Employees are the life blood of any small business – it’s their commitment, passion and initiative that drives a company forward. But no matter how dedicated an employee, they won’t work for free. We wanted small businesses to rethink their approach to the essential, yet highly complex and compliance-driven task of paying each employee. As many Canadian small businesses run their fiscal year alongside the calendar year, we capitalized on the year-end peak season, when small business owners are most likely to change or augment their financial management system.


To gain insight into Canadian small business owners’ understanding, comfort level and fears around paying employees, we conducted a survey of 1,500 small business owners across Canada. What we found was quite striking – 46% of small business owners that managed their own payroll reported experiencing issues. Commonalities among them were: 

  • 1 in 3 have had difficulties tracking employee hours
  • 3 in 5 Canadian small business owners feel overwhelmed by the number of regulatory requirements for payroll in Canada
  • 1 in 3 Canadian small business owners who have received complaints about payroll issues have had employees complain about inaccurate payroll

With these findings in-hand, we saw an opportunity to demonstrate how small payroll issues can quickly snowball at the most inopportune of times.


Our campaign launched initially on social and digital leveraging “The Role of a Lifetime” hero video which employed a uniquely QuickBooks sense of humour to introduce our campaign and open up a payroll discussion with our target audience. This was complimented by re-targeted assets using key findings from the survey on social and digital channels, driving clicks to the campaign landing page.

To ensure we were empowering small business owners to manage payroll compliance and complexity, we partnered with Canadian bookkeeping expert Marnie Stretch, to develop the Payroll Matters e-book which provided tips and tricks for effective payroll. 


The Payroll Matters campaign was the first QuickBooks Payroll-focused campaign to include awareness and educational tactics, and helped QuickBooks eclipse all peak season benchmarks. During the two-month peak season time frame: 

  • Traffic to the QuickBooks Payroll landing page increased by 25% year-over-year. 
  • 13 pieces of earned media coverage were generated for a total of 3M impressions. 

And, most importantly, there was a 16% increase in QuickBooks Online subscribers that added Payroll within the first 30 days, compared to year-over-year averages.