Don’t Forget, We Live in Saskatchewan

Old mobile phone“QR Code adoption up 1,135%”

“Forget a Website, all you need is mobile app”

“People are no longer using computers, just mobile phones”

There are a lot of headlines lately that are probably making you say WTF more often than Snoop Dogg at a Miley Cyrus concert.  Yes, technology is advancing at an alarming rate but don’t forget, we live in Saskatchewan.  As much as you want to believe the internet is “taking over”, it’s not.  We in Saskatchewan are very slow to adapt to new technology, and businesses need to understand that before they go to the snake oil salesmen with “shiny marketing toy syndrome”(you know, like when children see a shinier toy they gravitate towards it without thinking about the consequences).

Still don’t believe Saskatchewan is a late technology bloomer?  We finally got 3G wireless network coverage roughly at the same time Mount Everest got it.  The tallest mountain in the world has the same connectivity as our province.  This isn’t Palo Alto, that’s for sure.

By now you’re probably thinking, “Wow Jeph, why so negative towards our beautiful province?”.  Well, you have a lot of nerve calling me out.  My apologies, I don’t want to come off as a cynic.  What I do want to stress is that when you do go about your new marketing or business strategy take a very objective, in depth look at the landscape of where you are doing business.  Talk to people, get opinions, research the $%&* out of your industry until you are very comfortable with your understanding of the business atmosphere in Saskatchewan.  Then and only then start looking toward tactics that will supplement the way your target audience communicates or consumes information.

Developing a mobile app sounds cool but how many people over 40 years old in Saskatchewan have actually downloaded an app (that isn’t Angry Birds) on their phone?

QR codes are used pretty much everywhere in Japan but in Saskatchewan I haven’t seen an effective way to use them as of yet.  Well maybe one.

Whatever you’re thinking for your next big breakthrough in your marketing strategy, don’t forget, we live in Saskatchewan.

4 replies
  1. Brandon
    Brandon says:

    I agree with the message (that you should consider the target market before deploying something like a mobile app), though I don’t necessarily agree with how you got there. I’m not convinced that Saskatchewan is any slower at adopting new technology when compared to other regions. Granted, Saskatchewan lags behind Japan in terms of QR code prevalence, but I don’t think we’re much different than other regions in North America. Are QR codes really that much more prominent in Toronto? Or Denver? Or Los Angeles?

    On the contrary, I think that Saskatchewan has been ahead of the curve in terms of technology in many ways. While we haven’t had 3G/4G coverage up until recently, we have had digital cellular coverage over much of the province for years. And that’s saying a lot, given our sparse population. We were also early adopters of fiber-optic communications technology (allowing SaskTel to deliver world-class IPTV services to most Sask residents), and many smaller Saskatchewan communities had broadband-class DSL internet service when it was still being slowly rolled out in some larger U.S. centres.

    Finally, I don’t think most businesses should be deploying mobile apps. But not because we live in Saskatchewan. I just don’t think smartphone users anywhere are keen on downloading and, perhaps more importantly, using apps unless those apps add actual value to their mobile experience. Check out the post by 37Signals titled “Ten apps is all I need” for another perspective on this:

  2. Jaco
    Jaco says:


    Thanks for this post. We recently attended the Moso Conference in Saskatoon to learn more about the future of Mobile and Social Networking in Canada and, more importantly, our great province. Like many web design firms Squareflo is used to changing and adapting to emerging technologies to stay current. Keeping up with new browsers and coding advances is a challenge in itself. Trying to make sense and ultimately plan to offer more Social Media and Mobile development services is downright scary!

    I have lately been feeling that we’re falling behind a bit, since we’re not doing much in terms of mobile development, despite realizing the potential and personally being quite excited about the new real. With this in mind we decided to attend Moso to see what our peers are doing in this new field and to get a better idea of what we need to be doing to compete.

    After a day or so at Moso I realized we need to get ready, but we’re not there yet. What I mean is, we don’t need to abandon web development and start focusing on mobile development just yet. At least not in Saskatchewan, where the demand simply isn’t there.

    Out of all the quote requests and RFPs we have received this past year, I can recall only one that suggested the need for a mobile app to compliment a website. One could argue that Squareflo is not the first company someone would think of when you think “I need an app”, considering that we’re trying to market ourselves company that designs “amazing” websites. Fair enough. However, looking at our clients’ Google Analytics reports I’m confident in saying the demand just isn’t there yet. At least not from what we can see.

    I just took a peek at Globe Theatre’s Google Analytics reports. As you can see here mobile browsers (Android & BlackBerry) represent a very small percentage of the overall mix. And when we look at operating systems, you’ll clearly see iPhone is at the top of the Mobile OS list, but still only represents less than 2% of the total mix.

    So, I could not agree more with you.

    Thanks again for keeping it real.

  3. Jeph Maystruck
    Jeph Maystruck says:

    Thanks for the Thoughts Brandon and Jaco.

    Brandon, I may agree with you a little here. I think you’re right about the technology, we have it in Saskatchewan and we have very high speed internet but maybe the problem here is age of population? I’m not saying we’re over the hill but stats like a 95% usage rate on the phone book tell me that Saskatchewan residence are not quick to jump to the newest, coolest thing. I guess you could conclude that it’s a cultural thing in Saskatchewan, if it ain’t broken then why fix it? We’ve been using the phone book for years and it worked, why change?

    Jaco, I went to my analytics and checked to see what the Mobile usage rate was. Same as yours at around 2% of total traffic. The only oddball was this blog. 10% of traffic on here comes from Mobile phones and iPads. Interesting that a blog has more of a take up on mobile than a traditional website. Definitely a statistic I’m going to be keeping a close eye on.

    Again, thanks for joining the convo on here.


  4. Michael Klein
    Michael Klein says:


    I think you provide a great reminder to marketers to not get caught up in ‘shiny object syndrome’. And, it’s important for us all to remember that great marketing comes from really understanding your audience. However, I’m not sure that I agree that we are behind the times.

    For example, over half of Saskatchewan over 18 is on Facebook. I’m sure that number is great if you include those below the age of majority. And, just about everybody I know has a smartphone, or at least a phone capable of text messaging. Finally, I don’t know a single person – including my grandma – who hasn’t used the Internet before. Simply put I think it’s a bit of a generality to portray us as being behind the times. Even our combines are filled with gps and internet connections. 🙂

    I think the problem resides in the fact that most Saskatchewan marketers haven’t figured out how to match the tools with the need yet. Or in many cases have failed to use the tools properly.

    For example, I’ve seen numerous QR code failures simply because somebody ‘thought it’d be cool’ without thinking through the use case (for example putting a QR code in a brochure that links to a non-mobile site).

    Another one that bugs me is when I see the gratuitous social media logo band (Twitter/Facebook/Youtube) on a billboard with the directions to ‘follow us’. ‘Follow us’ where? Why? How?

    I too see the low number of mobile stats in my Analytics. But, I also see that number growing month-over-month. Whether it will ever reach the same status of non-mobile web browsing I’m not sure. But, I’d bet that it will continue to grow. Especially once marketers start building proper mobile websites.

    So, I guess my thesis is: it’s not technology adoption that’s the problem. It’s that marketers need to get better educated on how to use the technology to reach folks.

    Thanks for the great conversation starter!


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