Friday, November 20, 2009

CentrePort Canada - The Brand

I recently went on to Google to learn more about the CentrePort Canada project. Like any average web user I typed in a search term that I thought would quickly bring me the most releveant information. I typed in "centreport". I thought the first website listed would be for CentrePort Canada, but what I found instead were a host of other CentrePorts around the world.

I assumed that CentrePort Canada was unique in its name, considering the magnitude of the project. However, when you type in "centreport" on Google, you'll find that there is Centerport in New Zealand and one also in Fort Worth Texas. There was even a hotel listed in Nice, France that uses the name. Hmm... So then I thought I would try the term "inland port." This unveiled even more websites around the world from an inland port in Mexico to Kansas City's SmartPort to many others.

I wonder if CentrePort Canada Inc. realize the competition they have in building their brand on the web?

I'm sure I am not the only person around the globe that is seeking further information about the project. How about taxpayers in Manitoba trying to understand exactly where their money is going? Brands are built and broken on Google, whether you are selling widgets, a tourist destination or an inland port. What opportunities are they missing from interested parties searching for information from around the world?

It wasn't until I came to page 23 of Google, for the term "centreport" that I finally came across the official site for Centreport Canada. And page 46 for the term "inland port." I don't know about you, but normally I tend to look at the first page, and maybe....maybe the second page of search.

It doesn't take a degree in Marketing to determine that the team heading Winnipeg's inland port project put little value in what the internet can do to build a brand and drive investor interest. Hopefully the recent addition to their team, Riva Harrison, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications, will see there is life beyond Brandon.

It's your turn Winnipeg.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Winnipeg Real Estate Investments "Pretty Good?"

Winnipeg businesses and Winnipeggers should be embarrassed by yesterday's article in the Free Press about our local real estate investment market. The story shed light on the poor job done to date on educating national markets on the opportunities in Winnipeg.

MMPI Canada, a tradeshow/seminar management company, have committed to holding a one-day real estate investment forum next April, the first since the company was established in 1992. If you go to their website, you'll see portfolios for many of the major cities in Canada, except Winnipeg or anywhere in Saskatchewan. I'm sure no one will find it hard to believe this company is headquartered out of Toronto, the centre of the world. These seminars are for the purpose of attracting real estate brokers, investors, lenders and property owners from around the country; so why has it taken 18 years to finally get their attention? Haven't we been Selling Winnipeg to the World for some time now?

What I found striking in the article was the comment by Ken Yee, senior executive VP at Cushman & Wakefield Brokerage services, about the impact the seminar will have on those attending, "...I think some of them are going to walk away saying, 'Wow that's pretty good." Yep, leave it to Winnipeggers to really get excited about opportunities to grow as a city and province.

Also, a question of accountability really comes into play when reading the comment by Don White, chairman of the Winnipeg REALTORS Commercial Division, "The Winnipeg market is under-reported on and misunderstood." Why? Who is accountable for this failure?

The other question I have: "where do interested parties go for information on Winnipeg's real estate market?" Should they go to the WCC website, or maybe the "work" section of Destination Winnipeg's site? Hey, how about to the WinnipegREALTORS home site, or the "" site that is in replacment of the Spirited Energy campaign. Oh... you haven't heard of this? Neither has anyone else.

Maybe our market is misunderstood because we fail to provide a unified channel on the internet delivering the value proposition for doing business here. Winnipeg should look at investing in their "virtual real estate," that is investing in positioning the message of Winnipeg in prominent positions on the serach engines. Whether it be a business looking for options of expansion or skilled workers looking for a place to relocate, each turn to the internet for their due diligence. Through consolidation of all these related websites mentioned above, and through investment into search engine position, Winnipeg can build the brand that will sell the world.

It's time to strive for more than "pretty good." It's your turn Winnipeg.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Yellow Pages Losses Lead to Attempt at Local Search

The Yellow Pages Income Fund announced continued losses in the third quarter due to continued drops in revenue from print advertising. This has prompted the company to move outside their expertise and water-down the SEO industry further by offering advertising packages that would do more to target local search.

To give you an idea of how far removed the Yellow Pages are from being Search Marketers, CEO Mark Tellier was reported as saying, "I think we're going to see a trend in the Internet, broadly speaking, to go more local." Going to see? Has Mr. Tellier ever done a search in his local market for anything before?

For example, if you type in "Winnipeg SEO Expert" on, one of the primary search results you receive are Google Maps results. Duh? These are local search results! Not to mention that Google has been geo-targeting a users IP address since 2005, providing users search results relative to their geographic location.

If you are a Winnipeg business, and are still one of dinosaurs that thinks the Yellow Pages are used by your common consumer - WAKE UP! The Yellow Pages are out of their realm moving into this market, and are being driven by their revenue losses. They're old, they're dated. And, members of the Winnipeg agency that is responsible for selling Yellow Pages advertising in the city openly admit the company does not know how to SEO.

If you want to be top of the search engines, hire an SEO company, not a print company.

It's your turn Winnipeg.