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Think: Multi-channel Marketing Masterminds
Jade-2

Highlands promotes Jade Wilson to Managing Director, Europe

August 8, 2017

Highlands, announces the promotion of Jade Wilson to Managing Director, Europe. He will have the primary responsibility for all business operations in Europe.

“Jade’s aptitude and contributions have been invaluable and he embodies so many of the wonderful traits of our company. His innovative thinking and vision will continue to enhance the strategic direction, growth, and profitability of Highlands in Europe” said Gordon Christiansen, partner at Highlands. Jade has been with Highlands for more than 6 years. Prior to his appointment, he led the sales team as Sales Director. In his new position, he will be responsible for leading all client programs in Europe maximizing their effectiveness through all reseller, retail and eCommerce partners. “I am delighted to take on this role for Highlands Europe,” says Jade.  “It is a great opportunity for me personally especially at this exciting time in the evolution of Highlands Europe.”

Highlands is the only multinational sales and marketing services agency supporting manufacturers and resellers in the B2B, B2C, and eTail marketplaces with custom product, sales, and marketing strategies. For over 55 years, Highlands has focused on engineering greater sales for its partners by providing the most effective and efficient brand advocacy programs, brand resources, and technologies for entire channels.

Today, Highlands serves its clients in the United States, Europe, and Canada.  Highlands is proud to combine the most effective and efficient multi-channel brand advocacy strategies with world-class tactics to ensure product sales are maximized throughout the supply chain and across the globe.


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Elephant-Room

Suggestions for the Future

August 7, 2017

My last blog addressed the “At Work” elephant in the room - that much has changed and managing through this is brutally difficult.  Whether things calm down is unknown.  To me, these are Darwinian times where strength is not determined by size, but the ability to leverage deep expertise with extraordinary agility.  The following suggestions should help set the stage for evolutionary fitness.

  • Provide a well-thought consumer journey.  First, you must understand what, where, why, and how customers buy products.  Thankfully, it’s not hard to collect and analyze data to determine these drivers.  Then, leverage this insight into powerful programs that boost sales and margin.  The more you can help distributors succeed, the more you become invaluable to their broader success - and your volume.
  • Think Mobile First.  We all understand that catalog, in-store and online must be aligned so offerings are priced accurately, branded accurately, and easily purchased.  Many forget to customize their online presence to be smartphone and tablet-optimized.  According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, 26% of online purchases in 2017 will be done on a mobile device.  While online sales have grown by 95% over the last five years, sales from mobile devices have grown by a massive 362%!  If your site isn’t optimized for smartphones or tablets, you’re probably losing sales!
  • New products and new markets.  Smart companies make their products obsolete before their competitors do it for them.  Continue to innovate and expand on what sells, and ration what does not.  And look beyond your borders and traditional routes to market.  Changing buying patterns and technology gives you the opportunity to compete and address new audiences.   
  • Be Social.  Today’s younger workforce spends untold hours posting on snapchat, Instagram, you name it.  If your content is worthy and well-placed, it will be found and shared - all of which drives traffic to your site!
  • Consider in-store technologies.  NFC (Near Field Communications) and in-store digital helps drive online sales while shopping in-store.  Augmented Reality is the next big leap in human interaction with technology.  Explore how this might work for your business.

Those that have incorporated some or all of these recommendations are seeing positive results.  That said, integrating these new processes was not without fear.  Departing from the tried and true is uncomfortable.  It’s also required.  The key is a willingness to try, and to fail fast should they not deliver.  

To us, staying the course and waiting for positive results imperils your future as slow and lumbering only makes you a target for extinction.  

Bob_Ogara
Bob O'Gara
CEO

ideal-MBM_logo

Highlands Announces a Partnership with the MBM Corporation

July 31, 2017

Atlanta GA, July 31, 2017 - Highlands (in partnership with LS Logistics), has assumed the Sales and Distribution roles for IDEAL-MBM Corporation in the Canadian marketplace.  As well as consolidating MBM’s strengths in traditional markets this arrangement will launch the IDEAL.MBM brands into the office supplies industry in Canada, where currently they are not as well known.
MBM Corporation is a leading manufacturer and distributor of Destroyit® paper shredders, ideal paper shredders and air purifiers, Triumph™ paper cutters and trimmers, along with other state-of-the-art finishing equipment for the graphics and printing industries.  MBM is well known for superior quality, engineering innovation, and high levels of customer satisfaction.

Ned Ginsburg, President of MBM Corporation, states, “The relationship with Highlands in Canada is really exciting for us.  We have great customers already and know they will continue to be very well looked after.  Alongside this, the opportunity to expand into new markets and grow sales for our excellent product range is very appealing.”

“We are excited to represent the first manufacturer of the cross-cut shredder technology,” says Brendan Lane, President & GM of Highlands Canada.  “They are committed to growing their market share, and this allows Highlands to strengthen our presence with customers across Canada by uncovering new opportunities and increasing consumer connections; it’s a win-win for everyone.”

Highlands, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, is the only multinational sales and marketing services agency supporting manufacturers and resellers in the B2B, B2C, and eTail marketplaces with custom product, sales, and marketing strategies.  For over 55 years, Highlands has focused on engineering greater sales for its partners by providing the most effective and efficient brand advocacy programs, brand resources, and technologies for entire channels.

Today, Highlands serves its clients in the United States, Europe, and Canada.  Highlands is proud to combine the most effective and efficient multi-channel brand advocacy strategies with world-class tactics to ensure product sales are maximized throughout the supply chain and across the globe.

LS Logistics, of Ontario Canada, provides third party distribution to all Canadian customers, along with flexible options in warehousing, inventory management, as well as customer service. 
MBM Corporation’s parent company, Krug & Priester GmbH of Germany, is a global leader in the manufacturering of paper shredders, air purifiers and small format paper cutters.


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.


Gordon-Christiansen-1
Gordon Christiansen
Partner. SVP Marketing


Aria_Glassboard

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.

Video_Slate

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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