Friday, October 30, 2009

Winnipeg Businesses Confusing Media

Winnipeg businesses seem to be extremely confused in the use of media lately.

Yesterday I was driving down Marion Street and saw an ad for the Manitoba division of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. The billboard has some guy on it next to a globe with the words "Dare to" in huge letters. Now the only reason I knew it was the CME was because I have met with the association recently regarding their marketing direction, and am familiar with their new website and branding. However, to the common person driving past this sign, it would be very difficult to determine that it is an ad for CME. Why? Because all text about the CME is in very small print, where the focus is on the website address.

Here in lies the confusion.

It seems that the majority of businesses in Winnipeg, and other markets in general, are now using their radio, outdoor and print ads to drive people to their websites. This is not a good use of a company's precious marketing dollars.

If a company feels the best chance they have to capture new business is to get consumers to their website to learn more about them and their services, than why not invest in the actual form of marketing that specifically serves this purpose - Search Marketing.

Search marketing or search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of making a website directly relevant to the terms a company wants their brand associated with. For example, if I sell pool tables in Winnipeg, than I'd want to list high on the search engines when someone types in "pool tables Winnipeg." SEO investment ensures that you are placing your company's website in a position of high visibility to consumers actively in the market for your products and services.

The Winnipeg business community are too conditioned to stop using traditional media, even when they see that the best opportunity for them to capture new business is through their website. And I know this because every radio ad you hear now ends with a company's web address; every print and outdoor ad has their website address as a prominent component of the ad.

Winnipeggers, stop wasting your money! If you feel you the internet provides your business the greatest opportunity for growth, than invest in an SEO campaign that will push your website into a position of high visibility on the search engines. Use your radio ads to expand your brand through jingles or to highlight sales events. Use your billboards and print to shout the name of your company and something unique about your business, but whatever you do, quit spending copious amounts of money on old media to push new media.

It's your turn Winnipeg! Embrace the sales that exists for your brand on page one of Google.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Winnipeg Business Still Trying to Roll A Square

When will Winnipeg & Manitoba's so called business leaders learn you cannot role a square?

Armed with large federal and provincial budgets, they go about trying to educate the world of our wears. This my friends is not done by painting a bus that travels up and down Portage Avenue, nor having the biggest billboard in the city, nor advertising with all the local radio stations and newspapers. Why? Because no one beyond Brandon will ever see or hear about it. Still we shovel the same crap to the same old companies doing the same old stuff and we wonder why people don't take us seriously or why no one has ever heard of Winnipeg.

Times have changed and Winnipeg business you will have to as well. I know some of you have websites now, built by people who have won awards in Manitoba. Awards are great and all, but results are what pay the bills, and an all singing website that no one sees only wins awards not customers.

Today 90% of people globally use the internet to find, buy and/or research before any purchase or investment. If you cannot be found, you lose. Its that simple.

Stop trying to role a square. The wheel has been invented - it's round and works much better. Okay... maybe all your old pals you usually work with have not got a website yet or they are still trying to fathom how it works, but in the meantime, business generated by the net is passing you by, forcing you to work 10 times as hard to catch up once you wake up to the new world.

Don't be embarrassed to say you don't know. Don't be ashamed to use someone who does. And certainly don't be shy to spend all that government, tax payer money where your going to get the best return - with a proven SEO company.

The old school cannot have it's own way anymore, they are stopping progress. What for? Personal gain. They choose to agree on nothing until the divi's are worked out to everyone's favour. But what about the people, the city, the province, the tax payers?

Winnipeg, it is time to get some BALLS, stand up, be counted and instead of doing what's familar, do what works.

It's your turn Winnipeg.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Canada’s first Foreign Trade Zone

The federal and Manitoba governments recently announced that they would put aside $3.5million to fund the start-up and operational costs of CentrePort Canada in Manitoba – Canada’s first Foreign Trade Zone. This is big news that has long-term potential for the country, because the port will promote Canada’s competitive advantages, including the National Gateway Strategy.

The federal and provincial governments are partnering to create within CentrePort a one-stop shop for transportation, international trade and value-added manufacturing – a pilot project called the Canada-Manitoba CentrePort International Business Development Project.

There’s also the new Pan-Western Outreach Program a pilot project aimed at raising awareness in business circles about Canada’s programs and policies supporting international trade, with a focus on marketing foreign trade zone-type programs, such as the ones being coordinated and delivered through CentrePort.

As Canada’s first Foreign-Trade Zone, CentrePort will give international companies the option of shipping their out-bound goods to Manitoba, where they can be stored without additional duty costs, before being shipped to consumers in the United States. This is part of an economic agenda to position Canada as an attractive destination for international business investors.

CentrePort comprises 8,093 hectares in Winnipeg, anchored by the James A. Richardson International Airport, one of the busiest cargo hubs in the country. The new zone brings together Manitoba’s existing transportation assets, including the airport, three intercontinental rail lines – CN, CP, and Burlington Northern Santa Fe – more than 1,000 for-hire trucking companies, the Port of Churchill and the Emerson border crossing to the U.S.

A year ago, CentrePort was created under Manitoba Premier Gary Doer – Canada’s next Ambassador the U.S. – when the provincial legislature unanimously passed the CentrePort Canada Act, creating CentrePort, a private sector-led corporation.

Since then, major infrastructure investments have taken place, including $212.5 million for CentrePort Canada Way, a four-lane divided expressway announced by Prime Minister Harper to increase speedy access for moving goods to the U.S.

This package of investments and policies – from marketing to infrastructure to funding – is a comprehensive approach that will be required for Canada to compete internationally. It will help bring Canada on par with other countries that have inland ports and gateways that are hubs for export-oriented job creation.

In an era when labour and business don’t often agree about trade policy, and political parties fight over infrastructure funding, supporters of CentrePort have spoken with one voice. Stakeholders from the Manitoba Federation of Labour have worked together to bring the inland port to life. The federal Conservatives and provincial New Democrats have collaborated to get shovels in the ground. As a result, CentrePort Canada is off to a good start as a model for integrated trade and transportation policy that could spark new economic development in Canada.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Human Rights Museum's Patrick O'Reilly Just Doing His Job

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights continues to get mixed press, with the latest being an attempt to somewhat villianize Patrick O'Reilly for his recent travel bill in promoting the museum to international markets. Anytime the new museum is mentioned in a group of people, you can pretty much divide the opinions down the middle - those that believe in its future success and those that only see tax dollars being spent. The $28,000 tab reportedly spent by the museum COO shares this same scrutiny.

I myself have had the pleasure of meeting Patrick O'Reilly on multiple occasions, and I can tell you first hand the man is all business, fuelled by his passion to make the museum a success both locally and globally.

Personally, I'd want the COO of Canada's first national museum outside of Ottawa to be sipping wine and eating cheese at a Bistro in Paris - as I'm sure there are many Winnipeggers who'd rather see him wearing a Jets jersey and eating roadside poutine. If we are to capture the essence of being a world-class facility, than we need to ensure that the people running and representing it are of the same class.

The Facebook posts were meant for close friends and family, who'd be less interested in the business he is doing versus the travel experience. Those posts were for their eyes and ears and have misrepresented his efforts. If there is any critisim it is that Mr. O'Reilly should have had better knowledge in keeping those posts from the public. In saying that, the main point is that they were not for the public, and we as the public should only be concerned with the results of his travels. Anyone who travels for business knows that downtime to enjoy the destination comes as a natural consequence and perk.

I am very confident that Mr. O'Reilly is using his time abroad wisely, helping to put the museum and Winnipeg on the global map.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Manitoba 1000 - Webidiotz

I heard on the radio today the advert for the Manitoba 1000 website, so I went on Google and searched "Manitoba 1000". Guess what website was not on page 1?

So I got around to thinking how is this website going to increase sales for Manitoba businesses when it cannot even list itself.... sounds fishy?

After a little bit of research I found the possible operator of this website is wanted by all sorts of people in the UK, the courts too, for monies he ripped off them.

His old company was called "One Move" here are some of the horror stories:

Neil Patel Story #1

Neil Patel Story #2

Neil Patel Story #3

Now I'm not sure if this is the same guy. and everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but the latest story says he owns "webidiotz" in Winnipeg.

If you checkout their address 2157 Henderson Highway, Winnipeg it belongs to a company called Ade & Co. who are Patent Agents. No business name is listed outside for a web design company, but a testimonial from Ade is on the website.... very confusing.

So if this guy is the same fast talking I'll make you rich shyster, Beware Manitoba! Don't be a Web Idiot.

Do your homework. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Winnipeg Culture Website a Waste

I must commend today's article by Morley Walker in the Free Press regarding the new cultural website promoting Winnipeg's designation as Canada's "cultural capital" for 2010. He nailed it on the head when saying "the trouble with a you don't know it exists, you will never stumble upon it."

With all the potential that exists from being awarded this designation during a very popular point in the new millennium, you'd think more dollars would be allocated to the one tool that can drive qualified traffic and interest to Winnipeg - a highly visible website through effective search marketing. I find it very disheartening that when the Marketing Director of Destination Winnipeg is questioned on why more dollars were not allocated to the marketing of the site, she openly states that "we're going after low hanging fruit (ie. Grand Forks, Fargo)...People from Vancouver aren't coming here anyway."

Wow... that's optimism! Considering I personally know 3 different groups of friends here in Winnipeg that visited Vancouver this year alone, and that the entire Manitoba Homecoming 2010 event is dependant on travellers from around North America migrating back to Winnipeg, you'd think - at minimum - a more positive spin could have been placed on the limited dollars being allocated to the website.

What I can't seem to figure out is what the $60,000 allocated to this project was used for?

Considering there are very limited dollars in place to advertise the project (all mailed leaflets I might add) and the website itself on the high side should only be $10,000... where was the rest of the money allocated?

My guess is that it was evenly distributed amongst the same companies that continue to survive off the government grant money awarded to these half-ass efforts, making print brochures, charging copious amounts of money for content writing, and laughing all the way to the bank, with little concern for the success of the project other than just plastering up something for show. I'll be curious to see if there is any report in the future from DW on the membership levels they gained on the new site. I doubt it.

And I quote, "if you don't know it exists, you will never stumble upon it." There's a great big world out there Winnipeg, and those who know how to tap into it know. Hopefully egos will be put aside one day, and the companies that can truly deliver results will be awarded the honorable job of putting Winnipeg on the map.

It's your turn Winnipeg.