Exclusive Exposure LLC is looking to provide top dollar advertising, save local businesses money, and invest back into the community. They take advertisers brands and craft them onto recyclable paper coffee cups. They then give those cups away for free to local coffee shops that have signed exclusive agreements with Exclusive Exposure. In addition, their coffee shops can opt in to giving a percentage of their savings to a charity of their choice at the end of the year.
The Exclusive Exposure team is looking to launch a trial phase in the Columbia Missouri market for summer and fall of 2013 and then scale into other markets.
MO: How did you come up with the concept of Exclusive Exposure?
Ben: I was approached by my partner, Aaron in a class. He had heard about the model being executed on the West Coast and told me about the idea. I realized then that this was something that we could do in the Midwest and that it was a great way to mix a lot of different forms of advertising: outdoor advertising, print, promotional giveaways, establishing an ad network, and driving website traffic with QR codes all at once. After meeting with several potential advertisers and coffee shops, we’ve refined the model to include charitable donations and monthly ROI reports. This idea isn’t a pipe dream, it’s something we can do right away, that’s what attracted me to the concept in the first place.
MO: Have you always had an entrepreneurial spirit?
Ben: When I was a kid I used to sell lemonade to my neighbors, although I don’t think I ever made a dime, I was bankrupt to the credit union of Mom and Dad. In high school and early college I was in a band. We managed to raise money to record two full length albums by scraping together what we made at shows and hosting one very profitable garage sale. We offered the album for free download online and sold hard copies to fans at our shows. Beyond that I have attempted several other ventures in College, I am involved with the Entrepreneurship alliance at Mizzou which has been a great help as well. Exclusive Exposure is the first venture of mine to make some real traction. It’s exciting to see a project become reality.
MO: Why have you decided on Columbia, Missouri for your trial phase? How do you plan on keeping track of your progress?
Ben: Other than the obvious factor of being close to home, Columbia MO has a lot of opportunities that other places don’t. With several Universities and a rising entrepreneur scene Columbia is open to new ideas and ventures like Exclusive Exposure. We have established connections with mentors, agencies, professors, advertisers, and coffee shop owners in Columbia that I believe we wouldn’t have found elsewhere. It’s a small market, but a growing one, where we can prove how effective our advertising is and take it to the bigger companies in bigger cities.
MO: What’s your marketing strategy look like?
Ben: For our trial phase we have been beating on a lot of doors and making calls to local businesses in Columbia. It’s hard work, but we have to get our foot in the door somehow. It’s incredibly encouraging to hear real interest on the other end of a cold call at such an early stage. This summer though, we are looking to develop an interactive website which will explain our story and make ordering cup distribution easy. With this website we hope to drive traffic through social media marketing and PR. In addition, we plan to enter as many pitch competitions as we can in the summer and fall to raise prize money and promote interest. As we expand to more coffee shops we’ll be able to offer more distribution and better pricing options.
MO: What’s been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced so far and how did you overcome it?
Ben: At first we found that the minimum cup orders were too high, the lead time to receive the cups was too long, and the cost of the cups was far more than advertisers were willing to pay. We researched dozens of suppliers and eventually found the right one, but it has definitely been one of our biggest challenges. Working to create the perfect balance between the coffee shop, the person drinking the coffee, the advertiser, and the supplier is a significant hurdle as well. We hope to eliminate the leg work in the future by creating a web presence where advertisers who think it would be a good fit can come to us.
MO: Where would you like to see Exclusive Exposure a year from now?
Ben: I would like to see exclusive exposure in bigger cities, talking to bigger advertisers, and hopefully making enough for me to buy a taco every now and again. I’d like us to have coffee cups down to a science and research beginning towards advertising on cold cups and other items as well. I’d like to start hiring additional people who are better salesmen than me, because that’s something I’d gladly leave to anyone else. Ultimately we hope Exclusive Exposure can create an accepted new form of advertising network that directly benefits the communities it touches.
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