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I attended Warrillow & Co.‘s Canadian conference in Toronto this morning where more than a hundred eager marketing managers gathered to hear about the latest trends in reaching the 2.3 million small businesses in Canada.

John Warrillow’s opening presentation referenced a recent survey indicating that small-business owners are using social networking sites.

The survey results indicated a clear leadership for Facebook at 29 percent, followed by MySpace at 11 percent and LinkedIn at 3 percent. While the respondents replied in the context of personal usage, earlier data from the presentation brought to light that small-business owners are in many cases primarily consumers.

Warrillow’s presentation highlighted ING’s successes in reaching the Canadian small-business sector by using clever consumer-targeted TV creative that effectively stimulates the mind of the small-business owner to drive purchase intent.

This morning’s underlying message was that Canadian small businesses have more choices across more verticals. The Internet has fueled a breed of challenger brands that have shaken this market and have created tight competition. The conference was aptly named “Stealing Share.” Some of the highlighted challenger brands included Costco, ING and

There was some representation from the local search media channel suggesting there may be some business-to-business platforms in the works. It’s all very mysterious, but I’ll follow up on this later.

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