According to Industry Canada, as of December 2011 there were 615,599 businesses with one to four employees. That represents 55% of all the businesses operating in our country.
Life for many small businesses is one of being idea-rich but resource-challenged. When key daily priorities collide with the finite nature of time, the to-do list is often populated meaningful yet unfulfilled tasks. Figuring out the fast moving, seemingly complex, and acronym-filled world of online marketing often gets negligible consideration from many small business owners.
Taking the pain, and time consuming hassle out of online marketing for the small business owner, is Spokal’s mission. Cofounders Chris Mack and Alexandra Skey joined forces at Vancouver’s Launch Academy and have focused on empowering businesses with less than five employees to succeed by giving them the tools to solve their biggest challenge—finding customers.
The Spokal team is automating the online marketing process. This involves generating an online marketing campaign with all of the tools and guidance they need to attract customers online and convert them to leads, and eventually nurture them into paying customers.
There’s a significant opportunity for this Canadian startup to make a real difference. In North American terms, it’s estimated that small businesses spend up to $60 billion a year on marketing. The grim reality for many small business owners is choosing to either allocate resources to hire someone who supposedly knows what they're doing, or learn and do it themselves at the expense of something else. Even worse, some people choose to ignore the opportunity all together. Spokal believes it doesn’t have to be this way. The old mantra, “I know 50% of my marketing budget is working; unfortunately I don’t know which 50%” has few reasons to exist these days.
They believe that if you're a great yoga teacher, seamstress, or accountant, that you should succeed based on how good you are at that job—not how good you are at online marketing. How much better is it to actually know the person who helps keep you fit, crafts your shirt, or prepares your taxes?
There is a growing trend towards more micro-commerce, real craftsmanship, and people actively supporting local and community businesses. Demand is growing and there’s more value being placed on purchasing or sharing unique products and experiences. Spokal’s approach to delivering an automated online marketing tool is about giving people a chance to make their small business succeed.
Like the market Spokal is endeavoring to win over, they too have the challenge of distribution, being found, and converting leads into paying and happy clients. They’ve recently taken a positive step forward in terms of expanding their distribution channel by announcing a partnership with a Vancouver coworking space called The Hive. The team is working to announce partnerships with more coworking spaces throughout North America in the weeks ahead.