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Are You an All-Star?

Filed under: Guest Blog, News About ASI

Here in the Philly area, we are still stinging from what was a debacle of a weekend in Philadelphia sports. The Phillies choked and fell to the Giants in game 6 of the NLCS, and the Eagles – well, I don’t know what the heck happened there – but they managed to blow a nine-point lead going into the fourth quarter and lose to the Titans.

Hey, congrats if you’re a fan of either one of those teams and good luck to the Giants and the Rangers in the World Series.

While we’re on the subject of winners, let me get to what brings me here, now that you’ve allowed me to vent. We’re holding our second annual Advantages Sales Rep of the Year contest and we’re adding a spot for sales support staff this year too. So I ask:

Are you the next Advantages Sales Rep of the Year or do you know one? Or are you Advantages FIRST Sales Support Person of the Year or know one? Our January issue will be devoted to Advantages Sales Superstars and we want your nominations ASAP.

Recognize outstanding sales performance in yourself or others.

In 2010, did you come up with something really creative that led to a huge sale? Did you have the largest sales volume in your company? Did you go way over 100% of your quota? Have you gone above and beyond for a client or your sales reps? If you think you or one of your colleagues should be a contender, e-mail me.

The winner will receive gifts and praise and bragging rights for the year. Oh and you will also have a magazine profile to show all your friends and family. Now doesn’t that sound special? Send either your 100-word-or-less entry or, if you’d prefer, your video nomination (you can even sing it or recite it in poetry; I’m pretty much up for anything), along with a high-res image if you have it available: khuston@asicentral.com.

It’s time to toot your own horn or nominate a worthy colleague. Looking forward to hearing from you!

– Kathy Huston, editor, Advantages magazine


Court Votes with Promo Products

Filed under: News About ASI, Research, Using Ad Specialties

In a few weeks, ASI will unveil the newest version of the industry’s most influential survey: the 2010 Advertising Specialties Impressions Study. The much-anticipated study provides rock-solid proof of the cost-effectiveness of promotional products.

This week, in the lead-up to the hotly-contested November 2 elections, we’re providing a sneak-peek at some of the results, which reveal what Democrats, Republicans and independents think about promotional products, a.k.a. swag (stuff we all get) and freebies, millions of which are distributed during election season along with bumper stickers, buttons and yard signs.

Who knew Republicans preferred food baskets – and Democrats liked pens so much? It’s worth knowing next time you court the business of your state or local campaign office.

Here are some other study highlights:

  • 86% of Republicans give away the freebies they don’t want.
  • 75% of independents prefer name-brand consumer promotional products, nearly 1.5 times more than Democrats or Republicans.
  • Republicans are nearly 1.5 times more likely to accept a free promotional food basket than Democrats.
  • Independents value promo products the most – on average, they own 11.6 logoed products, compared to 9.4 for Democrats and 10.3 for Republicans.

Full results of the 2010 study will be released at the ASI Power Summit at the Turnberry Isle Resort & Club in Aventura, Florida, November 7-9. We’re certain the 2.0 version will be of great interest to you – and especially your clients – since the 2008 study continues to be widely circulated and consistently cited.

In the meantime, check out our press release about the promotional preferences of the two political parties, and independents, by clicking here.

Let me know which results took you by surprise by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Get Happy with Affinity Express

Filed under: Industry Initiatives, Member Benefits, Using Ad Specialties

How many times do you wish you had an extra pair of hands to manage heavy workloads? If you’re like me, extra work and projects that need to be done “yesterday” have a habit of arriving when you’re already struggling to keep your head above water.

Additional orders are always welcome, but the reality is that in addition to more sales, they mean more artwork. Obtaining perfect (or even usable) artwork can be as painful as a root canal – putting even more strain on you and your design department.

Since we’re in the midst of the industry’s peak season, I thought this would be a good time to let you know about a secret weapon that many leading industry companies are utilizing: outsourcing artwork to ASI affiliate Affinity Express helps businesses enhance turn times, improve product quality, save money and, more important, keep customers happy by meeting and even beating deadlines. Happy customers mean repeat orders!

Here’s how they can help:

Affinity Express can produce embroidery digitizing files for almost all machines and garment types. They have over 800 designers on staff who are experts in Wilcom, Pulse, Punto and Ethos, as well as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, CorelDRAW and dozens of other software programs. And each digitizing order receives a  sew-out swatch so you’ll know what your item will look like before you even sew a stitch.

Need vector artwork? No problem – Affinity Express can take raster images or raw input and recreate, or redraw, to provide vector artwork for any product/any size. I’ve seen beautiful artwork Affinity Express created from drawings on a cocktail napkin (which looked like they were done by my 6-year-old grandson). And, you can store all your artwork in a free password-protected design locker so it’s at your disposal 24/7, all year round.

In addition to fast, realiable turn times, Affinity Express offers very competitive pricing. As a matter of fact, they’ve recently taken pricing to a new level with “Affinity Express Basic,” which can save you 66% on vector artwork and 38% on embroidery digitizing.

Now that you know the secret, be sure to contact Affinity Express to help you continue to keep things flowing smoothly. Click here  or call Kelly Glass, 847-930-3205, for more information. 

– Cathy

Cathy Martino is ASI’s affiliate relations manager.


MJF: Funny, Frank and Fond of Promos

Filed under: ASI Shows, Community, News About ASI

Tuesday, we enjoyed an unprecedented event here at ASI – an interview with actor and Parkinson’s activist Michael J. Fox. Personally, it was a thrill for me to participate in the freewheeling discussion on ASI Radio – and to ask Fox a question.

We’re about the same age and I unabashedly admit I’m a huge fan who saw “Back to the Future” five times when it first came out. I’ve followed Fox’s career ever since and think his upcoming keynote at the ASI show in Orlando January 25 will be the best we’ve ever delivered.

Fox was exactly what I’d expected. Frank, funny and fast. He didn’t dodge a single question and barreled through the interview in his unmistakable voice. He talked about everything from overcoming challenges and his love of promotional products to the way to his wife calls him “Mr. Mayor” when they stroll the streets of New York because of all the people who recognize him.

Fox’s upcoming speech is co-sponsored by Evans Mfg. (asi/52840) and Showdown Displays (asi/87188). Tuesday, Michelle Mann from Evans and John Bruellman from Showdown were among those asking questions. To listen to the archived show, click here and turn up your speakers. Feel free to Tweet the link to your friends and followers. Below are some edited excerpts from the interview:

Q: How did you react when first diagnosed?

A: Obviously, it was a shock. I was 29-30, and not thinking about Parkinson’s. I thought it was something elderly people got. I originally thought I had a physiological injury and it turned out to be neurological. It took a while to sink in. Then, it was just a matter of dealing with it. But accepting it is not the same as being resigned to it. Second, it was becoming an activist.

Q: What does it take to battle the disease while becoming a force for change?

A: When you face struggle, you face the truth of it. You go moment to moment. When you do that, you don’t recognize loss, you recognize opportunity.

Q: When you were acting full-time, what was your most challenging day?

A: It was a series of days, while doing “Spin City,” before I’d disclosed I had Parkinson’s, when I was performing in front of a live studio audience. I was twisting, grinding and shaking, waiting for my pills to take effect, thinking “Could they laugh at somebody they knew was sick?” I had to go moment to moment and think about the goal. The audience always laughed, thank god

Q:  Like so many people in business you’re forced to overcome obstacles. Do you have any advice for businesspeople facing personal or professional challenges?

A: Loss is not a vacuum. With any unpleasant challenge, you have to acknowledge what’s taken from you. And create a new landscape with new opportunities and challenges. You might be forced to take a different path. And it could lead to new growth.

Q:  Do you need to find your own personal happiness in order to succeed in business?

A: When you find happiness in life, you find it in business. When I was first diagnosed, I worked non-stop. A doctor said I had 10 good years left to work and I wanted to fill that up. But then I started to realize how crazy that plan was. I was in New Zealand for five months working while my family was back in New York. And I’m thinking “This is nuts.” You’ve got to try and find balance in your life and be able to bring more to your work. Nothing I accomplish would be possible without my family.

Q: You’ve enjoyed a very successful career. What are you most proud of?

A: Being able to raise a family outside the business while living in New York. We get to deal with people from all walks of life, which gives my family a wider experience. That’s the accomplishment I’m most proud of.

Q: My favorite role was in “An American President” when you played the assistant to the president, Michael Douglas. What’s your favorite?

A: From a pure acting challenge, playing in “Rescue Me” with Denis Leary. It was so cool. I played a bitter, paraplegic guy in a wheelchair. When Denis first called me about it I said, “You do realize with my condition I can’t stop moving? And you want me to play someone in a wheelchair?” I’ve also recently been in episodes of “The Good Wife” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Usually, the last thing I’ve done is the most fun. Now, I’m involved in fundraising for Parkinson’s and moving the dial a little bit in this mission.

Q: What’s your favorite promotional product?

A: I have tons. I love swag. At the foundation we have Team Fox, which is involved in fundraising drives, and we’re always sending out hats and T-shirts with logos that I and my kids also wear. I’m a terrible golfer but some of the most effective advertising for me is on golf balls. Including one that said, “If found, return to Randy.” It all reminds me of what we do at the foundation: It’s all about getting people together, sharing ideas and goals. It’s important to have something recognizable that represents you and your brand.

To register for the ASI show in Orlando January 23-25, click here. For more information on Michael J. Fox’s keynote on January 25, click here.        

Let me know what you thought of the interview by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


What’s Your Question for MJF?

Filed under: ASI Shows, News About ASI

There’s still time to email a question to Michael J. Fox, who is being interviewed on ASI Radio Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. Send your question now to radio@asicentral.com and we might read it on the air – or ask you to call in and ask it yourself.

Tune in Tuesday to listen to the interview and Q&A online at www.asicentral.com/radio.

Fox – the actor, New York Times bestselling author, Parkinson’s activist and incurable optimist – is speaking to our audience to share his remarkable life lessons. And maybe answer a question or two about the “Back to the Future” blockbusters.

The radio interview will advance his keynote at the ASI show in Orlando January 25.  His speech, “Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist,” is co-sponsored by Evans Mfg. (asi/52840) and Showdown Displays (asi/87188).

In his wide-ranging keynote, MJF will discuss his work, politics, faith and family while explaining the emotional, psychological, intellectual and spiritual outlook that has served him throughout his struggle with Parkinson’s disease.

So send in your question for Mr. Fox now – and if it’s used, we might notify you with a time and number to call in on Tuesday to ask it yourself.

Have you ever questioned a star or experienced a brush with fame? Let me know by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Select the Best of the Best

Filed under: News About ASI, Using Ad Specialties

Here at ASI, we take your feedback seriously. In the last year, for instance, distributors rated over 100,000 transactions in 25,000 supplier ratings reports to help determine the industry’s top-rated suppliers. Those suppliers – the ones you rated four-stars or above – are now featured in the 2011 Select catalog.

When distributors choose Select to market themselves, what they’re really choosing is excellent customer service, high-quality products and timely delivery. It’s the worry-free choice.

To read our press release on the 2011 Select, click here. To see Select pages, click here.

Select is one of eight customized catalogs offered by ASI as sales-generating tools for suppliers to advertise a wide variety of products and for distributors to sell, market and promote their brand. What sets Select apart is its keen presentation: the high-quality product display looks and feels professional.

Inside, you’ll find more than 175 products, including clocks and watches, apparel, executive gifts, and food and drink items, all of which will appeal to a wide variety of buyers for their marketing campaigns, events or recognition programs. 

And each copy can be imprinted in full color and personalized with the distributor’s logo and contact information on the cover any time throughout the year.

For more information about Select, contact Dan Brown, ASI’s executive director of distributor services, at dbrown@asicentral.com or at 800-546-1350. 

Check out the 2011 Select and let me know what you think by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.