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Sales & Growth


Working with overseas distributors helped us tailor our marketing

Katrina Cliffe, Heald marketing manager
Katrina Cliffe worked with overseas distributors to create targeted marketing strategies

Name: Heald
Location: Hornsea
Founded in: 2000
Tip:Know what your USP is for each region you want to move into.”

The problem

Heald makes specialist road bollards and barriers that prevent hostile vehicle attacks in busy areas like stadiums and shopping centres.

To avoid being construed as capitalising on destruction, Heald’s marketing needs to be sensitive, particularly in overseas markets like America, Europe and the Middle East. A one-size-fits-all strategy was never going to work.

So how does a Yorkshire-based manufacturer tune into the local culture, attitudes and perceptions in such a diverse range of countries?

The solution

With overseas sales making up more than half the business, Heald’s marketing director, Katrina Cliffe, recognised that local insight would be essential to growth.

“You can’t copy and paste a global marketing strategy,” she said. “Developing one by trial and error would be costly, not to mention risky. The differences are huge and often surprising. For example, in the US, there’s an appetite for bolder, more visible, even ‘aggressive’ barriers. In Europe, clients are looking for bollards to blend into the environment around them.” 

To tap quickly into local knowledge, Heald focused on building close relationships with overseas distributors. The company used their insight to shape product selection, targeted campaigns and get a foothold in new markets. Katrina explained that the process helped them create a new segment of security-conscious customers in the US, such as military institutions and government organisations. “We call it the ‘Don’t even attempt it’ segment.”

The results

Since Heald diversified their marketing strategy to fit global markets, export sales have grown from 60 to 80 per cent. Though Katrina has invested in a range of global PR and marketing channels, she is emphatic about the benefits of overseas distributors. “The distribution model shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s a great way to identify your USPs for each region you want to sell into.” 

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