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Interesting Research Results

Filed under: Education, News About ASI, Research

While the headlines this week were about industry sales being off, we dug deeper to figure out what separated the winners from the losers.

Of all the reasons we checked, here are two numbers that matter: 

Among those distributors reporting an increase in sales for the first quarter of 2009, 71% had ESP Online.  Among those reporting a decrease in sales, only 59% had ESP Online.

Our research geek says “the difference is significant at the 95% level of confidence” — which he patiently explained to me translates to “this is definitely NOT a coincidence.”

If you’re using ESP Online from ASI, you’re using a business management tool that truly sets you apart, and gives you a real advantage in finding ideas that matter and creating proposals that close business — now more important than ever.

If you’re not yet using ESP Online, visit asicentral.com/esp to learn more and sign up for a free demo to see what you’re missing.

Also, look through the other recent blog posts for useful resources, marketing tools and business tips to help you in this challenging economic time. 

Tell me how you’re boosting business by posting a comment on the blog now or emailing me here.

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The ASI Store is open for business 24×7

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

In today’s fast-paced marketplace, 24×7 is the new 9-5.  So it’s no wonder online sales are growing at four times the rate of offline and businesses need to offer around-the-clock convenience.

ASI is responding with the opening of the ASI Store, a new online shopping site available to distributors, suppliers and decorators.

With the click of a mouse, ASI members can buy products and services, including the ESP Online business tool, customized LogoMall company websites, ASI catalogs and subscriptions to Counselor, Successful Promotions, Advantages, Stitches and Wearables magazines.  Still thinking of becoming a member?  Your can apply and pay online with a credit card, and it’s secure.

It doesn’t matter if you’re halfway across the world on business, waiting for an early morning flight or awake and ready to roar at 4:00 a.m.   

We’ll continue to expand in coming months, adding more award-winning products and services from ASI.  As always, we’ll continue to offer personalized service through our account executives, but for those times outside of normal business hours or across time zones, the ASI Store is always open.

Take a look around and let me know what you think by posting a comment now or emailing me here.

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First Qtr ’09 Sales Off 17.6%

Filed under: Community, Industry Initiatives

Today we announced that first quarter 2009 sales were off 17.6%. 

And, in 2008, overall advertising specialty industry sales reached $19.8 billion, up 1.2 percent over 2007, as estimated in the January 20, 2009 edition of PromoGram from Counselor magazine.

For the press release, click here.

The exclusive ASI first quarter sales report showed that the year-over-year decline represented a decrease of $700 million in ad specialty sales compared to first quarter 2008.  Less than a quarter of distributors (24%) reported an increase in sales in the early months of 2009.  Only two quarters ago, 40% had reported an increase in sales.

For the full year 2008, spending on advertising specialties, or promotional products – items and incentives branded with a company logo or marketing message – was 3% greater than radio advertising*, $12.8 billion greater than outdoor display ads** and ahead of the 2.6% estimated decline in overall U.S. advertising for 2008*** (Radio Advertising Bureau, Outdoor Advertising Association of America and The Nielsen Company are the sources).  The industry increase also matched the 1.1 percent growth rate for the United States GDP for the same period.

In this time of economic challenges, the estimate for advertising specialty sales in 2008 indicates a better year than what 2009 is shaping up to be, so we’re cautiously optimistic for 2009, but one of the smartest things businesses can do right now is increase their marketing and advertising to grab market share.  

We invest $1.3 million each year to educate suppliers and distributors on how to market themselves more efficiently, network more effectively and reach qualified business partners, and an exclusive ASI impressions study is available here that provides ROI figures that prove the value of advertising specialties in marketing campaigns.

Industry companies are optimistic about 2009, but continue to watch several factors impacting the industry:

1)  Volatile economic conditions in North America.

2)  Increasing demand for “green” products, despite the recession.

3)  Continuing fluctuations of prices for materials used in manufacturing. 

To learn more about the quarterly sales analysis, click here.    

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Research for Awards & Engraving Pros

Filed under: Industry Initiatives, Media Coverage, News About ASI, Research

I was recently asked by Recognition Review, published by the Awards and Recognition Association, about what research, trends and information awards and engraving professionals can use to expand their promotional products business and to service current clients asking for them. 

Following is what I shared with them, which might be helpful to you in convincing your clients to increase their spending on ad specialties – particularly in these challenging economic times. 

Promotional products provide a high ROI for marketers, and companies need them now more than ever to help them grab market share from their competitors.  


According to the annual industry sales estimate from ASI, promotional products sales topped $19.6 billion in 2007, and we’re projecting the industry to be up slightly from that for 2008.

ASI released a new study that indicates that over 80% of recipients who receive a promotional product remember the brand on the item.  That’s powerful advertising and high recall for your marketing investment.  The study is available free at asicentral.com/study and you can use it to educate your clients about the value of promotional products in their marketing.

The study also found that about 81% of recipients keep an item because they consider it to be useful.  So choose items for your clients that customers find valuable everyday. 

The return on your promotional products investment is stellar.  Promotional products provide an estimated average cost-per-impression that is a fraction of a penny ($.004), which is lower than TV ads, radio ads or newspaper ads. 

The annual State of the Industry report, published by ASI’s Counselor magazine, indicates that the top five most popular advertising specialty categories are:

  1. Shirts.
  2. Bags.
  3. Caps/headwear
  4. Writing instruments.
  5. Other wearables.

And the top end-user markets are:

  1. Financial.
  2. Manufacturing.
  3. Health/Medical/Hospitals.
  4. Consumer Products.
  5. Education/Schools/Universities.

In addition, your creativity is the limit.  At the ASI Show in New York, one of five national promotional products trade shows we host throughout the year, I found iPod carriers, customized LED name badges, rubber calculators that you can roll up, and other innovative tech items to be in demand with clients.   Watch a video with some of the products here.

There are many more product ideas for businesses in videos from our national trade shows, available anytime and posted at asicentral.com.

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Words of Wisdom for These Challenging Times

Filed under: Education, Members, Research

If you advertise when everyone else stops marketing, your message is more likely to be noticed due to fewer ads in the market and your business is more likely to be remembered when everyone starts advertising again.  It’s common sense, but yet during every recession, one of the first things companies do is pull back on their marketing and advertising.

During the current economic downturn, you have an incredible opportunity to INCREASE SALES and BUILD MARKETSHARE.  But don’t take my word for it…here’s some proof to back-up the common sense.

Click here to download and use the “Recession Sales Sheet” with results of studies encouraging companies to increase marketing now, including the information below.

• 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s Buchen Advertising tracked advertising dollars vs. sales trends for the recessions of 1949, 1954, 1958 and 1961.  They found that sales and profits dropped at companies that cut back on advertising and, after the recession had ended, those same companies lagged behind the ones that maintained their ad budgets.

• 1970’s An American Business Press study showed that companies who advertise and market aggressively can maintain and increase sales during a recession and in the following years.

• 1980’s – McGraw-Hill Research analyzed 600 B2B companies and found that those who maintained or increased advertising grew significantly…both during the recession and the following three years.  In fact, by 1985, sales of companies that advertised aggressively had grown 275% over those that didn’t.

• 1990’s A MarketSense study concluded the best strategy for coping with a recession is balancing long-term branding with promotions for short-term sales.  The study shows brands like Jif and Kraft Salad Dressing experienced sales growth of 57% and 70% respectively after increasing their advertising during the recession.

• 2009 – The results are up to you!

ASI Marketing has created an informative sheet with additional “recession-busting” information for you to personalize and share with your clients and prospects.

To access and use the “Recession Sales Sheet” now, click here .

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Charitable giving: Dig a little deeper

Filed under: Community, Members, Using Ad Specialties

No matter what your personal situation, it’s a guarantee somebody out there has it worse, which is why it’s more important than ever to give.

Right now, organizations like food banks and homeless centers are in critical need, especially since many of those organizations depend on contributions from foundations that are feeling the pinch.

Here at ASI, we have a longstanding tradition of giving – in good times and bad.  Last year alone, United Way received about $23,000 from ASI employees, including the company match.  ASI is a family-owned company, chaired by Norman Cohn, which also believes strongly in giving back. 

Above and below:  The Cohn family at this year’s Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation fundraising walk.  Left to right:  Suzanne Cohn, Norman’s wife;  Norman Cohn;  Sydney (middle), Matthew’s daughter;  Mackenzie (front left), Matthew’s daughter; Lea (front center), Matthew’s wife;  and Jennifer Morrison (front right), Lea’s mother.

Norman’s son, Matthew, vice chairman, and Matthew’s two young daughters, Mackenzie and Sydney, have spearheaded a drive (www.cohnsisters.com) to help cure diabetes and have raised nearly $300,000 so far this year – and a total of over $700,000 over the last two years.  Many industry folks generously supported the team with donations or products that were used during this year’s walk.


Even if you don’t have a dime to spare, there are other ways of giving back.  Volunteer time at a community organization, clean out your closet and bring clothes to a homeless shelter or donate blood.  Believe me, you’ll feel great.

ASI is recognized as platinum-level sponsor for a total pledge of $120,000 to the Promotional Products Education Foundation. Here I am receiving an award on behalf of contributions made by the Cohn family and ASI, from Wayne Greenberg, left, account manager for Geiger.

Our employees feel great all year long by contributing to a wide variety of causes, including the Adopt-a-Family program with our local American Red Cross, which a good majority of our staff participate in each year and have contributed over $11,000 to since 2005.   

We’re also involved with the Bucks-Montgomery Center for Human Services food drive, MANNA, Boy Scouts food drive, Toys For Tots, A Woman’s Place cell phone drive, and the Ronald McDonald House.  The list goes on.

I’m not sharing this to toot ASI’s horn, but to remind everyone that we can’t forget others who still need our help, especially in these economic times.  Every dollar counts, and every dime matters.

As more floods affect our colleagues and friends in North Dakota and other weather-related disasters are becoming a challenge for people in several states around the nation, please consider donating to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund here.

Tell me how you or your company contributes.  Post a comment now or email me here.

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