This album cover from the band The Subways seems like an appropriate statement about the moment. IT’S CRAZY OUT THERE. But in the midst of this chaos, we’ve had some of the best conversations ever – with clients and colleagues. And bizarre stories from within our circle. We work with an aerospace parts distributor (yah, like lots going on there). Well actually there is. He had his busiest day and busiest week ever this month. Huh? He can’t explain it. My cousin who owns the high-end stationery store Laywine’s reports that his online sales are up (drumroll please) 1700%. That’s a lot of pads and pens.


We believe there’s a fundamental reset happening both in marketing and among the sector we serve: SMEs (small and medium-sized businesses). Whichever direction this goes, there’s going to be a need for much tighter collaboration between businesses and marketers. As we enter a truly digital universe we’re going to have be highly inventive, not only in designing new cost-effective solutions, but also in building unconventional partnerships. Let’s invent together.



We’ve never lived through anything like this. Yet this is still only the beginning. We’re already thinking ahead to what the new world marketplace is going to look like when the economy is turned back on. We already know it isn’t going to resemble what it looked like before COVID-19. There are going to be […]

We just returned from a meeting with an expert in digital marketing analytics and we were talking about the role of content in the overall marketing mix. We all shared the same viewpoint that there’s tons of content out there that nobody reads or values. Even more typical is to build a website and then find that there aren’t the resources to develop quality content. That’s because quality content takes time, journalistic skills and that takes money – more than most clients are willing to spend.

So what’s the answer? We believe the test for content is: will the reader be affected by the posting? Will it change an opinion, or provide a valuable insight, a practical tip or a motivating story? If no, don’t just paper the walls (or your website) with content. You’re better off deploying content less frequently but making it stronger. Or you can institute a two-tier content strategy, with big idea posts on a top tier, while product and promotionally focused content forms a secondary tier.

If a blog is just a sales pitch wrapped in another guise, it’s not respecting the time and attention of your readers.

All this came up in the context of an important event that our financial services client, BarecWealth, wanted to address with its clients. The coronavirus hasn’t only spooked travellers and airlines; it’s also spooked the markets. This, of course, isn’t a rational response. And calming this kind of panic is a public service. So we salute our clients for thinking proactively and developing content that’s both thoughtful and useful.


Thanks to everyone at Canadian SME for hosting such an informative event. It’s always an eye-opener to see so many grassroots entrepreneurs together in one place. There’s definitely a different vibe in these gatherings than at more corporate events. SMEs have their own culture. They operate according to their own code. Most of all,  they […]

As purveyors of content marketing, we believe in engaging your audience. Everyone can see the logic in staying in touch. The only problem? For readers to actually want your next blog or other form of content, they have to see value – or entertainment – in what you’re posting. Too often we see blogs that are fairly random filler, functioning like some sort of brand notes. It all can feel too internal. And thin.

We believe platforms like podcasts have demonstrated the ability to tackle complex subjects in captivating ways. Why do blogs have to lag behind in finding real purpose for their content?

That was on our minds when we came up with the idea of interjecting ourselves into the process. Working with Feheley Fine Arts has given us the privilege of getting a front-row seat at the busiest Inuit art gallery in Canada. In working with Pat Feheley on her 60/60 show that included one print from every one of the 60 Cape Dorset Print Collections, we caught our first glimpse of Rabbit Eating Seaweed up close. This transformational work by the legendary artist Kenojuak Ashevak is one of the most coveted pieces of Inuit art. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It moved me more than any piece of Canadian art I’d ever seen.

So we decided that it was time to write about it. We know from the response we received that people were moved by the post. That’s what we should expect from a blog that’s written with a clear purpose in mind.

We are very excited to be selected to develop and facilitate a workshop for the SME Business Expo at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on January 20th, 2020. Our subject is a Marketing Team of One – that refers to all those mid-sized businesses out there that have one manager for everything marketing and communications […]

So were we. As firm believers in the idea that any marketing effort should be able to pay its own way, we were initially on the fence about the merits of programmatic display advertising. After meeting with MiQ we knew we had a partner with the experience and insights necessary to make this work for our client, Muskoka Steamships and Discovery Centre. Our ambitions for the campaign were modest. Yes, we were interested in boosting ticket sales for their cruises, but we thought the digital presence was more of an awareness builder than a sales driver. We were wrong. Our team of Barbara Rowell, Matthew Waller and Chelsea Johnston persuaded us that yes, indeed we could judge this campaign by its ability to drive ticket sales. We designed and produced the banner ads in collaboration with our clients John Miller and Jordan Waines at MSDC. Then we let MiQ work its magic. To our surprise, the campaign was a great success, with attributable ticket sales increases vastly outstripping the cost of media and production.

The strength of programmatic digital advertising is its ability to not only target with precision, but also to find the best contexts for the presentation of ads. Unlike purely search-based algorithms, the programmatic side ensures that ads will be displayed in environments that complement the ads themselves. For us, in always looking out for the interests of our clients’ customers, this was a critical point distinguishing this approach.

Best moment? Reading an article on and seeing our ad appear.

Now we’re taking programmatic advertising to several of our other clients. Live and learn.

Before there was blogging, there were advertorials. Every time I wrote one, I would have to ask how truly neutral and informative the article was to be. The intent was always far more neutral than the result. A marketer’s instinct to sell is very hard to shed. So the authenticity of the writing was undermined. […]

With phones buzzing, dozens of emails flying every which way every single day (except Christmas), late night scrambles to finalize colours and wording we all persevered.  Most importantly, we had very decisive and collaborative clients, who cared as passionately about their identity and website as they do about their clients’ cases. Everyone was under the microscope and we emerged at the end, with two days to go, with even greater respect for the people in the firm, for their humanity and dedication.

Congratulations to Marta Watson. You should be proud of the identity and website that you helped to create.

Yup, it’s possible.

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