Global marketing opportunity for Canadian associations to take it digital

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Calling all Canadian associations with a need to communicate globally on behalf of their membership. The Canadian Government is offering up to $150,000 to help you make some noise and build relationships in the regions important to you. You need to move fast, however. The application deadline is Jan. 19, 2009.

The fine print: Global Opportunities for Associations (GOA), formerly the Program for Export Market Development – Associations (PEMD-A), provides contribution funding to support national associations undertaking new or expanded international business development activities, in strategic markets and sectors, for the benefit of an entire industry (member and non-member firms).

Annual non-repayable contributions range from a minimum of $20,000 to a maximum of $150,000 and agreements are made for a one-year period from April 1 to March 31. GOA provides matching funds of up to 50% of eligible expenses.

From an H&K digital perspective, this is a compelling proposition for national associations to exploit emerging high value / low cost opportunities in the area of online marketing – specifically, social media. In recent years, traditional websites have become increasingly ill-prepared to cope with the risks and opportunities that have emerged as a result of this transformation.

Today, however, new opportunities exist to reach beyond your existing online presence and amplify your messages directly to the growing ranks of influencers, advocates, legislators and partners that are now actively engaged in the online space. Equally important, the relevance of social media as a powerful AND cost-effective marketing platform will only increase as more influencers look to lever the web to cultivate relationships, debate issues, and engage advocates in two-way conversations. Listening and participating within these discussions will be vital, as will be the need for a clear strategy for knowing when and how to respond to supporters and detractors alike.

You can’t win if you don’t enter, so get your application in today (note that you’ll need to register for a Virtual Trade Commissioner account – if you don’t already have one). Not sure where to start? Just be sure that whomever you engage to help you formulate your strategy understands the business culture and sensibilities of the regions you’re reaching out to. As HSBC extols in its (always entertaining) advertising campaigns, “the more you look at the world, the more you recognize that people have different ideas about what’s important.”

And in this age of unprecedented transparency and connectivity, that’s more important than ever.

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