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.

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?!?)

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.




Australian E-Commerce: building future growth
By admin on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

What’s happening in Australian e-commerce right now?  What will the future look like?  A couple of recent reports have set us wondering.

  • australian-ecommerce-future-growth-imageAccording to eWay research, Australians spent $4.37 billion online between January and March 2015. That’s a 22% increase from 2014.
  • In May, PureProfile surveyed 1,000 online shoppers across Australia and New Zealand.  They found that 29% had given up on online retail altogether, thanks to poor shopping experiences.
  • AT Kearney’s Global Retail E-Commerce Index 2015 shows Australia in the top ten countries for e-commerce.

But Australia has slipped one place in these rankings, from number 9 to number 10.

So what’s happening?  Australian e-commerce is growing. But maybe it’s not growing as fast as it should. And maybe the issues are more complicated than GST-free competition from overseas sites.

What’s driving Australian e-commerce growth? And what’s holding it back?

83% of respondents in the PureProfile survey value the convenience of online shopping.

That’s not surprising, given the pressure of modern life.  Interestingly, the 6pm to 9pm timeslot is the best time for sales.  Fully 20% of all transactions take place in those three hours.   It seems people get home from work and spend a bit of time in the evening looking for all the things they don’t have time to shop for during the day.

So they’re looking for convenience and speed.  But they’re not finding it.

  • 45% have abandoned a purchase due to difficulties with the site.
  • 47% have gone to a second site to purchase
  • 29% have given up on online shopping altogether

And they’re spending a massive 15.5 minutes on average browsing an online site to find the item they want.

What can Australian e-commerce sites do to improve customer experience?

1. Implement effective search

42% of survey respondents said online search options did not match their criteria.

If your site has more than a handful of products, consider implementing search.  Exactly what your site search will look like depends on your business but consider the following points:

  • Make your search easily visible and the same on all pages
  • Make sure your product data is strong enough to support search.  If you have categories, is every item in a category? Do you need some items to be in two or more categories? For example, if you’re selling jewellery you might have earrings, necklaces, rings and sets, but you might also want ‘gifts for her’ or ‘gifts under $100″ or categories for special occasions such as weddings or prom nights.
  • Consider other criteria people might search on.  Size, for clothing.  Price range. Current availability.

Get more e-commerce search tips here.

2. Make sure your checkout service is easy to understand

australian-e-commerce-buy-keyboard57% want an easier checkout process. Consider these questions

  • Is it easy to see and change what’s in your cart?  At all times?
  • Is the ‘checkout’ button available from every page?
  • Do customers need to create an account or is there a ‘quick checkout’ option if they prefer that?

Remember, you know your site so well you don’t even notice the problems.  It never hurts to get a complete novice to test your checkout service, while you sit quietly by and watch.

Get more ideas about checkout practices here.

3. Provide on-site assistance

34% say online service doesn’t match that in-store.  43% prefer in-store service.

What can you do to give better customer service on your site?

  • Anticipate common questions and answer them upfront.  Delivery times and costs.  Returns policy.  For clothing, how to measure your size and get a good fit.
  • A good FAQ page can be helpful too.
  • Have a clearly visible enquiry email.  Send all enquirers an auto-response confirming you have their enquiry and telling them when they can expect a full response.  Then make sure you do it!
  • Include a phone number, preferably toll-free.  If it’s not manned 24×7, say when it is available.  (And remember, 20% of transactions take place between 6pm and 9pm.  Sound like an opportunity for a call centre in Perth!)
  • What about online chat?  This is the equivalent of having a sales assistant onsite.  It also lets people ask questions anonymously, which increases comfort levels.  And it’s a great source of customer insights!

More ideas for online customer service here.

4. Offer same-day delivery options and free returns

67% of men and 79% of women surveyed wanted at least one of these options for their online shopping.

Same day delivery is important for gifts and other time-sensitive purchases. You need a cut-off time, of course.  If someone makes a purchase at 8pm it’s unlikely you’ll deliver it the same night, but if they order at 10am, perhaps you can.  Just make sure your cut-off time (and any location limitations) are clearly available on your website.

Remember, same-day delivery doesn’t have to be the only option you offer.  It’s quite OK to charge extra, as long as you’re clear about it.  For the majority of purchases where an extra day or two doesn’t matter, a slower delivery system can be a lot cheaper for you and help you remain competitive.

As for returns, Paypal Australia have recently launched a ‘free returns shipping’ service for purchases made via Paypal.  if you aren’t offering free returns for all orders, but you do take Paypal as a payment method, this could be one place to start.

Or you could investigate AfterPay, a Sydney-based startup which allows customers to pay after they have received their order.  Another way of reducing perceived risk from purchasing online.

5. Take opportunities to upsell, cross-sell and repeat sell to your customers

But don’t annoy them all the time with pop-up ads! That was the number one hate of online shoppers surveyed – 42% of them want fewer pop-ups.  Try some of these ideas instead to keep your Australian e-commerce site growing!

And while Xpadite don’t design, implement or improve e-commerce websites, if you want to review your e-commerce fulfilment operations, we’re always happy to have a no-obligation discussion.


product-sample-selectionCarefully targeted and planned product sampling can deliver fantastic results for a whole range of physical products.  Why?

  • It puts your product literally in the hands of the customer.  It’s more immediate and ‘real’ than any advertising campaign can be, so it gets immediate cut-through.
  • It lets your target market ‘try before you buy’. So they can experience your product fully.
  • It’s the ultimate ‘guarantee’. In essence, product sampling says, ‘We know this is so good that once you’ve tried it, you’ll be happy to pay the price we charge for more.’  It shows your confidence in your product’s value for money.

But successful product sampling means much more than just standing on a street corner, or in the shopping centre, handing out freebies to whoever comes past.  You want your samples to reach the right target market, at a time when they can appreciate them.

Some careful thought will make your product sampling campaigns as successful and cost-effective as possible.  Here’s a list of questions to consider.

What will your sample look like?

This may sound obvious, but you need to think about how the sample reflects your goals right from the start.

Which variety of your product?

You’re promoting shampoos.  Or beauty creams. Or health bars.  You have a product range.  Should you sample your new ‘flavours’, or should you focus on your top-selling core product?

The answer depends on your goals. If you want to increase market share, it’s probably better to go with the core product.  If you want to extend your range or increase awareness of new ‘flavours’, try those.  But you may not get quite so much conversion.

Full size or trial size?

A full size package is easier operationally.  There’s no need to design and produce a sample size.  On the other hand, it will almost certainly cost more to ship.  A full size sample also provides lots of uses to the recipient, so it will take longer before they convert to a sale.


If you opt for a trial size, will you replicate the full size packaging, or will you go with a cheaper option?  (For example, foil packs versus a bottle.)

Cost is obviously one factor in this decision. Against that, a cheaper package may affect the product experience. And what if your packaging shape is a key part of your brand? In that case, simplified packaging may affect brand awareness and uptake.

Xpadite can help you assess custom packaging options for sample product sizes.

Should anything else be included with the sample?

Here are some options to consider.

  • Coupons. One piece of research done for the US Postal Service found that 89% of consumers said that an accompanying coupon would increase the value of a mailed sample box.  A coupon also offers an incentive for sales conversion.  If you do decide to use a coupon, you need to minimise the chance of it getting lost before it’s redeemed.  You could attach it to the product sample, or give it a magnetic strip to hold it on the fridge, for example.
  • Brochures. If you have a wide product range, this gives you the chance to promote more items.  On the other hand, it may dilute the power of your offer if the range is too wide.
  • Multiple samples.  What if you’re introducing several new flavours, colours or formulations?  Consider adding a feedback form with an incentive to complete it, and now you get some hands-on market research.
  • Competition entries or similar.  This can be another great way to collect consumer information and product feedback.

In this campaign, product sampling by direct mail was combined with a competition to collect further information and a discount voucher to encourage purchase.  You can bet those vouchers were individually tracked too, so the competition data and the purchase behaviour could be linked.




How will you reach your target market?

As we said above, standing on a corner handing thing out to passers-by is not targeted product sampling!  But what are your other options?

Letterbox drops

If you’re a local retailer trying to promote business, this can work really well.  (In this scenario, a coupon is a great way to get people into your store rather than wherever they normally shop.)

If you’re the product manufacturer or distributor rather than a retailer, you can still use letterbox drops for product sampling.  You should be clear on the demographic characteristics of your core market.  Target suburbs which match this profile.

Addressed mailing lists

You may have your own lists of existing customers, or of those who have responded to competitions.

There are many third party lists available where you can select on criteria including gender, age, household income and interests.

Collecting requests for product sampling via online or social media

As Australians move to the web, this has become more and more popular.  A properly promoted sample offer can help you build a list for future marketing as well as for your sample campaign.

This is also a great option if you have a range of different samples on offer – flavours, scents, lipstick colours or so on.  Each individual can request what best suits them.

But beware of people who just want ‘freebies’.  You may want to set some criteria for who can apply.  You will almost certainly need to limit the number of times you send samples to any one address.

Fulfilment for this kind of campaign needs to be looked at carefully too.  Ideally, you want to send samples out the same day they are requested so that they arrive quickly and reinforce good feelings about your brand.  This may affect operational cost though, since fulfilment is lots of small jobs rather than one large one.  It’s also harder to predict total levels of demand.  You’ll need to work closely with your fulfilment supplier – we know this from experience!

Include samples with e-commerce orders

This one works for both e-commerce pureplays and any other retailer who has an ecommerce site.

  • If you don’t tell customers you’re going to send something, then it’s a great way to exceed expectations.
  • If you do tell customers, give them some choice of samples and you get lots of ideas for how to extend your product range.

You may want to set a minimum order value to keep this offer viable.

It can be also be a great way to dispose of unsold stock if you have made some poor purchase decisions in the past.

How will you measure success?

It’s important to know what you are trying to achieve – and to set a baseline before you start!

Most companies have an idea what current sales are, so if you just want more sales, the task is relatively easy.  But what if you’re more interested in new customers? Or increased brand awareness?  Decide how you’re going to measure, then measure both before and after the product sampling campaign, using the same method.  Otherwise how will you know the level of impact you achieved?

So next time  you’re thinking of using samples, ask yourself the questions above. They should help you design a cut-through, effective campaign.  And of course you can always talk to Xpadite, both for ideas and for assistance with your fulfilment.

Multi Sensory Marketing: Ideas and Examples for Print
By admin on Wednesday, May 27th, 2015


What is multi-sensory marketing anyway?

There’s been a bit of buzz around multi-sensory marketing in the early part of 2015.  So we thought it was time to take a look.

Essentially, it’s marketing which appeals to more than one sense.  Human beings are intensely visual, so most advertising and promotion is highly visual too. But Gemma Calvert and Dr Abhishek Pathak, of the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight, claim in a recent issue of Admap that visual alone simply doesn’t work any more.

The average adult is exposed to more than 200 advertising messages a day, so people simply ignore most of that.  But sound, smell, taste and touch have a greater influence than people realise.  If your marketing includes sensory triggers, you can connect at a subconscious level.

How can you implement multi sensory marketing effectively?

We’ve put together some ideas and example campaign to help you engage senses other than sight.  You’ll notice that our showcase is based on print.  Not only is print what we know best, it’s also a great vehicle for smell, taste and touch.  These three senses are difficult to engage in online marketing, so print and offline have a natural advantage.  But let’s start with….


Sound is probably the second most used sense in marketing.  Think radio, which is pure sound. TV is of course audio-visual.  In fact, think how often ‘multimedia’ actually means just audio and visual, with no concern for the other three senses.

The classic example of sound in advertising is the jingle.  ‘I love Aeroplane Jelly’.  There are also catchphrases like Tony the Tiger’s roaring pronunciation of ‘Frrrrrrrrosties!

But what about sound in print?

The traditional answer would be to leverage the sound of the paper or other printed material.  So potato chips and corn chips are in crackly bags because this means consumers perceive them as ‘crunchier’.

Modern technology offers more options.  We’ve all seen the greetings cards which play a song when opened.  The same technology can be used in marketing.  One campaign embedded sound chips in a postcard, so when you drove you could hear a mosquito in the car with you. The result – an 80% increase in sales!


Print is by its very nature tactile, but we wanted to find some examples which went beyond the basics.  How about these?

This  Dove Scratch Card direct mail campaign in Canada was designed to show women how other products might damage their skin.

We’ve also seen good use of scratch cards in loyalty programs in Australia.  Members who have to scratch to reveal what offer they’ve won are more likely to convert to purchasers than those who simply receive a discount offer.

multi-sensory-marketing-beer-bubble-poppingLubriderm took another approach.  They used two different grades of paper to demonstrate how use of Lubriderm could improve the feel of your skin.  The ad increased sales by 16%.  Watch the Lubriderm video here.

One more way of using touch, this time in marketing aimed at a more male-skewed demographic.  The beer drinker.  It’s a completely unrelated product category, yet the message is still about pampering yourself! 

multi-sensory-marketing-spread-the-warmthOur last example for ‘touch’ makes use of thermodynamic ink. This campaign encourages readers to ‘Spread the Warmth’ almost literally.  Their finders light up a gloomy black and white picture with a warm orange glow. It’s also worth noting how cleverly the sensory marketing points are linked the services charity Age UK offers.


Smell is probably the most emotive of all senses, so it’s surprising that it isn’t used more in advertising.

Smell is often associated with food.  One notable Australian campaign was the launch of Heston for Coles Lemon Myrtle Hot Cross Buns in Easter last year. Full page ads in weekend newspapers invited users to rub and release the scent of buns.

Here’s a non-food example which we love.  (And which gives us a chance to play you a cute cat video and claim it’s all about business!)

Cats can’t resist catnip paper, and that’s what this direct mail relied upon.



Tasty print advertising?  Well, you need to choose your paper carefully, but that’s exactly what Fanta did for this campaign.

If your budget doesn’t stretch to something like this, you might want to try direct mail samples.  Something simpler than the Royal Mail chocolate letter, which explained quite how wonderful direct mail is.

Three of the best truly multi-sensory marketing campaigns

What about a business card which tell people whether they need your services?


Or Snoop Dogg’s smokable songbook?


Or finally, the awe-inspiring edible cookbook.  A combination of touch, smell and taste almost beyond belief!


So there you have it.  Multi sensory marketing campaigns can be as simple as scented paper, or as complex as baking a lasagne book.  Whatever your idea, why not talk to Xpadite about how to turn the vision into reality.


Parcel Delivery: Innovation from New and Old Players
By admin on Thursday, May 14th, 2015

parcel-delivery-innovationIt’s no secret that Australia Post makes more out of parcel delivery than it does out of letter delivery.  StarTrack and StarTrack Courier (the rebranded Messenger Post) have grown strongly over recent years.

But Australia Post is not the only option for parcel delivery.

Courier companies have existed for a long time.  They tend to be more expensive, but they operate door-to-door.  Now, the growth in parcel delivery means new entrants and new services being trialled.  So the future may look very different.

Much of the growth in parcel delivery has been driven by the developing e-commerce market, one of Xpadite’s core client groups. So we thought we’d take a look at what’s happening now and what might happen in the future.

Parcel Delivery to Your Car

Where do you want your parcels delivered?  What if there’s no one at your home address during the day? Your business address may be a good alternative for small items, but if you commute by public transport, you probably don’t want to take a dozen bottles of wine back home with you. And if you work on the road, the office may not make sense anyway.

Now Amazon, Audi and DHL have teamed up to test delivery to your vehicle rather than to a fixed address.

The service depends on the ‘Internet of Things’ – you need an internet-enabled car.  You also need to be a member of Amazon Prime.  And the trial is currently limited to Munich.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You enter the car details as the shipping address.  This includes the approximate location and a time window for delivery.
  2. The car communicates with the DHL delivery agent via a smartphone app which provides its exact loction.
  3. The agent also gets a digital access code to open the boot.
  4. Your parcel is delivered into the boot, and as soon as the boot is closed again, the code expires.
  5. Closing the boot also triggers a delivery confirmation to DHL and an email to you.

Actually, Volvo trialled a similar car delivery solution at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2014.  Here’s their video.

Amazon’s trial is limited to people in Munich who both have an internet-connected Audi and belong to Amazon Prime.  The question is, how many of these people are there, and how many want delivery to their cars?  Only time will tell, but if the numbers add up, it should be easy to extend the service.

One stumbling block to this service is that it will take a long time to become universal. Many cars currently on the road simply don’t have the required internet connections.  So any business is still going to need a back-up delivery option for some years to come.

A New Option for Door-to-Door Parcel Delivery

While courier services have always been door-to-door, it’s not part of the standard parcel delivery model.  Consumers usually have to go the Post Office to send their parcels.  If you’re a small e-commerce operation you may do this too – until you’re big enough to hand over distribution to someone like Xpadite.  Or you may pay more for couriers who come to your door.

Now Uber, better known as taxi industry challengers, are rolling out ‘Uber Rush’.  It makes sense.  If a driver can take a person from A to B like a taxi, why not take a parcel?

So who’s the Uber Rush customer?

This US reviewer of Uber Rush is an urban professional who needs something she forgot in a hurry.  And for her the cost was ‘a totally reasonable price to pay for the convenience’.

But what if you’re an e-commerce business?  It’s important to realise the impact Uber’s ‘surge’ pricing model might have on your business.  You’ll face different costs for each and every delivery – and that’s a logistical and financial nightmare!  How do you quote delivery on your website? Plus, what happens if the recipient isn’t there when Uber deliver?

Maybe this isn’t the ideal service for e-commerce, but it could have a positive impact after all.

The increased competition in parcel delivery may drive Australia Post to lift their game.  One apparently simple suggestion is to use their current postal delivery network better.  So your postie might pick up parcels as well as deliver them to you!


Who’d have thought parcel delivery could be so innovative?

But while changes are coming, if distribution is important to your business, it’s wise to be a little careful.  A tried and tested reliable option may be less sexy, but it’s also less risky.  And no one wants to be the business which doesn’t deliver!