The Hort Connections trade show in May provided the backdrop for the presentation of the 2017 PMA A-NZ Produce Plus Marketer of the Year Award. Matt Stillwell, digital marketing manager of post-harvest equipment specialist Compac, took out the coveted prize for his work on the launch of the Spectrim optical sorting platform. In an excusive interview with Produce Plus, Stillwell explains how a well orchestrated marketing campaign, delivered predominantly online, has driven sales leads and converted potential buyers into satisfied customers.
Firstly congratulations. Can you tell us what winning the PMA A-NZ Produce Plus Marketer of the Year Award means to you?
Matt Stillwell: Winning the Marketer of the Year Award means a huge amount, especially at a time when marketing has such a big role to play in the fresh produce industry. We’ve recently seen Zespri take out a major New Zealand export award for their work in the US, while Hort Innovation has announced the Taste Australia initiative to help Australian producers grow their presence in export markets. It’s clear to see an importance is being placed on marketing in our sector.
Your winning campaign was built around Compac’s launch of the state-of-the-art Spectrim sorting platform in 2016. Can you tell us about the target audience for the campaign and how you structured your activity to highlight Spectrim’s key selling points?
MS: We had high confidence in the product internally, as we had a lot of smart people working behind the scenes. However, the product was yet to be validated at market level. The ‘See it to believe it’ campaign was structured to create awareness for the product and the goal was to get potential buyers to see the platform in action, either by touring a Spectrim-equipped packhouse or a tradeshow demonstration.
The campaign focused on key areas where Spectrim was creating the most value for the packhouse. We wanted to highlight Spectrim’s consistency, the quality of pack, throughput and pack-out, along with its ability to reduce labour costs. We then created content around these points in the form of blogs, press releases and customer case studies.
How did the idea for the campaign come up? Did you engage a marketing agency to develop the concept or execute its delivery, or was it all done in-house?
MS: Internally we knew that Spectrim was a giant leap on anything in the market, but we needed the market to feel the same way. We realised that our audience wanted to see Spectrim in action before believing us. Those who did see it were very impressed. That’s where the idea of ‘See it to believe it’ came from.
We had a behind-the-scenes video that showed the audience the value that Spectrim-equipped packhouses were receiving, complemented with the challenges and outcomes from the experts who developed the product. After watching the video, we followed-up with an invite to see Spectrim in action, either at a packhouse or at a tradeshow that we were exhibiting at.
All the work for this campaign was done in-house, with the exception of the video, which we developed with an agency. A lot of work was done by our product management team, who worked closely with our R&D team and launch customers to truly understand Spectrim’s business value. We also invested in a marketing automation tool, which enabled us to deliver the campaign and monitor results.
An interesting aspect of the campaign was that it was predominately delivered online. What advantages and/or pitfalls did this present with regard to costing and penetration?
MS: I guess online is how most people consume content, so it made sense to focus on our online channels. Rather than sending product experts to every market to educate one person at a time, the campaign allowed us to educate more people at a lower cost. It also allowed our audience to engage with the different pieces of content in their own time, at their own pace. If and when they had any questions they could reach out. The campaign was also optimised for mobile use, to cater for the 24 per cent of our audience that consume our content via mobile devices.
The biggest advantage we got from having the campaign online related to the reporting and analytics we could do. This really helped measure the return on investment of the campaign and it also helped us create better content, as we could see what was performing well and what wasn’t.
In terms of pitfalls, there is the chance that you might miss some people who aren’t that active online, but that is where trade shows and printed trade media fitted nicely into the campaign.
A full version of this interview is published in the Spring edition of Produce Plus Magazine.