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Talk to Your Clients Now About the Economy

Filed under: Community, Education, Guest Blog

From Jennifer Brown, Director and Social Chair for CAPPA:

Back in 1992, when Bill Clinton ran for president, his campaign slogan was “It’s the economy, stupid!”  Sure enough, 16 years later, most of us would agree that the current economic climate is #1 on our minds. 

All you need to do is turn on the TV for five minutes and you can’t help but notice stories of instability in our financial markets, unemployment rates on the rise and stock market highs and lows that make the biggest roller coaster at Six Flags seem tame.

Last week on CAPPAChat we posted a survey to our readers about how the economy is affecting business.  The answers were unsettling, but not unsurprising – 100% of people said the economy is affecting their business and 88% think that this crisis will carry over into 2009.

Where does this leave us?  Many companies are looking for ways to “trim the fat” and the first place they look is the marketing budget.  The mentality is “we can live without marketing for six months, but we can’t live without paying salaries.” 

If we take a minute to examine this theory, we quickly realize that it’s flawed from the start.  In economic downturns the last thing you want to quit doing is marketing, because if you quit marketing for six months three things happen:  1) You loose brand momentum, recognition and loyalty, 2) Sales drop, and 3) After brand momentum, recognition and loyalty fly out the window, your sales are down and guess what…you can’t make your payroll, stupid!

If I had a perfect formula for fixing this problem let’s just say that I’d probably be spending my days in the lap of luxury.  What I can give you are a few tips and tricks that have worked for us:

  • Across-the-board price increases are on the way in 2009.  Don’t procrastinate talking to your clients about this even one more day.  Let’s look at it this way:  If you have a client that spent $10,000 on tradeshow giveaways in 2008 and prices increase 17% in 2009, they will have to spend $11,700 to buy the same product.  Solution:  They need to buy at the end of December to take advantage of 2008 pricing – place the order on Dec. 28th and bill them on Jan. 1st.  They get better pricing and can still charge to next year’s budget!
  • Buy in bulk – we have a client that orders thousands upon thousands of napkins every year.  However, because of the way their budgets have been previously structured, they order in boxes of 250 at a time.  It does not take a mathematical genius to figure out there will be significant savings if they order 10,000 at a time, versus 250.
  • Take advantage of specials when possible.  Do you always look though quarterly flyers to see what’s on sale?  If not, you should!  If your client is talking about buying 1,000 water bottles in March, call the supplier and see if they are going to be on sale anytime in the next 30 days.  Some suppliers will go ahead and honor the sales price (30 days either way) or maybe your client can hold off for a week or two?
  • Plan, plan, plan…Stop paying rush charges and expedited shipping!  Talk to your clients and get a feel for what they have going on in the next three months.  This will allow you to use normal production and ground shipping which will make a big difference on the bottom line.  Not only will you be saving them money, but you will be earning their trust because you will be seen as advisor versus and order-taker.

Many of us are 1-2 people companies and sometimes you feel like you’re an island unto yourself. If you’re wondering where to go to ask questions and get advice like this, network with your suppliers to build lasting relationships, keep up with the latest on the industry via education, attend tradeshows and bounce ideas off of your peers…the answer could be within your regional promotional products association. 

Post a comment now or email me at jennifer@360promos.com, and be sure to check out the blog for the Corridor Area Promotional Products Association, at www.cappachat.com.

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Invest in Technology While Riding the Roller Coaster

Filed under: Education, Industry Initiatives, News About ASI

The news and editors at our magazines and on our ASI Internet Radio show are keeping us updated about the latest economic and market changes – with ups-and-downs like a roller coaster – and many of us may be wondering what the next year is going to look like. 

I believe there’s no need to panic.  But, for ASI, it’s important that we continue to develop products and services that use the power of technology to increase your sales and help your business become more efficient no matter what the economic conditions are.

We’ve recently made huge investments to continue upgrading our products and services, so that they can start working together more seamlessly and so you can spend less time running your business and more time selling.  We’re looking at ways that ESP Online, LogoMall websites and other electronic products can communicate with each other better and become part of a one-stop-shop package, for instance.

Also, we’ve made the following staff promotions to strengthen ASI’s technology department:  Keith Tuskey is now the chief technology officer; John Bush (who you may recognize from trainings at ASI Shows) is now vice president of product management; and Alex Belotserkovskiy has become vice president of application development.  You can learn about their backgrounds in their press releases, at asicentral.com/pressroom

Our investments in these technology leaders, who have very talented teams, shows our commitment to provide the best upgrades and industry-leading products and services as a part of your ASI membership.  As a matter of fact, often your investment in ASI membership pays for itself as you grow your business with our tools.   

Is your roller coaster going up or down today?  How are you using technology, or what are you doing otherwise, to become more efficient? 

I want to know – post a blog comment or email me at tim.andrews@asicentral.com

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Learning From Startups, Wearables Trends and Rising Prices

Filed under: Education, Members, News About ASI, Using Ad Specialties

ASI was the winner of four national awards for editorial and design from FOLIO: magazine recently, recognizing coverage in our magazines of wearables trends, rising prices, and challenges running successful startups – among other topics important to your business right now.

The awards were for two Counselor articles, one entitled “Anatomy of a Startup,” by Andy Cohen, Joe Haley and Melinda Ligos, that won a Bronze Award for ‘Best Feature Writing’ and chronicled the ups-and-downs of three new distributorships during their first few months in business.  The other article, ”Sticker Shock,” by Michele Bell, won a Gold Award for ’Best Feature Writing’ and included six reasons why prices of advertising specialties are rising and offered a plan to help distributors sell clients on a price increase.   

In addition, the June issue of Wearables (Nicole Rollender, editor), received a Gold Award for ‘Best B-to-B Full Issue’ and was selected for covering the latest apparel trends, including underwear and five different categories of novelty T-shirts.  And, the article “Damage Control,” by Michele Bell in Supplier Global Resource, won a Silver Award for ‘Best Feature Writing’ and was chosen for providing information about handling potentially toxic products and what the ethical responsibilities for testing are.

I urge you to read each of the magazine issues – because they are packed with information that is likely affecting how you’re selling products to customers right now or running your business at the moment.  To read the winning articles, click here.

In the FOLIO: competition, more than 100 judges reviewed 2,800 entries and magazines from ASI were recognized among several legacy publications throughout North America, including Fast Company, National Geographic, Newsweek and TIME

Tell me what you think – post a comment now on the blog or email me at tim.andrews@asicentral.com.  You can also watch my videos of new products, at youtube.com/timasitv.

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