Skip to content

Maximize opportunities by marketing on the Web (5/01)

By Dianne Gouliquer Making the transition from the old, paper-based way of doing things to the world of computer-based business continues to intimidate investors and consumers, and that fear is preventing up-and-coming businesses from reaching their

By Dianne Gouliquer

Making the transition from the old, paper-based way of doing things to the world of computer-based business continues to intimidate investors and consumers, and that fear is preventing up-and-coming businesses from reaching their full potential when trying to market or sell new computer software or applications, says the chief executive officer and president of the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC).

"Initially people are still wrapped up with the traditional ways of marketing products and services," Gerry Taylor says of companies struggling to sell their intellectual property. "There is a whole host of new techniques out there that people can get involved in, especially Web-enabled types of techniques, to get your products and services out to the local market."

The solution, he says, is for companies to set aside their fears and take the plunge into the information technology world.

"I think the biggest mistake is people not overcoming that very fear of moving into the environment that's moving very quickly," Taylor says. "There's a lot of opportunity that people miss because they're not participating and they're not racing down that fast track; they're very timid and the sit back and watch other individuals and other businesses proceed. Some fail and others succeed, but there's still that hold-back, that sense of fear. Even with e-commerce, there are people that understand that you can make a transaction over the Internet, but they don't understand what the full impact of e-commerce is, and that if they don't put their service or product out on the Internet or register with certain search engines, they're going to lose sales."

The Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre is a not-for-profit organization with a mandate to encourage the development of the knowledge-based economy in the Algoma District. SSMIC works closely with its community partners to enhance the information technology capacity of the district, and to position the area as a world leader in providing information system solutions.

The centre helps clients identify their information-system needs and walks through the planning, development and implementation stages with them.

"We're involved with the chamber of commerce, we're in discussions with various groups in the city, and we try and bring new information to people," Taylor says. "We're developing a dynamic Web site, and we're going to be developing newsletters with certain hints and techniques on participating in the knowledge-based industry. So we're an advocate."

He says local chambers of commerce and economic development offices are also starting to recognize that their members need to incorporate information technology into their stores and offices if they plan to stay afloat. They too, are finding new ways of introducing companies to the borderless world of e-commerce.

Taylor says the same education and motivation is needed by people looking to market their new computer software and applications.

Stephen Sajatovic, executive director of the North Bay Economic

Development Commission (EDC, says his organization takes a focused approach to support the economic development needs of people bringing new intellectual property ideas forward.

"We've taken on a strategy which uses a cluster approach to economic development," Sajatovic says. "There are vertical job-creation clusters - for forestry, mining and a variety of other clusters including the technology cluster - and there are horizontal support clusters like marketing and promotion, education and training, finance and quality of life. They cross all the verticals."

North Bay companies have been "very successful" in terms of manufacturing new software and applications, he says, but not without a fair share of challenges.

In particular, Sajatovic says securing capital has always been an obstacle.

"I think the major challenge is financing," Sajatovic says. "Financial institutions have traditionally been focused on bricks and mortar and things they can touch and see. That's been a challenge, but over time, as the information age has matured, the financial institutions and other lenders and venture capitalists" have gained a better understanding of the information age.

He adds that getting recognized for products or services can also pose a challenge for new software companies.

Sajatovic says the EDC recognizes that while some of these challenges aren't unique to the technology sector, they need to be addressed in a unique manner.

"We apply specific techniques to maintain and grow what we have and to attract new businesses and industries to the community. Everything is tailored to the individual business. What we do for the mining or forestry cluster is very different than what we do for the technology cluster or the small business and/or home-business cluster.

We've really segmented it so we can customize our approaches and our support and our activity in each of the areas."

Both the SSMIC and the North Bay EDC are on the Internet. For more information on the services SSMIC provides, click on Visit the North Bay EDC site at and follow the links.