About the project
The Atlantic Chamber of Commerce (ACC) is the largest accredited business organisation of influence in Atlantic Canada, representing more than 16,000 businesses and their 300,000 employees through its network of 94 local chambers of commerce and boards of trade and 2 corporate partners in the four Atlantic provinces. For more than 125 years, ACC has served as the voice of Atlantic Canadian business and actively partners with members and other organizations to help create a strong, vibrant, and growing Atlantic Canada.
In support of its mandate, the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce (ACC) accessed resources available under the Atlantic Trade and Investment Growth Strategy and partnered with federal and provincial governments to design and deliver the Europe Market Development Program (EMDP).
The EMDP is premised on creating new opportunities for companies in Atlantic Canada and facilitating development of under-exploited markets in Europe. The goal is to increase market diversification and growth to improve business resiliency. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Europe offers a great opportunity for these companies to take advantage of this large potential market since exports have not significantly increased since the deal came into effect.
How OCO Global supported
OCO Global refined key processes in collaboration with ACC for recruitment, the statement of work and the strategic market work plan and reporting. We assembled a team that consisted of a Project Director, a PM and market leads to provide ACC with clear lines of communication and provide the companies with local experts in the core target markets.
For each company we tailored our approach based on their product/service, market knowledge and experience, but typically the process began with a Phase 1 market research as the basis for developing the Strategic market workplan; then we built a target list of potential contacts for validation by the client. Once the target market and sales approach were agreed to, OCO Global conducted outreach to the list of contacts and set up and attended meetings with interested prospects. OCO Global held regular calls with ACC and the oversight committee to report on progress and established ourselves as invested European partners to each of the companies.
The COVID-19 pandemic struck as soon as the program began, so OCO Global and ACC faced challenges including recruiting companies who were in survival mode, persuading companies to engage on a market development programme when they couldn’t travel, and building trust and relationships with ACC and its client companies from a distance. OCO Global and ACC tackled the challenges proactively and collaboratively and delivered a series of European sector opportunity reports and webinars to promote the EMDP, highlighted opportunity and convinced companies to apply.
To date, OCO Global has supported 19 EMDP companies. ACC conducted formal client feedback interviews after Phase 1 and OCO Global was repeatedly praised for “it’s down to earth and highly competent understanding of products and market sectors, high quality research and genuine interest in the success of the firms versus a transactional approach”.
We have completed five projects so far and have met or exceed the deliverables laid out in the Statement of Work. Across the first cohort, we have secured pre-qualified meetings for all the companies; developed a pipeline of opportunities in the $00,000’s and already secured trial orders and proof of concept opportunities.
Several companies have expressed interest in continuing to work with OCO Global after the EMDP programme is complete, with one company already contracting OCO Global for a period of 9 months on a representational basis.