Prior to COVID-19, exports from the Philippines were on the rise and reached US$70.3 billion in 2019. However, the country’s export market—like many others— was challenged by the pandemic. The trade shows, which typically boosted exports, were put on pause. This was a real dilemma for the Philippines’ Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM).
CITEM is the export promotions arm of the country’s Department of Trade and Industry. It is committed to developing, nurturing, and promoting globally-competitive micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), exporters, designers, and manufacturers. So when it became clear that events had to be cancelled, CITEM leapt into action to support these businesses in new ways.
Here’s a snapshot of how CITEM moved quickly to advance its digital strategy:
Digital tools evolve from an opportunity to a necessity
Even before the pandemic, CITEM viewed the move to digital as a powerful tool to build a community for its stakeholders. However, it became a necessity almost overnight, leading CITEM to engage a Salesforce consulting partner to digitalise trade promotions. This partner was Third Pillar, a Philippines-based consulting partner, which is now part of Globe Telecom, Inc.
“The trade show industry, globally, was caught unaware when the pandemic started so it was really difficult for everyone to digitalise and change their processes. However, CITEM had already started to look at putting together a digital trade and community platform,”
said Pauline Suaco-Juan, Executive Director at CITEM. “We did this primarily because we realised that sourcing preferences were beginning to change, with more and more people sourcing products through social media and websites.”
CITEM’s vision for digital engagement gave rise to FAME+, a digital platform that connects buyers and sellers within the Philippine home, fashion and lifestyle industries. It also tells the stories behind each product, brand, or designer found on the catalog to optimise their visibility with content creation and distribution.
CITEM’s main challenge in launching FAME+ was onboarding sellers. Many of these businesses were not yet using digital technologies; so it was up to CITEM to help them get started.
Automation and personalisation drive quick wins
Third Pillar has helped CITEM solve the challenge of onboarding sellers by using Marketing Cloud to automate and streamline the process from end-to-end. For example, it has created an email journey which prompts sellers to register for FAME+ and to submit the information needed to build out their product listings.
Third Pillar has also enabled CITEM to promote these listings using personalised email journeys based on buyers’ browsing habits. These journeys have been successful in helping sellers reach new audiences and sustain their businesses—and jobs—at a critical time.
Additionally, the use of Marketing Cloud has created internal efficiencies for CITEM and trimmed the time it takes to produce campaigns.
“What we’ve done is apply Salesforce to automate those digital processes that typically take time, allowing the CITEM team to focus on what they do best, which is relationship-building and storytelling,” said Deanna Rubiano, Third Pillar Chief Marketing Officer.
Working with Third Pillar, CITEM has also adopted Social Studio to promote the businesses on FAME+ and enhance their digital presence. Social Studio will also allow CITEM to efficiently manage social media, equipping just three people to handle 15 different channels. These include channels for CITEM’s sub-brands such as IFEX Philippines, CREATE Philippines, and the Sustainability Solutions Expo (SSX).
Social listening will be especially valuable in helping CITEM to understand and tap into industry trends so that it can continue to lift the profile of the Philippines’ export industry.
“CITEM team has worked closely with Salesforce and Third Pillar last year to equip ourselves with the necessary tools to take CITEM’s content marketing to greater heights,” Suaco-Juan said. “I’m certain that with all these CRM functions available to us, we will be able to seize every opportunity ahead of us in the digital sphere.”
Read more customer stories to find out how other businesses are transforming digitally with Salesforce.