‘Lifesaver’: Lincoln’s businesses are growing their online presence
Lincoln businesses are responding to the ever-changing world of digital marketing, thanks in part to new grants made available through the City of Lincoln.
On August 24, the town announced it had received $93,000 through Digital Main Street to help businesses grow their online capabilities.
This is the fourth iteration of the Digital Service Squad program, and so far the town has helped about 150 companies.
Support includes a $2,500 digital transformation grant that can be used for website enhancements, software and hardware, or training.
The town has also been able to hire members of its digital services team to assist with the company’s digital marketing strategy.
This week Niagara spoke to a variety of companies with varying levels of digital marketing capability about the support they’ve received and what it means for their businesses.
eco tour operator
Carla Carlson, owner of Niagara Nature Tours and BonnyBank B&B in Jordan, said:
When Carlson first launched Niagara Nature Tours in 1996, she had a website designed by a local friend. It was updated about 15 years later, but had not been updated until now through the Digital Services Initiative.
Through this program, Carlson’s websites for Niagara Nature Tours and BonnyBank B&B were updated and modernized.
“I’ve been dragged into the 21st century kicking and screaming,” she said.
Through a series of lessons, Carlson learns how to update the content of his website, and the events and programs he offers.
Carlson says she’s been busy renovating her B&B over the winter to save Thorold’s frog ponds, and her website hasn’t been updated in a while.
That means she didn’t have time to sell her spring songbird migration walk and asked the webmaster for an update, so she only sold two tickets.
But now she can sit down one night and make changes right away.
In addition to the credit card payment system, a new booking system has also appeared on her website to ensure all payments are received and eliminates the problem of no-show payments.
“For sure, it draws me into the modern world,” she said.
“Having this help feels like a life saver to me.”
Rosewood Estates Winery near Beamsville also used the Digital Services Squad initiative.
The winery’s general manager, William Roman, said he received training modules that reaffirmed certain concepts and demonstrated new digital strategies.
“(It) was actually very much appreciated,” he said.
For Rosewood, the pandemic has changed their online presence. Online shopping used to be “out there,” Roman says, but COVID-19 has made it skyrocket and now accounts for 15-20% of Rosewood’s revenue for him.
They have customers from all over the country, not just the GTA and Ontario. Roman believes e-commerce will allow more people to buy more goods, especially since gas is so expensive.
It also allows consumers to explore, learn and taste more wines.
For Peter Boychuck, owner of Jordan River Kitchens, the grant was a game changer.
“(It) was absolutely huge,” he said.
The company used the grant to send a member of its staff to complete a marketing course through York University.
Now that she’s finished, she’s using the training to transform her company’s digital marketing strategy.
It’s early days, but Boychuck is optimistic about change.
He admitted that his previous digital marketing strategy was fairly basic, with Google Ads and a decent website being the scope of the strategy.
But now, with a digital marketing coach on board, the company is focusing on digital marketing and trying to meet the demands of a changing world, Boychuck said.
But he understands that this is not the end of digital marketing training, but a baseline to build from.
“This is the first part of our journey,” said Boychuck.
Behind the story: After hearing about the Digital Service Squad program, Chris Pickles spoke with various companies in the region to see how they’re improving their digital marketing strategies.