New Brunswick needs a better marketing and sales culture

From a recent TJ column:

I once had a long conversation with the manager of one of the largest customer contact centres in the province. He told me that his New Brunswick employees were unquestionably the best he had ever seen reacting to inbound callers. In his opinion, Maritimers had a natural ability to empathize with people which is a very important skill when dealing with irate customers.
At the same time, he also told me his employees were terrible at sales. The firm had experimented with up-selling their products to inbound calling customers while they had them on the telephone but it wasn’t particularly successful. He told me the firm’s contact centre agents in Toronto and Vancouver wouldn’t let the customer off the telephone until they agreed to buy something whereas his New Brunswick staff would politely give up after one try.

This story points to what I believe to be a serious challenge facing the province and its future economic development. Collectively, we do not have a particularly strong marketing and sales culture.

There is data to support this thesis. Excluding the public administration sector, New Brunswick has 50 per cent fewer people employed in occupations related to advertising, marketing and public relations compared to the county as a whole.

As an aside, adjusted for the size of the labour market, New Brunswick actually leads the country in the number of persons working in advertising, marketing and public relations occupations in the public administration sector.

As another indicator, New Brunswick generates less gross domestic product per capita in the advertising, public relations, and related services sector than any other province in Canada. In 2013, this sector in New Brunswick generated only $20 worth of GDP per capita compared to a whopping $186 per capita in Ontario.

A population not particularly comfortable with selling combined with a weak marketing infrastructure is a big handicap in the global economy.

New Brunswick’s future economic growth and prosperity will depend on our ability to sell our products and services into highly competitive global markets. It will also depend on our ability to convince investors, entrepreneurs and skilled talent to bring their financial and human capital to our province.

In short, we need a world-class marketing and sales infrastructure in New Brunswick to help sell our brand, products and services to the world.

There is a nascent effort afoot meant to develop a stronger marketing and sales culture in New Brunswick. It’s loosely organized as the New Brunswick Marketing & Communications Network and is focused on building the support infrastructure needed for New Brunswick firms to implement leading edge marketing efforts.
One role of this group is to provide learning opportunities for the province’s marketing professionals. On June 5 in Dieppe, the WhyConf is one such example.
The brainchild of Natacha Dugas,CEO of Strati apps lab in Moncton, WhyConf will bring together leading thinkers on such topics as integrating marketing and customer support, social media marketing, building a world-class brand and effectively using storytelling.

The conference will feature talks by Dave Fleet, senior vice-president at the public relations firm Edelman; social marketing expert Clay Hebert; Dave Carroll, author of United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media and New Brunswick-based branding expert Gair Maxwell.

Participants will also have the opportunity to take part in one of six breakout sessions on themes including: why company culture should be part of your marketing program, how to effectively use storytelling in marketing, why productivity hacks are important and how to get the press and other influencers to advocate for your brand.

I hope the New Brunswick Marketing & Communications Network becomes the catalyst for something big.

I’d like to see this province transform itself from a marketing backwater to a province that punches above its weight class in global marketing.



An economic development consultant based in Moncton