AMY CLARKE, FREELANCE MARKETING STORYTELLER
As Chattanooga area businesses shift, pivot and change, trying to adapt to a new normal, many are tapping into the passion that led them to open their business in the first place. Over the course of the next number of weeks, we'll profile some of these owners and share their inspirational stories on how they are doing it.
With a home office for over a decade, episode49, a digital marketing and consulting company with a key focus on driving traffic to websites, has only seen its business grow since the pandemic hit.
“We are probably up between 20-30% from where we were and where our projections were,” says Kurt Schaffer, owner of episode49, based in Ooltewah.
“We have taken on more clients and deepened our relationships and efforts, doing more work. As COVID-19 hit, they needed to post updates on their websites and we helped them get a messaging strategy for how they were going to support current clients and maximize opportunities. We were a lifeline for some. It’s about being their partner.”
Schaffer took full advantage of Zoom and doubled his online meetings, reaching more prospects, all over the country.
“I was able to book meetings in New York, San Francisco, and stretch into a much bigger audience,” he says. “We have had brand new sites launch during the height of the pandemic. We drove a ton of traffic to them.”
Schaffer attributes some of his success to being a voice of confidence. He understands major upheaval in business, having experienced four one-day notices himself throughout his career.
He has gone from NASA to TVA to a major website building company, but with every sudden change, he has been able to grow and adapt, and he is helping his customers remember to do the same.
“We have experienced large scale challenges about every 10 years. The pandemic is different but between 9-11 and the recession, this is just another opportunity,” Schaffer says. “So it’s more about getting ahead of the curve and figuring out the processes. There may be challenges we don't have the skillset to solve yet, so let’s tackle the ones we can. Solve 80%. That’s enough to move us forward rather than the other 20% locking us up and not being able to move at all.”
With a degree in electrical engineering, Schaffer was an early adopter of computers, one of the first students in his school to have one. It was 1982. When he got to high school, he helped teach computer class.
“They had a computer lab, but no one knew how to turn it on. The teachers had not been trained. So, I started teaching programming and they taught the history of computers.”
He didn’t get paid, but he didn’t have to worry about his grade. Problem solved!
Like many small business owners, it’s Schaffer's biggest strength – the ability to solve problems, and help others do the same. It has kept him in business for over 18 years. His best advice to other business owners now: “Don’t be afraid of going out of balance to reach your full potential.”
Schaffer has surrounded himself with lots of people, mentors and coaches who have helped him grow his strong mental state today.
“No matter who you are working with or what you are working on, you will be dealing with people. Get better at people skills; I had to start there.”
I help companies find the stories that show the heart behind their brands and ultimately connect them to the people that matter the most for their business growth and success.