inside-Highlands-2

Bringing Out the Best in Brands

Want to accelerate your sales? Think Highlands.

Sales growth for progressive manufacturers and brands.

We help you grow sales into existing and new markets. Our obsession is getting your products into the hands of consumers, quickly, cost effectively and ahead of your competitors.  We want to be your partner from beginning to end, and the next beginning..

We are a 'rep group' but we are so much more.  We're probably not like any other agency you know.  Not only will we help build a fully integrated strategic sales and marketing plan but we execute it for you too. .

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.

Supporting your brand to maximize sales.

market_white

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'.
stratigicwhite
Let us develop and manage your strategic blueprint alongside you.  Our REPEAT methodology helps navigate the journey, deliver against expectations and ensures there's a process for continual improvement
field_r_white
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 sales.

stratigic_acc_white
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.
eCommerce_white
Highlands brings you a trusted and personalized eCommerce strategy to complement your traditional routes to market, growing your digital presence and online sales.
client_white
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

Amazon price leader blog image

Is Amazon a price leader?

October 27, 2017

If you shop on line you’ve probably noticed that the price on Amazon for the same item can be different across many marketplace participants.  You may have noticed too that prices will change over the course of a day and, at times, over an hour.  Pricing is dynamic.  There are many factors driving dynamic pricing but the most critical is that the key sellers have algorithms that responds to competitors’ pricing.  For this reason, a price leader in the e-tail market is far more disruptive than in traditional brick and mortar retail.

Walmart is a globally recognized retail leader. It became the biggest retailer on the planet by being a price leader. With Amazon’s market entrance, Walmart saw its sales impacted and their stock value going down. As the leader they are, Walmart started their ‘fight back’ strategy.

Walmart has been selling online for some time however they knew they needed to improve their strategy to re-take share.  They acquired Jet.com, with a great eCommerce leadership team then, leveraging on their existing stores, Walmart started to be much more aggressive online. They offer free shipping for orders above $35 and many items are exclusively available only online with attractive discounts.

Interestingly Amazon has done a great job convincing consumers that they are the cheapest, or at least offer fantastic value for money. Attractive promotions and superb public relations has been their key to attract more customers. They slashed the prices by 43% on the very first day after acquiring Wholefoods. Prices at Wholefoods have always been at the “top-end”. But now, after the “perception management” around pricing that Amazon has engineered, customers will start to change their view on pricing available from these stores.

Amazon+ Wholefoods = Amazon retail stores (looking more like Walmart)

Because of Amazon’s great perception management, it has been very successful in managing the interests of all its stakeholders - consumers, marketplace sellers and most of all, stock holders.

 

We think this is a super smart strategy.

 

However, in reality Amazon is a price follower rather than a price leader.  Amazon is constantly monitoring their own site, across all their platforms, and scraping the entire web to find competitive pricing and adjusting their price accordingly.  One frustration from Amazon is when a ‘rogue’ trader offers highly discounted pricing on a product and negatively impacts margins.  Enter Walmart.com a price leader.  As Amazon follows Walmart.com pricing down two things often happen.  Amazon asks the supplier of that product to pay Amazon for lost margin or they suppress the item meaning it won’t turn up most searches.  In both cases this can be challenging for suppliers doing significant business with Amazon.  Through these policies Amazon is making it clear that they hold suppliers responsible for managing pricing across the internet.

 

Will this ‘price follower’ strategy change? In the United States, there are MAP agreements to contend with, but in Europe, competition laws and the approach to resale price maintenance means that MAP is not allowed. Amazon is at an advantage with its existing online presence and now its expansion into bricks and mortar. We think it unlikely they will change their fundamental pricing policy.

 

As a manufacturer, you need to carefully consider and control your product placement and pricing across all channels and platforms.  Good management will contribute to the health of your eCommerce channel as well as your more traditional routes to market. It can seem daunting but can be done effectively and profitably.  Look out for future blogs that will help with tips and tactics that ensure your pricing is in-line with your objectives as well as that of Amazon’s.

 

 Gordon-Christiansen-1

Gordon Christiansen

 

Gordon is a 54 year old Australian who was born in Denmark, lived in the UK for 27 years and now wants to live in Atlanta.  After breaking his father’s heart by leaving the family ships’ chandlering business in Fremantle, Australia Gordon embarked on a career in sales and marketing with Pitney Bowes and Canon before investing in and running an office products and graphic arts dealership in London called London Graphic Centre.  Gordon is passionate about getting corporate messaging 100% clear and how alignment between marketing strategy, execution and sales effort will enhance and accelerate market penetration for Highlands’ clients.

 

Outside family, the things Gordon enjoys the most are cricket, Australian Rules football, music and socializing with good friends, good wine and good food.  So, for anyone interested in learning the intricacies of cricket or Aussie Rules I’m sure Gordon can be bribed with a charcuteries plate and a decent red.

 

Gordon is a partner at Highlands.

Product video 2 blog image

10 tips on how to produce the perfect product video

October 14, 2017 

Welcome back to part 2 of our series on Video Blogs. In our earlier post, we understood why product videos were important. To recap 73% more visitors end up purchasing products after watching a video.”

In that blog post, we also understood the factors that need to be considered before we start shooting the video itself.   Now, let us take a look at how to create the best possible video that can help you sell your product. 

Why should the customer watch your video?   Simply put, to understand all the aspects of your product, so that he or she can arrive at a purchasing decision. 

What does a customer expect from your video? Product videos should resonate with the viewer. If your message resonates, not only have you communicated your message, you have also captured mindshare (and a share of the wallet too, hopefully). Viewers decide quickly whether to watch the entire video or not you have less than 30 seconds to capture their interest.   

Keeping these points in mind, let us see how we can create the ultimate killer product video! 

1.       Script is important.  Don’t think that you can wing it without a script. A script is not just the words that are spoken, its about what you see as well. A weak script can risk hobbling the otherwise great work from the other components like the camera work, or the product itself.         

2.       Context is king! Show how your product fits into the bigger picture. A good product video will start by showing this context around the need of their product for the target audiences. 

3.       Talk about your product (not your company). Use appropriate video shots and camera angles to capture your product. Use a good voiceover to introduce the product with a bang!  

4.       Remember though, that 50% of videos are watched without sound, so make sure you have subtitles.  And, if your audience is listening the subtitles won’t distract them.  In fact, evidence shows that people are more likely to remember your message if they can hear and see it. 

5.       Demo!  All that the customer wants. Keep it simple and clear. No extra information is required. The demo should tell the customer that it is easy to use and better than other competitors. 

6.       Testimonials from the existing clientele.  It should be to the point and exciting. If the existing client is excited about the product, the vibe gets carried across easily. 

7.       No scare tactics! You don't want to be identified as the cheap infomercial that uses FOMO tactics to get you to buy their product. Good product videos can be carried on their USPs, and scare tactics are not needed. 

8.       Make it look good. Although beauty is not skin deep, a good-looking product video does not do your business any harm. Product videos are an advertisement for your brand, and a good first impression counts. Let the video have some personality so that your brand can shine through the competition. 

9.       Logo. Have your logo included throughout in the video. This is a better option than having a pre-roll. Nobody wants to see an ad within an ad.  

10.   Call to action. How do viewers buy your product after watching your video? Include next steps. If the viewer makes it to the end, there is a purchase interest. A call to action can help seal the deal.   

Bonus tips: 

Ø  Make various versions of the video. This is very important as we can use the same video on different platforms. Make 5-second, 15-second, 30-second cuts, depending on where you want to promote this video. 

Ø  Thumbnail. Thumbnails should have product close-ups. This attracts the customer’s attention and there will be an immediate click on it. 

Ø  Zoom-in: Give an experience to the customer that they are examining the product closely.  Show all the parts your product has.     

Use all these points and inspire great sales through your video. Remember, video attracts more eye-balls resulting in more conversions. Seed your video on YouTube and social networks like Twitter and Reddit, in addition to your website, to spark additional engagement.       

Gordon-Christiansen-2

Gordon Christiansen    
Partner & SVP Marketing

Gordon is a 54 year old Australian who was born in Denmark, lived in the UK for 27 years and now wants to live in Atlanta.  After breaking his father’s heart by leaving the family ships’ chandlering business in Fremantle, Australia Gordon embarked on a career in sales and marketing with Pitney Bowes and Canon before investing in and running an office products and graphic arts dealership in London called London Graphic Centre. 

Gordon is passionate about getting corporate messaging 100% clear and how alignment between marketing strategy, execution and sales effort will enhance and accelerate market penetration for Highlands’ clients.     Outside family, the things Gordon enjoys the most are cricket, Australian Rules football, music and socializing with good friends, good wine and good food.  So, for anyone interested in learning the intricacies of cricket or Aussie Rules I’m sure Gordon can be bribed with a charcuteries plate and a decent red. 
usa-europe

Building bridges across the pond

September 6, 2017

 

People are different.  Countries are different.  European business practices are different, as are the products they use.  To me, different is good.  Why?  While some products can face domestic decline, many find renewed life crossing the ocean - either going there or coming here!  And it’s not as hard as you might think because digital transformation and logistics improvements have brought foreign markets much closer.  Getting them into effective distribution channels and purchased by end-users is another story, and why local knowledge of that last mile is so important. 

 

So how can companies prepare for a successful trip across the pond?

 

1.      Correctly engage the category.  Not all products have the same value to a new target.  Make sure you launch with the right product assortment, proper pricing, and promotional incentive plan.  As your products and brand grows, then expand your offering to other products.

2.      Develop a strong distribution platform.  Some have never marketed to EU before, while others have a logistics partner but may not be utilizing it well.  Cross-border tax ramifications, product regulations, packaging requirements are difficult to manage in familiar regions.  Try doing it in multiple languages under different legal regimes!

3.      Proper salesforce engagement and support.  Appropriate CRM, campaign management, and program execution make all the difference in the US.  The same holds for Europe, but how they do it can be very different.

 

These complexities cause many to avoid the trip.  Others seek our help.    We need to understand your business and growth agenda to effectively launch the right products, in the right sequence, with the right partners.  We need to understand your flexibility to adjust to EU’s nuances, some of which may appear frustrating to you but are familiar to us.  We need to understand your willingness to focus.  Most importantly, are you willing to trust our expertise and guidance.  If so, international opportunity abounds. 

 

While newer versions of the old products often face tepid responses here, these can be wildly exciting in Europe.  There is a hunger for what’s truly new and opportunity exists because common and unsexy in one market can be a game-changer in another.  Unless you know the difference, and how to manage the complexity of a foreign market, containers of unwanted inventory may be the end result.

 

 Jade-2

 

 

Jade Wilson is Managing Director, Europe for Highlands.  He is a 44-year-old Scotsman who has resisted the temptation to leave God’s country and its beauty.  Having embarked on his sales career with Granada Television he progressed to selling cars for Ford and logistics services for TNT. The office channel came calling with 9 years at Corporate Express.  Starting as a business development manager, leading to sales management and European account management.  This was followed by a switch to OfficeTeam and then Integra as Head of Business Development.  In 2011 Jade joined The Business Performance Group as Sales Director which has led to leading the U.K and European business for Highlands.

 

Heres-what-I-see

Here’s what I see

August 28, 2017

Like everyone, my professional life is surrounded by emails, texts, meeting requests, tweets, blogs, newsletters, not to mention phone calls from robots, making travel plans, political solicitations, fundraisers, marketing flyers, market research, and Mom.  It’s truly hard to know what’s an important message or what’s not.  Even your refrigerator can send you information, so it’s easy to understand how important opportunities can get overlooked.  

The dealers I support go through the same challenges every day.  Compounding matters, they exist in a highly competitive marketplace from local and global players, online retailers, and others expanding into their space.   This is the backdrop, and why my dealers are looking to manufacturers and rep groups to bring an edge, something new and exciting that can generate growth.  

This means meetings - lots of meetings.  Unfortunately, rather than present new growth opportunities, most only offer newer versions of what they already have.  Dealers kindly sit through their 20th lunch and learn of the month, eat yet another turkey sandwich, and fully intend to “get back with them soon.”  Even presentations can taste like spam.

I take a different approach.

To me, relevant category insight and high-quality, innovative products are vital to selling a solution.  Add-in deep experience and an ability to relate to their challenges and the requirements of the end-user customer, and you now have their trust.  When I bring my satchel of information and solutions to a meeting, dealers know we’ll create many viable options that will move the needle.  As I see it, the solution had been there the whole time -- it’s just the formula had not yet been revealed.  By working collaboratively, we always find something the dealers’ salespeople can present that appears truly customized to them. 

Best yet, this approach makes people look forward to our meetings. Whether it’s purchasing, the sales manager, field reps, or the owner, all pay attention as they know I won’t waste their time with unimportant topics or opportunities.  That’s half the battle.  Part marketer, part salesperson, part scientist.  Consultative expertise coupled with great brands, an expansive product line, and marketing savvy can unearth fantastic opportunity.  And let’s face it, if my dealers are selling more and I helped them do that, I am proud, satisfied, and rewarded.

Laughter and lifelong friendships help too.  

2
Angie Tuerck
Account Manager