Growth of Women-Owned Biz Helps Community

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Women-owned businesses are vibrant, rooted in local communities — and expanding! According to the American City Business Journals (ACBJ), these operations are projected to account for nearly 40% of all U.S. businesses by 2017. What is fueling the rapid growth and what does it all mean for the local community?

The ACBJ surveyed a national sample of small and mid-size business owners. Their findings focused on 5 key areas:

  • differences between men and women-owned businesses
  • similarities between men and women-owned businesses
  • profile characteristics
  • motivations
  • work-ethic of women-owned businesses

You can download the full report here for full details.

For some additional insight, a “sister” publication, Bizwomen.com, went into the community to quiz professionals on their knowledge of women-owned businesses, which you can see in the following short video.

My key take away is that not only are their businesses growing in sales, but also in staffing. Three quarters of the survey response field indicated they were hiring new full time employees. And that is great news for the job market in local communities.

Also, women tended to be more highly engaged with the local community itself than the male respondents as you can see in this screen shot of the survey.

wmn-bizInteracting with other businesses, interacting with community events and projects all help to make the “local scene” a stronger one.

That filters back in terms of solid customer engagement to drive more sales. And that translates into continued growth, the need for staff expansion and the attraction of more customers to the over-all marketplace neighborhood.

( Anthony M. Scialis is an experienced print & broadcast writer who coordinates blog, Twitter & Facebook social media content to create a focused & powerful customer engagement effort which will bridge the gap between the wants of your small business to grow and the needs of your customers to be satisfied. Follow https://twitter.com/amssvs)

Company Social Media Response Times to Customers are Unsocial

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FORTY-THREE days for a Facebook response. FIFTY-ONE days for a Twitter response. Granted, these statistics are from the “slowest” companies represented in an Eptica poll, but would you buy products from a small business that displayed anywhere near this level of ambivalence toward its customers?

Shep Hyken doesn’t think so. Neither do I. Neither should you.

Who is Shep Hyken? He is a customer service expert, professional speaker and bestselling author who works with companies and organizations that want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. In other words, he “knows” customer service.

In a blog he wrote “Social Media Response Time, Are You Fast Enough,” he was bowled over by the lack of acceptable response times businesses “on” social media were apparently giving to their customers AND non-customers.

The survey by Epitca, a global provider of multichannel customer interaction software, evaluated 500 US retailers on their ability to provide answers to 10 basic questions.

Response timesAverage response times were one day (and a few hours) for Facebook & Twitter.

Hyken wrote “This is nuts! If I have a problem, and I contact the company, I don’t want to have to wait almost eight hours to get a response. Maybe all I have is a simple question, I’m not even upset or angry. But, due to the frustration of having to wait hours, or even a day or more, for a response my simple question becomes a customer service debacle.”

It’s bad enough in the 21st century if your small business is not on Twitter or Facebook or does not have a blog— meaning you can’t or won’t hear what’s being said about you. But to put up lazily administrated token Twitter & Facebook accounts or websites without a blog and ignore comments & questions from customers until you get around to them, well, I firmly believe that is… rude and counter-productive.

Just posting pictures of what you have for sale or tweeting about store events is not going to entice people to walk into your business. Not the ones on social media. Let’s repeat. SOCIAL media. Your customers and potential customers wish to get up close & personal. They want to know why they should drive over to your store, walk in your door and pick up your product.

It’s called engagement.

And they will express this with questions tweeted, posted or in response to blogs. Calling is passe for most people. Who is watching your Twitter, Facebook and website/blog interactions? The college kid working part time? Your niece? You?

That’s the failing of many small biz owners who love social media because it offers multiple levels of free advertising, but don’t want to spend a portion of the savings on hiring a social media strategist or even just a writer like myself to make sure that there is not only solid content but someone “listening” to provide speedy customer service.

Look at those worst response times again. FORTY-THREE days for a Facebook response. FIFTY-ONE days for a Twitter response.

How would you like it if a vendor or the bank took that long to respond to you?

The full Eptica Infographic can be found here.

How to Use a USA Today Survey to Benefit Your Small Business

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Being aware/involved with surveys that pertain to your home customer base is a powerful and inexpensive way to build community support.

Salem MaCommunity involvement is critical when you are a small business. You need to have local shoppers know you, support you and care about your business to have it succeed. But it’s a two-way street.

For example, consider this current promotion:

Halloween 2015 is fast approaching, and USA TODAY 10Best is on a mission to find the best fun and spooky attractions and experiences available. We need your help! Vote once per day for your Halloween favorites in the categories of Best Halloween Destination, Best Theme Park Halloween Event, Best Haunted Hotel, Best Ghost Tour and Best Extreme Haunted Attraction. Voting ends on Monday, October 12 at noon ET, and winners will be announced on Friday, October 16.

This is the “Current Leader board” link for Salem MA in the Best Halloween Destination category.

If you are a restaurant on Washington Street, or an attraction on New Derby Street, or a craft-themed store on Essex Street then informing and motivating your current customers through social media to participate will go a long way to spread the word that your Small Business supports Salem MA (or whatever your community if this blog is being read outside of Salem).

Again, according to USA Today:

The witchy women of Salem’s infamous past have haunted the town since their unfortunate trials in 1692. The verdict for the town’s tourism industry, however, has been nothing but sunny. An entire industry is built around the city’s spooky and strange history and that all culminates come Halloween time when Salem Haunted Happenings brings pumpkin carving, parades, haunted cruises and all manner of history-based events for all ages. The city’s beautiful architecture really helps set the mood.

The synopsis could have highlighted the fact that Haunted Happenings is a MONTH-LONG celebration. It could have added that we have real witches walking about and working in our community. It could have also mentioned that we provide a Tourist Info Booth to help enhance a visitor’s experience so he or she spends more time at an attraction rather than looking for it.

So you take the initiative: point out those contributing factors in your company Facebook posts, tweets and blogs, as well as in your Instagram & Pinterest themes, etc.

Let the public know that you support the goal of winning the survey. Vote for Salem!  And Salem will vote for you.