Cascade e-Commerce Solutions, Inc.

Don’t Let Their Stories Go Untold

The Importance of Staff Bios

In the wake of COVID-19 and the effect it has created on the economy, many businesses are scrambling for anything that can keep them successful. They are restructuring, revamping their marketing, searching for grants, and maybe even having to let people go. Perhaps the only good thing that has arisen from the pandemic-created recession is the support of the public for small businesses. Consumers have taken the control that was already in their hands and are choosing to focus this influence on the portion of the economy that has been hit the hardest: small, local businesses. People have taken to social media to share how they have continued to or started to support small businesses in their areas. For this exact reason, businesses should consider telling their stories and the stories of their employees in an effort to attract more customers. Because people are now ready to shop locally, they are looking for companies that are truly local. They want to feel like they are supporting their neighbors. If they don’t know the company’s stories, they’ll feel like they are strangers. A business needs to have a space on their website and social pages where they illustrate their origins and allow their employees to describe themselves. An employee’s life story and what brought them to the business could be the whole reason why someone chooses to buy from/hire a particular company. Staff bios are particularly important for companies whose staff closely interact with the clients. A great example of a company whose staff bios have proven themselves to be vital is Lake Burien Physical Therapy. We at CeSI visited their clinic to conduct interviews with each of their staff members. They were asked a number of questions about their careers, personal lives, and educational backgrounds. The staff bios that were produced from their answers are key for potential patients to feel connected to the physical therapists before they visit the clinic. For many, health-related outings cause anxiety, so creating a personal connection with care providers before they visit in person can really help to ease the anxiety. The small action of including staff bios on the website is what brought in more patients into their clinic. Another benefit of including staff bios on a company’s website is the feeling of personal investment it facilitates in the staff. When an employee is asked to describe themselves and is given a chance to be in the company’s spotlight, they feel more connected as they know they are valued as a member of the company. It doesn’t take much work to include an about page and staff bios on a website, but it does lead to a number of benefits. No matter whether a company is new or has been around for decades, they should still include up-to-date information on their origin and the staff.

What Is the Chamber and Why Should a Small Business Join?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a chamber of commerce is “an organization consisting of people in business, who work together to improve business in their town or local area.”1 When my husband and I first founded our business in SeaTac, WA in Fall 1998, we felt we could not afford the modest annual membership fee. But after four months of trying to drum up business, we found we couldn’t afford not to join the local chamber of commerce. While chamber membership didn’t immediately produce new clients for our business, it did provide us with immediate mentoring. Because of the chamber, I learned to describe the services our business provided in less than 20 seconds and in less than 20 words. I also learned essential tips for networking such as putting your name-tag on your right side near your shoulder so that when people go to shake your hand, their eye is pointed in the direction of the name tag. Through the chamber, I met successful entrepreneurs who had weathered decades of owning a family owned business, and I received words of encouragement that helped me carry on through difficult downturns in our country’s economy. During chamber functions, I learned about local business resources such as the Small Business Development Center https://wsbdc.org/about/our-leadership-staff/ and business to business service providers such as promotional product sales companies, accountants, attorneys, and health brokers. In recent years, our local chamber’s name has morphed from a mouthful (Southwest King County Chamber of Commerce) to something a bit simpler, Seattle Southside Chamber. This change has helped it more closely align with our local tourism promotion authority, Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority. Given that tourism and retail fill major niches in our local economy, this closer alignment is critical to continuing economic development in our area. I am thankful for our local Chamber. While I realize it doesn’t meet every need of an emerging business, it does meet some mentoring, training, and networking needs in a very affordable manner. I highly recommend getting a chamber membership to any business operating within a ten mile radius of our contiguous local cities: Burien, Des Moines, Normandy Park, SeaTac, and Tukwila, Washington. To learn more go to https://www.seattlesouthsidechamber.com/.
  1. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/chamber-of-commerce

The Advantages of Social Media for Small Business

Since the early days of the 21st century, the use of social media for business has grown exceedingly, becoming an integral aspect of an overall marketing strategy. This is due to a growing awareness that cultivating relationships with potential customers is key to growth in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Using methods of social media marketing helps form relationships with potential consumers in ways previously unavailable to the business community.

Social Media Inclusion in Marketing Plans

Research confirms the necessity of incorporating social media into comprehensive marketing strategies. According to Jacques Bughlin’s July 2015 article, Getting a sharper picture of social media’s influence, “Consumers who use search engines to gain some initial knowledge of a product are also more likely to tune in to social media before a purchase.” * Although research shows that businesses that invest in SEO (search engine optimization) can increase conversions by incorporating social media in their marketing plans, this approach can be maximized further by also including email marketing, SEM (Search Engine Marketing), and Reputation Management into their marketing plan. Why? Because each of these channels cross-connect.

Social Media Activities that Influence Digital Shopping Behavior

As we have seen, consumers make connections with companies to obtain or deepen their knowledge of products prior to making a purchase. But, how are potential customers using social media to reach their decisions to buy or not? A PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey conducted in September 2015** revealed the social media activities that influence digital shopping behavior. The report, based on a worldwide sampling of 22,618 digital buyers aged eighteen and above, shows that: 45% – Read reviews, comments and feedback 44% – Receiving promotional offerings 30% – View Ads 25% – Stay on top of current fashion and product trends 22% – Write reviews, comments and feedback 20% – Associate with particular brands or retailers 16% – Purchase products directly through a social media channel Businesses that understand and master the digital domain can use each type of contact in their social media marketing to guide consumers along the way, whether they arrive to the business’s website from an ad, a blog post, a review, a tweet, an image, etc. Each marketing channel can be an extension of the business through which the consumer gains knowledge, forms opinions, and develops impressions that will lead to making decisions.

Reputation Management through Social Engagement

An advantage of using social media is the ability to better track and respond to the information that is circulated on the internet. When a customer feels strong enough to leave a review or comment regarding a business, they will most likely go to that business’s website. Businesses who do not utilize social media in their marketing plan may not know the feedback they receive. However, customers pay close attention to such information and will use it to determine future actions. For small businesses, the opportunity for interaction and for conversions is great due to their ability to develop closer, more intimate relationships with their customers than larger businesses. Customers who frequent smaller, local businesses tend to spread the word online to friends, co-workers, and within community groups. Small businesses can use social media to: • Quickly release information about a service or a product going on sale • Post and discuss pictures of their products • Respond to customer service inquiries • Build e-mail lists for the purpose of alerting customers of specials, ads, community events or causes, contests or even personal announcements, such as births or weddings When a small business uses social media to interact with their customers, they make deep inroads into the community in which they serve. They get a better understanding of their customers’ wants, needs, and future desires which, when acted upon, may lead to greater success in the marketplace. Thinking of incorporating social media into your marketing strategy? Cascade e-Commerce Solutions supports small business with their SEO, SEM, Social Media, and Reputation Management needs. Contact us today at 206-244-9092 or [email protected] ________________________________________ * http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/getting-a-sharper-picture-of-social-medias-influence ** (February 2016 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report, “They Say They Want a Revolution: Total Retail 2016.