Inspiring marketing development with Cabral Thomas

Small Business Canada

Market Manager at Vistaprint, Cabral Thomas had a chat with CanadianSME to talk about the most challenging part of his job and how he overcame it. As well as how Vistaprint can help SME owners with their products and services to grow their business.

Cabral Thomas is the Canada Market Manager for Vistaprint. During his 7-year tenure, he has focused on helping small business owners market themselves professionally. Prior to Vistaprint, he has held roles at a performance management agency and a non-profit. Cabral holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Trinity College. In his spare time, he enjoys a variety of outdoor activities with his wife and two children.

Can you tell us a little bit about your role at Vistaprint and what some of your responsibilities are to give our readers a better idea about what you do?

I have been at Vistaprint for seven years, serving as the Canadian Market Manager for the last four. I see my role as twofold: being an advocate for our customers within Vistaprint and being an advocate for Vistaprint within Canada. In terms of being an advocate for our customers within the organization, I try to ensure we are developing the right products and services for them to look professional across all their marketing. We have localized and seamless customer experience, and relay important trends in the marketplace, such as the increasing importance of mobile-friendly shopping.

In terms of being an advocate for Vistaprint within Canada, I168 strive to communicate all that we can offer small businesses. I attend events such as Canada 150 and Nuit Blanche, talk with customers at small business events, and find great partners such as Enterprise Toronto and Canadian Small Business Women to deliver more value to the market.

What are some strategies you use to help you accomplish your role and to drive results?

One of my favourite strategies is the 80/20 rule and focusing most of my time on the work that will deliver the most value to the customer. I’ve been experimenting with productivity tools, such as Trello, to help prioritize the long list of things I want to accomplish.

We also use a “test before invest” philosophy at Vistaprint. With a need to make sure we are effectively using our marketing budget, we like to test new initiatives on a smaller scale before investing more.

Another key strategy is networking, both with coworkers and the community. To make a significant large-scale impact, I must develop relationships with a diverse array of people.

Each job has its own number of challenges. What would you say is the most challenging part of your role and what methods do you use to overcome it?

The most challenging part is balancing short-term and long-term objectives. Even with the 80/20 rule, the balance can be a challenge because it’s harder to predict the value of longer-term objectives. If I feel progress on longer-term objectives is falling behind, I will block off a day in my calendar to make progress.

What would you say is the most important factor entrepreneurs should consider when it comes to online marketing?

The most important thing to consider is whether the channels you’re investing in are helping you reach your goals. Canadian small business owners are time and resource-strapped. The average owner spends less than three hours per week marketing their business and allocates only $1,667 per year towards marketing. So, you need to make every minute and dollar count! Can you demonstrate the value of your online marketing, or are you spending valuable time on things that aren’t bringing in more sales?

The great thing about online marketing is that we can access a wealth of information about how effective different channels are using tools like Google Analytics – make sure you’re focusing on the channels that provide the biggest return on investment. After word-of-mouth, Canadian consumers are most likely to find a small business via search engines, social media or their website. Building a professional presence across these three channels is a must.

Can you tell us about some of the programs and benefits that Vistaprint offers to small business owners? How can Vistaprint help SME owners grow their business?

Vistaprint continues to make significant enhancements to its product selection, quality and the customer experience, evolving from a print marketing provider to an all-encompassing marketing solution. One of these developments is our Ideas & Advice Hub, an online resource offering Canadian small business owners with practical tips and inspirational stories about looking professional. Our mission with this resource centre was to help small business owners be more successful in running their business and live their dreams.

More recently in Canada, we launched the Vistaprint Wish Program offering the opportunity for Canadian small business owners to grow their business, by giving away up to $10,000 in funding. We created the program after regularly hearing from customers that access to funding is a top challenge and barrier to growth. Businesses were selected from hundreds of entrants to the Vistaprint Wish Program, which invited small business owners across Canada to enter a contest to secure funding for vital items that would help them push their business to the next level.

What do you believe is the number one benefit of online marketing?

Variety. There are so many ways you can market your business online that are accessible to everyone, whatever your budget. From online PR and reviews to social media marketing and local SEO, there’s a range of tactics and channels at your disposal. In our Ideas & Advice Hub, you can see examples of small business owners who have successfully leveraged online marketing on a shoestring.

Business owners have a lot of factors to consider when it comes to choosing the right print to promote and market their business. In your expert opinion, what is the most important element that entrepreneurs should consider when it comes to finalizing their print selection for their business?

Business owners should make sure their printing company has the ability to put their logo and designs onto a variety of quality products. A new business owner will often start with a business card and expand into more products later. You do not want to have to choose a new provider every time they want to expand their marketing arsenal. Having a one-stop-shop helps ensure a consistent brand, not to mention saving time.

Vistaprint offers several printing options and digital marketing solutions to help entrepreneurs grow their business. Can you tell us about some of these printing solutions that Vistaprint offers to small business owners and how they can benefit from it?

Vistaprint offers a whole range of products that suit all kinds of business needs. Whether you’re looking for trade show materials, everyday marketing materials or promotional products, we’ve worked hard to create a wide range of quality products to suit everyone. Choosing the product is just the first step of the process through – Vistaprint makes it incredibly easy to design and personalize marketing materials. And if you’re not feeling creative? We even have a logo builder and design services to help entrepreneurs bring their vision to life.

In addition to our print marketing materials, we’ve developed a suite of affordable and easy-to-use digital marketing services to provide small businesses with the tools and know-how to look professional online. These include a website builder, search engine listings manager, social media marketing and email marketing – everything small businesses need to get and be found online.

Can you tell us about any future projects or initiatives you’re hoping to put in place? What does the future of Vistaprint look like?

Three of our focus areas will be:

  1. Expanding the range of products and services we offer to match what customers are looking for. Also expanding options available for existing products, for example, square business cards and larger banner sizes.
  2. Creating more personalized shopping experiences that further delight our customers.
  3. Increasing the value we deliver to the market by being a good corporate citizen.

On a final note, what inspired you to go into this career path?

I love helping people and ultimately, marketing is about helping to connect people to things they need or want. I’m also a techie at heart, and marketing allows me to experiment with a lot of cool new tools and apps.

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