A Northumberland-based SME has been flying the flag for North East business at a sell-out event in Ontario, Canada.

Blyth-based graphic design and marketing agency, Canny Creative, organised and hosted the inaugural ‘Canny Live’ event to showcase how branding and digital marketing can be used to help businesses grow their presence overseas.

Attracting company owners from multiple industry sectors, all with an interest in either outsourcing work or exporting services into the UK marketplace, the success of Canny Live has opened up a number of opportunities for businesses across the pond to start trading skills and expertise with the region.

“We have been fortunate enough to work alongside a number of Canadian and North American businesses since founding Canny Creative in 2012,” said Tony Hardy, managing director at Canny Creative.

“Canny Live provided us with a platform to educate businesses in Ontario about the opportunities that exist outside of their ordinary geographical scope, and how they can use digital marketing tools to help exploit them.

“Given the uncertainty that small businesses face with trading in Europe post-Brexit, we’re proactively looking at the other side of the globe to see if we can open up opportunities to more small businesses like ourselves by bridging the gap between the UK and Canadian markets and targeting businesses with which we can develop long-term relationships.”

Hosted as an open discussion between delegates and the expert panel, which besides Tony, included filmmaker Braden Dragomir of Make Hay Media, travel blog expert Rosalyn Gambhir, co-founder and brewer, Ivan Mackinnon of Mackinnon Brothers Brewing Co and boutique photography studio owner, Tanya Trombetta, the event was the perfect opportunity for business owners to find out more about how to export their skills through strategic marketing.

In order to make the event possible, Canny Creative received support from a local International Trade Adviser (ITA) at the Department for International Trade (DIT), who helped the business access matched-funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to meet the costs of their travel.

As well as helping the business to travel and arrange events such as Canny Live, DIT has also been working with the business to help it identify key markets of opportunity abroad. Canny Creative currently exports its services to 10 markets overseas, including Japan, Brazil and the UAE.

Canny Creative’s overseas success is being celebrated by DIT’s Exporting is GREAT campaign which showcases UK businesses, from a range of sectors and regions, to inspire and support firms up and down the country to export.

David Coppock, Head of Region, North East, at DIT said: “Although exporting is often thought of in terms of goods, companies like Canny Creative are showing that there’s a strong global demand for British services too.

“Helping businesses access funding through programmes such as ERDF is just one way we support firms looking to start or grow their exports. In addition to our network of North East-based ITAs, who can offer one-to-one guidance to help navigate issues such as language barriers and logistics, we also run regular trade missions overseas, and local masterclasses looking at everything from managing distributors to exporting through e-commerce.

“If a local business like Canny Creative can find export success, there’s no reason many others can’t too. We know that exporting can help businesses boost their profitability and increase their resilience, and I’d encourage anyone interested to get in touch with our team and see how we can help.”

Canny Creative specialises in branding, graphic and web design for companies operating across multiple industry sectors.

For more information, visit www.canny-creative.com.