FOR companies looking to make their mark, AdGiftsOnline has the answer.
In fact, it has hundreds. From thermal mugs to stationery, sweets to wet wipes and brollies to bags, it is brimming with ideas of ways to promote businesses.
After pulling out all the stops to stay afloat when clients cut back during the recession, the tenacity of husband and wife team Tony and Stephenie Altham is now paying off.
Last year the company experienced a 60 per cent growth in sales, and turnover is continuing to rise this year. By the end of March, AdGiftsOnline, which is based in Newcastle, expects to double its revenue over those two years.
Managing director Tony said: “During the recession, spending on promotional items was one of the first things to go for a lot of companies, although others took the view they should increase their marketing at a time when their competitors had cut back.
“But at the moment there is a dramatic upturn, and the items which we are selling are changing too.
“We do about £500,000 of food and drink promotional items every year.
“Confectionery has proved very strong and we are now buying directly from the manufacturers, rather than third party suppliers.
“We’re also seeing a lot more workwear and corporate clothing orders and power banks, which allow you to charge your smartphone, tablet, camera and any other 5V USB-powered device wherever you are, can also be personalised and then given away as corporate gifts.
“Useful items are the ones that stick around, and industry research shows that these items, such as the things you have on your desk, are the best sellers.
“We are finding the stylus pens, which allow you to write on to your tablet, are selling more than your usual pens now.
“But we do a huge mix of things now. We’ve even done towels for one customer. It’s all driving our growth.”
And Tony and Steph’s decision to keep the faith and steer the business through the most straitened times means it is now in a position where it can invest in its own assets.
The team of seven has undergone a range of training courses, including first aid, with three employees currently studying for an NVQ.
Online marketing techniques have also proved successful, and now the company is preparing to recruit another apprentice. Future plans also include an upgrade of the IT infrastructure and phone systems.
It is entering The Sentinel Business Awards in the Growth category, sponsored by Dains.
This year, AdGiftsOnline staged PromoExpo, its first trade fair to showcase the power of promotional products and how they can support the development of a brand.
Tony added: “That event was a big success and we are already planning next year’s, with ideas to make it even bigger and better.
“We plan to have a business event running alongside it and invite organisations from the community to have stands there as well. During the worst times we lost three big customers worth £250,000, and while we managed to pull back in £210,000 of business, the margins were slashed and the sales conversion rate of one in three was slashed to one in 10.
“But we made the decision to stick with it and not make anyone redundant, and it was all worth it.
“Now we are in the process of launching a client merchandise sales package, where we run the whole thing from putting the merchandise together, running the website, to stock control and delivery.
“It’s a big expansion for us and we’re pleased with how it’s going.
“Eventually it will lead to more jobs, and we hope that over the next three years we will double in size to about 15 of us.”