For many small business owners in rural Alberta, the idea of hosting a website or creating a social media presence can be a bit intimidating. Because of this, a good percentage of these businesses choose to do without a digital media presence, putting themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to connecting with customers locally and beyond.
Recently, a new government program was created to reduce the digital divide between businesses that are online and those that are not. Through the Digital Economy Program and the Digital Mainstreet initiative, Digital Service Squads (DDS) were established to provide 1-on-1 FREE local assistance to small businesses in any region of the province.
Helping Get Small Businesses Online
The DDS program is offered through a partnership between Business Link and Digital Main Street with support from local Community Futures offices, helping small businesses in Alberta undergo digital transformations and adopt eCommerce practices. DSS is open to home-based or commercial small businesses registered in Alberta with less than 50 employees. Small businesses can apply to participate in the program free of charge. Services include training and advisory support towards digital strategy development, Google My Business assistance, social media posts, assistance with websites, creating videos, photography, and more. While the cost of getting a website or social media program up and running may have been previously perceived as cost-prohibitive by many small business owners, DDS provides these services for free.
Local Assistance Available
Portage College graduate Mel Broadbent is helping businesses with their digital needs in the Lac La Biche area. Armed with a toolkit that includes both business savvy and digital expertise, she has already assisted more than 15 local businesses with their online presence.
Digital Service Squad Member, Lac La Biche Region
According to Mel, 97% of new clients find out about any particular business through Google, and each business has a different need when it comes to having an effective digital presence. In a few cases where established businesses simply rely on a regular clientele, a digital presence may not be as critical, but that is becoming the exception to the rule. Mel suggests that your business could use the services of the Digital Service Squad if you simply feel that there is a lack of awareness or confusion about your services, products, or contact information. “There is no pressure, and our services are free.”
To find out more about the Digital Service Squad or connect with Mel to discuss your business needs, visit https://digitalmainstreet.ca/business-account/registration/ or call Mel direct at 780-623-2662 ext. 5.