In case you have not noticed the Canadian economy has held up rather well through the great US recession. Business north of the border is booming. More importantly the value of the Canadian dollar is high…currently trading around par with the US dollar. Canadian consumers and businesses are buying goods and services from the USA at record levels. One only needs to look at the number of Canadian cars in Florida this winter to realize that. Canada remember is the USA's largest trading partner and Canada is natural resource (read: oil) rich. The Canada dollar tends to follow the price of oil. Have a look at the ten year history of the Canadian dollar relative to the greenback here:
Did you notice how the value has increased from approx. 80 cents to par in less than two years? This means that everything in the US is 20% off…including all the goods and services you have to offer. Also, over the last several years UPS, USPS and Fedex have all gotten better at providing better, cheaper, faster transborder delivery services. Are you getting your share of this important market? Well, if your sales to Canada are not approximately 10% of your US sales and/or if your sales to Canada have not grown approx 20% Y/Y in the last year I would say you are lagging.
You may also want to ponder the following:
1. Canada, being a much smaller country, does not have the product breath and depth of selection that the USA does. "I simply can't find it in Canada" is a phrase commonly heard from Canadian customers. This often translates into a certain level of price insensitivity, particular when the cost of buying the product is much less than the cost of not having the product at all…..a common occurrence in B2B.
2. Many Canadian businesses have US subsidiaries and US delivery points so make sure you take a look at your sales to border towns as an indication of your Canadian business. If you have disproportionately high sales to the "five Bs" (Blaine, Bellingham, Buffalo, Burlington, Bangor) I would suggest that is Canadian business.
3. Having Canadian inbound and outbound sales representation is key. Having a US based rep who doesn't know Saskatoon from Sudbury is just insulting. (I am reminded of the last encounter I had with a telephone rep in India who did not know where Atlanta was.) Even if you ship from the US (which would be wise) invest in a Canadian call center or service bureau.
4. My intelligence tells me that Canada is growing, right now, at about twice the rate of the US.
So, maybe it's time to re-look at Canada. Who knows, you might want to take your summer vacation there and do a little market intelligence work!
Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (954) 383-5221
Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221
Comments or questions are welcome.