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How Armenia’s nr. 1 producer of biological humus becomes a brand

CSR

ORWACO is a young and dynamic company producing biological fertiliser and potting soil. They have high quality products and a CEO who is equally knowledgeable and passionate. The only thing they missed was some marketing magic.

Earlier this year Gerard Post Uiterweer was called on an advisory mission to Armenia to support ORWACO. The idealistic company is pioneering in vermiculture, steadily growing in importance as a producer of biological fertiliser and potting soil. Lusine Nalbandyan founded ORWACO just after she finished her study in biology agroecology. She was only 27 then. Now, at the age of 34, Lusine is the CEO of this increasingly successful enterprise, in a country where agriculture is an important part of the economy. Armenia has restructured its agricultural sector from large industrial complexes to small-scale farming since the end of the Soviet era. It also still draws lots of value from the tradition of growing your own plants, fruit and vegetables, even on small balconies in cities like Yerevan, the capital. In short: There is sufficient market potential for ORWACO’s innovative products, which are all based on scientific research and have a proven track-record of success. Still the question remains: ‘How to get your product to your clients?’, especially for Lusine for whom marketing is not the focus of her work and who also does not employ a marketing expert at ORWACO.

"Marketing means sharing your passion."

Branding step by step

This is where Gerard and his expertise come into the picture. After trying to gain some basic insight into vermiculture when he was still in the Netherlands, he spent a week in Armenia, familiarising himself with all aspects of ORWACO’s business. He asked questions to Lusine and her colleagues, visited the production facilities, joined the sales representative to visit supermarkets and reviewed existing marketing material. Based on this investigation Gerard was able to build a strategic marketing plan, mapping out concrete actions. Apart from giving advice regarding ORWACO’s website, social media activity, print-materials (like flyers and folders), the packaging of the product, sales promotions and visual merchandising Gerard was adamant that the first step needed to be to strengthen ORWACO as a brand. He recommended a central role for Lusine in this: “She is seen as a pioneer, and more and more as a role model, too. Through her awards – one for female entrepreneurship and one for entrepreneurship in her field – she gained quite some popularity. I really think it would be good if she would become the face of her brand: quite literally, why not put her photo on the packages of the products? [...] She can speak about it all with such passion! Her personality adds emotional value to the products, also authenticity – and people will buy it with a very different feeling than some anonymous brand.”

"It would be good if Lusine would become the face of her brand: quite literally."

Share your passion

Lusine’s passion for biological agriculture, Gerard’s passion for his discipline, advertising and marketing: their cooperation proves that marketing means sharing your passion; and that it enables you to open a dialogue with your clients, benefit them, add value to their world. Back in the Netherlands Gerard stays in contact with ORWACO, and keeps supporting them online. Measuring the effect of marketing usually takes some time, but Gerard is confident that by implementing as many of his recommendations as possible ORWACO will be able to increase sales and eventually become a very successful business. This perspective is not only good news for ORWACO but also for biological farming in Armenia as a whole! And why not try to take ORWACO’s products one step further? Gerard is investigating the possibility of setting up a business link between ORWACO and Dutch companies in the field.

Drive and positivity

Asking Gerard what has impressed him the most during his stay in Yerevan, he does not have to think twice: the incredibly friendly atmosphere. In spite of centuries of persecution, the Soviet era and the strained times since, people he met were immensely motivated. Possibly the velvet revolution that took place just a few weeks before Gerard went on his mission, reinforced this positive energy in the country. “When I was there I realised what a great gift it is to go on a mission for PUM and help others with my knowledge, to get the chance to make a difference. It gives me a lot of energy.”

Lusine Nalbandyan, Founder and CEO of ORWACO: "All recommendations of Gerard were highly important and we started to implement them right away. We have started to work on our web page, advertisement and social media marketing, and we are underlining my role in ORWACO's positioning through TV programmes and interviews. From time to time we come back to Gerard’s recommendations and try to mark them as done.  We were very impressed by the high professionalism, dedication and involvement of Gerard, he continues to contribute to ORWACOs' development even after the mission."
Gerard Post Uiterweer owned and managed a marketing and design agency in Amsterdam for 23 years, before selling his shares and retiring at 51 in 2013. He has continued to be active as a copywriter, creative and strategic consultant to a few of his closest associates. His mission at ORWACO was his fifth for PUM.  

Text: Sylvia Szely