Think: Multi-channel Marketing Masterminds
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Highlands to Represent ShurTech Brands, LLC in the US and Canadian Office Products Channels

January 15, 2018

Highlands, the multinational sales and marketing services agency, has announced they will be representing ShurTech Brands, a global marketer of (DIY) do-it-yourself and home & office professional and consumer products, in the United States and Canadian office products channels. For decades, the professionals at ShurTech have put their focus on creating brands which are highly respected in terms of quality, innovation, and marketing, by consumers and professionals.

In 2009, ShurTech Brands became a subsidiary of Shurtape Technologies, LLC, an industry leading producer of innovative adhesive tape products. This collaboration combined the well-known consumer brands: Duck®, T-Rex Tape®, FrogTape®, and Painter’s Mate Green® brands with Shurtape’s professional brands.
“ShurTech Brands is excited to have established a relationship with Highlands. Changes in the market require new approaches; consolidating representation across the US and Canada with Highlands drives significant efficiencies for ShurTech and allows for a much more strategic collaboration with our channel partners,” says Peter Fahrenkopf, Vice President of Household/Stationery & Canada Sales at ShurTech Brands.

Highlands VP of Sales, Mike Douglas added, “ShurTech is committed to growing market share with their leading, world class brands. This new partnership helps strengthen our presence and provide innovative solutions to our customers across the US and Canada”. 

moving forward

Highlands in 2018

January 9, 2018

It was Paul Tudor Jones who said. “You adapt, evolve, compete or die.”  And, he’s a man worth listening to (120 / 400 on Forbes).

It’s no secret that the office supplies category is in decline and has been for some time. Like any successful company with its heartland in office supplies Highlands has been evolving its business for some years.  We try to stay ahead of trends and help our clients evolve and win with us.  

Office supplies will always be a cornerstone for our business however today it constitutes less than 25% of our sales income.  2009 was a turning point year for Highlands; we could offer true US-wide field sales representation and we entered the cleaning and break room categories.  Since then we’ve invested in e-Commerce capabilities, opened international offices in Canada and the UK, enhanced our furniture and facilities offering and added marketing to our portfolio of services.   

Over the last year we’ve clarified our vision and the principles that guide us, both internally and externally.  This has helped us and our clients to prioritize the direction we take from now, from 2018 and beyond.  One principle is ‘Channel Agnostic’.  That means we’re not fixed to any channel or marketplace but rather focused on advising our clients on the best place for them to be, and then help them get there.

That’s why marketing is such a vital component of our service offering.  Creating and executing strategies to exploit new markets is critical.  Helping clients with their proposition and positioning is not only exciting work but also helps drive effective sales advocacy.  Also, as more and more business is transacted online, the need for digital marketing strategies and assets becomes paramount. As a result, Highlands made the investments in people and capabilities to help those that require this service to increase their sales.

Highlands will continue to expand our facilities and furniture offerings, as our customers are looking for more support with these categories, and we have demonstrated the ability to help connect suppliers to these customers. We also expect to do more with safety, which is a natural next step for many of the partners we collaborate with.  

Beyond expanding product interest, Highlands is focusing on two distinct but well-defined end-user segments this upcoming year: hospitality and multi-family. These segments will take us firmly into the MRO space with clear focus. Further, this focus on specific verticals brings value to our traditional customers as we will be working with suppliers that can help traditional customers broaden what they sell and who they sell to.

An increasingly wide reach across multiple channels, integrated sales and marketing capabilities and access to the entire US market, as well as Canada and European markets, are a few examples of what sets Highlands apart in the sales and marketing space. In 2018, we look forward to helping our clients grow into new channels, markets, and geographies.

Gordon High Res

Gordon Christiansen promoted to COO of Highlands and makes his move across the pond to the U.S.

January 5, 2018

In the early weeks of 2018, Gordon Christiansen, Senior VP of Marketing and newly appointed C.O.O., has moved from his home in the U.K. to the home of Highlands’ corporate headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Bob O’Gara, C.E.O. at Highlands, commented “Gordon’s move to Atlanta and assumption of the C.O.O. role will allow him to become even more intimate with the entire business.  Since joining our European operation 3 years ago, Gordon has made a positive impact on the business providing leadership and operational rigor.  I look forward to working with Gordon and all of our associates as Highlands continues to grow through the addition of new services, geographies and market segments,”  

For over 55 years, Highlands has delivered greater sales for clients by providing the most effective and efficient brand advocacy programs. Today, Highlands serves its clients in the United States, Europe and Canada, supporting manufacturers and brands in the B2B, B2C, and eTail marketplaces.  

google banner

Optimizing SEO using Google

December 18, 2017

As 2018 approaches, it’s no secret that even your Grandfather knows how to Google search, be it bunco rules or Velcro strapped Reeboks. When it comes to buying a product or service, most of us perform a Google search. Often, I perform a Google search to check product reviews and compare prices between different online selling portals (Amazon, Target, Walmart, etc.).

Consumers may not be familiar with the channel they end up buying the product from, but they know they’re on the hunt for the best product at the most competitive price. With the amount of results a Google search can provide, it’s important that your website appears when a consumer searches for whatever product or service they need.

Many studies show that customers start the online search on a particular website but they end up buying from an alternative. This alternative website may not have been available or known to them when they started their hunt. This relays the fact that it is very important to increase your product visibility on multiple websites. 

Trend of Online shopping (source: bigcommerce)
51% of Americans prefer online shopping
96% of Americans who have internet access have shopped online
67% of Millennials prefer online shopping
95% of Americans shop online yearly
80% of Americans shop online monthly
30% of Americans shop online weekly
5% of Americans shop online daily

Statistics show that 54.5% online marketing is done through Google. 

Optimum ways to make Google work for you:

- Product Feed: Keep it updated. The products should be ready for pick up or shipping.
- Product Details: Maintain accuracy with respect to the product specifications. If Google finds these to be inaccurate, the product may not be listed long enough to catch anyone’s attention.
- Keywords: When seeking to purchase a product, the general population searches using few words, such as: name of the product, description of the product, weight, size, color, etc. These are the keywords. Be sure to use them in the product listing. This will increase the likelihood of your item showing up in the search.
- Images: The image within a listing plays a key role. It should be catchy and the customer should be attracted to click on it. Hire a professional photographer. Save your images using key words relevant to your product or service.
- Mobile Friendly: Make your website mobile friendly and get the customer to the desired page with minimal clicks. Little to no time lapse increases the chance of customer return. 

Today, there are many tools which will provide the information about an audience and what exactly they are looking for. Keep an eye on this data as it will provide you the impressions, click rates and information about the competitors. We suggest enhancing your product and website according to the trends. Google shopping is also offering local market inventory. You can sell to customers closer to your vicinity and also provide home delivery. 

In addition, Google is constantly updating itself to reach more customers. Think less, trust us, and get your products a space within Google shopping. Don’t forget, “the best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google search results.”


IDEAL shredder

EOPA 2018 shortlist reveals two IDEAL shredder videos as nominees for “Video of the Year” award.

December 15, 2017

The EOPA (European Office Products Awards) 2018 shortlist has been revealed, and among the shortlist, IDEAL has two videos eligible for “Video of the Year” category. Highlands produced these videos for Krug & Priester’s IDEAL shredders. The videos highlight the simplicity and quality of the shredders.

Senior executives gathered last Thursday for the EOPA judge’s meeting. Judges are composed of industry experts, who spent the day condensing a record number of nominees into the 2018 EOPA shortlist. 

For the past 17 years, EOPA has been established as the ultimate distinction for businesses that operate in Europe. It’s a way of celebrating outstanding individuals and companies from the office/business supplies sector. The award ceremony will be held on March 6, 2018 

“We were really excited when asked by the team at Krug & Priester to produce videos that presented key benefits of their products but in an interesting and engaging way.  Shredders is a very well-established category and it’s challenging to come up with innovative ways of telling stories to prospective clients.  The videos are really impactful and it’s great to be recognized by the European Office Products Awards committee and be shortlisted for Video of the Year.  The shortlist has other great videos from great companies so we’re honoured to be bracketed with them and, you never know, we might just win,” Says Gordon Christiansen, C.O.O. and SVP, Marketing at Highlands.

Below are the links for the IDEAL shredder product videos, which have been nominated for video of the year award. 

For over 55 years, Highlands has delivered greater sales for clients by providing the most effective and efficient brand advocacy programs. Today, Highlands serves its clients in the United States, Europe and Canada, supporting manufacturers and brands in the B2B, B2C, and eTail marketplaces.  

integrated model

Integrated Digital Marketing & eCommerce

December 4, 2017

You’ve spent thorough time sorting out your Amazon strategy.  Great, well done.  That means your eComm strategy is set, right?  Well, maybe not.  Amazon, whilst being important, is only part of the journey.  In this blog, we’ll scope this out a bit further and give you food for thought about a more holistic approach. 

In a recent review, (source: Business Insider) 56% of US, German, UK and French shoppers prefer Amazon as a point to search for the product. Customers go to Google to search for a product but still, Amazon enjoys loyalty from customers. In the US, 36% check Facebook reviews or Facebook advertisements for buying a product. Blogs, Bing, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and blogs are the other sources for a product search but not a big number.

first stop- amazon

The survey says:
- 22% say that “if they find a product suitable on Amazon, consumers do not look at other sources.” 
- 51% say that “though there is information on other websites, they prefer Amazon to explore alternative ideas, compare product features, prices and get more information.” 

Below is another survey conducted in Q1 of 2017 (source: Business Insider). This survey reveals that Amazon is the first stop in the marketplaces where customers stop to purchase.  
first stop- amazon

The chart clearly explains Amazon as the first choice to search for buying a product. Amazon not only enjoys loyalty from the customers, but it’s also the place where customers can get enough information about the product that they’re able to make an informed purchase decision. 

So, this confirms the importance of Amazon today: highly important but certainly not the whole story.

Let’s look at the ecosphere available to you.  Amazon, E-Bay, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, reseller sites, retailer sites, your own site - they can all reach the customer. Some will sell your product, some will generate interest or even leads.  But how do you choose the correct platform for your business and how do you maximize sales?  It’s not an easy decision to make, however, it is easy to invest incorrectly.

Take a very common scenario: you’ve built a great website and now all you need is to gain traffic.  You’ll invest in SEO.  You’ll invest in PPC campaigns.  However, the channel strategy doesn’t allow you to sell direct so you’re gaining interest but don’t know if you’re generating sales.  One idea might be to partner with a tech-savvy organization called Commerce Connector, which creatively connects your brand with loyal and committed retailers and e-tailers. Commerce Connector can also be imbedded into your social media feeds. 

Social media can be a minefield. Which works best? What does success look like? Do re-Tweets help sell more product?  Do ‘Likes’ improve your bottom-line?  Well, maybe.  Having brands that consumers genuinely engage with on social media platforms is more than half the battle.  Do you have that kind of brand?  If you do, then Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat may really help.  They have a multitude of success stories. 

B2B brands struggle with the kind of emotional attachment to really make social media pay dividends.  That said, there are plenty of success stories on LinkedIn and, to a lesser extent, Twitter.  

If you’re a retailer, the metrics are straight forward; footfall, conversion and average transaction value.  It’s no different online.  What is different is how you get people into your “store” (wherever that may be) and the techniques you’ll need to maximize conversion and value.

The first step to a successful online strategy is to truly understand who your customer is and how they will find you.  Then, work out ways to get their attention and move them toward a sales funnel.  My guess is that one solution will not be enough.  Choose wisely!

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