Erie Chamber Blog
Monday July 13, 2020 

Submitted by Matt Flowers, Ethos Copywriting

You already know that you need high-quality products and services to stay in business, but long-term success demands more than just great products and services. You need current and potential customers to keep your brand top of mind. 

From real estate to retail to restaurants, just about every industry benefits from word of mouth marketing (WOMM). Through WOMM, satisfied customers can become quasi brand ambassadors as they talk positively about your business.

In our increasingly digital society, word of mouth has expanded beyond in-person communication. People might post on their social accounts to broadly share their satisfaction with your work or product, or they might “like” someone else’s post to affirm that they also had a positive experience with your business. Alternatively, they might engage on a more direct, one-to-one level with their friends, family, and colleagues through direct messages. Or, they might even leave a glowing review on your Google My Business page. 

Whether in-person or online, WOMM is a powerful tool to have in the tool chest. McKinsey reports that word of mouth is the primary driver behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions. To help you start generating a buzz around your business, we’ve provided four tips to help you get people talking and boost your bottom line. 

1. Capitalize on Micro-Moments

A micro-moment is when a person uses the internet to take action at the precise moment he or she has a need. There are four basic kinds of micro-moments based on a consumer’s intent:

  1. I-want-to-know moments (e.g., How do I keep my puppy from chewing my furniture?)
  2. I-want-to-go moments (e.g., Where is the closest coffee shop?)
  3. I want-to-do moments (e.g., Where can I get my car’s oil changed quickly?)
  4. I-want-to-buy moments (e.g., “What is the best vacuum cleaner?”)

Capitalizing on micro-moments, especially in a mobile-first world, gets people thinking and talking about your business, products, services, or information as a possible solution to their needs. According to Think with Google, 75% of smartphone owners first search online before making a purchase.    

Use Google’s suite of webmaster tools to help you discover potential micro-moments:

  • Google Search Console will help you determine the exact queries someone used to find your site.
  • Google Analytics will help you see what people do once they’re on your site.
  • Google Ads allows you to advertise with Google, affording businesses the opportunity to appear at the top of Google’s search results for selected keywords.

A Think with Google report found that 76% of people who search on their smartphones for a product or service visit a related business within a day, and 28% of those searches result in a purchase. To ensure you’re taking up more real estate in Google search results, be sure you have your Google My Business set up.

2. Find Out Who Your Best Customers Are

Let your most frequent customers know that you appreciate them. Also, let them know how much it helps when they tell their friends and family about your products and services. The majority of people want to support local businesses, but they’re not always sure how to. So, don’t be afraid to lay it out for them.

Tell them how valuable a positive review is on Google My Business. Create a user-friendly loyalty and/or referral program to encourage customers to tell their friends and family about their great interaction with your company.

Finally, consider writing customers a personalized email (or even hand-written note) to tell them how much you value their business. The power of a thank you note should never be underestimated.

 3. Craft Content Worth Sharing

Be the go-to resource for your customers and people looking for advice on the products and services you provide. Create blogs, eBooks, whitepapers, and other compelling content to position your brand as an authority in the field and build trust with your audience. Update your website with fresh material provides a wide array of benefits, including:

  • Increased Search Authority
  • Increased Conversion Opportunities
  • Increased Search Traffic
  • Improved Brand Loyalty and Trust

4. Take a Stand

In the eyes of the consumer, businesses have a social responsibility to take a stand. Cone Communications found that "Communicating strong corporate social responsibility consistently reaps reputational and bottom-line benefits year-over-year." Cone also found that 87% of people said that they'd purchase a product if the company advocated for an issue they cared about and share positive opinions about companies doing good.

In today's tumultuous economic, political, and social climate, people are increasingly looking at businesses to be a force for positive change, especially on issues such as:

  • Climate change
  • Domestic job growth
  • Economic development
  • Gender & racial equality
  • LGBTQ rights
  • Poverty and hunger

When people align with a brand, the brand's content can become part of their identity. In a study published by the New York Times, 68% of people who share content reported that they did so to give other people a better sense of who they are and what they care about.

Learning More

If you’re interested in learning more about how content can help you increase your WOMM, reach out to Ethos Copywriting. Remember to support the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership and share the exceptional content on its blog!

  • marketing
  • word of mouth
  • business assistance
  • womm
Monday July 6, 2020 

The first half of 2020 feels like the beginning of a horror movie so scary you have to leave long before the credits roll—but beneath its Freddy Krueger exterior, the troubled beginning of a brand-new decade has also revealed an opportunity to build a new and better world.   

Our future will not be defined by modifications to the world we knew before spring 2020. Our future will be defined by our ability to build something entirely different. It’s creating a more resilient healthcare system in a globalized world. It’s truly diving into racial equity issues so that huge portions of our cities, region, and nation feel engaged and integrated – not expendable. It’s rebuilding an economic development system that empowers people to exert measured control over business and their future.   

Erie is embracing this moment with hope for the future, deeply rooted in its legacy of perseverance and grit. Earlier on, Erie emerged as a leader in Opportunity Zones with a portfolio guided by principles to ensure socially impactful projects are at the forefront of the community’s revitalization.   

Erie’s civic leaders, business visionaries, and economic developers see the events of the last few months as yet another opportunity for this community on the rise. Building an entirely new world in an era of pandemics and economic downturns will require the builders of that world to work their magic on a shoestring budget. Communities face the simultaneous need to implement systemic change and the reality that there aren’t as many resources to do that as there were just a few months ago. Throwing money at a problem can be an effective strategy—when you have money to throw. It’s much harder when every dollar counts. The innovators and entrepreneurs who will build our new world need to stretch their dollars as far as they will go.  

And a dollar can go a lot further in Erie that it can almost anywhere else.  

If you want to build a company that will show the world how equity and inclusion can be a competitive advantage, Erie welcomes you with a network of supporters and investors ready to help launch your vision. If you want to roll up your sleeves and get involved in a school district striving to create more equitable outcomes for all students, Erie Public Schools is waiting for you. If you want to come to a community where you can immediately make a difference—where you truly can be the change you wish to see—Erie is a community like no other.   

In an age where the appeal of densely packed urban areas may decline because of pandemic concerns, Erie can become the model of a community where dreamers and builders can create a local economy that works for everyone. The list of people that have moved here, made their mark, and made Erie better is growing by the day.  

Erie is done being defined by our past. Erie will be defined by our collective future.   

We will define ourselves by the value we can provide to people who want to channel the anger, frustration, and fear we all feel into something positive.   

Building a better world is never easy—but it has to start somewhere, and (frankly) it is much easier to do that when you aren’t spending all of your resources on expensive office locations and million-dollar mortgages. The promise of Erie’s next economy has always focused on low costs and high value. Our civic and business leaders have spent the past several years making the case that it is easier to start a business in Erie than it is to start a business on the coasts.   

The events of the last several months have made that argument more than just a marketing pitch.   

Our world has changed.We need leaders, and those leaders need a high-value, low-cost community.   

And there is no better high-value, low-cost community—and no better place to reimagine a better world—than Erie, PA.  

Thursday June 4, 2020 

From plumbing to electrical work to welding to fire protection systems, skilled trades span a broad range of interests and provide limitless career opportunities for those willing to put in the effort. In the video above, we interview two Steamfitters apprentices working at Wm. T. Spaeder, Jared Szczesny and Mark Holcomb. Here they give us a firsthand look at both about the apprenticeship program as well as their goals for the future. 

There are over 400 local Steamfitters training centers throughout the United States. The Pittsburgh Steamfitters Local 449 Technology Center is a new state of the art facility located in Harmony, PA. The center offers two training programs: Building Trades, such as welding and process piping, as well as Mechanical Equipment Service like HVAC and refrigeration. The Apprenticeship Program lasts five years. During this time, rather than accrue debt, apprentices earn a living wage while gaining valuable work experience. 

Advantages of being an apprentice include affordable cost of degree, learning an essential skill with a continually growing demand, good base pay, job security (cannot be outsourced), flexible career choices and multiple options for growth. 

As a union contractor, Wm. T. Spaeder, appreciates the excellent technicians trained by the steamfitters and other apprentice programs because it helps us ensure high quality products and services for our customers. This in turn allows us to maintain our standard of excellence that we have built upon over the last one hundred years.

For application information, please see the Steamfitters UA Local 449 website. Though the 2020 applications have been postponed due to COVID-19, hopefully, business will resume soon. 

Don’t Forget to Subscribe to Our Youtube Channel ( for Various Project and Demonstration Videos.

  • apprenticeship
  • skilled trades
  • steamfitters
Monday April 20, 2020 

Submitted by Cathy Szymanski, Szymanski Consulting

Will it be the new norm?

Flexible work setups have often been the subject of debate — employees want the option to work away from the office at least some of the time, but many businesses value well-founded methods and processes. Will the world’s largest work from home experiment change that?

Enforced flexibility

A pandemic is one of the most socially, economically, and politically disruptive events that could ever happen. Infections and fatalities constantly increase, business operations are shut down, and scientists’ race against time to find a cure.

Companies lucky enough to remain operational still face a significant challenge: maintaining business continuity. For most, the simplest way to achieve this is by moving their business resources online and adopting an effective remote work strategy.

With resilience and careful decision-making — as well as the right tools and processes — you might just find your employees more productive, less stressed out by work, and expressive as ever.

A wealth of benefits

Remote work offers several benefits for both employees and employers. In addition to saving time and eradicating commute-related stress, remote work can improve employee productivity. A few studies reveal that the freedom to create a comfortable environment and schedule encourages employees to perform at their best.

At the same time, employers benefit from reduced overhead expenses while also having access to a wider pool of applicants. Because workplace flexibility is among the top considerations of many young job seekers, remote work arrangements would be right up their alley.

Employers can also hire outside of reasonable commuting distance, as employees will not have to report to the office as frequently, if not at all. What has more, mandatory daily attendance is going out of fashion — more businesses are now prioritizing performance over hours clocked in. Many prefer focusing on the quality of outputs rather than just keeping people in the office from 9 to 5.

Businesses reap great rewards for recognizing performance instead of just presence. This approach makes for more engaged, efficient, and satisfied employees, consequently creating a healthy and progressive company culture.

Encouraging development

Many businesses believe that a traditional office setup helps bring about better relationships and collaborations. However, data actually points out that interpersonal behavior and communication — not solely proximity — are the key drivers of trust and teamwork.

Traditional work arrangements also make it easier for managers to look after their employees — it’s easy to see who is and isn’t at their workstation during office hours. However, mandating work hours and location makes sense only for time-sensitive and location-dependent jobs like retail, manual labor, and healthcare, where employees need to be physically present.

Meanwhile, for knowledge workers whose jobs involve non-routine problem solving, an office cube isn’t always the most conducive environment for devising solutions and innovations. Sometimes, the best and most unique ideas come from exposure to the surroundings, people, and events outside the confines of an office.

Embracing change

Being forced to adopt a work from home policy in the face of a global crisis is not an ideal circumstance to test the waters. Full-time remote work does not and won’t work for all businesses. But this should not stop you from accomplishing projects and sustaining productivity and efficiency. Leverage your resources to help you weather the storm and emerge stronger than before.

Though we have yet to see if remote work is here to stay, it’s currently a non-negotiable aspect of the corporate setup, and we should learn how to make the most out of it.

Having a strong strategy in place and the right tools and equipment are crucial to ensure effective communication, collaboration, and management. Our experts can help you configure the perfect remote working setup for your business. Call us today.

  • remote office
  • working from home
  • flexibility
  • business
Monday April 6, 2020 

Post contributed by Peter Panepento, Turn Two Communications

One of the first rules of crisis communications is to communicate regularly.

But what happens when the crisis is all-consuming and the amount of messaging about it is simply too much for most of us to bear?

That’s the challenge most of us are facing with COVID-19.

My inbox is clogged with Coronavirus-related messages from seemingly every company, charity, consultant, and political group I’ve ever associated with (and some I’ve never heard of).  A handful of them are incredibly relevant to me – messages about canceled concerts, what to do if I have to take my dog to the vet, and how my local community foundation is responding to those in need in my city.

But too many of them are just noise.

Personally, I don’t need to see any more “A message from our CEO …” notes talking about their company’s commitment to my safety and their employees. Redundancy is a real problem – and too many messages are no longer relevant or necessary.

Now is the time to pivot into the next phase of your COVID-19 communications strategy. You shouldn’t stop communicating, but you do need to be thoughtful about what you’re saying.

Here are a few questions you should ask to help you avoid wasting time with unwanted or unnecessary messages:

Do they really need to know this?

Before you send an email, post to social media, or pitch a story to your favorite reporter, ask whether what you’re about to share is really of interest.

If you’re canceling an event, changing an important policy, extending a deadline, or announcing something that is directly relevant to your key audiences, the answer is yes.

If you’re merely reaffirming your commitment to safety or encouraging people to buy a non-necessary product, you’re not really adding much to the conversation. There are exceptions, for sure, depending on your organization’s focus and activities. 

But, for most, save your powder for what’s important. Your audiences will appreciate it – and they’ll be more likely to pay attention when you actually have something important to say.

What’s the best way to get the message out?

Not every message needs to be sent to your entire email list or posted to your Facebook page.

Some – like how to interact with your employees while they are working from home or what to do if they have a question – are more relevant if they are simply displayed in a prominent, easy-to-find page on your website. If people have a question, they’re more likely to go to your webpage than scroll through your Twitter feed or their email inbox. 

That said, take the time to provide answers to as many questions as possible on your website. And do it now.

If you haven’t already, create a COVID-19 page that includes key information and an extensive FAQ about anything that you think people will want to know. Make it easy for folks to find what they need by making sure you’re using the right tool for the job.

Who needs to hear this?

There might be a small portion of your audience that cares A LOT about what you have to say right now – or about a specific announcement. In those cases, find ways to target that small group, if you can, and avoid sharing it with those who don’t.

If I haven’t purchased your product in the past few years or flown your airline, I might not need that message about shipping delays or reduced flight schedules. But those who have been active recently are likely to be more interested.

One caution: Make sure your messaging is as consistent as possible in your communications with specific segments. You risk losing credibility if someone in your audience sees messages that are starkly different.

Have I struck the right tone?

If you do have something important to share, be careful to make sure your message carries the right tone. This is always important – but it’s especially so right now.

To achieve this, keep up with the latest news and the range of opinions about the crisis. People, obviously, are very tuned into this crisis, and your messages need to reflect the evolving moments that we are in.  

Are my messages connecting?

Finally, pay attention to what your data is telling you.

If people are opening certain emails at a high rate – and ignoring or unsubscribing from others – see if you can find a pattern. It’s quite likely that you should focus on topics that resonate and stop wasting time and energy on others that might be unnecessary or out of touch. The same is true for traffic to certain pages on your website or engagement on your social posts.

Listen to what your audience is telling you. It might help you avoid driving them away during an important time.

Peter Panepento is the Philanthropic Practice Leader for Turn Two Communications.

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