(I’ve been pleased to contribute to Canadian SME Magazine in its first two issues. Below are the Marketing Tips I developed for the latest issue.) What is the number one advantage that smaller businesses have in their marketing? Themselves. Larger enterprises struggle to define a brand that represents such a diverse workforce. Smaller businesses, meanwhile, take the imprint […]

A while back, we were approached by this new publication CanadianSME to write an article about marketing strategies for these businesses.

Now we’re pleased to see it in print. Lots of interesting content there for all you small and medium-sized enterprises.

Marketing for SMEs

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Many successful SMEs have built their businesses with almost no marketing support. But eventually, they always hit a ceiling. Their referral network maxes out and there’s no growth. That’s when we get the call at our marketing agency –Branderos – that’s dedicated to helping SMEs use marketing to drive increased sales.

Unless you have a salesforce cold calling prospects, the only real alternative is tapping the power of the web to generate leads.

Only 41% of Canadian small businesses have an online presence, according to GoDaddy.1


While a Facebook page is easy to construct, it lacks depth of information and is harder to differentiate your company from its competitors. Social media is a great complement to a website, but it’s limited as a primary driver for your marketing.

Only 6% of small and medium-sized businesses use social media – with Facebook used more than twice as much as either LinkedIn or Twitter.2


A website serves as a hub for your business, providing credibility, raising brand awareness and engaging users with rich content. It’s the gateway to email marketing and other contact strategies. You can be highly targeted with a website and create it from scratch to reflect your brand and showcase your products and services.


The smaller the business, the tighter the budget. That’s why you’ll see so many do-it-yourself websites, or websites built by friends or family. Sure, there are ready-made templates from companies like Wix and Squarespace that can get you up and running for under $1000, but then you’re beholden to your provider. But a nice looking template isn’t enough. You need to be able to articulate your proposition to your prospects and you need to have professional quality content.


Even a basic customized website for a small business will cost $2500-$5000. For medium-sized businesses that can run up from $10,000 to $25,000. How can a business justify that cost? By determining the return on investment.

Calculate how many new customers will have to earn to make it worthwhile, and how much they’ll have to spend.

We have worked with clients who may earn several thousand dollars for every new client. So all it takes is perhaps few solid clients to make a website pay itself off.

Others have smaller profit margins and smaller average transactions. That makes it harder to justify the investment.

You have to get behind the effort and believe in the web’s ability to drive sales if you want to use a website to take your business to the next level. But there’s no real halfway measure. Once you’re in, you have to be all in, otherwise you are guaranteeing failure.


Once a businessspends its precious dollars on a shiny new website, it frequently hits a wall. After investing in a website, businesses often have a diminished appetite for further spending on marketing. Their gaze returns to running their operations and the web goes dark. No fresh content. No updates. Technical issues are left unresolved. Links go dead. And they look at their initial web investment as a waste. Which it is because any digital marketing program that’s stale dated makes the business look like it has perished, frozen in time from the last time it breathed fresh life into its website.


To succeed at marketing, a consistent and ongoing effort is required. That begins with a plan. Fresh content draws fresh eyes. It gives people a reason to return to your website, or even more importantly, sign up for regular emails or newsletters. Sound like a lot of work on the content development side? It is.


That’s why we only take on clients who are willing to commit to a monthly spend on content development. It’s too painful to see companies get to the starting line and then stop. They see almost zero return on their investment.

But businesses that put their toe in the waters of the Internet and keep dipping, month after month, start to see the return. New leads. But most importantly, affirmation that the business is vital, outward looking and interested in engaging.


You might yearn for the days when good customer service was enough to keep businesses going. But those days are behind us. Increasingly, digital performance is synonymous with business performance. That can be a good thing, since the web is still an underdeveloped space for SMEs.

If you are willing to make an ongoing financial commitment to digital marketing and stick to the plan, you will see the rewards. And you’ll be many steps further ahead than your competitors.

SMEs have wonderful stories to tell and charismatic business leaders to profile. Seize the moment and then watch your business grow. You’ll never know how big an impact digital marketing will make on your business until you try.

  1. GoDaddy& Redshift Research small business survey 2015
  2. com, December 2016

For more than three decades, Joel has worked as a copywriter, creative director, strategist, coach and educator. His focus is on the development of key strategic insights that lead to powerful copy platforms. After spending a career working with blue-chip clients like GM and IBM, Joel now concentrates on helping small and medium-sized businesses market themselves through his agency, Branderos. Joel has also become an advocate for more powerful writing in the workplace, as a coach and educator. Never complacent, Joel believes that the last few years have produced his best work and most insightful strategies. http://joelsears.ca/

Seeing Walden Pond made me think again how his words have touched so many through the generations…


Check out this post for some disheartening stats on sales email, and some common sense fixes.

I Analyzed 147 Cold Sales Emails And 93.9% Of Them Sucked


What’s the lifecycle of a website today?

Most businesses have hit a wall with referrals as the primary driver.

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