In the past several weeks I’ve been starting to do a lot more research into the impact of technology on small businesses in Canada. A lot of statistics that I’m pulling do fall in line with a lot of the perception that I have when dealing with small business owners. The most striking thing I’m finding is the difference in comparison to our U.S. counterparts. Less than half of our small businesses are readily using technology to enhance their business whereas more than 70% in the United States actively use technology to improve sales and marketing.
You can probably pinpoint a lot of the missing areas and I can give you a few quick examples even from this past weekend with traditional businesses. I was out visiting friends in the Okanagan region of British Columbia visiting a few wineries. We bought wine and did the usual tastings. We visited 4 wineries in total (including 1 restaurant) and not a single one of them attempted to do the easiest thing possible.
Ask me for my email address.
The wine industry in this area has been growing for years and it is incredibly popular. Now imagine you’re in charge of marketing for one of these fantastic locations. You’ve just had me come through your vineyard, tasted wine, loved it, and even bought a few bottles at each location. Imagine if you could send me teasers by email and promote local specials or invite me back for special events. In some cases, even order cases to be delivered right to my home.
If you implemented something like this, do you think your sales might increase a bit? What if I told you is that all it would take is about $20 – $50 for a service to help you automate the email notifications and promotions out to your “new” marketing leads?
Another example are private camping grounds. I’ve been to drive in campgrounds such as KOA’s in the USA and they have one slick online experience. I now get regular promotions on KOA sites throughout the continent. Now I don’t expect private campgrounds to do cross promotion but I’ll give you another recent example. I was out camping near Chilliwack, British Columbia a few weeks ago and the camp site had a few noticeable things going on:
#1. They had a number of sites still available on a Saturday.
#2. They had a number of unadvisable groups attending that didn’t fit the “family” model.
In my mind if you had a system in place to track your visitors and actually grade them then you might be able to better target the type of people you want (with discounts, promotions and invitations to come out). You could easily track historical information about your visitors and then during the slow times, send out a newsletter inviting everyone out for camping. Trigger them to remember that they visited your campsite and had a good time.
I’m one of a regular routine. I always order the same dish at a Vietnamese restaurant and the same goes for Sushi. I’m a creature of habit. If you promote it the right way, I’ll come back to your campsite but if I don’t feel a connection; you’re just another campsite.
Once again, maybe $20 – $50 or even less, maybe even free depending on what types of service you’re trying to pull off. But ultimately you’re not looking at a big investment and the return on that investment is easily achievable and easily measurable.
Canadian small businesses can be more competitive and they can excel better if they take time to research some of these tools to help them achieve success. The apprehension I think is that we simply don’t know what we don’t know. We need to spread the word around our small business community that technology can be easy to adopt and it can create value and revenue almost immediately if done right and done in a simple way.