FAQ In Marketing: A North Country Professional’s Cheat Sheet

Jessica Piatt

As the Director of Marketing at the Greater Watertown – North Country Chamber of Commerce, I often get asked questions about my responsibilities at the chamber. While there are many interesting aspects of my job, managing social media seems to pique the most interest. Without fail, I am asked to delineate. 

    This typically ignites a flurry of questions. With north country Businesses in mind, I have selected some of my favorite FAQs.  

I’m asked questions such as: 

  • I don’t have time; can’t I just link all our accounts? 
  • Is itreally necessary? 
  • What even is engagement?
  • How can my business benefit from it? 

    Let’s set the record straight. Yes, you can link your social media platforms to regurgitate the same content verbatim. But, just as we have all learned from the Jurassic Park franchise, just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should. When you post the same content on all your social media platforms, you might be getting the job done faster, but you’re lowering your performance in the process. Instead, consider posting similar content with copy that is unique to each individual platform. In this way you achieve the objective of getting the word out without coming across to your audience as repetitive or robotic.  

Is it really necessary? 

    You wouldn’t deny a free advertising opportunity or intentionally cut back on your customer service efforts, would you? Having a presence on social media is a place where you can increase brand awareness and engage people directly as an effective (and measurable) method to generate leads and sales. Need I say more? 

What even is engagement?  

    In essence, engagement is any time someone interacts with your social media. It comes in the form of metrics such as: likes, follows, comments, shares, re-tweets, and click-throughs. Any way people interact with you on platforms is social media engagement. Not only are these metrics essential for tracking the success of your campaigns on social media, they are an integral part of accomplishing goals in the digital age.  

How can my business benefit from it? 

    Come on people! I mean it is 2019. Having a presence on social media platforms offers your business the opportunity to highlight the services you provide or products you offer. It can also be used to enhance your brand’s other marketing efforts. Your digital presence can engage your audience and grow your consumer or client base. Ultimately, your presence on social media platforms will further your goals as an organization. 

    As the director of marketing at the Greater Watertown – North Country Chamber of Commerce, I welcome curiosity. Talking to members and interested businesses about their concerns or questions  surrounding social media platforms is one of the highlights of my job. If you are curious, I challenge you to seek understanding. Use resources such as chambers, or other organizations dedicated to promoting and supporting businesses, to gain insight. Glean from the expertise of those in your professional network. Finally, employ your findings to benefit your business. 

Lewis County is Dairy

 

[Read more…]

Soy Bean Foreign Affairs: New tariffs create changes in crop production

SYDNEY SCHAEFER/NNY BUSINESS
Ronald Robbins, owner of North Harbor Dairy and Old McDonald’s Farm, observes his soybean crops in one of his soybean field located in Hounsfield.

[Read more…]

Community Spirit Youth Giving Challenge

Rande Richardson

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”  –Robert Louis Stevenson

At the Community Foundation, we hold a firm belief that the best way we honor the north country’s history and heritage of commitment to community betterment is to find ways to thoughtfully perpetuate it. Much like in life, you can never start too early to instill positive concepts and lead by example with the help of positive role models. When our youth learn the value and practice of giving and civic and social responsibility, all of our community’s organizations, including schools, benefit.

                Last fall, the Community Spirit Youth Giving Challenge was launched as a mission-centric way to proactively encourage civic engagement among middle school students. Seventh and eighth graders were asked to put into words what “community” meant to them and then identify a local nonprofit organization that they felt helped make their community a better place. Over 60 students from nine school districts expressed consistent themes of neighbors, safety, love, beauty, happiness, betterment, togetherness, kindness, helping, caring, belonging, sharing, and respect. I think we all want to live in a community where these themes run through it. At the same time, it is likely that the process led to conversations between the students, their peers, their teachers and families. All good things.

                A total of 23 students were able to present grants ranging from $500 to $1,000, totaling $10,000. As part of the program, students also visited the organizations that their grant was supporting. This allowed them the opportunity to see the work of their charitable organization up close. There is no doubt that the first Giving Challenge left memorable impressions on these young adults. At the same time, 19 organizations across Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties were provided with additional resources to advance their missions. The students’ interests included arts, culture and education as well as health and human services. Adelyne Jareo, who was awarded the largest grant to Meals on Wheels of Greater Watertown, said “To me, community means living through both good and bad times with people who love and support you. Community is about connection and brightening someone’s day and making it better even in the smallest way possible. Lending a shoulder to lean on or an ear to listen, or even a friendly warm smile can make the world a better place. That is what community is all about.”

                While the first year had positive outcomes and good participation, there is now an opportunity to have even more students involved in directly improving the quality of life in their community. From now until Nov. 19, seventh and eighth graders attending school in Jefferson, Lewis or St. Lawrence counties are encouraged to participate. Entry applications are available at www.nnycf.org or at the Philanthropy Center at 131 Washington St., Watertown. We encourage teachers and parents to begin conversations that foster an environment of caring and respect, and inspire student engagement and contribution.

                It is always good to remind ourselves that all of our actions impact more than just ourselves. The more seeds we plant, the better chance we have of developing critical thinkers, leaders and lives that inspire the pursuit of the fulfillment of life-long service and action for the common good. There are four kinds of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, those who wonder what happened and those who don’t know that anything happened. If we continue to plant good seeds, we will reap a bountiful harvest of those who will make things happen.

Housing Then and Now: Trends in buying and selling across 35 years

Lance Evans

In December, I gave you some of the highlights of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 35th Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. When NAR released its first profile in 1981, mortgage rates were over four times higher than they are today, and first-time buyers made up a much larger share of overall sales.  While many home buyer and seller behaviors and preferences have changed, some have remained constant over the last 35 years.

                “When the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers made its debut in 1981, consumers and Realtors navigated a much different real estate landscape. The internet hadn’t been invented and the average monthly mortgage rate was 15.12 percent,” said Debbie Gilson, president of the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors. “One important constant during this time has been the Realtor’s role as the leading advocate for homeownership and a trusted expert in helping buyers and sellers close the deal.”

                With the recent release of the 2016 survey, it’s a great time to look at some of the data and trends in this year’s edition and how they stack up to the last three-and-a-half decades.

                The quickening pace of home sales over the past year included a small rebound from two key segments of buyers who have been missing in action in recent years: first-time buyers and single women.

                After slipping for three straight years, the share of sales to first-time home buyers in the 2016 survey ticked up to 35 percent, which is the highest since 2013 – when it was 38 percent – and a revival from the near 30-year low of 32 percent in 2015. In the 35-year history of NAR’s survey, the long-term average of first-time buyer transactions is 40 percent. 

                Married couples once again made up the largest share of buyers (at 66 percent) and had the highest income of $99,200. However, the survey revealed that single women made up more of the buyer share than in recent years, based on household composition. “After falling to 15 percent of buyers a year ago, which tied the lowest share since 2002, single females represented 17 percent of total purchases, the highest since 2011 at 18 percent,” noted Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors President Vickie Staie. “Thirty-five years ago, single females represented 11 percent of purchases.”

                Despite the internet’s growing popularity over the past 20 years, buyers and sellers continue to seek a real estate agent to buy or sell a home. “In NAR’s 2016 survey, nearly 90 percent of respondents worked with a real estate agent to buy or sell a home. This has brought for-sale-by-owner transactions down to 8 percent, their lowest share ever for the second year in a row,” said Ms. Staie.

                Since NAR’s inaugural survey, consumer preferences have evolved and housing costs have gotten more expensive. In 1981, the typical buyer purchased a 1,700-square-foot home costing $70,000 ($201,376 in inflation-adjusted dollars). In the 2016 survey, purchased homes were typically 1,650 square feet and cost $182,500.

                In 1989, when NAR started collecting buyer data on down payments, first-time homebuyers financed their purchase with a 10 percent down payment and repeat buyers financed a loan with a 23 percent down payment. As low-down-payment mortgage programs entered the marketplace and credit standards eased, the typical amount of money put down fell to as low as 2 percent for first-time buyers both in 2005 and 2006. “For repeat buyers, the smallest median down payment was 13 percent both in 2012 and 2014, which is likely due to reduced equity in the home that was sold,” observed Ms. Gilson.

                In recent years, down payment amounts have remained mostly unchanged, coming in at 6 percent for first-time buyers the last two surveys and either 13 percent or 14 percent for repeat buyers in the past four surveys. 

                Contact a member of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors (jlbor.com) or the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors (slcmls.com) to connect with a Realtor to learn more about buying or selling a property.

 

National Radon Action Month, Realtors Give Back in Their Communities

  

Lance Evans

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated January as National Radon Action Month.   The EPA notes that “Exposure to radon is a preventable health risk and testing radon levels in your home can help prevent unnecessary exposure. If a high radon level is detected in your home, you can take steps to fix the problem to protect yourself and your family.”

   Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that can seep into your home from the ground.   It is the second most common cause of lung cancer behind smoking.  Basements or any area with protrusions into the ground offer entry points for radon.  Radon tests can determine if high levels are present.

   The EPA suggests testing your home for radon during January.   You can purchase a kit and do it yourself or hire a professional.   In New York state, the Department of Health (www.health.ny.gov) has a list of certified radon testers on their site.  In addition, state residents can fill out a form and mail it with $11, to the department and receive a test kit in the mail.   There is other radon related information on the site also.


   During December, both the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors and the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors raised money and awareness for local charities.

    In the early part of the month, both held their annual holiday parties that included fundraisers for their respective community service funds.

    On December 8, the St. Lawrence County Board distributed $2100 to the Neighborhood Centers in Canton, Gouverneur, Massena, Ogdensburg, Potsdam, and Waddington.   The Centers are overseen by the St. Lawrence County Community Development Program.   Each center has a food pantry and assists with food and other emergencies such as utilities, fuel, and shelter.   They work with families in the area of family development, budgeting, education, and job search. Similarly, the funds raised from the Jefferson-Lewis Board’s event went to support the Salvation Army, the Watertown Urban Mission, and other area charities.   In addition, offices served as collection points for toiletries, food, and clothing that were distributed to the Jefferson County Children’s Home, Salvation Army, and Urban Mission.

   On the 13th and 14th of December, Realtor members from both associations assisted at several area events.   The St. Lawrence County membership volunteered their time at the seventh annual “Lights on the River” in Lisbon on December 13th.   While there, they collected donations of canned goods and cash and helped direct the visitors viewing the displays.   Contributions from the visitors go to about a dozen food pantries throughout the county.   In its first six years, the event raised more than $100,000 and contributed approximately 28,000 pounds of food to area pantries.

   December 14th saw Jefferson-Lewis Realtors brave the winds and snows to man some of the Salvation Army kettles in Watertown and LeRay.   Members were helping the Salvation Army reach its goal of $115,000.

   As you can see, Realtors do more than just work with buyers and sellers.   They live in the communities and give back to the communities too.   In addition to these charitable efforts, Realtors work all year volunteering their time and energy with various charities and community organizations.      


   During the respective holiday parties, the 2017 Board of Directors of each Association was installed.   The role of the Board of Directors is to oversee the Association and set overall policy and direction.

   The St. Lawrence County Board will be led by Debbie Gilson. Other officers will include Cheryl Yelle (Vice President), Doug Hawkins (Secretary), and Amanda Kingsbury (Treasurer).   Directors will be Gail Abplanalp, Joel Howie, and Richard J. Wood.  Rounding out the Board are Brittany Matott, State Director and Korleen Spilman, Immediate Past President.      

     Leading the Jefferson-Lewis Board will be Vickie Staie.   The rest of the officers will be Alfred Netto (President-Elect), Britt Abbey (Vice President), Mary Adair (Treasurer), Nancy Rome (Recording Secretary), and Lisa Lowe (Corresponding Secretary).  Directors include Tyler Lago, Elizabeth Miller, Gwyn Monnat, Cindy Moyer, and Randy Raso.

 

FDRHPO picks Erika Flint as its new executive director

AMANDA MORRISON / NNY Business The Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization has picked Erika F. Flint to become its new executive director, the group said on Monday.

AMANDA MORRISON / NNY Business
The Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization has picked Erika F. Flint to become its new executive director, the group said on Monday.

[Read more…]

February 2016 Cover Story: Auto Industry

North Country’s Auto Industry Rolls with Change

Construction continues on the interior of F.X. Caprara Honda off interstate 81 at Bradley Street in Watertown. The dealership is on schedule to open to customers in April, marking the return of a Honda franchise to the north country after the former DealMaker Honda closed its doors in 2010. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

Construction continues on the interior of F.X. Caprara Honda off interstate 81 at Bradley Street in Watertown. The dealership is on schedule to open to customers in April, marking the return of a Honda franchise to the north country after the former DealMaker Honda closed its doors in 2010. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

With Honda franchise set to open after years-long hiatus, dealerships across the north country invest in growth

By Joleene Moody, NNY Business

Traveling south on Interstate 81 from the north country to Syracuse, one can’t miss the F.X. Caprara car complex just south of the Pulaski exit. Less than two years old, the campus is the Caprara family’s largest dealership to date. It’s not their first family-owned dealership and it won’t be their last. Charlie Caprara, president of F.X. Caprara Chevrolet Buick and Ford in Pulaski is proud to add a shiny, new Honda franchise to the portfolio of auto dealerships. [Read more…]

ReEnergy chief warns biomass plant could close in 90 days

A load of wood chips is unloaded in 2012 at ReEnergy Lyonsdale’s cogeneration plant on Marmon Road in the town of Lyonsdale. Watertown Daily Times photo.

A load of wood chips is unloaded in 2012 at ReEnergy Lyonsdale’s cogeneration plant on Marmon Road in the town of Lyonsdale. Watertown Daily Times photo.

LYONS FALLS — Without a power purchase agreement, the ReEnergy Lyonsdale wood-chip-burning cogeneration plant could close in 60 to 90 days, according to company CEO Larry D. Richardson. [Read more…]

Study outlines 5-year strategy to boost St. Lawrence County’s economy

Matt Warren, right, a customer support representative for Frazer Computing, Inc. provides phone support Wednesday at Frazer Computing, Inc., 6196 US-11 in Canton. Also pictured is Mike Burnett, left, also a customer support representative. Photo by Jason Hunter, Watertown Daily Times.

Matt Warren, right, and Mike Burnett provide customer phone support Wednesday at Frazer Computing Inc., Route 11, Canton. A five-year plan compiled for the New York Power Authority recommends small business growth among ways to boost St. Lawrence County’s economy. Photo by Jason Hunter, Watertown Daily Times.

CANTON — A $4 million economic development study just released by the New York Power Authority lays out a five-year strategy for reversing St. Lawrence County’s stagnant economy. [Read more…]