Opportunities NB (ONB) has taken a leading role in helping New Brunswick’s exporters adapt to this past year’s global shifts. We recognize that in the face of today’s ‘new normal’, it is essential to remain agile and pivot to new business models when possible. We call our new approach Export Development 2.0.
Over a two-month period, ONB launched a series of webinars aimed at helping New Brunswick companies refresh themselves on the basics of exporting and pivoting to the new normal. Subject matter experts from ONB and across the province assembled for this 12-part webinar series covering everything from supply chain logistics to choosing the right e-commerce platform.
The Export Learning Series attracted over 273 attendees throughout the 2-month period. Understanding that live webinars are not always attainable for business leaders, , we have reposted links to each webinar along with our breakdowns of the key takeaways from each session.
1. It’s Time for an Export Plan Refresh (Ft. Janice Goguen, Oliva Strategies)
A great overview of the components needed for a strategic export plan. Major takeaways include factors to consider when choosing an export market, various market entry strategies, possible risk factors, and regulatory and logistical issues. This webinar is a great opportunity for companies to get back to basics and break down the process of developing a strong export plan to successfully guide growth in new global markets.
2. How to Use Quarterly Budgets to Determine Export Price (Ft. Janice Goguen, Oliva Strategies)
Learn how companies can use their financial statements to forecast and determine their export prices. To adequately determine their export prices, companies need to have a good grasp of their:
- Income statement;
- Operating Budget;
- Fixed and Variable Costs; and
- Export Cost – Brokerage fees, tariffs, shipping/warehousing, certifications, etc.
Successfully determining export prices helps companies aptly position their products and/or services competitively in the global markets.
3. Building a Practical Sales Process (Ft. Kent Murphy and Mark Haines-Lacey, Atlantic Growth Solutions)
Post Covid-19, recalibrating the sales process is necessary as those processes have changed from in-person to virtual. This session discusses determining your top five customer success stories via recent wins and sales milestones. This will determine your most successful buyer persona which you can use to 100 new target accounts.
You will also learn the importance of your firm’s value proposition, which would describe in 30 seconds who you help, what you do well, how you do it, and what measurable benefits that brings to your client. Finally, learn how to identify the top five objections using qualifying questions and how to use these to uncover your potential client’s pain points.
4. Going to Market through Indirect Sales Channels (Ft. Ken MacDonald, CLARITY Sales Enablement)
Indirect sales channels represent 75% of global sales opportunities. Learn to understand the pros and cons associated with this sales approach versus direct. While direct sales generally give direct control over all aspects of your sales cycle, the cost is high and generally difficult to scale. Indirect sales are typically achieved through channel partners, business partners, or business alliances.
This webinar discusses the importance of channel optimization through identifying your ideal partner qualification criteria, segmenting accounts in your territory, identifying your highest potential customers and prospects, and developing a coverage strategy for all accounts in your territory.
5. Navigating Supply Chain Logistics in the New Normal (Ft. Dale Thibodeau, DJ Thibodeau & Associates)
Explore various shipping issues encountered during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and get practical tips on how to navigate them in the new normal. This session explored backhaul lanes, truck vs. rail, strained capacity networks, and labour availability. It’s an insightful look at the ways to shift supply chains based on the current environment which also offers advice on more efficient, cost-effective channels.
6. Lessons in Importing and Exporting While you Pivot your Business (Ft. Luc Jalbert, Parallax Group)
Luc leads a valuable discussion around the challenges that his company faced when the pandemic began – how they identified new opportunities, pivoted their business model, and continued to grow in a rapidly changing marketplace. This session is relevant to many companies facing those same challenges right now. It’s a great session offering ideas and encouragement to other companies still struggling during these uncertain times.
7. How to Grow your Online Sales with Effective E-commerce Planning (Ft. Scott MacIntosh, Second Spring Digital)
With e-commerce on a rapid incline, it is imperative that your company understands the mechanisms behind e-commerce and how adopting an e-commerce strategy can drive growth in new markets. Scott provides an overview of e-commerce, the benefits it brings to your company, how to approach it properly, and how to get started.
Get the practical tools, specific examples, and access to resources you need to adopt e-commerce strategies to grow your exports.
8. Website Relevancy: Why Customer-Centric Content is Key (Ft. Nadine Léger, Vox Interactif)
With increased demand to do business virtually, it is vital for companies to ensure they have a strong web presence including a customer-centric website. Nadine offered the following suggestions:
- Define your target audience: knowing your target customers helps you create a website with the best user experience;
- Make navigation meaningful: ensure content on your website is simple, clear, and consistent;
- Articulate your value proposition: clearly express the pain/problem your website addresses;
- Implement a user-focused design: personalize and customize content that is relevant for your customers;
- Enhance mobile experience: ensure your website is optimized for mobile users so that they can get the same experience as desktop users;
- Test, analyze, optimize, and repeat: Use Google Analytics to find out how customers are engaging with your website. Use Google Search Console to find what information they use to search for your website.
9. E-Commerce Security 101 (Ft. David Shipley, Beauceron Security)
This session highlights the importance of cybersecurity awareness for companies currently selling or want to begin selling through e-commerce channels. Major takeaways here include a review of common terms used in e-commerce security, picking the right technology to support your e-commerce strategy, understanding the many cybersecurity threats that could harm your business, and best practices for mitigating risk and protecting your business, employees, and customers.
10. Using Data Analytics: Understanding users and increasing conversion (Ft. Nadine Léger, Vox Interactif)
Data analytics can help companies collect a wealth of information about how their business is performing. Via data analytics companies learn the following:
- Demographics: Data on the age and gender of users who visit. This data helps you adjust things like your marketing strategy or your services and/or products to cater to the demographic(s) of interest
- Location: Information on the cities, countries, of origin of your users
- Sessions: data on how often users visit your website
- Session duration: how much time do users spend on your site?
- Source: How users access your website. (e.g. referral, Google search, Bing, social media links, etc)
- Devices: which devices used to access your website
- Interests: info on what other interests your website visitors have
As the number of companies doing business virtually continues to grow, the demand for e-commerce platforms has increased. Companies must understand their business objectives and choose the right e-commerce platform to address their needs. Scott recommends a few best practices:
- Know your ideal customer before choosing.
- Create a persona and give it a name: A persona is a semi-fictional representation of a large segment of your audience. The persona is based on your own knowledge, information from research, analytics, and from conversations with your existing and prospective customers. A persona is a guide when you are considering a new product/service and needs to be continuously updated.
- Strategy: company’s business and/or e-commerce strategy will determine the need to either create their own e-commerce platform, partner with marketplaces such as Amazon or both. That strategy will also determine which e-commerce platforms to choose depending on your industry and who are the niche e-commerce providers.
Dawn discusses how she has explored using Amazon Marketplace and building her own e-commerce platform based on her current business needs.
12. Doing Business in the U.S. and Implications on Taxes Post-COVID (Ft. Jeremy Pister and Katrina Robson, Deloitte)
The Deloitte team offers a good big picture look at the recent changes to the tax environment in the United States with useful insights on mitigating risks and avoiding pitfalls when doing business there. They note the large shift to e-commerce in the face of COVID-19 and discuss the various tax implications relating to cross-border activities with a focus on various state sales tax considerations based on the product or service being delivered.
Many thanks to those who took the time to tune into these webinars – we trust you gained insight on many of these growth-minded topics. We also thank the speakers who shared their time and expertise in each session.
Stay tuned for other programs and training sessions taking place this fall and winter, all of which are striving to connect New Brunswick exporters to the world.