San Francisco Bay Region

6 Keys to Growing Your Business in the US

Focus: US Businesses

In studying marketing agencies in Toronto, one theme really stands out – location is king. Their target  client is within a very short distance. Today, it shouldn’t be because a huge pool of interested clients are just south of us.

superboyI’ve enjoyed working with US companies, some of them large and some small. What I like most about them is their willingness to take risks.  Yet they still want to save money, maximize reach, and receive first class service.  They’ve learned that Canadian companies offer all of that.

This is why we need to look south and expand, for own well being. The potential of that incredible sized market and the fun of doing business in the US should excite you.

Targeting the US is Good Business

Most businesses and exporters in Canada focus on the Canadian scene. Toronto in Toronto, Vancouver in Vancouver.

All a US company needs is the assurance that you communicate well, do great work, and will send someone to visit them for meetings. If business booms, then you might consider setting up an office in California, Massachusetts or New York.

Often, a distant provider has an open minded, enthusiastic and energetic attitude about their client’s business and products. Working for a California, Florida, or Boston client brings awe, imagination, and optimism that local workers don’t possess because it’s all so blasé  to them. US managers are aware of that and they’ll begin Googling  Toronto or Vancouver providers. It’s nice to be tops on Google!


For a US company to take you seriously, they need to see an outstanding unique value proposition.  I succeeded by being unique and being good at what I did. It’s still the same in 2016 except the competition is intense. However, those competitors aren’t that strong. If you present your services/products in a fashion that expose competitor’s weaknesses, you can win a US customer.

The US market (forecast to grow 54% in next 4 years) is 50 times larger than Toronto and our dollar gives us a big cost advantage up against US competitors.  And when you open your business to the US, it invariably shows up on the radar of customers in the UK, Germany, Japan, and China. Growing your business to the US is smart. Your desirability as a provider is much better than you’d imagine.



Digital Marketing Services US
Stats courtesy of Statista

Social media marketing expenditures will rise 120%.

US Digital Marketing Expenditure Forecast 2015 to 2019
US Digital Marketing Expenditure Forecast 2015 to 2019 — Pic courtesy of Statista

Export Payment Guarantees:

Canada’s federal EDC department offers a payment guarantee program which takes away a lot of risk for you as an exporter. Export Advice. Hire an international business student and get going on this!

When I ran my SEO and content development business years ago, international clients discovered me through Google. They couldn’t see how good I was at SEO but they could see my passion for it – my personal brand image worked.  The distance meant nothing to them. They wanted competence and that meant results from someone who was passionate about SEO. Their decision was made by the time they spoke to me on the phone.  They could see my focus was outward. I was no local yocal, and I had the guts to go up against more wealthy and enabled US providers.

Why Don’t they Choose a Local US Agency?

Big agencies have big prices and don’t always deliver.  Unfortunately they lack knowledgeable and passionate, engaging and social promoters of the client’s business. Having lots of people with special titles and being conveniently located doesn’t translate to a passionate engagement with client’s audiences. Many big companies bring people in-house because of this. What results is mediocre performance and you should point that out.

Find your favourite verticals and show your passion for them, whether it’s real estate, travel, digital marketing, fashion, restaurants, or whatever.  Pursuing these passions will make you and your agency better.

Go Big or Go Home

When I say look outward, you’re likely filled with doubts. It’s a crisis of confidence about your agency’s ability to compete.  You can compete.  I did. With relevant content and a passion for what I did, I landed US, China and UK clients worth $20k to $70k in revenue. The challenge is higher today but still doable. Don’t doubt it. There are multi-million dollar clients looking for great solutions.

Here’s what US Clients want:

  1. Passion  – are you enthused about their business and industry? How are you showing that in your marketing?
  2. Professionalism  –  Do you communicate with a clear focus that communicates your accent on quality?
  3. Trustworthiness – Do you communicate in a way that suggests commitment to their goals? Do you show follow through and responsibility?
  4. Credibility – do you have a track record and social proof that you are good at what you do? Can you deliver whatever is required?
  5. Relevance – Are you knowledgeable of their business, market and industry? Have you expressed viewpoints that reveal your depth of understanding?
  6. Performance – Do you understanding their product, retail market or online market? Do you have the right pieces of the big marketing puzzle. Even one outstanding capability such as SEO could land you the deal.

Clients won’t contact you until they know you have a passion for their business. That’s their biggest question mark.  If they believe the answer is no, the conversation stops there. With passion and expertise established, you can move onto showing you have even more to offer.

If you and your staff look compelling, motivated, and passionate and you demonstrate expertise in their field, they won’t be concerned with distance or price. They want quality. Your quality, ability to deliver, and passion for doing it will draw clients from everywhere.

Don’t worry about cost. The big US agencies you’re competing with have enormous overhead. Smaller companies are leveraging new SaaS software and services via the cloud and utilizing work at home arrangements.  Cost may be a decided advantage for you. The lower Canadian price is just the icing on the cake for potential clients. It could be the incentive that relaxes them and convinces them to give you a try. Don’t ask for the world. Prove yourself further.

US companies like Canadians. They trust that we’ll work hard and are dedicated. So many reasons to believe, and now you know how to do it. This will be fun so enjoy the process!

If you have a talented hybrid agency, your chances for International success are even higher. It might be time to reimagine your brand image and unique value proposition and acquire the top level talent that will take your business where it needs to be.

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