Internet start-up eGreenCoffee needed to convince buyers and sellers in the world's 2nd largest commodity market -- coffee -- to begin doing business on their site. The challenge was two-fold. First of all this is a very traditional offline industry with huge players (such as Nestle and Folgers.) Also, it is truly a global industry with participants in dozens of countries -- all with varying Internet access and experience. Chief Marketing Office Dimple Ahluwalia led us through the campaign.
"This is a traditional industry" Ahluwalia says, "So in April we started off with face-to-face meetings at trade shows and on-site visits to large organizations. We have unbelievable frequent flyer miles!" The site wouldn't be ready until July 31st, so Ahluwalia had a "temp page" put up for people to go to. The images and copy points on the page were duplicated in all further marketing in other media.
Next Ahluwalia initiated what she calls a "pincer strategy", approaching the industry with a single consistent message through a wide variety of media, including trade magazine ads, stories in financial publications and a coordinated PR campaign in six languages (including Castilian Spanish vs. Latin American Spanish.)
She also started an "email count down" sending industry executives who'd opted-in to her list brief updates every two weeks or so, and every day the week of the launch. Large coffee roasters were offered the ability to pre-register at the site before other companies could. "It's like having a sale at Macy's and you're a preferred customer."
In just two months since the site launched, more than 200 green coffee buyers and sellers had become members, including some household names such as Decotrade which purchases 4.5 million bags of coffee a year for Sara Lee Corporation.
Ahluwalia's fears concerning international acceptance of eGreenCoffee.com were laid to rest, "To my surprise, people in other countries -- even in emerging countries -- are very enthusiastic, eager and open to adopting Web-based business. They've seen the success of B-to-B in the US and Europe, so it's almost a proven method of doing business now."
COSTS: Ahluwalia laughed when we asked if her marketing budget was less than a million dollars, "our entire investment to date, including the site development has only been $1.2 million!" She noted, "For me personally, one of the challenges and thrills is how to accomplish the most results with the least amount of investment." Ahluwalia says the first 70% of her marketing budget was used to create awareness and the remaining 30% for education, "Awareness is only good if you follow with education."
NOTES: Ahluwalia keeps members happy by sending them an email newsletter every two weeks, "it should be short and crisp so you're not overwhelming people. Provide a high level of information so it's not just marketing copy." She also shares all press releases with customers before they are generally released.
VENDORS: Press release translations by TranslationCity.com, PR by CRAYGON Communications, Site design by Morris Beecher.
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