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Marketing business goes digital to scale

Susan Robinson is using the Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) to automate a fulfillment management solution that will allow her company to be more efficient and responsive – and go after more clients

5-minute read

Susan Robinson in a Torpedo Marketing warehouse

Susan Robinson, owner of Torpedo Marketing. The company is specialized in direct mail and digital marketing services.

In 2014, Susan Robinson confronted a difficult truth: revenue for her business Torpedo Marketing had been flatlining for almost two years.

As an ambitious entrepreneur, she was accustomed to change. Over several years, she had helped steer the company in new directions as the demand for their bread-and-butter business—direct mail—evolved. Today, about 60% of Torpedo Marketing’s revenue comes from direct mail, print, design and data work. The rest is devoted to burgeoning digital marketing services.

At the time, she knew she needed to find some new tactics to rectify the stagnant revenue and implement solutions that would grow the business.

“I went to the bank and said, ‘I want to grow my business and I need money.’ They said, ‘Give us your house, your children and everything you own.’ That was not helpful.”

The following year, after hiring an additional employee and purchasing new equipment with the help of BDC financing, Torpedo Marketing reported 32% growth—and they’ve had double digit growth every year since (besides 2020, due to the pandemic).

Streamlining and automating operations

In 2022, a BDC contact told Robinson about the Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP), a Government of Canada initiative that helps small and medium-sized businesses adopt digital technologies. The Program offers grants to cover the majority cost of building a digital plan and 0% interest financing from BDC of up to $100,000 to implement it. She was instantly intrigued.

It’s something I wanted to do for years but didn’t have the chance to do due to timing – and it was daunting. The first thing that came to mind was automating our fulfillment management solution, which encompasses warehouse management, order management, inventory management and more.

“We have several clients for whom we’ve built online B2B Shopify stores. For one client alone, there are hundreds of advisors and staff across Canada who can go to this store online and order collateral for their sales presentations, golf tournaments and other events. We warehouse this material as well as have other items we print on-demand. We also source and order promotional products and store it in our warehouse.”

Robinson wanted to streamline the process for these large clients by making it fully automated. Finding and implementing the right solution was a task far too monumental for her and her staff.

“When the CDAP opportunity came up I jumped at the chance to apply for the grant. I was approved in July and was assigned an advisor in August.”

For six weeks, Robinson and a small internal team met with BDC advisors weekly to dig deep into the company’s processes, client base and objectives, all geared toward automating the fulfillment management solution. When the consultations were complete, the BDC advisor researched all the solutions available and recommended Robinson consider three top software contenders.

Robinson and her team had also identified two solutions, so they met with five companies to learn more. “We discovered that a couple of them couldn’t do exactly what we needed, and we ultimately found one we were happy with. We then applied for a CDAP loan in December and, within a week or two, we received the money,” said Robinson.

Growth and opportunity

“We’re now under way and implementing the new, fully automated fulfillment management solution that ties into our shipping and inventory management system. It will help us scale easily, add new clients, have better communication internally, improve inventory management and make considerable workflow enhancements to reduce time and labour to manage these types of accounts.”

With part of the $50,000 CDAP loan (with 0% interest and no principal payments for the first year), Robinson is also investing in new hardware such as scanners that help manage the warehouse stocked with bar coded materials.

“My hope is that we continue on our growth trajectory. This new solution gives us new opportunities and exciting things to talk about with our existing customers. It also allows us to go after new ones and scale with our existing large clients as needed.”

Learn more about the CDAP program

CDAP program aims to help Canadian businesses adopt digital technologies to increase their competitiveness. Eligible businesses can access a grant that covers 90% of the price of building a digital plan, followed by a 0% interest loan from BDC of up to $100,000 to implement it. Visit the Government of Canada’s CDAP page to learn more about eligibility criteria and program details.