Bringing Out the Best in Brands

World-class strategy working to deliver results for you. Think Highlands.
Get your product from planning to customer faster with the most effective and proven strategic sales and marketing initiatives.
At Highlands, we deliver go-to market strategies custom-made for you. By targeting the most effective distribution channels and marketplaces with our international presence and highly developed expertise, you’ll save time and money and, most importantly, sell more.

Leave the marketing to us - as a truly multinational sales and marketing agency, Highlands is the only team to fully encompass your needs. With strategic partnerships ranging from your local community to regional, national, and international players, Highlands will get your products in the hands of the end-user while you focus on running your business.

Supporting your brand where you need it most.

Delivering the best in brand development, Highlands covers market research, content creation, and digital and print campaigns to strengthen your brand.
Bringing you a complete, comprehensive and strategic blueprint broken down into actionable steps, Highlands works to maximize your brand.
Partnering with the best resellers with full support and representation to all the best retailers is yours when you choose Highlands.

Supporting your brand where you need it most.

Having trusted relationships with all the best resellers, Highlands will leverage your products with insight and strategy to help you quickly penetrate the market.
Highlands brings you a trusted and personalized eCommerce strategy to complement your traditional routes to market, growing your brand and digital platform.
Delivering on our promises and measuring results, Highlands keeps you updated with regular reports and insight on your brand growth and strategy.


The Challenges of New Opportunity

We all see what’s happening.  The merger that wasn’t (Staples and Office Depot), Newell grows larger, Safco buys Mayline, WalMart acquires Jet (to take on Amazon), Amazon surpasses $1B in B2B sales - in under ONE YEAR!  Add in Brexit and Donald Trump and we see a category in full transformation.  Some will survive and thrive.  Others will not.  

Looking forward in 2017, we see large suppliers aggressively looking to acquire (more consolidation), buyer groups merging, large accounts looking to acquire (fewer resellers), product diversification, and further migration to Amazon.  These are tough times and it will not be easy for any of us.

That said, let’s consider the broader market.  The collective opinions of CBRE, JLL and NREI (National Real Estate Investor) show tight commercial vacancy rates within the US office sector through 2017.  Leasing rates continue to rise, albeit at a slower pace, and new inventory is expected to come online.  This dynamic likely exists in Canada and Europe as well.  The office sector is poised to grow, and will need our goods and services!

It’s just that traditional sectors no longer drive the economy.  According to JLL (http://bit.ly/2jIleET), tech remains the largest contributor to office leasing activity (24% of the market) -- larger than the next three sectors combined (finance, government, law)!  This dependency on technology, both personally and professionally, exists for all western economies.  It’s incumbent upon us (suppliers) to accurately meet their needs, and to abide by the new methods by which they shop and buy.

It’s also important to understand the issues driving or impeding their success.  There is no shortage of new, breakthrough technologies across every sector.  One big problem is a limited supply of qualified employees to bring these technologies to life.  Qualified employee acquisition and retention is a tech firm’s #1 priority (just visit any tech job board).  Couple that with dwindling employee supply (boomers retiring faster than new employees replace them) and you get a tight labor market and rising wages.  

My point is that old approaches and structures are less and less effective. New technologies offer better and more cost-effective solutions, but traditionalists create obstacles that block our ability to move in this direction.  As a supplier to this sector, we must adjust to the market and help end-users succeed.  Those that lead will reap the rewards.  Those that wait will experience tough sledding.

Seismic change always brings challenges.  Change is hard.  But opportunity remains.

Bob O'Gara
Highlands CEO

Ryman logo

Profits up at UK retailer Ryman

January 17, 2017

UK stationery and office products retailer Ryman based in Crewe, UK has reported flat like-for-like sales in its last financial year ending March 2016.

While sales on a comparable store basis were unchanged, total revenues were down 2.5% to £127.7 million ($153 million), in part due to the loss of two stores from its network.

In the company’s strategic report, Chairman Theo Paphitis said improved margins from trading activities as well as improved cost management lifted pre-tax profits to £8 million versus £7.5 million in 2014/15.

Other positives were an 8.8% growth in e-commerce sales and success from its stores being used as click and collect locations for fellow Theo Paphitis Retail Group companies Robert Dyas and Boux Avenue.

Paphitis concluded: “Despite the widely reported challenges facing retail, particularly in ‘bricks and mortar’, Ryman is a resilient business, as demonstrated by its performance over many years, building on our financial strength and ability of our colleagues across the board.”

At the time the accounts were filed, Ryman had 218 stores nationwide, marginally down from 220 a year previous.

Article courtesy of opi.net


Tombow: Powerful social media strategy

Powerful social media strategy brings 10x brand visibility
Seeking to increase premium exposure, impressions, and sales, Tombow partnered with Highlands for marketing and promotions during Amazon.com’s Prime Day event. The power of social media in marketing brought higher-than-expected results. 

The Client
As an already-established industry leader in the office supplies and arts and crafts channel, Tombow offers the most innovative and finest adhesives, writing, crafting, and correction tape products on the market today. Bridging the gap between cutting-edge and affordability, Tombow maintains their status for unmatched quality and design.

The Challenge
Already well-established in the market, Tombow wanted a winning strategy for Amazon. com’s Prime Day promotion. With the limits Amazon.com places on product entries and parameters surrounding profit margins, competition is fierce during Prime Day. Only the best of the best are accepted for their Lightning Deals, which provides for a significant promotion for the Prime Day event.
With the opportunity to break more online sales records than Black Friday, Tombow sought the revenue-driving exposure of Prime Day to drive marketing and traffic conversions. Knowing the potential impact, Tombow asked Highlands to step in and leverage all available marketing strategies to make the event a success.

The Highlands Difference
Collaborating with the manufacturer’s sales and marketing teams, Highlands’ strategy included an aggressive promotion, specifically targeting a highly active social media campaign. Building awareness and creating anticipation was a key factor in the promotional planning, and a series of pre-launch buzz was a driving factor for the success.
Maximizing on that momentum, Highlands ramped up the promotion to draw attention during and after the Lightning Deal promotional period. Through targeting the right market and strategizing a hugely effective social media campaign, Highlands helped Tombow reach out and create continued awareness of the Prime Day and Lightning Deal discounts.

“The Tombow and Highlands teams came together to execute an amazing Prime Day event. Not only did we have a very successful Prime Day, we have also enjoyed sustained growth from those activities. I’m extremely proud of everyone’s efforts and collaboration to make our digital strategy such a successful one” Greg DiLaura, Director of Sales

The Results
As Highlands anticipated, leveraging social media proved a success. Tombow sold out of their Lightning Deals within three minutes. Though limited to 500 units by the rules and regulations of Amazon.com, the actual sales dollars did not reach staggering heights. However, the impressions and brand awareness of this event was priceless in driving the brand to the top of the market.
The expertise Highlands has in social media marketing and implementation is unmatched by any other sales and marketing agency. Since this powerful strategy was first implemented in early 2016, the Tombow brand has increased its brand visibility 10x over.


Doug Ramsdale Joins Highlands as Global Growth Leader

November 1, 2016


Doug Ramsdale joins Highlands as Global Growth Leader to broaden Highlands’s expertise and effectiveness in consumer products and international markets, effective November 1 2016.


“Doug is passionate about international opportunities and growth,” says Bob O’Gara, CEO Highlands.  “Since 2007, Doug has been providing business services to both large and independently owned businesses.  We are very excited for him to join the team.”


Doug has had extensive experience in the business products channel, serving in leadership and consulting roles at ACCO, Fellowes, Office Depot/Viking, Staples, Nelson, and Home Products.  His professional talents include facilitating market-entry, improving product performance, and increasing revenue growth in numerous international markets: the USA, UK, Germany, France, Mexico, Australia, and more. 


“We have established Highlands as the go-to agency for international expansion in the US, UK, and Canada", and with Doug’s guidance, we can provide even more international accessibility,” commented Bob.  “He has proven global performance, and an energy and character that is what we at Highlands represent.”


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 54 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.