Definitely A Week of Printed Mugs…

As I stand in the queue at our local Royal Mail hub for the second time this week, I reflect on what a long week it’s been. I’m glad it’s Friday and it’s definitely been a week that’s been very ‘mug based’. I’m stood ten deep carrying a box which is far too big and way too heavy. It’s filled to the brim with smaller boxes containing ukprintprice printed mugs. In the past few weeks I’ve posted just over 1200 free mugs to new ukprintprice customers. This is the last mug run for September.  The bulk of the people in the queue are collecting mail that requires a signature or additional postage cost. I see the relief on the lady’s face behind the glass screen as she realises they are already pre-franked. I then also see her annoyance that the box is way too big to squeeze through the small glass screen over the counter and that she has got to get up to unlock the side door!
We know there are cheaper ways of reminding our customers of our site. We could send an email shot that costs only a few hundred pounds. But we also know from experience that printed mugs with a bold brand or message included do stand the test of time. You can delete an email but a mug really does offer an incredibly effective way of getting into the marketing and purchasing departments of hundreds of companies. While pens or cheap plastic key rings can end up in the bin, I’ve never seen a new mug get thrown out. I dread to think how many cups of coffee I have in an average week but I’m probably no different than any of our customers. 5 cups per day means 25 per week. That repeated brand message is subtle yet very effective. At ukprintprice it’s a busy environment with a lot of staff and we operate from quite a large open-plan sales office. While it’s not a coffee shop, it does seem like somebody has always got the kettle on!
Using promotional mugs is also our way of showing genuine confidence in our product. Promotional gifts that are well presented work – it’s that simple. Everybody that makes a purchase from ukprintprice will receive a free printed mug and as a result our brand is in the offices of literally thousands of companies all over the UK. The effectiveness of this is easy to gauge by the number of repeat orders we get. It’s obviously not just down to the free mugs! But I can’t help but think it does contribute to repeat business.
As well as posting a comical amount of mugs this week, I have also visited the largest mug manufacturer in the UK. We deal with all the large mug manufacturers both in the UK and abroad. Recently though we’ve been trying to group our considerable spend and give this particular factory as much work as we can. The really big benefit for us is that they are literally just down the road from our sales office. If we need samples it’s easy. Or, if a particular job has a very tight lead time we can always send one of our lorries down the road to collect the pallet of mugs. It really is a massive bonus having this trade only supplier of printed Ceramic, Glassware and Plastic Mugs on our doorstep. While printed mugs are one of our best selling promotional products and we sell many thousands of them every month, this factory really is in the big league when it comes to producing mugs in volume. They deal with a lot of promotional companies such as ourselves, but they also deal directly with leading retailers. They see a massive lift in sales when there is a special event such as the Olympics or the Diamond Jubilee. They also have a highly skilled workforce. Most production is based around the latest mug technology but they also have members of staff that have been with them a long time and when you see them at work painting parts of the mugs with gold or some special effect that needs to be done by human hand, you really begin to appreciate what a real skill quality mug manufacturing is. These decorative handle finishes add a touch of class and elegance to bone china or glass.
I wanted to get my head around all the different production methods. Our Sales team really know the difference between direct screen printing and dye sublimation but that’s because they are liaising with the factory every day and are viewing many different types of customers artwork. I also wanted to discuss with their Directors their understanding of the personalisation market. ukprintprice is very successful at dealing directly with business customers with promotional requirements but the nature of B2B sales is that most orders are placed during office hours with few orders being placed in the evening or at weekends.
The personalisation market is now very big business in the States and major high street players such as Asda and WH Smiths are getting involved in the UK. The downside of the personalisation market is that order values are low when compared to the average Business promotional order. However, when you look at the Moonpigs of this world you have to salute their success in dealing with this volume of orders. The top and bottom of it is that there are high seasonal order volumes at Mothers Day, Valentines Day and Christmas, combined with relatively low order values for personalised B2C orders. The Internet companies which are doing well have invested heavily in online proofing technology and automatic placing and managing of orders via manufacturing sites (day and night) to ensure a speedy delivery service to the consumer. Hmm I thought – now that sounds interesting…..
Richard Tyler
Editor – ukprintprice.com