Cascade e-Commerce Solutions, Inc.

1, 2, 3, Say “Instagrammable!”

When it comes to making your mark in the social media world, consider making your business “Instagrammable.” Because Instagram is all about the looks, being Instagrammable means looking iconic, photogenic, likable, and share-worthy. Having spaces inside or outside of your business that inspire people to pull out their phones to take a picture is a great way to give your business a presence in social media and attract more customers. To make the Instagramable spaces in your business, consider what makes your company unique and capture that in the form of a backdrop or art piece somewhere visible to your clients and customers. An example of a business that has an Instagrammable exterior is the colorful and beachy Des Moines Doghouse. Seattle Chocolate Company has created Instagrammable spaces both outdoors and indoors. From the street, people can see a vibrant, large-scale wall mural. Inside, the factory as a whole is picture-perfect and has multiple walls that make great backdrops for pictures. See our office administrator, Holli, featured below. With the entire wall covered in truffles, who wouldn’t want to get a picture and share it with their friends? Another business that has created Instagrammable spaces using its products is diecutstickers.com. In the photo below, Owner Daniel Diederichs and General Manager Jerry Perschke are standing in front of one of two walls that are covered by small stickers the company has created for its clients. These sticker walls not only help make them Instagrammable, but also help them support their clients’ brands. In addition to these two walls, there are walls that are covered with large-scale, landscape stickers. These walls don’t just make for great backdrops for photos! They also show clients how large and impressive diecutstickers.com’s stickers can be. In addition, there are walls in staff offices and the conference room that have inspirational graphics that make thinking of a caption for an Insta pic really easy. Displaying the range of their work (from small to large-scale) in this way prompts clients to snap selfies during a tour of the state-of-the-art facility. For businesses looking for clever ways to get more interaction in social media, we recommend finding or creating a space in your business where people will want to take pictures. Whether it is a statue, a fun wall, or a unique product, having something aesthetic in your business will lead people to stop, look, snap a picture, and post. This is a natural way to create brand advocates and people who will market your business for you. If you would like to brainstorm specific ways to make your business more Instagrammable, please feel free to contact [email protected]

Building Business in Difficult Times

Every industry and business has its cycles. Most businesses do best when the economy is strong because consumers feel optimistic and are willing to spend money, even when it requires using their credit cards. Other businesses struggle when the economy is booming. For example, auto repair businesses are less busy when people think they can afford a new car instead of just repairing the old one. Regardless of whether or not a business does well in a strong or struggling economy, the business may find that its goal is simply to survive the difficult season when sales fall flat. Unsurprisingly, the steps to survival are the same as those for building a business. Build relationships (or rebuild old relationships.) This builds trust and helps you identify who needs what your business has to offer and who has what your business needs.
  1. Tell your story. What has your business accomplished? What is your business’ passion?
  2. Invite a prospective client to try your business’ services/products.
  3. Provide what you have committed to provide and, if possible, provide more than was promised!
  4. Be as eager to buy what your business needs as you are to sell what others need. This continues the process of building relationships.
When businesses take to heart these strategies, they experience growth even in difficult times, and the communities that they are in benefit from that growth. To submit your own ideas about surviving during tough times, email me at [email protected].

10 Ways to Know It’s Time to Update Your Website

You know it’s time to remake your company’s website when…
  1. A first-time visitor says, “Ahh, I see your website is older than I am.”
  2. Only your mother can find it.
  3. A new customer comes to your store, sits down and cries, “It didn’t look like this online!”
  4. Your staff tells you that the website just sold something you don’t sell anymore.
  5. Your web developer has left and no one else can figure out how to make anything work.
  6. Your sales staff are ashamed to share the web address with anyone.
  7. Customers complain they can’t find what you say is there.
  8. Web visitors state, “Wow, you look nothing like your photo. Grey hair suits you.”
  9. Your web stats show that plenty of people are finding the website, but no one’s buying anything.
  10. A first-time visitor remarks, “I never go beyond pages that should have a seizure warning.”
You know you don’t need a website makeover when …
  1. Your business is working at capacity.
  2. Your income exceeds your expenses.
  3. Your customers are happy.
  4. Your staff have no complaints.
If you’re looking to update your website, call us at 206-244-9092 or email [email protected].

Introducing Jaimeson Waugh

Jaimeson Waugh graduated from DeVry University with a Bachelor of Science in “Multimedia Design & Development” in 2015, but has been doing web design since 2002, making Neopets pages in HTML at 11. Jaimeson joined CeSI last November & started full-time in December. Jaimeson likes to study & read about as much as possible about a variety of subjects, including literature, art, math, and programming, as well as do puzzles like Sudoku. Everyone please welcome Jaimeson!

Drum Roll Please…

Our own, Keturah Boyts, has been nominated for the Ambassador of the Year Award with the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce! We'll be sure to keep you posted on whether or not Keturah wins this award. All winners will be announced live at the Business Awards & Recognition Luncheon which will be held at the Four Points by Sheraton - Seattle Airport on February 9, 2018. To see all other awards and nominees, click here.

Next time you're able to make one of these functions, say hi to Keturah! She regularly attends the Morning Buzz and Ambassador's meetings each month, Lunch and Learns, luncheons and mixers. So, just about any event you go to, you'll see her!

We are proud to be members of the SSCC and have gained tremendously from our nearly 19 years of participation. If you own or work for a business located in the Seattle Southside area you should definitely consider the benefits of becoming a member. We're all winners if we're members of the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce!

Keturah, Keturah Boyts, marketing, marketing specialist, social media support, seattle southside chamber of commerce

…And A Happy New Year!

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As 2017 comes to a close and 2018 quickly approaches, it definitely causes us to reflect. How has the last year been? What have we accomplished? And what are we looking forward to in the year to come? We hope that you and your loved ones had a Merry Christmas, a wonderful Thanksgiving and that every other part of 2017 was amazing as well.

For our business, 2017 was a year of change, growth and learning. While it has stretched us beyond our comfort zone and things have seemed difficult at times, we are so grateful for this season. Our business has grown stronger and God continues to place opportunities before us for even more growth on a regular basis.

We look back on 2017 with gratitude and we look forward to 2018 expecting great things for our clients businesses as well as our own. From all of us here at CeSI, we’d like to wish you a Happy New Year!

What CeSI’s Thankful For

The Holiday season is upon us. With it being November and the nearest holiday being Thanksgiving, we see it fit to take some time as a business to think about what we’re thankful for.

We’re thankful for our community and the people and businesses that make up that community.

We’re thankful for the opportunity to watch businesses build and grow.

We’re thankful for all of our clients who strive for success alongside us and make our business better as they grow their own.

We’re thankful for the Seattle Southside Chamber that has been an incredible resource for us over the years and has given us the opportunity to partner with other local businesses and organizations around improving education and economic development.

We’re thankful for Peter Busacca with Washington BBI for his business insight and Dan DeVries for his awesome commercial photography as well as many other consultants that we have the privilege of working alongside.

We’re thankful for the work that we get to do and the fact that as we help other businesses become more successful, we become more successful.

Last, but not least, we’re thankful for you reading this right now and we hope that you feel encouraged to remember what you have to be grateful for and to get even more involved in this community that we share! We wish you the very best this holiday season.

You and Your Business: The Importance of Online Reputation Management

I admire small business owners. In fact, I work for one. I’ve heard stories of how Cascade e-Commerce Solutions, Inc. was established, and every day I see the long hours, hard work and smart, quick decisions it takes to thrive in a competitive marketplace.

Small business owners are comprised of a remarkable amalgam of dreams, brains, guts, passion, patience, resilience, sacrifice and flexibility. They contribute to their community by providing employment and internship opportunities, and sacrifice precious time and treasure to local charities. Along the way, positive relationships and reputations are formed that not only serve to strengthen a business’ status in the community but, in turn, aids recruiting top talent and attracting more business – a healthy symbiosis.

Yet, when I consider the years of hard work and sacrifice it takes to build, maintain and grow a business, it alarms me how easily a malicious online review or a few angry sentences placed on social media can initiate a process of unraveling a successful company. It’s called “Virality”, and can damage your company’s reputation before you are even aware the activity has begun.

Virality – The tendency of an image, video, or piece of information to be circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another (The Oxford Dictionary)

Consider a 2009 incident in which a pair of bored Domino’s Pizza employees recorded themselves performing inappropriate acts with sandwich ingredients. The duo posted 5 videos of their activity on YouTube, and sadly before the videos were removed a few days later an estimated one million people had viewed them. Read how Domino’s managed this crisis.

Another crisis occurred in 2015, when musician David Caroll’s guitar was damaged during travel with United Airlines. When the airline refused to compensate him for his loss, Mr. Caroll wrote “United Breaks Guitars”, a song that racked up over 15 million views on YouTube. This cathartic externalization of Mr. Caroll’s discontent with United is widely reported to have caused a 10% drop in the United’s stock (worth around $180 million). Read more about this incident.

The New Rules of Consumer Engagement

These crises illustrate the Age of The Empowered Consumer has arrived, demanding a new respect for customers, as expressed through constant engagement in social media, blogs, forums and website chat applications to understand who they are and what they want from your business. Consumers expect to be heard, and they place high value on what other consumers have to say about your goods and services.

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A study on BrightLocal.com found that 88% of consumers read reviews to determine the quality of a local business, and 72% of consumers will take action after reading a positive review. – Gary Musler, “What Every Small Business Needs to Know About Online Reputation Management”

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Business who interact with their customers socially online, monitor feedback in review sites and develop plans to quickly respond when negative information appears are establishing their credibility, protecting their brand and giving their company a competitive edge in their industry.

Cascade e-Commerce Solutions can help establish and monitor you and your business’s reputation. Call us today at 206-244-9092 or visit us online at https://www.4cesi.com/ .

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Did you know that a good online reputation is only one aspect of a business’s online presence? Master the Digital Domain with a comprehensive marketing strategy comprising SEO, SEM, E-Mail and Reputation Management. Call Cascade e-Commerce Solutions today!

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.

Accidental Entrepreneur | A Review of “Good to Great” by Jim Collins

Accidental Entrepreneur | CeSI’s Review of “Good to Great” by Jim Collins

I am one of those somewhat accidental entrepreneurs.  I never wanted to own a business.  Owning a business was my husband’s idea and even that was not something I knew about until after we had been married for seven years. When we started the business we were intentional about following advice from our business’ attorney and accountant.  We found a business niche that we were passionate about and paid for consultants who helped us build skills aimed at delivering effective and affordable services to small businesses.  From the start, we knew we wanted to build a business that would last beyond us. And yet I knew that my path to entrepreneur-ism was not typical. My double major in Early Childhood Education and Music had not included courses in business management, accounting or finance.  So sometimes I refer to my path to business ownership as a backwards approach. Now some 18 plus years into business ownership and leadership, I am doing the things that many people do before they form a business.  My husband and I have entered the “empty nest” phase of life and so I have simply begun asking what comes next. I am finding that I don’t want to radically change my life, I just want to continue to get better at what I am already doing. Recently one of our clients, a second generation business leader, encouraged me to read “Good to Great” by Jim Collins.  Once I had finished reading the book, my husband and co-executive asked “What have you learned from reading it?” I answered him that I have learned that:
  • I may not be the leader our company needs to get from good to great.  It’s not that I don’t want to be or won’t strive to be, it’s just that I don’t see myself as a Level 5 Executive Leader at this time.  However, I will continue to work towards becoming that type of leader and/or preparing for the right person to take my place.
  • We need to continue to build a superior executive team by getting the right people in the right positions as we continue to grow.
  • We need to continue to “Confront the brutal facts and yet never lose faith.”  I am hyper-analytical and yet still very much an optimist, so this one doesn’t feel heavy or hard. Except that it’s not always easy for a teacher personality like me to state the facts to others plainly.
  • We need to continue to develop a group of people who periodically question, engage in dialogue and debate regarding where our A. unique, core competency, B. economic drivers and C. passions meet, make executive decisions, and analyze the impact of decisions made.  This group looks very different for us than for a large public organization.  Because we are very small, we include input from one or more clients in this group as part of our advisory team.
  • We need to be disciplined people in thought and action.  This will entail making a “stop doing list” in order to focus on the services and tools that are most beneficial, and budgeting to the intersection of a, b and c stated above.
While it is not our current goal to become a large, great public organization like those described in “Good to Great”, it is our goal to become increasingly better.  Our goal is to help our clients, our staff, our community and our families can continue to prosper. I will start by getting back to the client who encouraged me to read this book to learn what he learned from the book and how it is impacting his business leadership.  Next, I will share what I have described above and key points from our client’s feedback with our staff to engage them in the questioning, dialogue, debate, and analyses of the work that lies ahead. I will also continue to read books that are recommended by clients and colleagues.  Next on my list of reading is “Book Yourself Solid” by Michael Port, which was recommended to me by a fellow consultant who is growing his own business.  After that will be “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business” by Gino Wickman, which was recommended by a colleague who comes alongside owners to help them use a simple system to improve their businesses. I’m looking forward to this period of discovery as I more and more embrace my role as a business owner who is also enjoying life as a grandma.  You can expect more business book reviews in the future and feel free to recommend your favorites to me.