FSbuy.com Full Steam Ahead with B-to-B Campaign

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FSbuy.com, which claims to be the end-all for bringing buyers and suppliers in the food service industry together, is promoting its site through an offline direct mail, trade show and print advertising push. Reaching this industry has proven historically difficult as many of its members have been slow to embrace the Internet.

The site, launched March 20, is a forum where buyers and suppliers of all facets of the food service industry including equipment, tabletop items, beverage and food items can conduct business.

There is some competition in the space such as BuyProduce.com, which offers food products, but Fsbuy.com believes it can be all things to all food service members. "We don't specialize in food. We're the complete package," said Susana Blackmer, executive director of sales and marketing for the Anaheim, CA-based company.

However, marketing this message to members of the food service who have been fairly late in adopting the Internet with this message is somewhat difficult. To rectify this problem, the site has hired a number of industry leaders who possess significant experience, said Blackmer.

From this the site has harvested a database of 50,000 buyers and sellers that it has been exploiting to get its message out via direct mail.

Beginning this week, the site will mail out 12,000 to 15,000 postcards to promote its presence at the National Restaurant Association, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago on May 20. "Direct mail is so important for communications. The best way now is to send them a packet of information," said Blackmer. "We have to build [awareness] in the industry." The site is also placing inserts in the NRA show dailies to promote its presence at the event.

To promote its launch, FSbuy.com sent out 6,000 letters and followed up with 1,500 e-mails to let industry members learn about its site.

Trade show participation will play heavily in the site's marketing plans as it will appear at as many as 40 shows this year alone. The site will also run ads in 27 trade journals, including Restaurants and Institutions, Food Equipment and Reports and National Restaurant News. Ads will also appear in USA Today. All marketing activities will include the site's tagline, "A Good Deal, Better."

To jazz up its online offerings the site plans to offer an online auction for materials and services next month.

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