What’s attractive about hybrid-working for the employer?
Large office buildings are expensive to rent and operate. Having one central location can leave an organisation more vulnerable to disruption.
Businesses need flexibility; being asked to sign a long lease that commits you to a fixed-sized building is, increasingly, an unattractive option.
The truth is, that many 20th century assumptions about how a business should operate are being debunked.
Technology has changed everything. There will be no going back.
What’s attractive about hybrid-working for the employee?
Long commutes, long hours in the office, a ‘shirt and tie’, flying there-and-back in a day for a 1-hour meeting; is that really the smart way to work?
Achieving a work-life balance matters to the young. They don’t care about being seen to be the last to leave the office at the end of the day. Attitudes have changed.
When you work, and where you work, now matters less. The Monday-to-Friday-nine-to-five routine is old-hat. Many now work part-time, or on short-term contracts, or no contract at all. For better or worse, weekdays and weekends are less defined. When it comes to time, employers and employees have to give and take.
Flexibility is as attractive to some as pay. People increasingly value their mental and physical health. The old status symbols of house and car are becoming less important; houses are too expensive for most to ever own and cars pollute and depreciate. This is not 1980. People want a life, not just stuff.
Today’s graduates will be forced to work for more years than their parents and grandparents did. That is of course unless automation or AI renders their job redundant – but then they will just retrain and adapt. The concept of ‘a job for life’ died last century. Many will have multiple careers.
All of these factors point to a future when the relationship between work and life is very different from before. The Religion of Workism is heading for its Reformation.
Who’s moving to a hybrid-working model?
The U.K. Civil Service and Standard Chartered Bank are amongst the lastest converts to a more flexible approach to ‘work’. Their staff can now pick and choose where to work via a network of local serviced office spaces which span the globe. Twitter Inc. has told its staff that they can work from home forevermore if that’s what they want. Many more companies are following suit.
Start-ups have, for many years, started life in flexible shared office environments. It seems likely that, rather than scale up (at great cost) to their own dedicated buildings, some will want to retain the financial flexibility and locality they already enjoy.
Countries too are adapting to attract the hybrid-worker. Croatia moved to allow remote workers to settle temporarily during the pandemic and other countries offer residency packages to attract young, highly skilled workers. If your personal ‘product’ is intellectual – as opposed to physical – the world really is your oyster!
Marketing operations for the hybrid-working model
Ultimately humans are social animals. Not everyone has enjoyed working from home during the pandemic and of course, not everyone can work from home. But that aside, the likelihood is that your audience, whether it be clients or colleagues, will be located in more locations than before.
Physical events will return, although various factors are likely to mean that they may become smaller, more numerous, and much more localized. Face-to-face meetings may, in themselves, become more event-like.
International business travel is likely to become much more expensive as governments punish, by way of taxation, regular usage of the polluting methods for transport.
All of this points to the need to ship marketing collateral, in smaller quantities, to a much greater number of locations.
So what does that mean for your operation?
Well, either you create an in-house logistics operation, with all the associated costs and commitments, or you outsource your requirements to a third party.
If, as most tend to do, you go down the outsourcing route, you need to be sure of a few things;
- Will the third party keep your data safe?
- Does the third party offer a carbon-neutral shipment option?
- Does the third party use environmentally friendly packaging where possible?
- Will the third party manage all shipping-related queries and issues? i.e. customs, duty, and returns.
Managing logistics is time-consuming. Having the resources to store and pack lots of parcels is expensive; if you are unsure as to what the cost really is, just ask your CFO.
- What ‘working’ and ‘at work’ means has changed and will continue to change.
- Increasingly, marketing collateral will need to be shipped, in smaller quantities, to a larger number of locations.
- Managing more shipments involves sharing data and making sure your activity is environmentally friendly.
Looking for someone to manage your marketing operations? check out our Services page.
Humans are social animals – events will return!
In fact, post-COVID, physical events may become more frequent, albeit smaller and more localised, than before. People really do need to get out and socialise!
Large international gatherings – tens of thousands of people wandering around giant halls – face a more uncertain future. Sure, it’s nice to get away from the office for a few days but what about the impact of the flights on the environment and all that downtime! Maybe the ‘EXPO’ is now an old format?
A ‘tour’ of smaller, localised events – taking the message to where the customer is – may prove more effective for many businesses.
Customer-focused events may also become more popular. Instead of trying to pitch to a crowd, many of whom are not serious prospects, maybe it makes more sense to ‘set-up-shop’ for a day at the customer’s site. This is a great way to follow the old commercial maxim that – ‘it’s more cost-effective to win more business from your existing clients than it is to win business from new clients’.
And then there’s the virtual event. Sure, it allowed for a continuation of activity during lockdown but virtual events – essentially a video telephone call to a large group of people – are inherently homogeneous, one strangely seems to blend into another. The opposite effect, in fact, that events typically seek to achieve.
Vaccination programmes should mark the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though there are likely to be false starts and setbacks, slowly the events industry will emerge from near extinction.
So today there is light at the end of the tunnel, but don’t expect to find ‘life before COVID’ when you reach it. Minds have been changed and traditional activities questioned. Pre-existing trends have been massively accelerated. The 9-5 Monday to Friday standard is on its way out. For many, life and work, home and going somewhere else to meet, will merge into one fluid process spanning four days not five.
2021 is likely to be a roller-coaster ride; Q1 and Q2 should see Brexit, Biden and some vaccination alone. Maybe Q3 and 4 will offer a little more certainty with 2022 feeling relatively settled.
It seems appropriate to live life in constant anticipation of change.
And yet, one constant remains, humans will be…well, human.
So you have the concept, in fact, you’ve already run similar campaigns in other territories. Now all you need is a partner who can replicate and execute your plan for the EMEA region.
You’re in the right place! and here are some examples of projects we’ve managed;
Client: All-flash data storage hardware manufacturer, summer end-user promotion
Fulfilment requirement: Design and source a retail quality beach towel and custom shape power bank. Package with a covering letter, translated into the appropriate local language, and deliver to individuals located throughout Europe. Each delivery to arrive within a set delivery window. Provide an on-line delivery report confirming ‘signed for’ date, manage any data issues, courier or customs queries and subsequent returns.
Notes: The beach towel was custom manufactured in Portugal. The power bank, which was designed to mimic the shape of the product the client sort to promote, was custom manufactured in Shenzen, China.
Client: Marketing automation app provider, agency partner promotion
Fulfilment requirement: Source and brand a teapot, teacup and tin of tea and package with a well-known brand packet of biscuits. Place into a mailing carton along with personalised literature. Mail to marketing agencies throughout Europe. Report and manage accordingly.
Notes: A U.S. company, with its principle marketing contact based in Johannesburg, we worked to pull together this project quickly. The product came from Poland, print and food sourced locally in the UK.
Client: Cloud data management company, end-user demand generation
Fulfilment requirement: Replicate and execute a U.S. demand generation campaign throughout Europe, the Middle East and South America. Create a fully customised mailing box, insert a printed card and an empty sunglasses case to create a small mailing pack. Mail to individuals located throughout Europe. Report and manage accordingly.
Notes: The central message of the campaign was ‘give us a sales meeting, and we’ll send you a pair of Ray-Bans to go into this empty case’. We then fulfilled the Ray-Bans directly to individuals who had subsequently agreed to a meeting. The client is U.S. based, with the project being jointly managed by their offices in Amsterdam and Palo Alto.
In addition to these examples, we’ve created ‘new starter’ kits for a rapidly expanding U.S. software company. For a major British based legal firm, we produced and delivered ‘launch gift packs’ to every member of staff, across 18 locations worldwide, to celebrate a corporate re-brand.
If you would like to discuss a potential requirement, please get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org
Of course, many worked from home during the lockdown, and some will stay working there, but over time most will return to the place they left months beforehand.
Some appear to be relaxed in a world without a vaccine, but many are less so. Never before have people taken so much interest in personal hygiene in the workplace and, with the possibility of a second wave of infections, what they can do to protect themselves.
We have created a range of ‘new normal’ products, all of which can be branded, to help your organization remind and protect staff and visitors alike. Furthermore, why not send this type of item to your home-workforce or customers. If you don’t have the resources to manage fulfilment, to lots of people, we can help with that too.
You can view our new normal products here https://rosslyn.co.uk/g/new-normal-safety-products/
Then my whole world went zoom. Welcome to the new normal. A place where you have a choice; move forward or look back.
Trade shows, meet-ups, roadshows – you name it, none of that stuff is happening for a while. Right now (May 2020) would you want to share a confined space with lots of other people from other countries? Exactly.
So video conferencing has become the only safe solution for, not only large organisations but friends and families too.
For some, none of this is new. There has long been an army of freelancers and ‘tech’ savvy types mixing work from home with, work from the office, work from StarBucks. For once in my lifetime I was finally free.
Necessity is the mother of invention. It’s a sad fact that wars and pandemics are very often the only events that generate real societal, technological and economic change. Once you’ve found a better, or cheaper, way of doing something, you are unlikely to go back.
The boss of Barclays bank has speculated that the concept of having a large headquarters building may become a thing of the past. Airlines will probably have to cut routes and increase prices. Most retailers simply won’t exist within the next few months. Bang, just one touch and all the church bells rang.
And who will pick up the tab for the eye-watering cost of managing, or dare we say mismanaging, a pandemic? What taxes will need to increase and what effect will those increases have? Will the young be left to ‘carry the can’ as usual or will, for example, ‘inheritance’ taxes rise? After World II, British inheritance tax rose to 80%. Then my whole wide world went zoom.
Here are some questions for you?
- How do you retain mindshare, and brand awareness, when people are not physically visiting a central point of contact?
- Can digital marketing deliver everything? What about SPAM filters, ad blockers, and a general weariness with being followed around the internet by lawnmowers simply because your Google assistant heard you say lawnmower!
- How do you promote brand loyalty, and a sense of community or teamwork, when everyone is remotely located?
- What does it feel like when the nice man brings a box to your door full of useful free stuff?
- Do people have all the stuff they need to work from home?
So here’s the pitch. Gifting, rewarding, promoting – these things are now more important than ever? Disagree? Then just invert that premise – how does that sound? Leveraging goodwill creates a competitive advantage – and boy are we all gonna need some competitive advantage!
Zoom – or whatever you do – then, ask us to send a follow-up to the attendees. We could put a pack of stuff together with a covering letter or card. We could source items which are really useful for people working remotely. Or you could just send a teddy bear for the kids or a bowl for the dog!
It’s imperative that your on-line events are followed-up properly. All at once there was no turnin’ back. Oh zoom, you chased the day away.
There is much debate as to what shape the recovery will take. Will it be a ‘V’, a ‘U” or a ‘W’? Some foresee an ‘L’. Either way, certain products and services remain essential; food, health, power, finance, communications et al.
Markets will change. Some businesses will disappear, leaving their market share and talent to others. Some will reorganise and refocus. There will be new opportunities, trends and attitudes.
Many will look back at this period and see that its ‘chaos’ created positive change in their lives. Yes, it was painful at the time, but that’s when ‘I moved to X’ or ‘decided to change Y’. Maybe it took a pandemic to make you realise just how good your life was and to appreciate what really matters to you!
Marketers have to assume that much will be different. ‘Physical’ events such as trade shows look set for a slow recovery. Virtual events, webinars and online meet-ups are here to stay. The ‘home desktop’ certainly presents a new promotional opportunity.
Will people seek a little light in their lives? Is this the time to really promote ‘goodwill’, to be generous and caring? You may not be able to hand a client a gift personally, but you can still send one to their home.
What your business or brand ‘says’ and ‘does’ during this period may have implications for years to come. Do you slash prices or emphasise quality and service? Remember Marks & Spencers’ ‘Dinner for 2 for £10’ during the Financial Crash – a straight forward discount cleverly packaged. How creative could you get?
There is much evidence, from previous recessions, to support the notion that those who suddenly and drastically cut their marketing expenditure hand a long-term advantage to those who don’t. Not all companies are about to dial their marketing activities down. Some will push harder than ever, sensing a chance to leapfrog the opposition. Remember, the damage will be very expensive to undo.
No two recessions are the same. The COVID recession could be deep but short-lived. This time next year your business could be busier than ever but struggling without its most experienced staff. You could be marketing a new product or service. Your main competitor may have disappeared, legislation or consumer attitudes may have forced your sector to change course. You may have a whole new brand identity or a new owner. Who would have thought?
Trust and reliability are evergreens. In a world where supply chains are reorganising, credit is being withdrawn and prices are yo-yo-ing wildly, being able to rely on a brand or partner is crucial. Stay close to your customers, make sure they have all the information they need when and where they need it.
However tricky the situation got, your brand, your company was always there to serve. A light in the storm.
Promotional stickers are physical social media. They work. But how can this be? How can such a simple, low-cost item be in such demand? Well, it’s all to do with brand loyalty; people want to show that they are an active member of your tribe. Or that they’ve been there, seen it, and got the sticker!
And what better advertising is there than your customers, or followers, publically declaring their support for your brand? When someone sticks your logo on their beloved MacBook Pro, they are feeling your love. When kids spend more time playing with stickers than their games console, something is going on. When grown adults queue at your trade show booth for a sticker, your marketing strategy is operating on a higher astral plane.
How can sticking something to something else feel so good? What is this perverse satisfaction afforded to the sticker or stickers? Is the process of adhesion akin to an ancient ritual? Were stickers available for purchase along the Silk Road? Who knows. Anyway.
Promotional stickers are a testimonial, a vote, a thumbs up. So if you’ve got a loyal user base or growing fan base, get yourself some stickers like now!
With promotional stickers, it’s possible to create any shape, in any colour and any size.
There are many summer-themed promotional items, available from stock, which will help to spread a little sunshine this year. Summer is, in theory, the time of holidays, long evenings and above all fun! So, if you’re looking to develop a seasonal campaign this year, here are some promotional ideas for you.
Holiday travel accessories
Help take the stress out of travel by giving-away a travel-themed promotional item. Travel adapters are always well received, with both low cost and high-end options available for corporate branding. Travel in comfort with a neck cushion or travel comfort kit. Luggage tags, locks or straps always come in handy. Travel bags offer a great opportunity to heighten brand awareness.
Summer clothing and accessories
T-shirts are the perfect promotional product. Useful, with large branding area, they are as popular today as they were 100 years ago. Your office might be nice and cool, but the warmer weather can make work harder for those in places where there is no air-conditioning. Maybe your warehouse staff need a Summer uniform? Maybe your drivers need garments that are more appropriate for sitting in traffic on hot summer days? Summer is also a time for sporting events, like charity runs, sports matches and team building days. How about a summer hat or a pair of branded sunglasses?
Beach and pool accessories
The beach and pool are great places to have fun. Why not send your clients off on vacation with a cool beach towel? What about a useful cooler, beach bag, or beach game? Then there’s the barbeque or picnic. Who doesn’t need some bar-b-q tools or an apron? Kids love the pool and beach so what about something for them? A bucket and spade set, a kite or frisbee? What about some ice lolly moulds or water bottle with a fruit infuser?
Summer music festivals and cultural events
Millions of people attend music and cultural festivals every Summer. That represents a huge captive audience for your brand. Each event has its own demographic and culture. Promotional items, especially those which can be used during the event, are always very popular.
From a set of earplugs to a seat cushion or disposable poncho, there are lots of low-cost items which fit the bill. There is even a range of festival survival kits for those who fully immerse themselves in the weekend! And if you would like to create something really bespoke, like branded wellies or tents just contact our sourcing team for more information, although you’d need at least 4-6 weeks lead time.
And remember, as we get closer to the Spring and Summer period, stocks of popular items become more volatile. Don’t leave it too late!
Buying promotional items should be an easy process, but all too often it can become complicated. Here are 10 tips to help you streamline the process and to build a long-term relationship with a supplier.
1. Stop for a second and think about it
What do I want? When do I want it? How many do I need? Before you click send, or make that call just stop for a second to think what the supplier will need to know. Racing to dump a vague brief onto a supplier is a massive false economy. It might feel like you’re saving time by rushing in with half the story, but in fact, you are going to make the whole process more long-winded as a result.
2. Have your artwork ready from the start
Do you have artwork? If you don’t have it, who does? What sort of artwork will the supplier need? Promotional merchandise is all about the artwork; the whole point is to print, engrave, embroider, emboss your logo or design onto things. So, not having artwork is a bit of a problem. We created this page to help our clients: Help With Artwork.
3. You get the quote you deserve
Why does buying promotional merchandise have to be so painful? All these quotes, all these questions and emails. All I wanted was some pens and a few mugs! Well, of course, it’s possible your supplier has made a meal of it, but its more likely that the original brief you gave was not great. Had you actually thought about the product colour versus the colour of the logo? Did you mention you needed shipment to Barcelona in time for that show? Was it clear to the supplier that when you said a 2 colour design you actually meant four versions of a 3 colour design?
4. Take the suppliers advice
Good suppliers occasionally say no. Bad suppliers say yes to everything. A good embroiderer will point out that part of your logo might not reproduce very well because it’s too small. A reliable printer will tell you that the image you sent is too low resolution to print well. A smart supplier will steer you away from potential pitfalls. A good supplier will keep you updated with the latest trends and product developments. There’s nothing wrong with pushing a supplier to innovate, but equally, you need to take the time to listen to their reasons for suggesting an alternative course.
5. Allow enough time
No time, no choice. The principle is simple. More time, yep you guessed it! All too often, promotional items are an after-thought. Couple this with the ‘Amazon’ mindset, which expects instantaneous delivery, and the whole thing becomes a series of compromises. Here’s the thing, Amazon gets stuff to you quickly because it’s all sitting on a shelf ready to go. In other words, Amazon doesn’t make the stuff especially for you. All promotional merchandise is bespoke. You wouldn’t want a product with somebody else’s logo on, would you! A quick tip: Even if you don’t really have a deadline, set one anyway. It’s better for all concerned that they have a date to work to. Think 10 working days and you won’t go far wrong.
6. How to get a quick decision from your boss or team
Oh just go and get some ideas! Great, thanks for that. So you’ve won the prize, with no brief and a whole load of opinions to second guess, you are now the promotional merchandise expert! Then, having spent ages trying to ‘please all the people all the time’ you’ve now discovered that you’re too late to place the order anyway. There is another way.
Firstly, filter the obvious stuff at the start; how much budget do I have, what is the deadline, do we have artwork ready? Then, once you’ve got options in from the supplier, go back and present a limited choice coupled with decision deadlines. For example, ‘you can have red or white but unless you make a decision by Monday we might be the only exhibitor without giveaways’. Don’t be shy, strip out the niceties and set out the facts.
7. Don’t delay proof approval
Ok, so you’ve placed an order. All systems go. The supplier has just sent the proof and needs it signed off so they can proceed with production. Here’s the thing, you need to understand that factories see ‘proof approval’ as the starting gun for lead time. The lead time is not calculated from when you placed the order. So if you delay approving the proof you are delaying delivery, it’s that simple. Sure, the proof may be wrong, in which case you need to feedback why as soon as possible. Either way, time is of the essence.
8. Check the goods when they are delivered
Is the stuff the right stuff? Is everything ok? don’t assume! If there’s a problem, make the supplier aware immediately. Good suppliers are responsive and will get to work to resolve the issue. A quick tip: take a photo of the problem and email it to the supplier, that will date stamp the issue and allow all concerned to understand exactly what’s wrong.
9. Make sure the supplier gets paid
Who cares if the supplier gets paid! Well, you should. Good suppliers don’t deal with just anyone. They especially don’t deal with people who make them wait for months to get paid. If the supplier needs a Purchase Order to get paid, make sure they get one. If they need to send their invoice to a specific email address, make sure they have the address. Otherwise, they and your accounts department are going to be on your case. Avoid hassle, clarify the payment process upfront.
10. Meet your supplier
Suppliers are people. Real people. Not avatars or bots. Not LinkedIn profiles or imaginary beings from your inbox. It’s amazing how much easier it is to work with people that you’ve actually met. You will probably change jobs many times in your career, and if you decide to stay in marketing, you will doubtless need the same type of supplier from time to time. Having someone you know, someone you’ve met, someone who understands how you like to work, forms part of your offer to potential employers. Everyone in business needs good suppliers, take yours with you.
Promotional products; 10 effective uses to help you get more value.
1. Increase brand awareness
When your customers seek ‘X type of product’ what brand do they think of first and why? Making sure the right people think of your product or service, at exactly the right moment, is what brand awareness is all about. Your product or service may be technically superior, it may be cheaper, it may be a whole long list of wonderful things but if people don’t recognise your brand, or even worse, are confused by what it stands for, your sales team will have a mountain to climb. Promotional products help to raise brand awareness and spread the message. Get known by more people for less.
2. Improve customer loyalty with promotional products
70% of companies say it’s more cost-effective to retain an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. Earning and retaining customer loyalty is paramount. People ‘buy people’, so give ‘your people’ the tools to spread goodwill. Promotional products offer a cost-effective medium for increasing customer loyalty. Maybe your audience is very traditional, they want the printed calendar for their desk or a simple pen? Maybe your clients will be enthused by something more sophisticated like a wireless charger. Make sure your brand name is right there, front and centre, just when it needs to be!
3. Promote a specific product, message or event
Use promotional products to highlight the attributes of a particular product or service. Connectivity, integration, speed, efficiency; all of these concepts can be communicated by the right promotional product. Add a strap-line or event title to your branding to tie-in with your campaign. Continue the main theme of your campaign through your promotional give-aways; match shapes, colours, and functionality.
4. Recognise employees
Good people are hard to find. Great people are hard to keep. Making sure that colleagues, of all levels, are properly recognised is key to your organisation’s success. A staff umbrella for the winter, a ‘new starter’ pack or gym bag to encourage a healthy lifestyle can all form part of a programme of recognition and reward. We all like to feel valued. Promotional products can help to add the value that staff retention relies upon.
5. Increase footfall to your trade show booth
Catch the eye. Giveaways are a great, low-cost method of attracting interest and spreading goodwill. Why not turn each visitor into a mobile advertising platform by giving them a free bag? Have a low-cost, high volume giveaway like sweets or stickers to giveaway en masse. Then take something more sophisticated to give to your key contacts after that important scheduled meeting. And remember, merchandise is made to order so the more time you allow for production the better the product will be – don’t leave it to the last minute!
6. Kit your staff in uniform
Teams wear team kits. Armies wear a uniform. It’s simple stuff. Put everyone in some form of uniform and subconsciously they start to work together. Uniform, even if it’s just an embroidered shirt for wearing at a trade show, will help make your staff more visible and feel more valued. Uniform projects a professional image to existing and potential clients. Think about it, who do you feel more confident buying from? The smartly dressed person decked in company colours or the non-descript guy loitering around at the back of the trade-show booth? And what sort of image do you want your delivery drivers to portray? As the old maxim goes, ‘you never get a second chance to create a good first impression’. We offer a wide range of clothing and headwear.
7. Say thank you to a VIP
Decision-makers are hard to get to and even harder to satisfy. It’s never been tougher to maintain a personal relationship now that we all operate in a digital world. And yet, people still ‘buy people’. The big decisions are still almost always sealed with a face to face meeting or a level of personal trust built over many years. So say thank you, at that opportune moment, to the person who has placed their trust in your product or service. What’s an appropriate gift for your key contacts? Do women want the same as men? Is there a price point, too low and the item may seem insulting, too high and you stray into the minefield of inappropriateness. Check with the people who manage the relationship.
8. Tie-in promotional products with an event or season
Four seasons and numerous religious, cultural and sporting events combine to create a busy calendar of potential themes for your next promotional campaign. But be careful, make sure you aren’t about to offend someone or infringe a copyright! People are individuals with individual attitudes and beliefs. The title of a major sporting event is often copyrighted and many images and terms associated with major events are protected too. So yes, it’s cool and often really effective to tie your promotional campaign in with a moment in time, but before you do make sure you’ve done your homework.
9. Add value with a premium gift
Ever wondered why you got a freebie inside a box of breakfast cereal? Did you know McDonald’s Restaurants is the largest toy retailer in the world? Multi-nationals follow the tried and tested approach of ‘premium’ marketing; add a low-cost extra to your core product to alter the overall perception of value. Could you do something similar? Buy our plumbing products and get a free tape measure!
10. Promote cost-effectively, sustainably and responsibly
As digital advertising costs spiral and social media marketing flatters to deceive, traditional marketing methods have begun to regain ground. Promotional products offer a low-cost channel for generating brand awareness and promoting goodwill. And now you can go green with promotional products!