Cascade e-Commerce Solutions, Inc.

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].

A Soggy Doggy Kind of Love

Each of our clients offer something special to the Puget Sound area. I continue to confess to my colleagues that I have managed to develop a little crush on each of our patrons. My latest heart throb takes me back to one of my first loves, my pets. Soggy Doggy continues to impress me. They are simply one of the best stops for all your pet needs.

We have been working with Soggy Doggy since November 2004, and David has been the owner and operator as his parents were before him. David keeps his employees first so that they can keep the customers first. With many different locations, its no problem to find a Soggy Doggy close to you.

Bessie the beagle in a flower pot

I have two animals in my home (not including any of my siblings or my sweetheart). I have had my beagle, Bessie, for over 10 years (featured left). My cat, Keesa, is the most recent addition (featured right).  It goes without saying that I want to give my furry babies the best. This is where my love obsession with Soggy Doggy begins. Not only do they have friendly and well-educated staff ready to help, but they offer specialized shampoo and conditioner for you to use on your pet, whatever their skin/coat needs may be. I was so happy to discover that they have specialized tubs, so I don’t have to hunch over on my hands and knees to give Bess a well-deserved scrub. The best part of it all is that they will do all the clean up afterwards.

Holli and her cat, Keesa

Soggy Doggy isn’t just a self-service dog wash. You can entrust your K-9 pal with the qualified individuals working here and they can complete all sorts of services for you. From wash, to groom, to nail trimming, to gland expression, Soggy Doggy strives to help you take care of your pets in the best way.

After a long day at a doggy spa, your pup deserves a treat. Soggy Doggy makes many of their high-quality treats in house. If you don’t find something you or your pup likes in the showcase, I’d bet you would find something to fit your fancy on the shelf. The owners were very intentional to select vendors that only make “the good stuff”. Whether its wet or dry dog food you’re after, they have incredible options that will provide your bow-wow buddy with a well-balanced, nutritional, high-quality meal. They also stock many flea and tick control options as well as fun, long-lasting dog toys.

Okay, so all these things are great if you have a dog. Yes! But, Soggy Doggy also offers wonderful cat care options, too! From tasty treats, to brilliant quality food and litter options, this will quickly become your feline friend’s favorite spot, too.

To top it all off, Soggy Doggy is now introducing a delivery option to selected locations with an online purchase.

Now its my pleasure to introduce to you some of Soggy Doggy’s talented and experienced staff. They are ready to help and answer any questions you may have during your visit.

Mo using the nail grinders

If you are in the Federal Way area and decide to come in, say hi to Mo and Amy, the resident groomers! Mo (featured left) has been with Soggy Doggy going on over a year and confidently says that it’s the “favorite salon I’ve ever worked at”. Starting first at the University Place location, Mo is happy to be a part of our Soggy Doggy team.

Amy at the groomer's table

Amy (featured right) has been grooming for 7 years and she just loves spending everyday grooming these sweet animals. With 3 furry babies of her own, she knows firsthand the importance of a wholistic approach to cleaning. Often, the dogs themselves are not as anxious as their mommies and daddies. Entrusting pups to these talented hands help both the dogs and owners breathe a little deeper, making the whole experience a lot easier.

 

Tammiy from Soggy Doggy

Looking into the Kent location? Tammiy (featured left) will likely be the first face you’ll see when you enter this little store. She’s been with Soggy Doggy for over 6 years! Having started her relationship with Soggy Doggy as a customer for PUP, People United for Pets, Tammiy knows exactly what customers care about when it comes to the quality of the food. She has both the knowledge base and experience to make great suggestions.

Kendra at wash station with husky

Spending her weekends up at the Normandy Park location, Kendra (featured right) has been at the Kent Soggy Doggy for 3 years. Kendra’s favorite thing about her job, other than the puppies, are the piggies, kittens, goats, and ferrets that all come in from time to time for their own baths. Kendra also encourages that she is right there ready to help point you in the right direction if you are unsure how to give any four legged friend a good bath.

Kalya happily washing a dog

Now on to the Normandy Park location. Rachel and Kalya feel as if this little shop is a second home and they carry that comfort and confidence into their work. With 8 years at Soggy Doggy, Rachel says the owners feel like family; David is such “a great boss” and truly has their back. Kalya (featured left) comes to work every day striving to be open minded, whole hearted, and animal driven. She loves watching the puppies and the clients grow each time they come in. Guests even pick up on the comforting atmosphere. They love washing their dogs here because not only is it easier but interacting with the staff is such a pleasure.

 

With wonderful staff, quality product and now delivery options, Soggy Doggy is a great place to go for all your pet needs. Interested in more details or ordering pet supplies online, check out Soggy Doggy’s website at https://www.thesoggydoggy.com/ .

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!

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.

Is My Business Healthy? | What We Learned from Peter Busacca of Washington BBI

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Chesire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.

–Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

This quote may seem random or odd when discussing the health of a business, but it couldn’t be more fitting. Many businesses are struggling or even dying because they have no vision, no plan…no idea where they want to go. These same businesses wonder why they’re not meeting their full potential. They may ask what they should do, where they should go or what road they should take, but the truth is none of that matters when you don’t know where you’re going. If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do.

Planning can be stressful and difficult for all of us, but it must be done and it’s easier than most of us think. Following through is the hard part. A new friend of ours is incredibly helpful in this process though. We met Peter through the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce. He owns Washington BBI which is a business brokerage firm serving business owners in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. They are business brokers with an end-to-end solution.

One of the best things we have learned from Peter is the important role that a work-life balance plays in a healthy business and therefore an important factor in making your business appealing to potential buyers. When you plan better and execute more effectively, YOU SLEEP BETTER AT NIGHT. I’m sure we can all agree that this is extremely important. If you’re someone who thinks that working hard all of the time and never sleeping is the best way to run a successful business, I get the logic, but hear me out. While working insanely hard may produce amazing results for a short while, can you sustain that level of energy and effort for 6 months? 1 year? 3 years?? It simply can’t be sustained for an extended period of time while producing the same results. Your business is better off if you delegate tasks to capable staff or teams. Your life is better off if you keep things more balanced. YOU are better off if you rest, maybe take a vacation once in a while. It may sound impossible, but with a good plan and the right team you can have a healthy business while also having a healthy life.

Along with this work-life balance is the balance between qualitative and quantitative factors that help determine the health of your business. You may think the health of your business is solely based on your financial growth or that is all about the values of your business. It is not one or the other. A truly healthy business has a good balance of both. You should run your business with values always in mind while still keeping the bottom line in the picture. A high quality business can only help the community if it keeps its doors open.

The great thing about a business like Washington BBI is that whether you’re just about ready to sell or you have no idea where to start, they either have ways to help or ideas to get you going in the right direction. Regardless of whether you decide to work with this business or another, the goal is that you’ll find what ways your business could be healthier, set attainable goals to get there and work hard with a dedicated team to achieve those goals. A healthy business is a growing business.

Business Success on the Web

Business owners often ask me, “How can my business be successful on the web?” My response is, “Your business will be successful on the web when:
  1. People can find your business’ website easily,
  2. The text on the website is persuasive and easily understood,
  3. The design of the website is attractive and professional looking,
  4. The website loads quickly and is easy to get around and easy to use on a handheld as well as on a PC,
  5. The intent of the website is clear,
  6. The website offers something that the visitor wants or needs and
  7. The action you are seeking from the visitor is clear and easy to take.
The next question invariably is, “How do you make a website do all those things?” I tell them: research and proper coding. It is necessary to understand what the business wants the website to accomplish whether that be get more customers, sell more products, educate existing customers, and/or support customers. Understanding what the business makes or does and how these products or services differ from those of competitors is also an important element. Keyword research is the next step in making a website successful. The actual words and phrases that people enter into the search engines when they are searching for the products or services offered by the company must be found. It’s best to identify two sets of phrases (those used by the business and those used by prospective customers) and then test these phrases to identify the text that will best represent the business on the web. Studying the competition – what are they selling and how are they marketing their products and services – to see how a client can best represent themselves on the web is a necessary step as well. Visiting competing websites shows how they are doing their marketing. It’s important to report findings to the business owner/executive. I like to include good news, opportunities to improve, statistics regarding keyword phrases and a web plan that details the names of the web pages I would build and the metatags and text content for each page. Based on a discussion with the owner or executive about what is learned through research, it is then possible to proceed with drafting the website design, securing approval of the draft design and building the site to incorporate all of the above. This process is known as web development and search engine optimization. The job doesn’t stop there. It’s necessary to set up traffic tracking for the site. Monthly reports of search engine rankings and traffic to the site show where updates need to be made and points to possible recommendations for further improvements to the website. Sometimes I am asked “Once the website does all these things will my staff be able to update and maintain the website in-house?” “Absolutely,” I respond, “at any point in the process, I can and will train internal staff to make, maintain and improve the website. My philosophy is that the website is a dynamic tool that belongs to the business. As a teacher-type personality I take as much enjoyment out of training in-house staff to successfully maintain and improve a website as I do in doing this work myself.” Helping businesses find success on the web is a passion for me. It is work. There is no magic involved, but when all goes as hoped the happy result feels like magic.