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ESP Searches Jump After Virtual Trade Shows

Filed under: ASI Shows, Industry Initiatives, News About ASI

We held our fourth virtual trade show this week and all distributor feedback to date can be summed up in one word: great.

Only one thing can make the virtual experience better – and that’s even more suppliers.

We know the all-day, online event is effective because exhibiting suppliers experience an average 24% increase in ESP searches the day after each show. And more searches mean more sales.

On average, exhibitors at Wednesday’s virtual trade show – ASI’s fourth – spent 66 minutes in the virtual environment and exchanged 4,548 instant messaging chats. And distributors completed 5,404 supplier surveys.

Wednesday’s show featured several top suppliers, including Tri-Mountain/Mountain Gear (asi/92125), Americanna Co. (asi/35730), Graphco Line (asi/57956) and The Magnet Group (asi/68507). Exhibitors showcased everything from bumper stickers, key tags and bottled water to apparel, phone accessories, food and gifts.

If you missed this week’s show, you can access it on-demand at www.asicentral.com/vts through June 15.

Everyone I’ve talked to says the virtual experience is a terrific way for distributors to chat one-on-one with suppliers providing interactive video at their booths – while drinking coffee from the comfort of their office.

Virtual events certainly won’t replace our bricks-and-mortar shows (New York is next week!) , but definitely qualify as an added bonus.  So we’ll host two more this year, on Wednesday, June 16, and Wednesday, September 22.

Let me know how your virtual experience went by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Media File Flying Off Shelves

Filed under: News About ASI, Using Ad Specialties

Nothing says “success” like “going-going-gone,”so I’m happy to share the news that we’ve already pre-sold 70% of our 2010 Media File, the world’s largest promotional products catalog. But you’re not too late – we’re still taking orders for this handsome, hardcover book, which sales reps and their customers have relied on for 55 years.

This essential sales and sourcing tool contains thousands of products from hundreds of suppliers in all price ranges. Price and product indexes make it easy to choose products to suit any client’s budget and every promotional objective. 

Whether you’re looking for aprons, beach balls and computer gadgets or whistles, wristbands and wine accessories, Media File is the go-to catalog you’ll turn to first. There are also green products, unique items and a special wearables section.

Some sales reps liken Media File to a yearbook – the one they give to their top clients and proudly display at the front of their showroom.

As always, the front cover can be imprinted in full color with the distributor’s logo and contact information – any time throughout the year. 

To order the 2010 Media File online and to see sample pages, click here.

And let me know how Media File has helped you over the years by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Live Green, Love Green, Buy Green

Filed under: Media Coverage, News About ASI, Using Ad Specialties

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day we’re offering a one-day sale of our best-selling, eco-friendly Green Catalog. From 8 a.m.-7 p.m. ET Thursday, all new sales of the 2010 Green Catalog are just $1 each.

Paperless orders only: Call 800-546-1392. For more info, click here

And, I’m happy to report the most-watched morning show in Texas featured products from ASI’s first-ever top 10 list of eco-friendly Earth Day giveaways. Turns out, Fox 4 “Good Day” consumer reporter Steve Noviello is a big fan of elephant poo products. To find out why, click here to watch the video.

Click here to check out some of the items featured on the air, and how to order them or find out more information. Some of the products on our list include:

  • Digitally Printed Shirt: When combined with any eco-friendly tee, digital printing requires no screens and no harsh chemicals. All inks are water-based and produced using no PVC, phthalates or heavy metals, so there’s little waste. From Pony Xpress Printing.
  • Shower Timer: Tells you when your five minutes are up. Utilities, local municipalities and environmental groups can promote water conservation by offering this practical item. From All-In-One.
  • Recycled Tires Jar Opener: Made from rubber tires. Auto dealerships, mechanics and tire manufacturers can give these to customers for Earth Day or any time year-round. From Americanna.
  • Hemp-Blend Polo: This cotton and hemp organic shirt is naturally antibacterial, making it perfect for summer uniforms. From High Performance.
  • Compostable Pens: This pen completely breaks down in a landfill in 90 days (except the spring and refill). Hotels, banks and shops can use these and give them away to customers. From Shepenco.

Let me know how you or your company observe Earth Day and reduce your carbon footprint (recycled printer cartridges? carpooling? telecommuting?), and tell me your most popular green products by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


The Start of Something Good: ESP Searches Up, Up, Up

Filed under: ASI Shows, Research

There’s something in the air besides spring.  Call me an optimist, but I’m seeing the start of an industry turnaround. 

Instead of tulips, I’m counting the number of searches in ESP.  And what I’m finding is giving me a real stirring of hope.  From March 2009 to March 2010, the number of searches in the ASI product database increased nearly 9%.  And from February 2010 to March 2010, that number jumped almost 21%.

What that tells me is more people are searching for more products.  More sales can’t be far behind.

The most cautious of distributors tell me that while business remained relatively flat this first quarter, they no longer feel like they’re peering into the abyss.  In addition to more confidence in the future, they’re reporting an uptick in inquiries and prospects.    

While no one’s uncorking the champagne quite yet, some businesses are reporting an increase in orders dating back six months, thanks in part to aggressive marketing efforts.

Here at ASI, we’re counting down the days until ASI New York, May 4-6, the industry’s first and only major trade show in the Big Apple and the number one choice for a Northeast event in numerous member surveys. New York is also the site of our very first ASI Women’s Summit, May 4, with keynoter Barbara Corcoran – who’s almost as bullish on opportunity as me.

I plan to toast the future at our annual Counselor Awards May 5 at New York’s venerable Plaza Hotel.  

Please tell me what signs of revival you’re seeing by posting a comment or emailing me here.  I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Green is Good: The Green Catalog is Here

Filed under: Community, Industry Initiatives, News About ASI

“Going green” can mean a lot of different things, from buying organic produce at your local supermarket to overhauling your company so it’s as energy efficient as possible.  ”Green” is such a hot concept, 4 in 5 small to medium size businesses now offer some sort of green products or services.

Here at ASI, during the month the world celebrates Earth Day, we’re issuing our 2010 edition of The Green Catalog, which consistently sells out, year after year.  These days, environmentally-conscious buyers want green products that are useful – and clever – and this catalog really delivers.

Inside, you’ll discover more than 120 eco-friendly items, ranging from seed packets to products made from fast-growing and renewable bamboo (it grows up to 4 feet a day!). 

Flip through and you’ll find pencils made from recycled tires, water-powered clocks, stapleless staplers and even watches powered by a mercury-free battery.  Want to reach a music loving audience?  Try the seeded music download cards.  Download your tunes – then plant the card in the ground and watch it grow.

A price index in the back of the catalog makes it easy to choose products to match any client budget.  Products are also grouped by easy-to-use categories, including food and drink, outdoors, trade shows, bags and briefcases, clocks and watches, office, sports, travel, and home.

The book ships free from now until April 15, and a free digital version comes with the print purchase.  The front of each copy can be imprinted in full color with the distributor’s logo and contact information, and ASI offers this feature year-round.

And in further response to the ever-growing demand for eco-friendly products, ASI now features a pavilion at our five super-regional trade shows dedicated to showcasing only green products.

To order The Green Catalog online and to see sample pages, click here.  The catalog - circulation 135,000 – has already sold over 100,000 copies, so don’t wait too long to order yours.

And let me know what green products are working for you by posting a comment or emailing me here.  I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Real Estate Mogul Tells It Like It Is

Filed under: ASI Shows, Community

Barbara Corcoran is a natural-born storyteller with a million-dollar attitude.  Tuesday, she dished out valuable bits of business advice on ASI Internet Radio along with gems from her incredible rags-to-riches rise.   

One of 10 children raised in a 2-bedroom flat, Corcoran had nothing to lose and nowhere to go but up when a customer at the diner she worked at lent her $1,000 and told her she’d make a great real estate agent.  She parlayed that initial investment into a multi-million-dollar real estate business.  This from a woman who didn’t even read until the 7th grade.

After this interview, I’m happier than ever Corcoran is our keynote speaker at the first ASI Women’s Summit in New York City on Tuesday, May 4.  Register by Friday and save $100.  And if you missed this morning’s interview, check it out online by clicking here.

To succeed, she told listeners, play the confidence game.  Convincing herself she had a right to as much success as possible gave her the confidence to knock on Donald Trump’s door early in her career.

Or take a page from Corcoran’s memoir, “If You Don’t Have Big Breasts, Put Ribbons on Your Pigtails,” and use whatever advantage you have available.

Want to build buzz about your business?  Publish a trend report (which can be as simple as “9 out of 10 teens choose blue as their favorite tee shirt color”) and pitch a stat-laden story to the press.  Better yet, get quoted as an industry expert on a blog or in the newspaper.  “The press is the golden chalice,” she said.  ”Use the press to build your brand.  The little guy has the corner on creativity.”

Corcoran also advised listeners to always be honest “because people can see through baloney a mile away and truthfulness breeds trust.”

To move product, make salespeople feel like winners.  She once motivated her sales force to sell more million-dollar homes by handing out big gold ribbons imprinted with “million dollars.” Recognition, she said, “is the name of the game in motivating salespeople.”  

To get an even better idea of the kind of advice she’ll hand out at the summit, check out Corcoran’s weekly report on the real estate market on NBC’s “Today Show.”  She’s also an investor/shark on ABC’s reality hit TV show “Shark Tank.”

No matter how she delivers her message, you can be sure Corcoran will tell it like it is.  What piece of advice motivates you?  Let me know by posting a comment or emailing me here.  I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


How’s Health Care Affecting Your Business?

Filed under: Healthcare

No matter what you think of recent health care legislation, there’s no question it’s raised a number of key issues for businesses.  Here at ASI, we held an all-company meeting recently to explain particulars of our health care plan’s annual renewal for our staff.  How is your business responding?

In our own industry, we’ve posted an online poll on the right side of asicentral.com asking if you’re concerned that the new health care bill will further limit your ability to sell items to pharma companies and medical device manufacturers.  So far, 54% say “yes.”

These and other issues critical to our industry even prompted ASI senior vice president Dale Denham to travel to Washington, D.C. with 30 other ad specialty professionals to lobby Congress.  Along with health care, the group discussed recent legislation limiting the number of reporting exceptions granted to drug and medical device companies regarding payments and gifts to doctors.

Companies must now report any gifts or payments made to doctors that are individually worth more than $10 or collectively worth more than $100 in one year.  Further, starting in 2013, all payment disclosures will appear on a public website.

Dale says one of the most important take-backs for him is the importance of letting representatives know how you feel about any and all legislation impacting our industry. He suggests you write, call or — better yet — visit their office in person.  Find your senator here.

This week, Congress adjourned for its two-week Easter recess, which means many of your representatives are in their home district.  Drop by their office and let them know your thoughts. 

How is your company responding to the health care legislation?  Let me know by posting a comment or emailing me here.  I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.