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Promo Products Save Taxpayers Millions

Filed under: Industry Initiatives, Research, Using Ad Specialties

Don’t you love when the government saves us money – rather than spends it? If so, you’ll appreciate this: Using promotional items to remind people to mail back their census forms could save U.S. taxpayers up to $85 million.

So far, more than 72% of the nation’s households have responded, which the Census Bureau says already surpasses the total response rate in 2000 of 67%. The massive awareness campaign was fueled in large part by promo products – everything from branded totes to pens, mugs and magnets – that reminded people to send in their info.

And while census workers will still come knocking, thanks to the power of promo products, fewer are needed, which is where we all save money.

 Overall, the Census Bureau spent $340 million for advertising, targeting $140 million on television, print and Internet ads, and $22.7 million on promotional products.

Guess which saved taxpayers more? Census promo items cost an estimated nickel per person while “mainstream media” ads cost roughly $1 per person. Talk about more bang for the buck!

 Numerous industry companies did their part to get the word out. Proforma Double Dog Dare in New Albany, Indiana provided the government with 50,000 travel totes, PromoShop (asi/300446) contracted with several U.S. cities and Halo/Lee Wayne (asi/356000) distributed products throughout Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Oklahoma.

It’s a critical message. The government relies on census data to help determine how to distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds to tribal, state and local governments each year.

Halo/Lee Wayne Senior Account Executive Anita Daniels echoed the sentiments of many when she said she found this job particularly rewarding: “It gave me a great sense of pride knowing the government was helping me and I was helping some of my fellow American workers.”

To read more about the industry’s Census efforts, click here.

And let me know if your company conducted any Census-related work by posting a comment or emailing me here.  I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

On the Road with the Advantages Roadshow in 2011

Filed under: ASI Shows, News About ASI

By his own estimate, ASI’s Nick DiNicola has logged about a half-million miles since the first Advantages Roadshow in 2007.

He’s not done yet.

The industry’s largest and best-attended traveling show just announced its 2011 schedule, which will take the roadshow general manager throughout the United States and Canada, including a first-time stop in Birmingham, AL (home of the Vulcan, the world’s largest cast-iron statue at 56 feet and 120,000 pounds).

After nearly four years on the road, Nick’s seen a lot of country – and collected a mountain of trivia. In 2011, he’ll learn a whole lot more. In 16 weeks, he’ll bring together thousands of suppliers, distributors and decorators during 76 local roadshows throughout North America.

To see the entire schedule, click here.  And please note: Suppliers can now reserve 2011 space at 2010 prices.

So far this year, more than 5,000 distributors have attended an Advantages Roadshow, where they learn new sales tools, discuss client challenges and needs with other pros while discovering innovative items that’ll give them a competitive edge. All in a few short hours.

Top suppliers choose the show as their platform to introduce new products, making it a big part of their annual exhibition plan.

To exhibit, suppliers can call their ASI Show sales rep at 800-546-3300 or contact Nick directly at ndinicola@asicentral.com. Just don’t challenge him to a game of Trivial Pursuit.

I’d love to know about your roadshow experience, so please post a comment or email me here.  I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Working for You: Promo Products on CBS Station

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

CBS affiliate WFMY of Greensboro/Winston-Salem (weekly audience: 671,980) recently showcased a number of promotional products on its long-running “Good Morning Show,” including caffeinated soap, the electric riding beer cooler and the “instant abs” tee shirt.

The segment was centered on the “Top 10 Wacky Ways to Promote a Business in 2010,” a recent promotion that’s part of ASI’s ongoing push to educate end-buyers about the power of the $16 billion ad specialty industry.

To view the segment, click here.

The Top 10 Wacky Ways to Promote a Business in 2010:

  • Cell Phone Watch – Make like James Bond and dial and receive calls from your wristwatch.
  • Shower Shock – The world’s first caffeinated soap offers the ultimate clean buzz.
  • Celebarktion Gourmet Pet Treats – Pet lovers go bow-wow for large imprintable dog bones.
  • Flower Ballz – Hand-rolled by people with developmental disabilities, they burst into bloom.
  • Metal Man USB Drive – Shiny, happy USB execs with removable head/flash drive.
  • Recycled Billboard Bag – Vinyl messenger bag is custom-made from your old billboards.
  • Footzyrolls – A hot gift for high-heeled women, these roll-up shoes fit in the smallest clutch.
  • EZ Freeze – This cereal-on-the-go bowl lets breakfast lovers enjoy it anywhere, anytime.
  • Cruzin Cooler – Ride to the tailgating party on a cooler big enough for a case on ice. 
  • Degree Tee Shirt – Aspiring Arnolds get a boost from heat-activated “instant abs” tee shirt.

For photos of all products and purchasing information, click here

So far, the ASI press release touting the “Top 10 Wacky Way to Promote a Business in 2010” has been picked up or posted by more than 150 news outlets and blogs.

I’d love to know what promotions are working for you, so please post a comment or email me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

ASI Boards Tackle Industry Challenges

Filed under: Guest Blog, Industry Initiatives, Members

The ASI Advisory Board held its second official meeting at the ASI Show New York, where we tackled two very important topics – expanding the industry and selling direct.

While acknowledging there’s always room for industry growth, we also addressed the need for greater diversity. As our recent Women’s Summit showed, women are now a significant industry force. But on the whole, the industry doesn’t properly reflect America’s diversity. We all agreed more needs to be done to make the industry more inclusive. 

ASI’s CEO, Tim Andrews, led a discussion on the many ways ASI attracts new suppliers and distributors to the industry. Afterward, one board member said to me, “If you told me we would have unanimous support for bringing in more distributors, I would have told you that you were crazy.” But in fact, we unanimously support the idea because the board is open to all the challenges the industry faces – including broadening membership scope and reach. 

We also debated a hot topic some might say has been done to death: selling direct. The prickliest questions included:

  • If a nationally known retail brand enters the industry and sells through distributors, are they also “selling direct” as most people think of it?
  • Is it OK for a supplier to own a distributorship – or vice versa?
  • Is it a double standard for distributors who import directly from China to complain about suppliers selling direct?

We intentionally avoided discussing pricing policies or specific companies, and in coming months we’ll formally review all recommendations and implement action plans.

In the end, the board made numerous recommendations to ASI, including doing a better job advising members on ways to be even more active in order to contribute to the industry’s overall success.

On June 4, we’ll open nominations for the 2011-2013 ASI advisory boards, and I urge you to nominate yourself or anyone else who could help advance the promotional products industry. Voting will take place in September and the new board members will be announced at the annual ASI Power Summit this November. 

The four ASI advisory boards that help guide ASI and the industry are:

  • ASI Safety and Legislative Advisory Board
  • ASI Technology and Operations Advisory Board
  • ASI Marketing and Research Advisory Board
  • ASI Advisory Board

 All four boards are very active, and we have already begun acting on some recommendations. At the ASI Show Chicago, July 13-15, we hope to share an exciting new benefit for ASI members that will directly address another pressing industry issue, so please stay tuned. 

In the meantime, we’d love your feedback.

Please comment on this blog post. We want to hear your take on the issues related to selling direct or other issues you think the ASI advisory boards should be tackling. (One important note: Please refrain from naming any names or we will be required to remove your post, which we hate to do.)

 – Dale

 Dale Denham is ASI’s senior vice president. Reach him at dale.denham@asicentral.com.

Let the Rebound Begin: 1st Quarter Sales Results

Filed under: Research

Anyone who knows me would rightly describe me as bullish on this industry. Even during the stormiest days of the economic crisis, I always looked ahead, knowing a rebound was as certain as the sun – even if the timing was uncertain.

Now, it’s official. The results of ASI’s exclusive survey of first quarter industry sales show an 11.1%, year-over-year increase among ASI distributor members – the first increase in seven quarters. This translates to an increase in sales of $353 million over the first quarter of 2009.

Total industry sales for the first quarter of 2010 were $3.5 billion.

We released our early findings during the ASI Show New York and this week shared the news via Counselor PromoGram and www.ASICentral.com.

The word on the streets is “cautiously optimistic.” While it’ll certainly take some time for the industry to fully rebound to pre-recession numbers – some economists are predicting four years to fully ease the strain – perhaps we can finally start to exhale.

Here are some highlights from the survey:

  • Over half (51%) of respondents reported an increase in sales in the first quarter of 2010 compared to the first quarter of 2009.
  • Larger distributors (more than $1 million in revenue) account for the lion’s share of the industry increase, as they represent approximately three-quarters of industry revenue.

To read the entire report, click here.

I’d particularly like to thank the 53 members of our new panel, comprised of some of the biggest “Big Dogs” in the industry. Each quarter, they’ll allow us to tap their brains – and check their ledger balances – through their direct participation in the Sales Study, bringing an added level of consistency to our results. Of course, ASI will continue to survey a sample of our membership in deriving sales estimates.

Our second quarter 2010 Sales Study Report will be published in July. Let me know your predictions for that report by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Savvy Solutions Provide Keys to Success

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

I recently put MediaTree President Rob Watson on the “Hot Seat” at our New York Show to discuss how his company rode the Internet wave to become one of the world’s leading digital advertising agencies exclusive to the promo products industry.

In my Tim’s Take video, which you can watch by clicking here, Rob describes MediaTree as hip and cool, and I have to agree. I met up with Rob and MediaTree CEO Bill Grassmyer at last week’s Counselor Awards, when Bill was named Supplier Entrepreneur of the Year.

Barely 30, Rob was named MediaTree’s president in April 2008 after enjoying major success as the company’s director of marketing. Since starting up 15 years ago, MediaTree has developed online solutions for brands and Fortune 500 companies from Agway, Bayer and Coca-Cola to ReMax, United Airlines and Whirlpool.

It works like this: MediaTree partners with select promotional product distributors to develop customized promotional and incentive programs.  Having exclusive relationships with the most recognized online content providers, MediaTree offers virtually unlimited content and content combinations.

Knowing the savviest distributors are now selling full, turnkey solutions, MediaTree took that same model and is now the solution provider for the online part of the equation.

In my interview, I asked Rob about the credit quandary some distributors are reporting in this economy and he said the best solution is for distributors to develop as strong a relationship as possible with suppliers in order to obtain the best possible terms.

His company further stokes those relationships by making sure company reps have superior sales sheets and PowerPoint presentations to take on sales calls to entice potential clients.

Let me know what solutions your company is providing that set you apart by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

ASI Show New York: A World of Wonderful

Filed under: ASI Shows, News About ASI

I’m pleased to share the news that our New York show – which just closed – posted a strong attendance of 2,500 distributors from 1,177 firms.

All told, distributors were drawn to ASI New York from 38 states and 13 countries, including 49 from Canada, six from Trinidad and Tobago, five from Russia, as well as others from Columbia, Honduras, the Netherlands, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

With thousands of new products and services for the start of the second half of the year, along with three days of free, industry-specific education, ASI New York delivered 344 suppliers, including 112 exhibitors who weren’t at ASI New York last year and 178 not exhibiting at Promotions East.

You know you’ve put on a good show when participants like Michelle Mickelson, of Dard (asi/48500) uses words like “terrific” to describe the show floor action. Jason Emery, of Logomark (asi/67866), told us, “This show has been fantastic.  There aren’t many shows out there where we can write orders right on the show floor.”

And Harry Rosenberg, of Ariel (asi/36730), who was honored at the Counselor awards with the Marvin Spike Lifetime Achievement Award, said they were so busy he had three people working the booth.

Distributors like Ross Silverstein, of iPROMOTEu (asi/232119), loves coming to the city because there’s so much to do and said he left the show pumped up for the summer sales season.

To read the press release with all the results, please click here.  And don’t forget – it’s never too early to register for our next show in Chicago July 13-15.

I’d love to know your favorite part of ASI Show New York, so please post a comment or email me here.  I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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