A Startup Brand’s Perspective: ECRM's Digital Platforms  1/25/2017


In the first column of this series, I discussed why I chose to participate in an ECRM EPPS. In this column, I’ll focus how I prepped for the EPPS, and tried to leverage ECRM’s technology – the “Platform” part of the Three Ps behind ECRM’s success: Process, Platform and People.

At my first ECRM EPPS in Miami last summer—full disclosure—I wasn’t familiar enough with the platform to take full advantage of what it offered, because I feared it would require too much of my time and attention. Looking back, my hesitation was unnecessary, because the platform is really simple to use, and the account managers, who are assigned to each registrant, take you through the technology and explain its various functions.

As I’m now prepping for my 2017 events, rest assured, I’m already working on the platform, setting up the meetings and using the promo tools to upload my product info, details about my company, and product images. 


The MarketGate EPPS meeting Prep Site is the central hub for preparing for and managing your buyer meetings. Buyers are on a mission to find new and innovative products for their category, so it’s essential to write a snappy, clear description of your products and your company for your profile page. 

We all know how frustrating it can be to go through your entire pitch at a traditional trade event only to learn that you are speaking with the wrong buyer. That should never happen at an ECRM EPPS meeting, because the profile is designed to provide full transparency. So if your product is not gluten-free, it shouldn't be indicated as such. Don't claim it is just because it feels like the "in" thing to do.

On the platform, supplier attendees are able to select the buyers they wish to meet. Buyers have the same option with suppliers (For a startup-owner it’s pretty cool to have Walgreens request a meeting with you, which happened to me!).

ECRM’s Connect App Kicks Butt
The ECRM Connect mobile app enables registered EPPS attendees to access their MarketGate info while at the in-person meetings. Each attendee is provided an iPad, and through the app they can also access their schedule as well as other meeting information, such as general session schedules, menus for all of the meals, offsite event information, and freight and transportation details.

It’s a pretty clever tool, so it’s definitely worthwhile to spend an hour familiarizing yourself with how it works, as you can use it to review your schedule and the profiles of those retailers on your schedule before starting your meetings.

In the past, I’ve struggled with Expo follow-ups, not remembering exactly the people I met and their level of interest. Once you click into a particular meeting on the app, you can access a ‘Notes’ section, so you can write down your impressions and follow-up instructions during or following the meeting, while everything is still fresh in your mind. This made a big difference for me. After the event, you download everything in a well-organized Excel spreadsheet to share with your team.

I ended up meeting with 68 buyers in 2 days. With 10 minutes per each buyer, that's over 5 hours of pitching per day, with a 1-hour break for lunch. While many relied on a case of Red Bull, I preferred to bring along our Oat Chocolates and to have them, too!

The EPPS Prep Site is where you can access and upload all of the information relevant for a particular EPPS meeting
Here's the top portion of my EPPS profile page
Here's the bottom half of my EPPS profile page

Mika Manninen

Co-Founder
Nothing But Real, LLC

Mika Manninen is co-founder of Nothing But Real, LLC along with his wife and business partner Helena Lumme. They are serial entrepreneurs whose previous product Simpli OatShake won several major food awards, including a Bevnet, Sofi and National Restaurant Association’s innovation award, and in just 18 months got into 2000 stores across the US.

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