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Counselor Wins Third Neal Award, Stitches Nominated

Filed under: Industry Initiatives, News About ASI, Using Ad Specialties

Counselor magazine just won its third Neal Award in a row for editorial excellence. 

The Neal Awards are considered to be the Pulitzer Prize of the business press and Counselor was selected as a winner for “best news coverage.”   

The winning series of news articles was written by editor Andy Cohen, an eight-time Neal Award-winner, whose guidance helped Counselor take home its first Neal in 2007. 

For the press release, click here

I believe this recognition reflects our strong commitment to independence, objectivity and overall excellence that readers rely on each month to help them grow their business and make smarter, better decisions.

Also, Stitches magazine from ASI, serving embroiderers and equipment manufacturers, was a finalist for its first Neal Award.  Nicole Rollender is the magazine’s editor, and the nomination was for an ongoing feature series called “Business Spotlight: The Next Level.”  While it didn’t win, it competed with well-known national publishers, including Hearst, publisher of O, The Oprah Magazine.   

All told, ASI’s magazines have won nine nationally-recognized writing, reporting and design awards, including its three Jesse H. Neal Awards.

I couldn’t be more proud of our entire editorial staff and many of our 26,000 members, who contribute and help make Counselor and all of our publications some of the best in North America. 

For more about the Neal Awards, click here.

Also, a reminder that American Business Media, host of the Neal Awards, has extended its deadline for the upcoming “sales promotion awards” to March 30 and is looking for more entries to round out the competition.  The awards honor promotional and collateral materials and more information is here.

Tell me about your latest accomplishment.  Post a comment now or email me by clicking here.

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Now’s Your Time to Advertise and Get the Word out

Filed under: Industry Initiatives, Member Benefits, News About ASI, Using Ad Specialties

This is a time for making choices and suppliers are increasingly selecting Counselor and Advantages to get their message out.

In fact, Counselor was ranked No. 1 in ad pages for 2008 among all business-to-business magazines, which just goes to prove what I’ve been saying all along – suppliers know that advertising works and now’s the time to ramp it up and reach the right qualified distributors.

Read the press release here

A recent article in min’s b2b, a publication that tracks the magazine industry, also noted that Advantages magazine ranked No. 3.  Together with Counselor, the two books accounted for 15% of all ad pages among the top 25 business-to-business publications in the nation. 

The article also ranked magazines in the advertising/marketing/sales management category for North America, where Advantages, Counselor and Successful Promotions comprised 29% of all ad pages and Successful Promotions posted the highest percentage increase versus the prior year.  Competing industry publications accounted for only 18% of ad pages.

I believe the rankings help get the word out that the advertising specialty industry is important and vibrant.

What are you doing to get the word out about your business right now?

Post a comment now or email me at tim.andrews@asicentral.com

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Help Requested for Arts Council of Princeton

Filed under: Community, News About ASI

I’m posting this because an organization I’m involved with needs help.

The Arts Council of Princeton (I’m on the board) moved into a wonderful new building a few months ago, assuming several years ago that it would be paid off by construction’s completion.  While $8 million was raised, there’s still a $2 million mortgage.

Given the current economic situation, raising big dollars has been tough.  So, we’re keeping the mortgage for now, to the tune of $10,000 per month.

The Arts Council of Princeton deserves to thrive.  We provide low-cost arts programs — painting, music, dance, theater — to the community and no-cost arts programs to underprivileged children who otherwise wouldn’t experience the power of the arts.

I think the arts can impact people in very positive ways, and know in my heart that my early exposure to the arts made me realize there were more possibilities in life than what I saw growing up. 

I’d like your assistance to help the Arts Council.

Any amount of money is very appreciated.  It could be $10, $20, $50 or $1,000 — or $10,000 if you just hit the lottery.  And I really mean any amount.  We’ve already downsized the staff, and there isn’t much more we can do on the cost side.

To donate online, click here. If you prefer to mail your contribution, the address is:
Jeff Nathanson, Executive Director, Arts Council of Princeton, 102 Witherspoon St., Princeton, NJ 08540

The overall site, at artscouncilofprinceton.org, explains the programs and why the organization is so vital to the community.  For those of you who don’t know, Princeton is in Mercer County, New Jersey.  The Arts Council serves the entire county and beyond, which includes a number of economically-challenged areas.  (You aren’t giving to a bunch of Princeton fat cats.)

If you are involved and passionate about another charitable organization and prefer not to support the Arts Council, I understand and appreciate that.  In that case, I’d suggest you make a contribution to that group if you can.  I’ll tell you that every charitable group needs help — overall giving is off 30-50% in most places.

Thanks very much for considering my request, and for doing what you can for whatever charitable cause you want to support.

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Promo Products to Keep us Focused – Video

Filed under: ASI Shows, Education, Members, Using Ad Specialties

During tough times, innovation rules as businesses discover efficient and creative ways to thrive. 

The beauty of our industry is that promoting your business during downturns is cost-effective with promotional products, and now is the time to educate your clients about the high ROI advertising specialties provide.

I mentioned earlier that my friends and I decided to take a break one weekend from the doom and gloom of the recession coverage in the media and I hosted a “Recession Calls it Quits” gathering.  We traded ideas and looked at our glasses as half-full. 

For attendees I ordered – what else? – promotional products, and I wanted to share them with you so you could see what several industry suppliers created to help make the event memorable:

  • Foxyware rhinestone wine glass – Vegas Golf (asi/87605)
  • Lip balm and hand sanitizer – SnugZ (asi/88060)
  • Light-up martini glass, and dollar sign stress ball - Jetline (asi/63344)
  • Box of imprinted chocolates – Chocolate Inn (asi/44900)

And during our recent ASI Show in New York, I found a clever bumper sticker saying “I Refuse to Participate in a Recession,” from Gill Studios (asi/56950). 

Click here to watch the video with the sticker now.

I’ve had numerous conversations with people about what they’re doing to build their business.   Tell me your ideas – post a comment now or email me.  Also, visit YouTube to watch my video of hot products from New York and share it with your clients.

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ASICentral Enhances Navigation, Education and Search

Filed under: Education, Industry Initiatives, Member Benefits, News About ASI, Research

One thing that really makes my day is when I visit a website that’s well-designed, easy to navigate, and provides useful information – which is why I’m delighted to announce ASI’s recent upgrade of ASICentral.com

The new website is all part of our commitment to provide the best industry education for our members and to also help buyers and prospects understand the power of promotional products – especially now.

It’s now easier than ever to search and find what you need fast, with the new search window powered by Google that’s a piece of cake to find at the top of each page.

The user-friendly design and enhanced content enables suppliers and distributors to find the tools to help them grow their business, and provides more interactive videos and educational articles and webinars from the award-winning Counselor magazine and all of ASI’s six publications.

Here are some more great enhancements:

  • Research:  You can also easily find the ASI advertising specialties impressions study – which you can use to show your clients why they should increase their spending for promotional products with you.
  • Social Networking:  We’ve created a “Social” category in the left navigation bar that takes you to the latest interactive industry blogs and social networks.  Connect today and find peers and let your voice be heard.
  • Green Marketing:  In response to the rapidly growing eco-friendly market, the site now features marketing tips, catalog information and new apparel trends under the “Green” heading.  Find ideas that will increase your sales.

There’s lots more.  Click here to read the full press release.

Let me know your favorite websites by posting a comment on the blog now.

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Hot Products Video and Strong New York Attendance

Filed under: ASI Shows, Education, Using Ad Specialties

New York is a great show town in every sense of the word and preliminary attendance is nearly 2,800 distributors from 1,338 firm firms – up more than 7% from 1,247 firms last year.  Education Day attracted nearly 450 distributors and is up 8% from year ago.  Read the press release here

Add New York’s numbers to the attendance at ASI Orlando in January and a record-setter in Dallas and we’ve delivered the industry’s most successful first-quarter shows.

And the products I saw at the ASI Show this week were the top of the heap (as the song goes). 

Watch my products video from the ASI booth featuring unique items like:

  • The Flexible Calculator, from Cosmos Fiber (asi/46755).  This is a blast.  It’s made of rubber, solar powered, and has a magnet on the back.  
  • Kinetic Bands, from Media Tree, (asi/70303).  The perfect incentive item.  Wear it on your wrist for 60 minutes of exercise and up comes a code that you input into a web site for a reward.  
  • LED Badge and Mouse, from JMTek Corporate Key (asi/63053).  Create your message and the badge or mouse flashes it in LED lights.  Personalize it.
  • Awards in Motion, from Crystal D (asi/47759).  This is a classy item, perfect for promoting events.  Etch what you want on the base and on top insert four photos in a cube that spins. 
  • Grow Cups, from Points of Light Inc. (asi/78825).  Great for encouraging clients to “grow their business.”  All you need to grow flowers comes in a cup, branded with your logo.  Add water and voila! 
  • Antibacterial Credit Card Sprayer, from Custom HBC Corp. (asi/47934).  This is a useful credit card-shaped bacterial spray that fits in your pocket.
  • And from Berney-Karp (asi/40261), the first glitter imprinting technology, to jazz up products like water bottles.  You unscrew the top and there’s a mirror inside and room for pills or make up.

Also, I visited Otto Cap International (asi/75350) and discovered innovative cotton caps that have UV protection.  Caps are among the most popular advertising specialties and click here to watch the video right from the booth. 

And, at ReturnMoi (asi/82261), I found proactive security ID labels that help you find things you lose, even pets.  Click here to watch the video.

In other show news, this morning, the Oprah of Madison Avenue – Mary Lou Quinlan – rocked the crowd with some awesome insight every businessman on the planet will certainly attest to: understanding female consumers provide the key to unlocking what works in providing customer service excellence.

In addition to networking and education, last night attendees also enjoyed very special evening at the top of Rockefeller Center.  No matter how many times I see the NYC skyline, it never fails to thrill me – especially from the 64th floor.

Tell me your New York stories.  Post a comment on the blog now or email me at tim.andrews@asicentral.com

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Top 5 Reasons to Advertise With Catalogs During a Recession

Filed under: Education, Industry Initiatives, Using Ad Specialties

While we’re acknowledging the economic challenges of today, we’re not burrowing our heads in the sand.  Instead, we’re leading the way to aggressively help distributors find opportunities for success.  

And yes, catalogs are key, especially during a recession.  In fact, research suggests that companies that market themselves more during a recession increase value and sales immediately, and up to three years beyond the end of the recession. 

Catalogs provide a great way to market yourself, and here are five additional reasons why you should consider using catalogs to gain serious market share right now:

Top 5 Reasons to Advertise With Catalogs During a Recession:

5.  Wise investment.  Research from Harvard Business Review shows that for every dollar a business reduces its advertising by in a downturn, it will need to spend three dollars after the recession to recapture the original market share.

4.  Smart.  Catalogs are targeted, strategic and niche-driven marketing vehicles that also drive 50%-70% of online sales. 

3.  Brand yourself.  Only ASI invests in graphic designers, a photo studio and consultants to create catalogs that build your professional brand and speak to the latest trends and buying habits of your customers. 

2.  Proven reach.  The average catalog is viewed by three or more prospective customers.  Even online auctioneer eBay is shipping catalogs to reach its customers and prospects.

1.  Unmatched success.  Research from the Direct Marketing Association shows that catalogs are still the largest revenue generator, averaging nearly 50% of all sales in 2007 and 2008.

Now’s the time to be smarter with your spending and to increase your advertising with catalogs.

- Dan O’Halloran is Senior Vice President of Distributor Services.  Email him here.

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