Taps the Trades, a business-to-business e-commerce site designed to bring produce buyers and sellers together, is launching several marketing efforts in conjunction with the trade shows and trade press that reach the many segments of its industry. acts as a neutral meeting ground where companies such as Sandstone Marketing, a provider of cantaloupes and grapes, can strike deals with the senior management of small and large supermarket chains.

Reaching these varied members of the industry isn’t as easy as running a television commercial during primetime or a radio spot during rush hour, said Robert Verloop, vice president of marketing at, Irvine, CA. This is why has expanded its presence in industry trade magazines and ramped up its efforts at relevant trade shows.

Next week, the site will kick off a print campaign in 11 industry publications including The Packer and Produce News. The ads will stress the site’s commitment to information, integrity, innovation and industry leadership.

On the trade show side, the site will promote its attendance at the Food Marketing Institute’s 2000 Supermarket Industry Convention, May 7 to 9 in Chicago, by sending 10,000 direct mail pieces to alert attendees of the site to its presence at the show. The mailing was slated for mid-April.

At the Produce Marketing Association’s 2000 Foodservice Conference, Tour & Expo, Monterey, CA, the site will take a more personal approach. It will arrange to have a free business-card holder placed within the hotel rooms of the 2,500 association members who market fresh fruits, vegetables and floral products worldwide.

“We did this at the United Fresh Food and Vegetables Convention and Exposition in Phoenix in February and it worked very well. We left the business card holder with our business cards in 1,000 hotel rooms,” said Verloop.

This effort is part of the site’s plan to “continue to evolve in the area of trade shows.” It also will sponsor a number of upcoming meetings and seminars within the industry., which launched in October 1999, ran its first campaign after its launch. Instead of a branding message, it carried an educational slant.

“This is not eBay,” said Verloop. “A lot of people were still confused about the roll of the business-to-business site.” Informational ads ran in seven industry publications.

Although the site has yet to launch an e-mail marketing campaign, one is definitely on the horizon, according to Verloop.

“The challenge in the produce industry is that only in the last two years has e-mail caught on,” he said “There’s not a real strong database to pull from.”

Future sweepstakes also are in the works. The site wrapped up its “Pro Bowl Aloha Sweepstakes” in February. Each time a transaction was completed between December 1 of last year and January 15, the buyer and supplier were automatically entered into the contest.

Andy Chong of Chong’s Produce and Jeff Church of Church Brothers Produce, each received an all-expenses-paid trip for two to the Pro Bowl in Oahu, HI.

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