How Canadian tech companies can leverage PR to succeed in the U.S. Market

By Cara Sloman, CEO, Force4 Technology Communications 

With nearly 331 million people and 24% of the global economy, the United States is the richest market in the world. Little wonder that many Canadian business owners want a piece of the pie. 

For those companies looking to scale, the U.S. market has several clear advantages. However, these advantages – including geographic proximity and a familiar culture – are not guarantees of success south of the border. And the U.S. is home to more than 70,000 startups – which makes for a lot of noise. As a Canadian business, you’ll need a solid plan and insider expertise to succeed in the States.  

The Canadian market 

Canada is one of the largest hubs for tech startups in the world. It’s ranked fourth globally with 3,555 startups, according to Startup Ranking. Canada has established itself as an industry leader, and signs point to the country maintaining that status for the foreseeable future. Some people attribute much of Canada’s success to efforts by its government, as there are several national programs geared specifically toward supporting startups and other innovative small businesses. 

Canada’s public and commercial sectors place a premium on growing entrepreneurial communities and connecting them with the best business and academic institutions. Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal are growing as hubs for startups. The expanding reputations of these cities is due to their proximity to key corporate markets in the U.S., local population diversity and prestigious academic institutions.  

In fact, the greater Toronto region is home to thousands of startups and multinational companies. There is also a strong stream of technical and nontechnical recruits from the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo welcomed by businesses each year. 

Because they are two of the most technologically advanced markets, the U.S. and Canadian markets are quite competitive. Buyers have many choices, and this can make it difficult to break through all the brand noise and stand out.  

Expanding into the U.S. market 

When finding partners for PR and marketing, go-to-market logistics and talent, Canadian companies have multiple challenges to navigate. Many business owners run into trouble when they neglect strategic preparation and expand into the U.S. in an ad hoc way. 

When hiring in the U.S., it’s important to consider that labor laws differ among the states. As a result, Canadian companies should identify the right regions of the U.S. for their operations and examine where most clients are located to optimize their growth.  

Plus, the high productivity in the U.S. also comes at a price, meaning that Canadian companies will need to pay higher salaries to attract U.S. employees. 

America is still a great place to do business, but that doesn’t mean it’s simple. When planning to expand into the U.S., Canadian tech companies face a couple main challenges: 

  1. The U.S. market’s size makes it attractive, but the size adds to the challenge of breaking into it. 
  2. Because the U.S. market is so large, there are more competitors – and not only for customers but for venture funding, engineering talent, analyst favor, partners and press attention. 
  3. These opportunity costs can also be exacerbated by the exchange rate between the Canadian and the U.S. dollars. 
  4. The time, effort and cost to get noticed goes up as a result of this increased competition. 

These challenges bring great opportunities. Canadian companies need U.S.-based assistance to build relationships in a location where they are newcomers and that has greater competition. By highlighting the distinctive qualities and value of Canadian businesses, a strategic communications program can contribute to the industry discussion on business difficulties and the latest technological developments. 

Begin well to finish well 

When Canadian tech companies are planning to move into the U.S. a different strategy than the one they’re using with their compatriots is a must. The right B2B PR ally in America can help connect with the investors, markets and market influencers needed to get the attention to succeed. A U.S.-based PR team with the right relationships and know-how is essential to creating campaigns that resonate in the American market and will produce the greatest impact.  

Success in the U.S. brings tremendous rewards. Make sure you set the stage properly! Feel free to reach out with any questions or to start that all-important conversation.