Grand River Sports Medicine Centre in Cambridge, Ontario rebuilds their digital brand with help from the Digital Main Street program.

Grand River Sports Medicine Centre (GRSM) has delivered physiotherapy services to the City of Cambridge, part of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, for 17 years. Today, it operates three locations. And yet, when staff Google-searched “physiotherapy in Cambridge,” GRSM had come to rank on the second page of results.

“That was our ‘Aha!’ moment back in 2018,” said Business Manager Tripho Bogias. “We asked what we could do to change that.”

GRSM is no different than any other small business dependent upon its local community. Ranking high in online search results is crucial to bring new patients in the door. From the day GRSM first opened, having a strong online presence has been a priority … at least in principle.

But technology is constantly in flux. The GRSM website, once the envy of other sports medicine clinics in the area, had grown stale and dated. It didn’t offer the kinds of features that people now expect, like the convenience of online appointment booking. GRSM had created social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, but lacked the original content, and the staff resources, to keep them regularly updated.

“We wanted to get back to the forefront, to be the frontrunner we once were in our local market in terms of digital presence,” Bogias said.

In the fall of 2018, GRSM hired a new marketing person, Chelsea Salfarlie, and began working with a local web design consultant to get its digital house in order. It soon launched a redesigned website and changed web-hosting providers to have more control and better site performance to support new features like online scheduling.

Bogias and Salfarlie didn’t want to stop there. Appreciating the power of original and engaging content, they wanted to drive forward with a new content marketing strategy that would showcase the broad expertise of the centre’s therapy staff, to develop a true digital brand.

But GRSM’s owners were reluctant to budget for that after having already spent on a new website.

When he learned about Digital Main Street’s Digital Transformation Training and Grants program and free training/workshops through the local business community, Bogias knew he had found the answer.

“Chelsea and I realized that if we could secure a grant, we could keep this momentum going,” he said.
The value of Digital Main Street quickly proved to extend far beyond its grant program.

“For a small business, money is always an issue, but the value of the free training and the information that we get through Digital Main Street is huge,” Bogias said. “You need to educate yourself – there is so much information out there and it changes daily. To effectively market your business online, you can’t just rely on what others will tell you.”

As for that grant, GRSM qualified for $2,500 – enough to cover about 35 per cent of the cost to get its digital marketing program off the ground. This encouraged GSRM’s owners to give Bogias and Salfarlie the green light.

GRSM project activities being supported by the grant include:
• Evaluate and improve search engine optimization for greater web traffic and new patient bookings
• Reduce print marketing promotion costs with a new email marketing strategy that will take advantage of GRSM’s contact database of some 10,000 patients, past and present
• Refine paid promotion through Facebook and Instagram ads and Google AdWords
• Drive clicks to the website from social media by developing and posting a regular flow of content

It’s still early days for these efforts to have yielded the desired results, with one exception – GRSM’s website is once again ranking on the first page of Google search results.

“I am really impressed with the information and resources that Digital Main Street provides,” Bogias said. “It’s allowing us to realize our vision. Once you get started, you just want to keep learning more and more about how to build a digital brand and even how we might improve our operations overall by investing in new digital technologies.”

In fact, GRSM has started to experience the most obvious form of flattery. Since it relaunched its website and ramped up its social media activities, it has noticed competing clinics starting to do the same.

“It’s tempting to put this kind of investment off and say I don’t have the time,” Bogias added. “But it’s important to start now. Web and social media will only become a bigger part of what local businesses must do for marketing and promotion.”

Grand River Sports Medicine Centre’s story is just one example of how more than 2,000 main street small businesses across Ontario took advantage of Digital Main Street’s Training and Grants program. The Digital Transformation Grant is no longer available (ended December 31, 2019), though you can still access Digital Main Street’s complimentary digital assessments, virtual training and in-person workshops: 

Watch this testimonial of how Digital Main Street’s resources helped a storefront small business boost their digital performance and overall business growth.

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