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Storm Aileen batters bike ride

I've ridden my bike in some fairly gruelling conditions before but never have I struggled to only average 10mph between Calais and Boulogne. That was thanks to the effects of Storm Aileen. For quite some time actually starting our chariry bike ride on the bikes was seriously in question, all sorts of contingency plans were being put into place to get 106 riders and their bikes from Calais to Le Touquet by train as constant wind speeds of 28-40mph and gusts of up to 65mph were forecast for the coast road to our destination on te first day.

The road out of Calais

Because everyone really wants to do the whole ride we decided that so long as we kept together in small groups and were wary of the conditions we would give it a go, anyway how bad can a little bit of wind make it!! Brutal doesn't even come close, on a route that I have done a few times before always being able to average 15mph plus even without the aid of any peloton, storm Aileen made 10mph in a group a real struggle. The point was really rammed home when at the top of the climb pictured above there is a normally glorious descent that makes the climb worth every pedal stroke. But on Wednesday the wind was so strong and against you that to achieve a speed in double figures down hill you actually needed to pedal quite hard. The overall effect was that the 25 miles between Calais and Boulogne was actually just one long 25 mile climb with varying degrees of difficulty from hard to almost impossible. Even though we turned inland a bit from Boulogne to Le Touquet for the last 20 miles, a 45 mile ride that should have taken just under 3 hours actually took almost 5.

The physical effort that day 1 of the ride extracted from everyone affected day 2 and a relatively easy 100 miles (if thats even possible) was made to seem like double that. It was just simply a matter of survival and when the hotel in Amiens came into view it was one of the loveliest most welcome sights I have ever experienced. A very good nights sleep and an enjoyable breakfast later and suddenly all is right with the world again and with the usual exception of being rather saddle sore I was looking forward to completing the last 108 miles of the ride. Probably mainly psychological but I felt much stronger on the last day of the ride and enjoyed those last miles. As we ended up in Reims it seemed only fitting to have a little glass to celebrate the achievement and also the considerable money raised for an excellent cause.

Just finished

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Corporate clothing survey

I came across a very interesting survey recently regarding branded clothing, the main points being:

  • 91% of those questioned used branded clothing.
  • 46% of that was for Exhibitions.
  • 42% for Brand Awareness.
  • 35% for Staff Uniforms.
  • 27% for Promotions.
  • 26% for Give-aways.
  • 18% for Staff Fun Days.
  • 17% for Conferences.
  • 14% for Charity Events.

Firstly the headline figure that 91% of the companies that responded use some form of corporate clothing, that is certainly a higher figure than I imagined it would be. What wasn't a surprise was the percentage of T Shirts and Polo Shirts in comparison to other garments although I can't help thinking that branded baseball caps should have been in there somewhere and reasonably high up on the list too. 

Also of interest is the breakdown of what prompted the purchase of the garments in the first place. We certainly have experience producing garments for Charity events, Staff Uniforms and Conferences. We would also agree that quality is almost always the most important factor with price coming behind that. With that in mind we nearly always advise DTG printing for T Shirts and embroidery for Polo Shirts. The variety of fabrics that can be Direct To Garment printed is growing all the time and as printing speeds become ever faster, DTG that was normally used for short runs is more and more competitive on longer runs as well.

All of this is pretty good news for those companies that want to provide branded clothing to their staff and have some give-aways at exhibitions as the price per garment is coming down and the quality is going up.

Why not click through here to see what you can get these days.

What I did in my summer holidays

Well the truth is, not a lot. As my children are both grown up and doing their own things paying the ridiculously inflated prices to do anything during the school holidays is a total anathema to my soul. As business naturally quietens down during August it is a chance to catch up on accounts work and look at new ideas to grow. Sorting out some teething problems with new customer branded websites is happening and looks like being quite exciting in the very near future. In actual fact as soon as I get back from my charity bike ride I think we will start rolling them out on a regular basis. 

My business partner has been away which meant that the last week and a bit of August was quite busy for me personally but at least boredom was not a problem. Now we are into September suddenly the level of ecquiries etc starts to take off and we brace ourselves for a good end to the year. It does seem that 2017 has flown past but that could just be that I'm getting older and each year goes quicker anyway. 

I need to stop blogging and start to prepare my bike for 250 miles of trying to keep up with the group I'm hoping to ride with. Only 9 more days to go, aaarrrrggggghhhhh!!

Time is running out

My charity bike ride is fast approaching, way too fast if you ask me! Althbough I have been able to complete quite a few 15 - 30 mile rides longer distances have been very sadly lacking this year. Last weekend was taken up by the incredibly good airshow held annualy in Eastbourne, imaginatvely called "Airbourne". The Red Arrows put on a marvellous display as always and the weather on the Sunday allowed for some new manouveres that were very exciting and the lack of any real cloud gave them the chance to draw their heart in the sky.

Red Arrows Heart

Visually quite stunning. Anyway, that put paid to any training last weekend and now a wedding in Newcastle, an 800 mile round trip for me from where I live, will eliminate any cylce training this weekend and very probably do the exact opposite!!

That said I am really looking forward to the ride as the cameradarie is the most intense I have ever witnessed, especially around the 70 mile mark each day when fatigue is really setting in and everyone, well everyone of my standard, is beginning to struggle. 

More importantly knowing that a large amount of money is being raised to help the really sick, often terminally ill children that so badly need the help makes it all worth while in the end.

All the riders are totally self funded and so every penny donated goes to help the children through smaller charities that don't have large overheads and staff on 6 figure salaries!!

Any donation, no matter how small will be very gratefully received.

 

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Disruptive Technologies

Vistaprint launched in 1999 and has gone from a pure start-up print company to an internet giant with over $2 billion in annual sales.

Pulsar Print Management Blog

It did so because it introduced a totally new business model, that of only having an on-line presence. An industry commited to customer service delivered by company representatives who worked long and hard to build long lasting relationships with the decision makers of the clients in their given territory was suddenly turned upside down. The printing industry was slow to appreciate that for a very large percentage of both the jobs that were wanted and the people that had to order them a quick, no fuss on-line solution was just ideal. To so many customers it didn't matter that they'd used a small J-Peg logo instead of the crisp and clear vector graphic that their usual printer had on file. It didn't even matter if the job wasn't quite as expected first time round, it was so cheap and so quick you just did it again.

The very same type of disruptive technology is just starting to appear in the Promotional Products industry which is why Pulsar Print Management, having learnt lessons from the printing side of the business where we had to play catch-up for a while, is beginning to launch individual sites with every product already branded with your logo and available to order immediatley on-line.

PromoPigeon Page

The only difference is there will still be our high level of customer care, quality control and value going on, it will just be behind the scenes or more accurately, behind your screen. We are planning on being able to roll out our new fully e-commerce sites from mid-September. Please do contact us if you would like to be first on the list. These sites will have an ever growing list of items available to order but they will run in tandem with our main site where if its possible to have your logo on it you can find it there.

We hope you will be suitably impressed.

Further Website Development

If you have visted our website a few times in recent weeks you will have noticed some quite major changes. We have gone from a very static non mobile friendly site that looked like this:

Pulsar PM Old Website

To a much more searchable, useable and more importantly, mobile friendly website that looks something like this:

Page from new website

The development hasn't stopped there. When we originally launched the site we had a price range that we quoted on all of the products with the exception of some POA items such as USB sticks where the price fluctuates considerably sometimes even on a day to day basis. The problem we found with quoting a price range was that customers, quite rightly in our opinion, thought that the lower price would be for a lot of items branded in a single colour and the higher price would be for fewer items branded in full colour. A reasonable assumption but far from the truth. The idea behind the range was to give an impression of whether the particular item was to be regarded as a 'budget', 'mid range' or 'premium' product. That wasn't very clear and what was even more difficult was to try and explain to a customer that wanted a product in the £0.40 - £0.79 range that in fact they would cost £3.00 each by the time they were personalised, delivered and had VAT added.

It is of course almost impossible to give any sort of accurate guide because the variations that can be specified are so great. Given this we have decided that to just quote a 'From' price will give a much more representative figure when you look at any product. This change happened last Thursday and is a major step forward we think. There are still inaccuracies on the database relating to some of the minimim order quantities etc, but rest assured we are constantly working to improve every area.

We hope you enjoy our new website, happy browsing.

What will they think of next!

I'm sure we've all had those moments when you come across something and can't believe you didn't think of it first. Well today I'm going to talk about two such items. One is a bit frivalous but good none the less the other could actually save lives.

 

Firstly then from Renault, Nail Varnish that matches the colour of your car!

Twingo Nail Polish

Renault, no doubt aware of the growing number of women making and influencing car purchases must have thought that the discerning woman would enjoy having nails that reflected her choice of car colour, or indeed the other way round. Not only is there a significant aesthetic benefit but a real practical one too, the Nail Varnish can also be used to touch up any small scratches on the car. Only the four colours available at the moment but I can see the range increasing very soon.

On a much more serious note though, small children left in cars when the mercury is really climbing are at a very real risk of serious injury or even death. A new device that acts as a second seat belt linking the child seat to the drivers prevents the driver exiting the car without unbuckling the child.

Umbilicar Child Restraint

This device has been developed by Nestle and promoted in the Dominican Republic with a campaign run by its Nido powdered milk brand. An initial 10,000 units soon turned into 300,000. 

What a great idea.

 

My annual charity bike ride.

2017 Champagne Supernova 2

Champagne Supernova Route

I have only just committed to this years ride as my wife has been suffering from an acute prolapsed disc. I really thought that she would need an operation but thanks to a revolutionary new treatment called IDD (contact Anthony Padgett at Back in Shape Shirley) she is making a miraculous recovery. So now I can turn my attention to helping my charity of choice. Ordinary 2 Extraordinary is dedicated to encouraging ordinary people to do extraordinary things to raise money for children that probably won't ever have the chance to do so themselves. As always with O2E any event is totally self funded so that every penny raised goes to the children that need it most. As I expect that it will be the usual suspects that make donations I would just like to thank you all so much for the support. I know that every cause is a good cause and you just can't support them all which makes every donation even more appreciated. 

 

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Don't you just love 'Soft-feel rubberised aluminium' pens.

One of the most comfortable pens you can use now is what is known as a 'Soft-feel rubberised' pen. 

Soft-feel Rubberised pen

In the past although this was a lovely pen to write with and hold they had the disadvantage of only being printed on in a single colour due to the very material that makes them so nice to use. Due to the ever increasing demand for these pens considerable investment has been made to conquer the difficulties presented in branding them.

We are delighted to announce that we can now supply these highly desirable pens branded in full colour if you so desire. Just think how pleased your customers or potential customers would be to receive one of these gorgeous pens.

Beware dodgy power banks!

Portable lithium batteries or 'power banks' have become the must have promotional tech gadget over the past couple of years. The global market for these devices is forecast to grow to £14 billion by 2020. They typically offer an increasingly good branding opportunity / cost per item ratio. With the added bonus that they will definitely be kept and used.

USB Power bank

The potential problem though is that due to their ever growing popularity some suppliers are sacrificing quality to maintain margins in an increasingly competetive market. They are subject to the same compliance requirements as other electrical items and need CE, Reach and RoHS certification. They also need battery reports to allow them on cargo aircraft and the handling rules for dangerous goods need to be followed. Even with all this though some lower quality models have found their way onto the market and some highly respected brands such as Samsung have suffered as a result. 

Clearly a more stringent certification would be nice and the world renowned American testing facility United Laboratories has developed a specific accreditation for power banks - UL2056. We make sure all of the power banks we supply meet the existing standards and will be looking out for ones that meet this new standard with interest. 

A superb branded gift but not one suitable to be in the 'cheap and cheerful' price bracket.