Patrick Simpson: SEIDO Student Officer Featured in Global Ventures Magazine
Patrick Simpson: STEP Staff using both old and new marketing to increase sales for you
Imagine being able to sit down with potential international customers to showcase your latest products without having to leave the comfort of your board room.
Patrick Simpson, technology and marketing coordinator at Saskatchewan Trade & Export Partnership (STEP), is helping local businesses increase international sales by taking advantage of both new and old marketing platforms. Simpson’s interest in international business began through several overseas trips in high school and after graduation. He first came into contact with STEP as a University of Saskatchewan student attending business events at the University of Saskatchewan’s Hanlon Centre for International Business Studies, and assorted global-related business community events involving the Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program (SEIDO), both in Saskatoon. After convocation in 2011, and after completing a series of practicums arranged with STEP through the SEIDO Program, Simpson found himself actually working for STEP as a real employee. He began as a trade development assistant, then moved into a market intelligence analyst position before stepping into the technology and marketing coordinator role created last October. In his current role, he now helps STEP members market their products through the creation of communications materials, conducting virtual trade missions and promoting online sales of STEP’s market research reports.
Simpson is excited for the virtual trade missions that he has been developing, and sees them as another avenue that Saskatchewan companies can use to attract international business.
“These virtual trade missions are something we are focusing on,” said Simpson. “It connects international buyers to STEP members, and it’s an opportunity to showcase their products without them incurring travel costs.” Simpson describes the virtual trade missions as simply “a virtual meeting with video.”
By using Adobe Connect software a Saskatchewan company can connect with a client halfway around the world as long as their computers are enabled with a speaker microphone and webcam. These features come already pre-equipped on most modern laptops, added Simpson. “There are several advantages to a live web conference over a teleconference,” he said. “You can share your desktop with whoever you are speaking to and see the person you are web-conferencing with and give a live PowerPoint presentation.” The best part of live web conferencing, he added, is the life-like human interaction. “When you give your presentation you can see their reaction, so it’s a bit more like real life. The real key is you can see the products.”
There is still a place for the traditional trade mission, emphasized Simpson, who attended two trade missions with STEP members last month in Phoenix, Arizona and Anaheim, California. In Phoenix, Simpson led a delegation of four STEP members to the Taste of Canada tradeshow, which showcases Canadian retail food products. There were 34 Canadian companies that went into the trade show to try and garner insight and possible leads into the retail food market in Phoenix, said Simpson.
In Anaheim, STEP and three of its members exhibited at the Natural Products Expo West, which showcases natural products, he said. That was the bigger of the two trade shows, said Simpson, with more than 2000 vendors and over 60,000 people in attendance, creating many networking opportunities for the STEP members.
“It was well attended and everyone got what they were looking for in terms of trade leads,” he said.
Simpson is also helping STEP members promote their products at home, through digital directories, which will be sent out to each member for the Agri-Value, Manufacturing and Technology and Professional Services sectors. These directories will also be distributed in print form at the trade shows throughout the world and will be available on STEP’s website. These directories, which include mini bios of STEP members with descriptions and pictures of their products and services, will be fully available Summer 2012.
His long-term goal is to also increase STEP virtual trade missions to six to 10 missions annually.
“It’s hard to believe a simple student practicum [referring to the Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Program] led the way to my current and exciting international career, said Simpson. “It is exactly what the province needs.”
* Please note this article has been updated to reflect the new name change of the “Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program” (“SEIDO”), from its former program name as the “Saskatchewan International Trade Officer Program” (“SITO”).
The Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program (SEIDO) allows university/college and high schools throughout Saskatchewan the opportunity build global business knowledge, related skills development, and training opportunities for a career in global business, international trade and development. For more information, please contact Nicholas Kokkastamapoulos (SEIDO Program Coordinator) at the Haultain Institute for Global Business Studies at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or by telephone at (306) 715-2260. Thank you.