Taking Stock: Are You Ramped Up for the New Year?

Many companies - both large and small - have found 2010 to be another challenging year. Although Canada escaped the worst ravages of the global economic downturn, we are not immune to the existing fragility in the global environment, with our growth slowing down after the initial rebound. Economists see continuing uncertainty globally, and predict moderate growth in the 2 to 2-1/2% range for Canada in the year ahead.

This means that you need to continue to be laser sharp in your business, and look at innovative ways to increase revenues, cut costs and reduce vulnerabilities. Here is an end-of-year small business marketing and IT checklist to help you focus on the coming year.

  • Have your 2011 marketing plan in place. Start with a review of 2010. What worked? What didn't? Direct your investment towards the activities that are giving you the best ROI. A clear plan will also ensure that marketing does not get put on the backburner and that everyone in your company is on the same page. Canada Business provides a marketing plan how-to refresher and most major banks provide good sales and marketing tools on their websites as well.
  • Consider social media. Are you currently using it? Should you be? As we reported in July, many companies are reaping great rewards by using social media in their B2B marketing. They are successfully integrating social networking tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and blogs into their B2B and consumer marketing strategies. The trend is moving towards more of this inbound marketing where prospects seek out what they need via the web and social networks rather than traditional outbound marketing where you control the message to your target audience. Therefore, it's worth dipping your toes in to explore whether these cost-effective social networking tools can work for your business. You can start by participating in some industry blogs to see if your target audience is there. And research best practices. See what social media your competitors are using and whether they have been successful.
  • Go global. Canadian exports have suffered from the slow recovery in the U.S., our major export market. Indeed, as growth prospects for developed markets decline, it's time to think about diversifying and marketing internationally to take advantage of the remarkable growth in emerging markets like Brazil, China, and India.
    • Brazil. Due to its solid financial system, Brazil weathered the global financial crisis well compared to other countries. While the country has a complex business environment, it also has a huge market full of potential opportunities for Canadian businesses and can serve as a gateway to other South American countries.
    • China. Its expanding middle class is driving increased demand for imported consumer goods and services, and an aging population, rising real estate prices and labour wages have led to China's push to develop knowledge-based and high-tech industry sectors.
    • India. Like China, India has a growing middle class, which will drive demand for resources and manufactured goods and services. It also has a growing knowledge-based economy, with continued strengthening of its information and communications technologies sectors. Canada has started negotiations with India for a free trade agreement, with a target completion date of 2012.
    Tap into the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, with its regional offices across Canada and presence in 150 countries around the world, to help you expand internationally.
  • Review your security. Do you have a proper backup system in place and is your site and network truly secure? With the increase in employees working from home and on the road, a whole new set of security measures needs to be taken into consideration. As reported in October, 70% or more of companies' data now resides in some form on mobile devices, but, some three out of four organizations lack comprehensive formalized policies for dealing with mobile devices and data. Here are two cost-effective ways to ensure your data is safe:
    • Safely back up files. Simple solutions like Primus' RAPIDRETRIEVETM - CPE, a comprehensive and affordable online data backup and storage solution which simplifies the backup, recovery, and remote access to your files, allows you to easily and automatically backup and retrieve files on your and your employees' computers to a remote backup server located in our secure Data Centre.
    • Ensure fast disaster recovery. There are numerous Primus Business Services that keep companies' websites, servers, and mission critical applications connected and secure. And Primus Hosted PBX gives everyone the option of working at home in case of disaster.

As the global economic uncertainties continue, it's a good idea for businesses to examine options and go forward with any and all feasible marketing activities to weather any potential storms. And remember, as a leading national full service communications provider offering affordable Voice, Access, Hosting, IP connectivity, disaster recovery and Business Continuity solutions, Primus is here to help.