a friendship, or launched a new product range.

Blogs are also about opinions.  Your opinions.  Your customer’s opinions.  Competing perspectives, debate and discussion.   Blogs ask questions.  They don’t just tell and sell, they should solicit feedback.

So think.  Do you have a well worn dinner party story that still has some legs?  Do you have a drastically different viewpoint than your competition that won a customer over?

Now do the following:

  • Keep a notBlank ringbound notebook and pencilebook handy.  Start making a list.   You wouldn’t expect a novelist to be too far away from a pen and some paper would you?  Well you’re a blogger now and the same is true for you.  Write down any ideas you might have, no matter how crazy they may be.
  • Once you have a list of 10 topics, prioritize them in terms of importance to you, what’s in the news,  what you’ve just read on another blog or what’s going to happen in your business sector in the next quarter – you decide, but draw up a top 10.
  • Starting with topic 1, write a short piece.  500 words or less to begin with.
  • If you are responding to another blog post then cross-link to it.  Remember the old adage:  if you quote one source its plagiarism. If you quote two sources its research.  Go and leave a comment on the other blogs and leave the URL of your post as a calling card.
  • Remember to ask questions.  This significantly improves your chances of feedback.
  • Go back to the beginning and re-prioritize the list.  Write your next blog post.

Tell me how you got on.  Did this help you, or was it a load of rubbish?

Have your say. Leave a comment.

Apr 062013
 

Blogging

To me, blogging is at the heart of a good media strategy for any business.  It’s the online version of going to a business networking meeting, having a chat with someone for the first time and handing out your business card.

Sometimes you establish a great relationship with someone who you look forward to meeting regularly. Sometimes it’s just a one-off conversation and sometimes you just know it’s not a relationship you want to pursue.

I see blogging as the written form of having a conversation.  You can just talk and hope someone listens (although I really wouldn’t advise that unless you want to be “that person” who people avoid at parties). You can ask questions. You can start a debate. You can involve other people. You can inflame, annoy, flatter or persuade people, just as you do in real life.

Social NetworksSo what about social networking?  Isn’t that where this conversation takes place?  Well yes, and no. I always encourage my clients to write a blog first and automatically post that blog into social networks.  It’s like handing out your business card to someone, knowing they’re going to pass it on to someone else.  The distribution channels change. The message is consistent.

Your blog (ideally part of your website as a whole) is where you want people to end up.  If you have a conversation in Twitter then your followers on Facebook are probably missing out.  If you use your blog as the heart of your media strategy then everyone can join in, whatever their social network preferences.

If you use social networking automation tools then every link created on Twitter or LinkedIn will be a link back to your blog; the place where your products and services are available to see, not some random advert that Facebook or Google have decided you may like.

In the next few posts I’m going to share my blogging hints and tips. Whether, you see this message on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or Tumblr, I don’t mind. But it’s my blog you’ll be reading.

Apr 012013
 

Suffuse Solutions is one year old today. Like all new offspring making their way into the world has been challenging, been fun, and there have been some obsticles.  I have some very happy memories:

  • Shooting videos at shows in Liverpool, Birmingham and London
  • Seeing behinds the scenes at Tower Bridge in London and a Castle in Sussex
  • Being part of a mammoth charity Zumbathon
  • Meeting famous architects, health experts, business leaders & politicians
  • Being MC for a haloween quiz
  • Working with some amazing teams to deliver on some awesome projects

But most of all, my memories are about the people.  Having spent 30 years working inside big corporations, for people with big political agendas and small hearts, it is so inspiring to be part of a community of people that are open, genuine and big hearted.

If I’ve worked with you in the last year, I’d like to say thank you. I hope to work with you and many new inspiring people in 2013/14.