Today we’re chatting with Joe Marrocco, Director of Education at Cafe Imports, a specialty coffee importer based in Minneapolis, MN. Joe is a coffee evangelist, a former coffee roaster, and an excellent marketer who has the tough job of selling premium specialty coffee (think special blends for locally-owned coffee shops) against a larger segment of cheaper, fast food coffee purveyors.
Cafe Imports sells green, un-roasted coffee beans to specialty coffee roasters, who in turn sell the coffee to coffee shops, restaurants, cafes, and sometimes, consumers. While their name might not be familiar to the daily coffee drinker, Cafe Imports is an industry leader — much of the coffee you drink in your local coffee shop was probably initially bought and sold by them. Joe’s marketing strategy is centered around education, and being a subject matter expert in the coffee and coffee importing space.
Joe teaches training all over the world, holding classes and workshops for coffee professionals. He’s received a Special Recognition Award from the Specialty Coffee Association of America for his work educating and marketing specialty coffee around the world. He’s also a husband and father of two, loves to ice fish, explore the Minnesota lakes with his family, and grill out for friends.
He says his marketing and life strategy share these three core values:
- Do what you do well, and get better at it every day, no matter how trivial the task.
- Do what you can to make the world a better place.
- Pay attention to every interaction you have with every person you come into contact with, as you never know what impact you’ll have had on them — and they’ll have had on you — a decade down the road.
So, we put Joe on the hot seat and asked him about trends that are impacting his life as a B2B marketer. Here’s what he had to say.
1. What are you most excited about in the current B2B marketing scene?
I am able to affect more end users. The more I market to, sell to, and most importantly, educate the businesses I work with about the products I am selling, the larger my impact is on the consumer. Were I to only sell to the consumer, I would only be able to impact that pool. I am creating a culture that will go to right to my customer’s front doors in the future.
2. What do you see as your biggest marketing challenges?
My biggest challenges are always within myself: getting my work done, staying creative, staying hungry, and continuing to focus on the most important things. If I can accomplish my own personal goals, no other challenge can stand up. Marketing is easy when I fully believe in the products, and stay creative enough to succinctly share that.
3. What do you wish you had more of for your teams?
Time. Time is our most expensive asset and the only thing we can’t recover when we make mistakes.
4. What or who inspires you, and why?
My customers and the people who produce the products I sell inspire me. I can believe in the product because I believe in the process and the people involved. The other people in my supply chain fuel my passion every day. They are the ones doing the real work in my industry. I just add some connective tissue and information.
5. What is your greatest marketing achievement so far?
I was part of a humorous advertisement created for the company I work for a few years back. It has been somewhat viral within my industry, and propelled both me and my company to some great opportunities. I was certainly outside of my comfort zone, but I just went for it.