Personalised Direct Mail – 7 Fantastic Case Studies
By admin on Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Personalised Direct Mail is more than just ‘Dear John’ letters!

personalised-direct-mail-HBD-opticians-JaneWe all know about the simplest kind of personalisation.

Hi [firstname]!

or if you’re feeling a little more formal:

‘Dear [firstname]’

The theory is that this improves results – and it probably does. But does it get the best results possible?

If you’re making the effort to personalise, why not do a really good job of it?  Personalisation based on location. Demographics. Past history.

Here’s some real life examples of personalised direct mail which works. Hoping they give you inspiration.

Personalised Images in Direct Mail

Case Study 1. Emma Bridgewater improve direct marketing ROI by 25%.

One of the items they sell is personalised cups. Why not demonstrate that in their marketing?

If your name’s Kirsty, your image has a cup with the name Kirsty on it. If your name’s Pete, the cup says Pete.


There’s some other clever things about the way they ran this campaign too.

  • Testing. Personalising images is relatively complex and adds some cost. Before committing for the entire catalogue print run of 25,000, they ran a postcard trial. And checked results for all segments of their database.
  • Even when they went ahead with personalising the catalogue, they limited the personalisation to the four page cover. No changes were made to the inner pages, so overall costs were controlled.

You can read the full Emma Bridgewater case study here.

Case Study 2. Porsche used personalised postcards to get an incredible 32% response.

A Toronto Porsche dealer targeted specific affluent neighbourhoods. The campaign involved taking individual photographs of a Porsche in the driveway of each target home, then printing those on postcards.

Of course, it was an expensive campaign. Imagine the time and manpower invested in going around and photographing the Porsche in each and every target driveway!

But you don’t need to sell many Porsches to cover your costs.

Use personalised location data and maps in your direct mail

Case Study 3. Liberty Bank’s new residents campaign is delivering revenues 9 times its cost.

personalised-direct-mail-liberty-bank-mapIt’s a really simple concept. Someone moves into an area you service.

You send them a mail piece introducing yourself. You explain why you’re better than the big corporates. And you show them how close and convenient you are.

Kevin Tynan of Liberty Bank explains the campaign in more detail here.

For Liberty Bank, it was new people moving into their neighbourhood. But that’s not the only time maps can be useful.

Case Study 4. A 24% response rate filled seats at a new restaurant location

personalised-direct-mail-mcnelliesFor McNellie’s restaurant chain, it was the company expanding. They opened a new restaurant in a busy area, but weren’t getting the custom they wanted. Local newspaper advertising didn’t work. So they turned to direct mail.

What made the mail work?

  • Geographic targeting. They wanted people who were close. Who would come once and then return.
  • Demographic targeting. They knew from their other restaurants what their core demographics were.
  • An incentive to try the restaurant. That was a $10 voucher – with a 2 month expiry term to create urgency.
  • A personalised map for each recipient. So they knew exactly how to get to McNellies from their home.

Read the complete case study here.

Use personalised gifts, samples and direct mail pieces

Perhaps the most common example of this is the promotional pen. If you run a business, you’ve almost certainly received at least one pen branded with your company details, along with a proposal to order more.

The idea has also been adopted by charities for fundraising. A gift of personalised stationery (writing paper with ‘from’ labels or a pen with your name on) is relatively cheap to produce. It turns the direct mail from a begging letter to a gift, and creates a sense of obligation. So response rates are much higher.

To create more impact, you might want to consider something more unusual than pens and stationery. And something related to your business is even better.

Case Study 5. Universal Graphics achieved more than double their target business

personalised-direct-mail-universal-graphics-truckUniversal Graphics is an Irish company specialising in vehicle branding, large-format printing and signage. They wanted to develop their vehicle branding business.

They sent collectable trucks with bespoke branding to carefully selected fleet managers. And the results were fantastic.

Over 25% of recipient companies requested quotations.

More than 10% signed contracts for fleet signage.

Of course, this example had a highly relevant gift in the direct mail piece. And for some products and services, it’s hard to come up with a good gift. So you could resort to pens, but make them really special. How about this idea?

Case Study 6. Making a personalised gift relevant for an intangible offer.

personalised-direct-mail-friends-first-penIrish financial services company Friends First wanted to develop their broker network. It’s hard to think of a gift which relates directly to a broker network. So they focused instead on the concept of ‘signing up’ and the signature. Here’s how they used a 2-stage personalised direct mail campaign to contact and engage with brokers.

The first mailing created mystery and anticipation. It promised something impressive – in exchange for a signature. But it didn’t say what.

The second mailing included a high-quality metal pen in a luxury box. Custom-etched not with the prospect’s name, but with their signature. It also included the offer – a brochure with all the details of the Friends-First partnership. Nearly half of all Friends First brokers came from this campaign.

Here’s another thing to notice about the campaign. The expensive personalised pen is only sent to those who have shown some interest. So costs are controlled.

Integrate digital and use the power of pURLs to for cost-effective personalisation

Case Study 7. London Opticians achieve a 500% ROI on a postcard and PURL campaign

Hodd Barnes and Dickins (HBD) are based in the City of London. Clients are mostly those who work close by – and if they change their job, they may not come back. So HBD wanted to reactivate lapsed customers.

HBD had some basic information on these customers, so was able to segment by age and gender. Creative was tailored to each segment. (Not personalisation in the strictest sense, but definitely making the mail more relevant.)

  • Postcard imagery showed a headshot of the same gender and age group as the recipient.
  • Headlines and messaging were also tailored. Messaging for over 40s centred on eye care and service. Messaging for under 40s centred on style and looks.

First names were also used in the headlines for full personalisation.

And each card had a pURL (personalised url) printed across the bottom as its response mechanism. (The incentive to respond was a £50 voucher.)

People who logged onto the site (8.26% of all recipients responded) got a personalised site too. Their name. Relevant imagery. A short survey. A chance to check and update contact details. And the voucher, emailed to them.

Plus, HBD staff received emails for every voucher claimed, so they could call and book appointments promptly.

With this level of personalisation and response, the campaign was a real winner. Immediate ROI was 500%, and that’s expected to increase with repeat visits.

Read a longer version of this case study here.


What personalisation will you use in your next campaign?

If you need ideas or advice on what’s practical, or how to make it practical, let’s talk!



Packaging Design Tips from a 10 Year Old
By admin on Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

packaging-design-package-it-betterPackaging is a core part of our business at Xpadite.

So when we found out our primary school children were learning about packaging, we were delighted.

Looking at their work was even better. They had a really strong understanding of what good packaging design is all about.

Here’s what they learned.

The schoolkids’ packaging design challenge

Our children were given cookies. Great! Every kid loves cookies. But there was a catch. They didn’t get to eat the cookies right away.

They had to pack them and send them through the mail first.

And they got to design and make their own packaging.

Here’s what they learned from the exercise.

1. List all the criteria for your packaging before you start.

packaging-design-criteriaIn this instance, the design criteria were fairly simple.

  • Waterproof
  • Able to be posted
  • Able to protect the gift
  • Environmentally friendly

In the grown up business world, there are other criteria we might need to consider.

For example:

  • Cost. From a functional point of view, packaging costs should be kept to a minimum. From a marketing point of view, spending more on packaging can enhance value, attract attention and increase sales. It’s an investment rather than a cost in the strictest sense of the word. But you still need to control the cost.
  • Information requirements. These could be legal requirements like weight, dimensions, ingredients, expiry date or country of origin. They could be consumer information like required battery size. Or company contact details.
  • Aesthetics and messaging. This is where marketers focus. Brand colours, logos and positioning. Images. Promotions. Ratings, awards and endorsements. Ways to make the product stand out on the shelf, including unusual shapes or finishes.
  • Ease-of-use in the logistics chain. Shape, size and weight are key here. Will your package product stack easily on retailer shelves? What about on pallets and in warehouses? Is it too heavy to lift easily? Do you need a bulk volume specified by a particular retailer?

2. Investigate different options for your packaging materials.

packaging-design-testingOur children needed something which would protect their cookies. They tested three different packaging materials.

They packed the cookies into each material, then dropped them. If the cookie broke, they recorded the height of the drop. If not, they increased the height and dropped them again.

So they knew which material scored best against the ‘protect the gift’ requirement.

3. Develop packaging specifications.

The children were working in small groups. Each group needed to be able to make consistent packaging. And diagrams, with labels, were easier to understand than words alone.

packaging-design-specification-2  packaging-design-specification-1

Exactly the same principle applies in real-world packaging design. In all design, in fact.

And the more precise your packaging design specifications, the more likely you are to get what you want. Look at the things our children included.

  • Dimensions
  • Colour
  • Materials
  • Order of steps to package the item.

4. Test your packaging design and learn from failures.

The ultimate test for our kids was receiving their packed cookie. Did it arrive in one piece? How did it taste?

But that wasn’t the end of the process. They also reflected and learned. packaging-design-learn-from-failures

So next time they’ll do it better. If the school ever offers to send them all cookies again, that is!

Let’s look at one last packaging assessment.


The lowest score for this particular packaging is 5 – for its aesthetic qualities. That’s practical packaging design, not promotional packaging design!

Of course what we really want is packaging which works for both. And if you’ve got the creative ideas, we’ve got the practical experience and expertise to work with you and deliver it. Drop us a line and let’s discuss your packaging needs.

The 2016 Marketing Mix
By admin on Friday, November 27th, 2015


Do you have your 2016 marketing plan sorted out yet?

Most people we know are running around like crazy trying to get 2015 finished off.

But it’s worth taking a bit of time out to think about next year.

To start planning your 2016 marketing mix.

A well-balanced marketing plan will have a mix of channels.

Both offline and online. TV, radio, magazines, events, email, search, social…

In fact, many of the experts are saying it’s time to forget the divide between digital and traditional. It’s all marketing after all!

What that means is that multi-channel, integrated marketing will be the way to go. And of course we’re biased, but all the research suggests that including print in your marketing mix will help deliver great results. Here’s the data to back up that claim!

1. Adding print advertising to the marketing mix (US)

A recent meta-analysis by Millward Brown reviewed 100 advertising studies with 250,000 respondents. It looked at the effectiveness of different multi-channel options.

  • online and print
  • online and TV
  • print and TV
  • online and print and TV

Adding print to the mix improved results across a whole slew of measures. But one really stood out.

Adding print to an online and TV campaign doubled brand favourability and intent to buy!


It’s also worth noting that more repetition is possible in print. TV and online show diminishing returns after 4 exposures. Positive response to print continues to grow with 5 exposures, or even more.

2. Letterbox media drives consumer action (Europe)

Research by ELMA (European Letterbox Marketing Association) in 2014 shows that letterbox media is far from dead. Annual spend across 18 countries totals around 3.9 billion euros!

Why spend so much? Because it’s effective. After reading letterbox media, consumers take action. They don’t just visit shops, although 75% do that. A staggering 89% go online.

More evidence that online and offline need to work together!


3. Catalogues are a winner for offline and offline retailers

Harvard Business Review reported on this in February. Read the full article or just skim the quotes from senior marketers below. It’s clear catalogues are worth the investment!

20% of first-time customers place orders after receiving a catalogue. They spend one and a half times as much as new shoppers who didn’t receive a catalogue first.

Craig Elbert, Vice-President Marketing, Bonobos

L.L.Bean is experimenting with the catalogues it sends to regular website shoppers. They look for frequent website visitors and ask, “Can I only send her 50 pages, or 20, as a reminder of, ‘Oh, I’ve got to go to the website’?”

Steve Fuller, Chief Marketing Officer, LL Bean

4. Your 2016 marketing mix needs a plan to get round adblocking

In 2015, there are 198 million active adblock users around the world. That’s an increase of 41% in just 12 months.
The cost to publishers is an estimated US$22 billion.

(All statistics from the PageFair Ad Blocking Report.)

So how are you going to reach those internet users? Maybe it’s time to try something offline?

Maybe, going by another print trend this year, you should add an adult colouring book in your marketing mix.  With careful product placement and subliminal ‘buy’ messages…


Of course the last comment wasn’t entirely serious. Even if it would be fun to produce. But we do hope the statistics give you a reason to include some kind of print in your 2016 marketing mix.

And if you need any help with campaign planning or implementation, just get in touch!

Award Winning Packaging 2015
By admin on Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

2015 is nearly over. In the midst of the pre-Christmas rush, we’ve collected some of our favourite samples of award winning packaging from Australia and around the globe.

Enjoy! Get inspired!

Award Winning Promotional Packaging

Let’s start with the Australian Packaging Design Award Gold Winner.

award-winning-packaging-footy-waterAFL Footy Water.

All the coaches drank it. It was sold at Woolworths.

Apparently the brief was ‘to develop a PET water bottle that replicates the traditional Sherrin football shape and simultaneously promote water consumption and an active lifestyle. The challenge was that after consumption, the bottle had to be robust enough that it could be kicked around like a football‘.

But was this award-winning packaging a real-life promotional success? A quick Google of ‘AFL footy water’ suggests maybe not. There are over half a million results, but the top few aren’t positive. Woolworths don’t have a picture yet.  Hashitout.com comment that ‘making a grown man drink out of a novelty bottle is a bit humiliating’. And how about this from a bigfooty.com forum?



Coopers Artisan Reserve

award-winning-packaging-coopersThis promotional packaging scored a bronze at the Awards. It was designed to promote a newly launched craft lager from Coopers Brewery.

The promotional approach was completely different from the AFL footy water. This wasn’t a mass-market bottle, this was packaging to impress a select group of influencers. It was intended to gain publicity and reviews. And it seems to have worked. Check out this post on the Eating Adelaide blog, or this post from Rick Besserdin, a beer fanatic.

Maybe one reason the team at Xpadite like this is because it reminds us of the work we did for Taylors Visionary. The same emphasis on story and tradition. The same focus on the taste and quality of the product.

award-winning-packaging-whiskyAward Winning Luxury Packaging

The Girvan Patent Still Single Grain Whisky

While we’re on the subject of presentation packs, how about this one?

This superb presentation box took out Best Of Show at the prestigious UK Luxury Packaging Awards.

Great retail packaging for luxury items delivers in three ways:

  • raises the perception of value and hence the price
  • protects the product itself
  • stands out on crowded retail shelves.

This award-winning presentation box fulfils on all three criteria.

Nabeel Perfumes

This company won gold twice at the same Luxury Packaging Awards.  You can spot luxury design themes in the perfume collection and the shopping bag.

Black and gold. The sheen of metallic. Luxury finishes. High attention to detail.

award-winning-packaging-perfume award-winning-packaging-shopping-bag

Love it!

Award Winning Practical Packaging

Not all packaging is as spectacular and luxurious as these examples. But all packaging – or at least all good packaging – must be practical.

It should protect the product. During bulk transportation, where handling may be rough. On the shelf. On the way home with the final purchaser.

It’s satisfying that the Australian Packaging Design Awards include an ‘Industrial’ category. It’s also satisfying that the judges noted ‘a quality set of entrants illustrating clear benefits across the entire supply chain and an efficient use of materials.’

Like this example.

award-winning-packaging-metal-detectorMinelab GPZ 7000 Metal Detector

This packaging is cleverly designed in many ways.

  • all elements pack compactly to save space (and cost) in transit
  • custom-moulded to the items to avoid movement and potential damage
  • the moulded pulp tray is low-cost, can use recycled materials and be recycled again.

Hungry Jacks

award-winning-packaging-hungry-jacksThe fast food chain also picked up a prize for their innovative burger packaging.

Features to notice here include:

  • easy-carry handles
  • easy-lift cover
  • burger and chips are separated
  • raised area for burger so bottom bun doesn’t get soggy
  • once again, low cost and recyclable cardboard.


So that’s our pick of award winning packaging from 2015. We look forward to more innovative, practical and inspiring packaging in 2016!


Print Content Marketing – Why it still works today
By admin on Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

infographic-section-hostory-of-content-marketingWhat do you think of when you hear the phrase ‘content marketing’?

  • Blogs?
  • White papers?
  • Infographics like this one here?
    (click on it for the full graphic)

The chances are your first thoughts are about something digital.

But content marketing has existed since at least 1895, long before the internet.

The first content marketing was print content marketing – and the format’s still going strong!

Early examples of successful print content marketing

Let’s look at the history first. (And thanks to the Content Marketing Institute for the infographic above – click on it to see the whole thing.)

John Deere and The Furrow

John Deere’s magazine, The Furrow, is widely accepted as the first example of content marketing. It’s not a sales catalogue, although it does contain calls to action. It’s a magazine which educates farmers of developing technology and trends in agriculture.

Publication started in 1895, and hasn’t stopped since. The current print run is over 1.5 million copies, distributed in over 40 countries.  That track record certainly shows the value of print content marketing!

The Michelin Guides

print-content-marketing-michelinWhen the first Guide was published in 1900, there were only a few thousand cars in all of France. Andre and Edouard Michelin wanted more people to buy cars, so there would be a bigger market for car tyres.

So they gave away free booklets full of information for motorists. Maps. Guides to how to repair and change tyres. Lists of car mechanics, hotels and petrol stations.

The Guides have changed over time – most notably, they now focus on restaurants, and you have to pay for them – but they’re still there. And so is the Michelin branding.

Pirelli Calendars

Another tyre company, but a different style of print content marketing.

The Pirelli calendar began in 1964 as a trade calendar for car mechanics. But it soon “cast off its original role as a ‘corporate freebie'” to become ‘an exclusive publication with a strong aesthetic and cultural vocation.’

Why print content marketing still works

There are many reasons to invest in print content marketing.

  • Engagement.  The average reader of a branded magazine will spend up to 20 to 25 minutes with it. Compare that to the two minutes you might get on the Web.
  • Long content is better suited to a printed format. And sometimes, you need to get more complex ideas across.
  • Durability. Even simple printed newsletters last longer than an email.
  • Cut-through.  We’ve said it before. We’ll say it again. Your letterbox is less cluttered than your inbox.
  • Neuroscience shows more emotional reaction, better recall and a higher perception of value for print over digital.
  • It’s easier to get guest contributors if you’re producing print content. Simply, print is seen as having more value. Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute agrees.  “I talked to a journalist recently who said it’s harder and harder to get people to agree to an interview for an online story. But mention that it will be a printed feature and executives rearrange their schedule.”
  • If you’re going to send people printed content, you need their real addresses as well as email addresses. It may be a harder initial sell, but you get more valuable contact information.  And while many people have a second email address to filter out junk mail, very few do the same in the offline world!

Modern examples of print content marketing

Idea books and customer magazines that combine product information and interesting articles are a growing segment for commercial printing.

When choosing which suits you, bear this in mind. A book is a one-off print content marketing project. A magazine is an ongoing commitment in terms of time and effort.


print-content-marketing-booksWriting a book gives you instant authority and credibility. And a print book does so far more than an e-book, whether you self-publish or sign a deal with a traditional publisher.

Books are especially effective if you work in an expertise-based industry. Financial planning and investing. Marketing. Natural medicine. Fitness training. Business coaching.

Alternatively, if you sell design services, a visual book collecting some of your key projects can be a great content marketing tool.  Think of architects, builders, fashion companies and so on. Here, a coffee table book with lavish illustrations is the way to go.

Lavish visuals work for restaurants and chefs too. (And given general public interest, this sector is more likely to get a publishing deal and good distribution.)

Or you can build a book around the story of your brand, or your company. Use a book to commemorate a 50 year or 100 year anniversary.

If you self-publish (and most content marketing books will be self-published), you need to consider distribution.  Most self-published books sell only a handful of copies. It’s better to think of the book as a promotional giveaway.

  • Give copies to your key clients and prospects.
  • Use as prizes at networking functions.
  • Promote the book on your website.
  • Run competitions and offer copies as prizes.

But remember a key part of the value is the kudos you get as an author. Even if you have copies left in boxes in your cupboards, you can still promote yourself in all your marketing as an author and benefit from the authority that gives you.


The most obvious examples of print content marketing are customer and member magazines.

“Why spend €40,000 a page to advertise in Vogue when, for the same amount of money, you can publish an entire magazine?”

Alice Litscher, fashion communication professor, Institut Français de la Mode, Paris

print-content-marketing-open-roadOne other great thing about publishing a magazine – you get to exclude your competitors! Compare that to a trade magazine where you are competing directly with them for attention.

  • The NRMA‘s Open Road and the RACV‘s Royal Auto are obvious Australian examples. Both have print runs of around 1.5 million. Both provide useful, entertaining, relevant content. But they also promote the full range of services the organisations offer. This combination of free advice and a gentle sales message is classic content marketing.
  • Airlines and hotels also publish their own magazines, with the same objectives.

It’s not just these traditional players who are publishing magazines, though.

  • print-content-marketing-red-bulletinRed Bull publish Red Bulletin, an ‘almost independent monthly magazine’ focusing on an ‘active lifestyle’ content which fits with the drink’s brand image. It’s distributed through subscriptions, newsstands and partners. There are 11 national editions in various languages, and the total circulation is around 2 million.
  • Uber, the taxi cab challengers, have recently launched not one but two print magazines. Momentum is a quarterly magazine for its 150,000 drivers. Arriving Now, on the other hand, is targeted at customers. To date it’s only available in New York and it’s not clear how often it will publish.
  • And online fashion giant Net-a-Porter publishes Porter, a fashion glossy which acquired over 150,000 subscribers within a year of launch. (That compares to around 200,000 for British Vogue, so it’s a good number!) One interesting feature of Porter is that it’s technology-integrated. You can scan any page and be taken online to buy the dress or shoes you’re looking at. So maybe it is just a very fancy catalogue?  Except that it takes advertising too – and you can scan the advertising as well as the content.

More advice on custom magazines in this article from Annette McCrary of Ricoh, publishers of The Flow.


A magazine may be out of your reach, but what about a simple quarterly newsletter? Customers who don’t read their email will notice the print in their letterbox.


The ‘modern‘ online phrase is native advertising, but in the old world of print content marketing, it was called an advertorial.

The key point here is that you are paying to have your content put in front of someone else’s customers. And the content is not a sales pitch, but the start of a conversation.  It gives information, or it entertains. It adds value for the consumer.

print-content-marketing-guinness-cheese-guide   print-content-marketing-aldi-advertorial

Many advertorials are one-off campaigns, like the examples above.

Another option is to develop a long-term ‘columnist’ relationship.

  • A vet or a pet store might write a column about caring for animals.
  • A doctor might write about common illnesses or how to stay healthy.
  • A financial advisor could write about investment options.

It’s the same as a blog, but it’s in print. And that gives it added authority. Especially if your column is in a respected newspaper or magazine.  Local publications can also help you target a specific area.

Content marketing at point of sale

Let’s not forget the good old-fashioned point-of-sale leaflet. If your point of sale adds value for customers, retailers are more likely to use it. But remember your POS has to work for retailers too – and retail space is at a premium. Here’s a POS example which Xpadite developed with Kiwi Shoecare.



So when you review your content marketing strategy, don’t forget to consider print options. And if you need help with any of them, just ask Xpadite.

Corporate Gift Ideas for Christmas 2015
By admin on Friday, October 23rd, 2015

corporate-gift-presentation-boxChristmas decorations are in the shops already.

Has your business started planning yet?

If not, you need to start now!

We’ve put together some guidelines and corporate gift ideas which might help.

8 Guidelines for Corporate Giving

1. Set a budget before you start.

Think about all the people you want to give gifts to. Whether it’s clients, prospects, suppliers or staff, work out how many there are and how much you’ve got to spend in total.

Then divide your budget carefully.  If you’re giving to clients and prospects, you may want to spend more on the most important relationships – but remember, people may talk and compare what they got. For staff, the best policy is to give everyone gifts of the same value. Otherwise you’re simply telling some of your team that you care less about them than you do about their colleagues.

2. Spend time to get the right gifts rather than money to get expensive gifts.

It seems obvious, but it’s easy to forget. It’s the thought that counts.

3. Make sure your corporate gifts comply with company policy. Yours and your client’s!

The more expensive the gift, the more likely you are to run foul of company policy. (Luxury gifts can also backfire if the client decides you’re making too much money out of them, so be careful!)

Another option is to give a group gift such as a food hamper to the entire client team. This is less difficult for decision-makers than a gift they and they alone get to keep.

4. Presentation matters.

Great gifts come in fantastic packaging. Once again, you want to demonstrate time and effort. You want your gift to look as if you care. To be special. To make an impact.

If you need help with custom packaging, Xpadite have plenty of experience.

5. Logos are for promotional items, not gifts.

Maybe not if  you’re a cult brand like Apple or Harley-Davidson. But most of us aren’t. Customers and staff don’t generally want to be walking billboards for our company.

If you really do need to have your logo, consider putting it on the packaging rather than the gift. Or give items like lollies or gift cards.

Another option is to use your company colours, with possibly a small and discreet logo.

6. Personalised, but not personal.

Personalisation is one way of showing that this gift was planned for a specific person. So the recipient is more likely to feel special and appreciate the gift.
Personal gifts, however, run the risk of being misunderstood. This is especially true when giving to someone of the opposite sex.
There’s a fine line to tread between giving something which matches the individual’s interests and giving something which is too intimate.

7. Be careful with humour.

Not everyone thinks the same things are funny.

8. Consider religious sensibilities.

December is a prime season for gift giving, but not everyone is Christian. Those of other faiths may be offended by Christmas wording.

It’s not just wording either. Wine won’t go down well with Muslims. And food hampers can present all kinds of challenges!

So, bearing all those points in mind, what can you give this festive season?  We’ve divided our ideas into a few categories.

Corporate gift ideas – food and drink

  • corporate-gift-ideas-chocolate-bouquetWine. As mentioned above, make sure the recipients like and drink wine. It’s not a great option for Muslims or pregnant women. You might also check whether the recipient prefers red, white or bubbly.
    Substitute options include luxury tea or coffee selections. Or foodies may like flavoured vinegars or other condiments.
  • Food hampers. The trick here is to check carefully what’s in the hamper. Consider dietary restrictions based on religion or allergies.
  • Chocolates. These are a safe but unimaginative option. Make sure they’re nicely wrapped, so at least they can be passed on.
  • Food bouquets. This is a great option if you’d like to give something to the whole team. Choose chocolates, lollies or fruits depending on the group you’re giving to. Vary the size, or order more than one for bigger groups.
    Bouquets are all about presentation, so you don’t have to worry about giftwrapping. Just add a message so they know it’s from you. Or you can hand-deliver – all smart salespeople know it’s great to have the receptionist and the PA on your side! (This bouquet came from Edible Blooms, who deliver Australia-wide.)

Business-focused corporate gift ideas

There are more imaginative ideas out there than a personalised pen or desk calendar.

  • For frequent travelers, try a travel pillow. Or a passport cover or suitcase tags – add their name for a personal touch.
  • Novelty USBs were all the rage a year or two ago. How about a novelty mouse? Even better if you can make it something which relates to your business. (And if you have an idea but you can’t find the product, ask Xpadite. It’s exactly the kind of strategic sourcing project we enjoy – as long as you have the quantity.)
  • How about a business book? Pick something relevant to your clients, or to the work you do for them.

corporate-gift-ideas-car-mouse corporate-gift-ideas-ladybird-mouse

Giving the gift of choice

Gift cards and vouchers – you may love them or you may loathe them.

On the plus side, your clients or staff can use them to get what they really want.  Prepaid Visa cards are the most flexible of all, or you can opt for movie vouchers, or store cards, or many other options.

On the downside, they may seem like a last minute lazy option.

To avoid that ‘no care‘ impression, take care with the card and the presentation. If you have enough volume, you can get gift cards custom printed. For smaller quantities, use a folder and luxury packaging to make the card special. This is one case where you can use your logo freely, since the card will be taken out before use. You can personalise too.  Luxury-look presentation doesn’t have to break the bank either – here’s one way to get a metallic embossed look without breaking the bank.

Corporate gift ideas which share the love

The ‘Christmas spirit’ is originally about giving rather than receiving. How about donating to a charity rather than giving a gift? This is also an option when company policy doesn’t allow your clients to receive anything from suppliers.

If you know what charities clients support, you can donate direct. Or you can leave the choice to them.

My Cause gift cards put the decision power back in your clients’ hands. Or maybe they’d prefer to support entrepreneurs in the developing world via microfinance provider Kiva?

corporate-gift-ideas-bike-chain-clockOriginal and Unusual Corporate Gift Ideas

Original gifts are more likely to be remembered. But they’re also more risky.

One option is to take a standard ‘safe’ gift and reinterpret it with an unusual angle. If that angle reflects your business, so much the better.

For bike shops, engineers or other technical companies, how about this fabulous clock from Resource Revival?

corporate-gift-ideas-cactus-candleFor garden centres or florists, cactus candles would be a better fit.

When it comes to gifts like these, your imagination is the limit.


Here’s hoping this gets your creative juices flowing on some great corporate gift ideas for you and your business.

Now all you need to do is find what you want!  Happy hunting!

By the way, if there’s something you really want and you can’t find it anywhere, ask us. We may not be able to source it for this year, but it’s not too early to start planning for Christmas 2016. (How do you think all those Christmas decorations got into the shops already this year?!?)

Sticker Marketing – 13 Ways Stickers Can Help Your Business
By admin on Monday, September 28th, 2015

sticker-marketing-duracellSticker marketing – it’s not the latest digital technique, but it’s affordable, flexible and effective.

Stickers can be used in so many ways, they’re an option for just about any business.

Here’s a look at the why and how of sticker marketing, with plenty of great examples.

And we finish up with a sticker marketing checklist. Everything you need to make your next campaign deliver results.

Why are stickers so good for marketing?

  • They can be used almost anywhere. Retail outlets. Outdoors – including on cars. At events. In direct mail. As promotional items. On packaging.
  • They last. All print lasts longer than digital. Stickers last longer than other print. They stick around!  And that means more visibility for longer. More time for your brand and your message to sink in.
  • When customers choose to use and display your stickers, they endorse your brand. Does your laptop have an ‘Intel Inside’ sticker on it? What about car stickers? They work for sports clubs. They work for the ABC. Could they work for you?

Ways to use sticker marketing for branding

Increasing brand awareness is probably the commonest sticker marketing goal.  There are many ways to do it.

1. Use stickers to brand your packaging.

Custom packaging is a great way to promote your brand. For online retailers in particular, packaging is often the first time a customer interacts with your brand physically.

But if you don’t need high volumes, or if you need a whole range of different packaging for products of different sizes, you may be up for lots of expensive minimum orders.

Stickers solve the problem for you. Order one size of branded stickers which you can apply to multiple different packaging items. Now you can use standard boxes, bags and other packaging which don’t have minimum order quantities, but still promote your brand.

2. Use stickers to brand low-volume promotional items.

This works on the same principle as printed packaging.

3. Use stickers as branded giveaways.

sticker-marketing-car-windowWe’re back to car stickers again! But branded giveaways only work if people actually use the stickers.

It’s easy if you’re a membership organisation. Or if you’re a brand with passionate fans like the ABC or Apple.  What do the rest of us do?

Do you have thousands of customers you can distribute stickers to easily? If you’re sending monthly statements or annual certificates of renewal, why not pop a sticker in with each? The cost is minimal, so you only need a low percentage of stickers being used to get a good return.

For most of us, the answer is appealing stickers which customers will want to display – and which include your brand too. Even if they are not consciously promoting you, you get exposure and tacit endorsement.

Ideally the sticker content will not only attract attention, but also tie in to your product or service. And provide a contact detail if possible.

4. Use stickers at events.

As with any giveaway sticker, the stickers need to be appealing or useful.

If you’re creating stickers for a specific event, relevant creative may make them more popular. ‘I survived <the event name>.’ For international audiences, a local icon like the Sydney Opera House.

If you’re handing out stickers, don’t forget you can print on the backing paper too.  How about unique numbers on the back with a link to a website where you might have won a prize? Or a map promoting a nearby cafe or bar? (Great if you can get them to subsidise your print costs too.)

Events offer other options as well as sticker giveaways. How about a guerilla sticker marketing campaign around the venue to drive traffic to your stand? Make sure your stickers say clearly where you are. Offer a reason to visit. Print a codeword and offer rewards to stand visitors who quote it. Or ask an intriguing question, with an invitation to visit your stand to get the answer.

5. Use stickers on your company car(s).

sticker-marketing-wicked-campers-cane-toadsIf you or your employees are driving company vehicles, this is a simple way to advertise your brand as you go about your business. You can be as subtle or as in-your-face as you like with this branding.  And you can place it anywhere on the car that you like.

One point to consider if you’re stickering large parts of the car window is visibility. The driver still needs to see out. So we’d recommend micro-hole stickers. They let light filter through but still present a full image from the outside.

6. Use stickers in creative outdoor campaigns.

Outdoor sticker marketing options are endless.   But you do need to think about your image and the response you’ll get.  Putting stickers ‘on signs, poles, and even other advertisements‘ worked for Reddit, but it may not be right for you and your market. Especially if you don’t have a cute alien logo to help you along.

An alternative is to pick one particular part of the outdoor environment. Folgers Coffee chose steaming manholes in New York.

Also be aware that if you’re going to sticker lots of public places, you’ll need a lot of manpower to get your stickers in place.  Stickers themselves are very affordable, but be careful about your other campaign costs!

Use sticker marketing to share information

Stickers are often used on products or retail packaging to highlight information. Everything may be on the box already, but a sticker draws more attention.

7. Promote any awards, competitions or praise your product has won.

The wine industry does this all the time. It’s easy to add ‘medal’ stickers to all your bottles. And it’s a great way to differentiate on the shelves.

What about positive reviews from trusted sources? Put these on product or packaging so that customers see them when they’re in buying mode.

8. Promote product features

Think about the energy efficiency and water efficiency stickers on many white goods. They stand out with bright colours against the white.

If you sell in multiple markets, stickers can also help customise standard packaging. So you can promote what matters for each market.

9. Use stickers to provide updated information

What happens if you relocate? Change your phone number? Print up stickers with your new details and stick on all envelopes and packaging to communicate with existing customers.

…this is also great if you a lot of customers on account and you change your bank details. Stickers on a bill or statement will stand out far more than a simple paragraph.

sticker-marketing-homeless-rubbish-bin10. Information-rich stickers are also great for cause marketing.

Here’s an example from Help the Homeless.  The shock tactic comes from treating a garbage can as a food source and using food labelling. It’s a hard-hitting approach, different from the mass of charities simply asking for donations.


Use sticker marketing to drive action and get the sale

11. Promote price reduction.

Everyone’s seen footprint-shaped stickers on the floor leading shoppers to a product. It’s a simple, proven technique.

12. Stimulate demand and drive people towards your product.

Here’s a fresh take on the same idea. And in case you can’t read it, the text on that red sushi dish tells you how to get to the restaurant.


13. Use stickers in direct mail to encourage interactivity and engagement.

Have you ever received a mailing from Reader’s Digest? Did it have lots of little stickers which you could select to put on your reply? They used that technique because it worked.

Stickers can turn your direct mail text into images. They make responding fun. They give the respondent a sense of control. They’re especially good if you’re targeting families, as children love them.

Combine multiple tactics for really great sticker marketing.

This sticker campaign works on so many levels.

  • It’s creative and inventive.
  • It’s directly related to the business it promotes.
  • It uses a double-layer peel-off sticker which makes it interactive.
  • It has a ‘public good’ message which creates positive brand feeling.


And finally, the sticker marketing campaign checklist…

It’s clear that sticker marketing is flexible and can be very powerful, if planned and used effectively. To finish off, here’s a checklist to use for your next sticker campaign.

  • Be clear what the goal of your campaign is. Are you aiming to increase brand awareness or drive specific actions.
  • Be clear about your target market.  This will affect creative and placement of stickers.
  • Decide on your sticker placement. You want to put stickers somewhere your target market will notice them.
  • Make your stickers fit their location. If you want to give away stickers for people to stick up, a small size is better. If you’re implementing a sticker campaign yourself, think about appropriate sizes and shapes.
  • For maximum cut-through, you need great creative.  Stickers come in all shapes and sizes. They’re found in all kinds of unusual locations. Use those for inspiration. But try to stay relevant to what you’re promoting!
  • Consider die-cutting stickers to an unusual shape. This might fit a particular location, like the beer steins above. Or it might just make stickers you hand out more interesting.
  • Consider whether you need permission for your sticker marketing campaign. If you’re putting stickers on parked cars, you might get away without permission, but if you want to put them on escalators in a shopping centre, that would be harder.
  • Work out all the technical requirements for your sticker. Will it be outside and need to be weatherproof? Do you need micro-hole stickers to maintain visibility? How easy will it be to remove? What about other features such as peel-off multi-layer stickers, scratch ‘n’ sniff stickers or even unique numbering?

Whatever you do, good luck with your sticker marketing! And if you need help designing or sourcing stickers, just ask the experts at Xpadite.

Beyond Paper: Unusual Print Surfaces
By admin on Thursday, September 17th, 2015


When you say ‘print’, people tend to think you’re printing on paper or cardboard. For 90% of the jobs we handle, that’s probably true, but the remainder include more unusual print surfaces.

With modern printing technologies, the substrate (the base material you print onto) can be just about anything.  As our print expert Andrew Alcock says, ‘if you want to take your front door off its hinges and bring it round I can get a floral design printed all over it for you.

We’re not sure how useful that would really be! But here’s a summary of non-paper print options, with some ideas as to how you might want to use them. We’ve also highlighted any issues to consider.

Fabric printing

Most people are aware of printing on fabric – even if just from the printed t-shirts around them.

Common business uses include:

  • Include your own brand or imagery on retail products.
  • Promote your brand on t-shirts, polo shirts, hats, bags and other items.
  • Use ‘soft signage’ for items like flags, banners and exhibition stand decorations. It’s easier to transport, store and clean that traditional signage.

Fabric is usually printed by screen printing or digital printing.  Inks for fabric printing usually include thickeners to prevent the colour ‘running’ along the fibres of the fabric and blurring the pattern.

One question to consider is whether the colour is just on the surface of the fabric or whether it penetrates into the fibres.  The second option (dye sublimation) makes the design last longer. It’s vital if your goods will be washed frequently, needed over a long time, or exposed to sunlight. But for promotional items with a short shelf life it may be overkill.

The ‘spontaneity packs’ which Xpadite worked on for the Australian launch of HotelTonight included many non-paper printed items. Cotton undies. (So you’re fresh the next day after an unexpected night away.) Sunglasses with moulded plastic frames. And the bag to keep them in.



Printed Magnets

While we’re on the subject of promotional items, don’t forget the humble printed magnet.  With a good design – including your contact details – the fridge magnet can work wonders for a B2C business.

<pics of some cool fridge magnets>

Printing on plastic

Printing on plastic objects is standard for promotional items.  Pens, keyrings, water bottles, frisbees, all kinds of promotional items. (More information about promotional product in the marketing mix here.)

Flat objects can be screen printed or digitally printed. Difficult shapes and 3D surfaces are managed by ‘pad printing’. The ink is picked up on a silicon pad, in the design shape, then stamped onto the object.  Special inks are used to transfer smoothly without mistake.  That’s the print process we used for the HotelTonight sunglasses.

But it’s not just promotional items which are printed on plastic.  What about the following?

  • Gift cards
  • Hotel card keys
  • DVDs
  • Labels
  • Place mats and other homewares

We also need to give a special mention to printing on vinyl sheets.


Vinyl with an adhesive backing is great for stickers.  Stickers are great for:

  • Labels
  • Marketing campaigns
  • Short runs of items like branded bags. A single location store may only need one or two hundred bags. It’s not a long enough run for a printer, but it is possible to print labels and use them to customise a standard product.

Vinyl is also a fantastic alternative when pricing labels need to handle unusual conditions.  For example, what about food products which have to be stored in refrigerated containers? Condensation would damage paper labels, but vinyl is just fine.

We’ve used vinyl for promotional wobblers in refrigerated units as well.


Not all signs are printed on vinyl though.  Eden Gardens need signage for products which are stored and displayed outdoors. The signs need to be weatherproof. They have to withstand rain, so paper and card are no good. The ink can’t run either. And the ink needs to be UV-resistant so signs don’t fade in the sun. We supply foamcore signs as you can see in these photos.

unusual-print-surfaces-eden-gardens-signage  unusual-print-surfaces-eden-gardens-signage-2

Other unusual print surfaces

As we mentioned at the start of this post, nowadays you can print on almost anything.

Metal signs are hard-wearing and long-lasting. So they’re ideal for places like construction sites. They stand up to the weather and it doesn’t matter if a truck bumps into them.

Perspex signs are also common.  Perspex is robust enough for outside use. It can also be cut to various shapes (and thicknesses) to present just the impression you want.

And if you’re looking for something really spectacular (for corporate art or for  your home) what about printing on mirrors, or on the surface of a glass table?

The limit is your imagination!  And with our network of specialist printers, Xpadite can handle your jog whatever surface you want to print on. So what are you waiting for? Contact us today.

Drop-shipping: Is it right for your business?
By admin on Monday, August 24th, 2015

What is drop-shipping?

drop-shipping-diagramDrop-shipping means that when people buy goods from you, the goods ship directly from your supplier to your customer. This business model is especially common for e-commerce operations.

Your supplier could be a manufacturer or a wholesaler. The important point is that they are happy to pick, pack and ship small orders direct to end-consumers rather than wanting to deal in bulk.

They also ship as if the goods came from your business. They use your company name, branding and packaging. The contact details on the shipment are yours, not the supplier’s.  So you maintain control of the customer relationship.

Benefits of drop-shipping

1. Drop shipping reduces your inventory headaches.  If you can drop-ship all your items, you don’t need a warehouse at all. You don’t need to touch physical product at any time. You have more free time to concentrate on marketing, customer communication and business growth.

2. Drop-shipping can be fantastic for cashflow! If you’re selling non-custom items, you can simply promote product online and you won’t have to pay for any stock until it’s sold.

3. Even if you’re selling custom items and you have to pay for the goods upfront, drop-shipping can cut total shipping costs. If your supplier can store and ship goods for you, then each item is shipped once only. In a ‘normal’ shipping scenario, you’d get everything delivered to your location, then ship out again to the end customer, so everything would be shipped twice.

4. You can work from wherever you want. If your drop-shipping supplier is looking after all stock, you can communicate online from your home or from the beach in the Bahamas. (You might just need to check your time zones!)

5. Your business is easily scalable. It’s easy to handle increased volume without having to take on operational staff. It’s your supplier’s problem. This is great for easy business growth. It can help with seasonal variation too. But remember your operations are only as good as your supplier’s, so be careful who you work with! (Of course this applies when you outsource  your e-commerce fulfilment, whether it’s drop-shipping or not.)

Challenges of drop-shipping

1. Your cost of goods may be very high. It makes sense if you think of it from the supplier perspective. Why would they give you any volume discount when you’re only buying items one or two at a time? Unless you can offer something special, you’re not likely to make much margin on drop-shipping standard goods. So competing on price will be hard – you may need to compete on something else.

2. If you don’t see your product before you sell it, how do you manage product promotion, product quality and product support? It’s harder to check out features or to take great photos for promotion. You can’t check each order for quality as it leaves the warehouse.  If your customers call with queries about how to use the product, it’s hard to replicate their experience and talk them through the issue. One option is to buy a single unit for yourself.

3. You may not have full visibility of stock levels. What happens if you sell something and the supplier’s out of stock?  You may need to invest in technology to ensure you have real-time inventory information on your website.

4. What happens when a customer buys goods from two or more different drop-ship suppliers? The short answer is, you have to pay for two shipments. But your customer is buying from one business only – yours! So you can only charge one shipping fee.

Quite apart from this cost issue, your customer experience is also less good. They place one order, but goods arrive one by one. And the paperwork probably won’t show their complete order either! (Would you let supplier A see what was ordered from supplier B?)

5. You may have less control of your shipping service levels and costs. If you use your supplier’s shipping, you’re tied into their rates and services. As long as these match your business model, it’s not a problem, but make sure you check.

There’s an additional problem if your supplier is overseas. In this case, drop-shipping may make your delivery times longer. The cost of lots of small international shipments can add up too. And there’s the risk of items getting delayed by customs.

On the other hand, where are you shipping to? If you have customers all over the world, shipping from a supplier in China, India or Singapore may be a lot cheaper than shipping from Australia every time.

6. Returns are much more complex.  There are now three parties involved – your customer, you and your supplier. But the only reputation on the line is yours!

Was the product faulty? If so, will your supplier pay for return freight and for shipping a replacement item? You need to address this in your contract with them before it happens.  Even if they cover everything, your brand is still damaged.

What if the product isn’t faulty but the customer changes their mind? In this case, the customer should be willing to pay return shipping, but is your drop ship supplier happy to take stock back?

Worst of all, what happens if the customer is unhappy with the item but the supplier thinks it is up to standard? You’re caught in the middle. Hopefully this will be rare, but you may have to wear the cost of refunding a customer occasionally.

Is drop-shipping right for you?

In the end, the only person who can answer this question is you.

There are pros and cons to drop-shipping. It really depends on your situation and your business goals.  There’s a great post here comparing a drop-ship ecommerce store to one which has inventory. Perhaps the most interesting thing of all is this – the owner of the drop-ship store would like inventory next time around, but the one who has inventory would like to go with drop-shipping next time round. So it seems the grass is always greener!

Some questions you may want to ask when trying to decide what’s right for you?

1. Are you selling standard products or custom products? Standard products are easier to drop-ship, but there’s more competition and less margin.

2. How expensive are your products to ship? If they’re big, heavy or extremely fragile so they require careful packaging, there’s more opportunity to save on shipping costs by drop-shipping.

3. How many different suppliers do you use for your entire product range? The more you use, the more complex drop-shipping will be.

4. Do customers generally buy one item at a time, or multiple items? Orders with multiple items from different suppliers make drop-shipping more complex and less attractive.

5. Do you sell high volumes of a few items or small volumes of many items?  Keeping a large product range in stock can be expensive, which makes drop-shipping more attractive.

6. Where are  your customers located? As discussed above, this can have an impact on  your total shipping costs.

7. Does it have to be an ‘either-or’ choice? Would a hybrid model work for you? Keep stock of your core product range, in your own warehouse or with a warehousing partner, then use a drop-ship model as a low-cost, low-risk way to extend your range.

To explore fulfilment options for your specific business situation, contact Xpadite today.




World’s Biggest Magazine
By admin on Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

worlds-biggest-magazineCongratulations to UK content marketers River Group and printers Polestar on their new Guinness World Record!

A one-off issue of ‘Healthy’ magazine is the world’s biggest magazine ever, with the following amazing statistics.

  • 3.055m high
  • 2.35m wide
  • required 9.3 litres of ink
  • took 14 hours to print
  • 6 hours to trim
  • 5.5 hours to assemble

Obviously it’s not meant to be sold at the newsagents. We wouldn’t like to send it via direct mail either!

The magazine is in fact part of a campaign River Group are running to highlight the importance of print in content marketing.

‘…everybody these days is saying it’s all about digital and social media and not about print. While we have a thriving digital, social media and, indeed, video business, for us print is still at the heart of a lot of what we do for our clients.’

So says their CEO Nicola Murphy.

Recent research by Two Sides UK supports her statement. 83% of all respondents state a clear preference for reading print on paper.

As we mentioned last month, even the digital natives of Generation Y like print. They’ve grown up learning to ignore the marketing messages in their inboxes, but print is ‘real’ in a way digital isn’t.  And even daily papers or leaflets in the letterbox last a little longer than the average email.

Whether it’s letterbox media or direct mail, a printed piece usually has less direct competition for the consumer’s attention. So your message has more chance of getting noticed. Two Sides also found that nearly 4 out of 5 are more relaxed reading on paper than on screen.

So if you’re trying to build connections with your target market, don’t forget print! (You can also read our articles on measuring and improving print ROI and tips for more effective direct mail.)

Click here to watch a video about the world’s biggest magazine.