Seeing tremendous opportunity for Canadian small and medium-sized businesses to grow their companies by exporting Canadian knowledge and expertise beyond our borders, Google Canada has launched a new hub filled with resources to help SMBs become exporters.

When we think of Google we usually think of search, but with over 600 employees in Canada in both engineering and business development, Google Canada also works with businesses of all sizes to help them get online and understand the power of how the Internet can help grow their business, with an array of marketing and promotional resources.

Leslie Church, director of communications and public affairs with Google Canada, said with current economic conditions and the low Canadian dollar this is a tremendous opportunity for Canadian SMBs to use the Internet as a platform to grow beyond our borders.

“We know only five per cent of Canadian SMBs are actually exporting today, and with the Internet and the digital economy there’s a massive opportunity for Canadian businesses and Canada as a whole to ensure we’re engaging with customers around the world,” said Church. “We have SMBs with products and services that would be in demand.”

Google Canada’s exporting portal includes a number of resources including export success stories, links to useful resources from groups such as Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada, an events calendar of export-themed events, and an Export Business Map that offers a deep dive on the top ten export markets for Canadian businesses. The map includes seasonal information such as key holidays that campaigns could be built around, and a look at market demographics and research to help determine what products and services they may be receptive to.

Google also offers a range of business tools that can help businesses enter the export market. Getting online and using cloud and collaboration tools to grow your business within Canada is a first step, having the technology for your business to work and collaborate from anywhere. From there, Church said Google talks to SMBs about building online campaigns with tools such as Google AdWords, and encourages SMBs to think about different ways they can engage with customers online.

“YouTube is something many SMBs haven’t thought of, but the number of views is accelerating faster than ever,” said Church. “YouTube is becoming a platform for ‘how do I get or fix something’ and people are going to video to find out.”

Google's seasonal calendar for the USA.
Google’s seasonal calendar for the USA.

Synerion is a Canadian developer of workforce management and employee time and attendance tracking software that has used Google to help it expand its business into the United States. Paolo Gilfillan, director of sales and marketing for North America with Synerion, said the company was ready to enter new markets.

“We’ve had tremendous success in Canada with a great story to tell and a lot of great customer examples and experiences,” said Gilfillan. “But we felt like to take the next step from a growth perspective, export was one of our lead strategies.”

Synerion goes to market through a combination of direct sales and a reseller channel, and relies on digital marketing to drive lead generation into its direct sales pipeline. The vendor was already working with Google for digital marketing in Canada, and as it decided to get more aggressive in the U.S. in 2014 it again turned to Google to help it assess market demand.

“We took hot keywords and phrases that we knew generated traffic and quality conversions and applied them to new markets to see what the search volumes look like, and get an indicator of potential demand in new markets,” said Gilfillan.

When the analytics tools within Google AdWords have helped identify a good potential geographic market for expansion, Gilfillan said Synerion would then launch a small marketing campaign to help qualify the market.

“We really focus on trying to find bottom of the funnel, sales-ready leads at the stage of looking to make a purchase decision,” said Gilfillan. “We try to get some quick sales cycles into the Canadian team to see if we have the right solution and target customers, test our service approach, and make sure we have the right things in place to be aggressive in the market.”

Once the market has been assessed, Synerion will decide if it’s mainly smaller opportunities that can be handled by the inside sales team, or if there will be larger opportunities that merit feet on the street.

“I really think small businesses today need to think about leveraging digital tools such as Google Analytics or the new export tools available, because they often have minimal costs and SMBs could be a lot more intelligent about the markets they’re moving into,” said Gilfillan. “Before it was a lot more gut feeling. These tools bring a whole new level of sophistication.”

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