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Bringing Out the Best in Brands

Want to accelerate your sales? Think Highlands.

No labels. Just results.

We're not like any other agency.  We are a 'rep group' but we are so much more.  We are a sales and marketing agency that helps manufacturers accelerate sales in existing and new markets. 

Our obsession is getting your products into the hands of consumers, quickly, cost effectively and ahead of your competitors.  Not only do we help you build a strategic sales and marketing plan but we execute it for you too.  We are truly your partner from beginning to end, and the next beginning...

Clients can access a range of services from sales representation, e-Commerce management, strategic planning, digital and traditional marketing through to selling into some of the world's largest and best distributors and retailers.

Want to know more?  Then get in touch.

Supporting your brand to maximize your sales.

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Marketing

Whether its design or production, digital or print, Highlands can help.  Our in-depth knowledge of e-commerce and catalog owners' requirements makes us experts in content creation too. We ensure your work is 'on brand', 'on time' and 'on budget'.
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Let us develop and manage your strategic blueprint alongside you.  Our INSIGHT -PLAN - EXECUTE - OPTIMIZE methodology helps navigate the journey, deliver against expectations and ensures there's a process for continual improvement
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Highlands has highly skilled and experienced sales people who will maximize the presence of your brand with key resellers and help grow your sales.

Supporting your brand to maximize your sales.

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Our team have trusted relationships with all the largest accounts means that Highlands can get your products listed quickly and build plans to accelerate sales.
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Highlands brings you a trusted and personalized eCommerce strategy to complement your traditional routes to market, growing your digital presence and online sales.
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Our great team ensures we deliver on our promises.  Full content management, content creation, re-purposing of collateral and driving promotional activity are just part of what our team helps with.
Articles

Sales and Marketing

Sales vs. Marketing

July 18, 2017

We’re asked the difference between the two all the time. Ask a salesperson and they’ll say, “it’s everything that goes into convincing a customer to buy. Great product, competitive pricing, compelling story, support materials, online portal, customer service - everything. Ask a marketer and they’ll likely say the same thing.

So, what’s the difference?  

To me, marketing is about converting mindsets while sales converts wallets. Effective marketing deploys programs to convince a prospect that there “just might be something to this product worth a second look.” Once that altered mindset enters the store, it’s up to sales to close the deal. How the tasks get divvied up doesn’t really matter - just that they’re deployed in a unified, compelling manner.

To answer that question more thoroughly, marketing leverages research to create a brand story, conceives programs to create awareness and induce trial, and then executes supporting materials. Sales leverages relationships, deploys support materials, and actively presents product benefits and pricing programs to the prospect to secure the deal. This process is very effective within growing, robust markets like technology, wine and spirits, commercial construction, etc. where customers are willing to pay full price. Unfortunately for categories suffering decline or major transformation - like Office Products - this process is not working any more. 

Why? Because product benefits within mature categories are often similar, which makes price a key differentiator. When price wars erupt, someone else is always cheaper and the consumer has become trained to shop for a better deal. This kills margins, encourages consolidation, and eliminates innovation.  The only way out of this dysfunctional whirlpool is to change how you sell, not what you sell.

To us, a successful program can never be about price. Ever. It’s about value. At

Highlands

, we apply a rigorous process we call IPEO.
  • Insight
  • Plan
  • Execute
  • Optimize
While I won’t give away our proprietary steps within each process, the output provides a clearer picture of the audience, how to best reach them, aligns with objectives, invests in the right programs, and measures results so we can optimize for even more success.  

In time, all programs eventually lose efficacy as competitors are not lazy. They’ll adjust to our efforts to stem our successes. That’s when we must start anew - develop a better product, consider new distribution channels, discover new audiences, deploy better programs, leverage technology more effectively.  

The truth is that sales and marketing are best viewed as tactics that emerge from a strong, insightful, strategic plan. Without a plan, and highly coordinated sales and marketing tasks that emerge from it, it doesn’t really matter if you define either one. Because in immature categories, those standing apart or unwilling to adjust will have far more to worry about than titles or job descriptions.


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Gordon Christiansen
Partner. SVP Marketing


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Ghent: Amazon marketing strategy increases product views + sales

To maximize Amazon sales growth, Ghent knew they needed a single point of contact to manage promotion-management strategies for eCommerce sales. The expert team at Highlands stepped in to produce double-digit increases in sales in just six months.

The Client

Ghent offers a full range of visual communications products including whiteboards, glassboards, mobiles, traditional bulletin boards, and enclosed boards, along with accessories, to personalize, add value, and enhance the customer experience.

The Challenge

With over 50 million monthly visitors, Ghent realized that developing a sales and marketing strategy on Amazon.com had overwhelming potential for incremental sales growth. Without a dedicated team to manage content, pricing, and testing of different promotional strategies, they saw gaps in competitive pricing and targeting strategies that, if filled, could showcase product strengths. 

Knowing the immense value and quality of their products, Ghent realized a new strategy was needed to increase site exposure, decrease costs, and fully realize the immense potential of their eCommerce sales in the visual communications channel.

The Highlands Difference

Highlands’ eCommerce team helped uncover value-added strengths of Ghent’s products over the competition and assisted in developing a plan to drive incremental eCommerce sales growth. 

Highlands recognized the need for product differentiation and focused on analyzing the strengths of Ghent’s product offerings, like the fact that all products are made in the USA, using premium components. By narrowing the search relevance and strategies for their products, Highlands targeted the promotions and advertising strategy to take advantage of Ghent’s competitive strengths. 

The Results

Ghent partnered with Highlands’ eCommerce team to drive incremental sales 
growth. While the company had recently seen a slight drop in eCommerce sales through Amazon, Highlands delivered an outstanding return on investment in the first six months.

With the help of Highlands, Ghent’s sales through July of 2016 had already reached a stunning 94% of the total sales for the entire previous year. 

Optimizing the product descriptions to include targeted strategies, Highlands maximized Amazon.com’s search engine priority system. Once lost among the thousands of product offerings, customers were now able to easily find the high-quality and innovative Visual Communication Products provided by Ghent, leading to significant double-digit sales growth.

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This is why you need to create videos for your e-commerce store!

July 12, 2017

Do you think creating videos for your e-commerce store is too much trouble or not worth the investment? What if I told you that using such a “cinematic” experience is an ideal way to engross your customers and boost your conversion rates? Read on, and let me know what you think! 

Product videos not only create brand awareness, but also instill top of mind recall to your target audience. People only remember 20% what they hear, 30% what they see and 70% of what they hear and see. Videos form part of a highly impactful variety of content, which is consumed by invested visitors to your site. In fact, 73% more visitors end up purchasing products after watching a video. Viewer impact is not the only benefit that you gain. More than half of American shoppers polled by Animoto, say they trust companies that have product videos. 

Still not convinced about the utility of video?  From an SEO perspective, both Google and Bing are building towards including video in search results. In fact, a Search Engine Land study reveals that we can see close to 14% of the search result real estate devoted to video! Think of the opportunities lost if your products do not feature in that 14% of space.

What goes into the making of a video? You may wish to consider the following before you begin your shoot:
  • Leverage, interactive, and collaborative features that invite viewers to participate in your story.
  • Simplify complex processes with a detailed step by step explainer video
  • Use a conversational tone and script that your audience can relate to.
  • Use concise messages that emphasize your point quickly that your audience can easily grasp
  • Considering the attention span of an individual is just ‘9 secs’, the screenplay should be tight.
  • Plan carefully; pick your location, know your schedule and have the right people available.

Now that you’ve invested the time, effort and money into creating this great content, what should you do next to maximize the impact?
  • Seed it in any content platform, such as your website, blog or other third party audiovisual platforms like YouTube or Vimeo
  • Make sure your video can be easily viewed on all devices
  • Include a transcript; search engines aren’t as proficient at indexing video content as they are with text
  • Make it shareable on social media platforms
  • And, of course, ensure its loaded onto the e-commerce platforms you’re selling the products

The power of video for e-commerce is simply too great to ignore. They increase the stickiness of visitors, increase conversions and help boost consumer confidence. Leveraging this strategy for your e-commerce website will help your sales revenue as well as branding. Feel free to sound off in the comments - how has video helped your business? What challenges have you faced in producing videos?
 In our next post, we will focus on specific things you should keep in mind while producing video content designed to promote your products.

Gordon-Christiansen-1
Gordon Christiansen
SVP Marketing

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What Can We Learn from our Past?

July 5, 2017

“The one constant in life is change”
 
Versions of this quote go all the way back to Heraclitus (ancient Greek philosopher), and that truth shines vibrantly today.  Those unwilling or unable to embrace change will be passed by those who do.  Interestingly, this truth is at odds another familiar adage:
 
“Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”
 
This implies we should replicate past successes -- and avoid past failures -- to assure a secure and profitable tomorrow.  But if the only constant is change, how do we smartly leverage the past when tomorrow’s rules are different and constantly changing?
 
It’s potentially a paralyzing conundrum.  “Old school” leaders rely heavily on experience and past success to guide their path forward, which works great when category fundamentals have not dramatically changed (e.g., construction, trucking, hospitality).  Granted, each of these categories has added new products and technologies into their business models, but you still go to hospitality - it does not come to you.  Distribution and delivery of construction materials has not changed, though online ordering is common.  Since end-user purchase patterns are not significantly different, these business evolutions simply add speed and convenience to an existing model. 
 
That’s not the case with the ‘At Work’ space.  This has suffered through seismic change because end-users have dramatically changed how, what, and where they purchase.  No longer do they all show up at the same location, at the same time, to fulfill a day’s work.  At Work is now a melting pot of the gig-economy, outsourcing, work-from-homers, computers/laptops/smartphones, which has led to massive consolidation.  Add-in high-speed Internet, e-commerce and social media, and it’s an entirely new paradigm that mandates a new business model.
 
So, what can we learn from our past?
 
First and foremost, make sure you’re going forward from a sound base.  Just like your predecessors, you must fully understand the basics - clarity of purpose, customer first, what are the drivers, where do margins exist, etc.  
 
Going forward, which technological advances and business models best serve today’s new workforce realities?  I firmly believe the future is an extension of what we used to do - but with dramatically different strategies and tactics.  If we imagine it more complex than that, moving forward becomes paralyzing.  We simply leverage valuable expertise and experience AND embrace the discomfort of new.
 
My next blog will discuss some future-forward suggestions we’ve found helpful in today’s dramatically evolved market.  It’s not as daunting as you might think.

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Bob O'Gara
CEO