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’Tis the Season to Shop, Spend and Send

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

Whether you shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, give or receive, we’re hoping a business gift-giving tip sheet and the results from a recent survey on corporate spending will ring your bells.

Nearly every company carefully considers what to give and how much to spend when it comes to gifts for employees and clients. According to a recent survey from ASI’s Successful Promotions magazine, this year gift cards trump cash for year-end employee gifts and bonuses, and food and drink win out for clients and customers.

For complete survey results, click here. To read our press release, click here.

As always, there’s no limit on creativity when it comes to passing along your company name and logo. According to a recent feature on ASI’s popular “The Joe Show” video, this year’s hottest corporate thank-you gift ideas include:

  • Food gift basket, from Gift Program.com (asi/56816)
  • Wine gift basket, from California Delicious (asi/43464)
  • Clock, from PFI Marketing Group (asi/75607)
  • Love Rocks, from Love Rocks Inc. (asi/68029)
  • Walking stick, from Atteff International Inc. (asi/37455)
  • Cap, from Philadelphia Rapid Transit (asi/77945)
  • Bath robe, from Terry Town (asi/90913)
  • Kindle cover, from Icon Leather Gifts (asi/62123)
  • iPod cover, from Sumdex Inc. (asi/83141)
  • Pocket watch, from Indigo (asi/62560)

 To see a product demonstration, click here.

 And while food remains a perennial hit, since it can be enjoyed and shared by the whole office or department, there’s no denying the increasing popularity of accessories for high-tech items and techno gifts, like charging docks with a four-port hub or a wireless USB laser pointer. Companies that want to be seen as socially responsible will send eco-friendly products made of bamboo or from recycled material.

 Still deciding what to give? Here are some tips that might help:

  •  If you put your logo on a corporate gift, make it subtle, or put your logo on an accompanying note card. Recipients will still remember who they received it from.
  • Nobody throws away a personalized item (one with their name on it; get the spelling right).
  • Order logoed/personalized products early (like now) so there’s time to craft, ship and distribute.
  • Consider gifts that give back: for each gift sent, for example, a percentage is given to a local charity.
  • Work with an established, reliable, knowledgeable distributor, such as an ASI member. They have access to thousands of products with unique twists that the average buyer might not think or know about.
  • Know your audience and ask questions: Focus on your firm’s unique brand or style.
  • Make sure the gift is useable and/or high-quality. If you wouldn’t want it, neither will they. Consider noise-canceling headphones or a desk fountain that instantly provides a soothing environment.

 Let me know what your company is sending by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

ASI Mags Continue Winning Streak

Filed under: News About ASI

It’s always great when your kid’s soccer team kicks butt on the field. But when they score big against the best players in the league, great becomes phenomenal.

And phenomenal is pretty much how I felt when I learned three of ASI’s magazines will be honored among heavy-hitters like Inc., Entrepreneur, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Sports Illustrated and Travel + Leisure at the upcoming FOLIO: magazine awards.

This week, FOLIO: announced that Wearables, Stitches and Advantages won four awards in a field crowded with more than 2,000 entries.

The FOLIO: competition is the largest and most inclusive awards program of its kind in the industry. Its annual award program — spanning all corners of the magazine publishing industry — recognizes the very best in editorial and design.

 Wearables, edited by C.J. Mittica, won a “Best Full Issue” award for October 2009. Stitches, edited by Nicole Rollender, won a “Best Full Issue” award for May 2009 and an award for “Best Single Article.” Advantages, edited by Kathy Huston, also won an award for “Best Single Article” for its “Energize Your E-Mail” story.

 The editors, pictured at right, with Nicole in the middle, will be honored alongside all the other winners with either a bronze, silver or gold award during an awards luncheon set for January 13 in New York City.

Our editor-in-chief, Melinda Ligos, says of the accomplishment: “This continues a long award-winning streak for ASI’s editorial department. For the past four years, we’ve received awards from all of the major business magazine awards programs, including 14 awards from the American Society of Business Publishing Editors earlier this year. These awards are a testament to the consistent talent, fresh ideas, and hard work of our entire editorial team.”

I couldn’t agree more. Congratulations, everyone.

If you have a favorite story or issue, let me know by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

What’s the Big Idea?

Filed under: News About ASI, Using Ad Specialties

What slips in a pocket, pops in an envelope and makes a perfect leave-behind on sales calls? If you guessed the Spring 2011 Idea Showcase catalog, you’re right.

As a testament to its popularity, we’ve already received pre-orders totaling nearly 156,000 for the handy-size catalog. But supplies are limited, so order yours today. Distributors receive free shipping on orders placed by December 1.

Budget-conscious end-buyers love Idea Showcase because the 390 products offered range from the practical to the premium, from $1 to $40. There’s even a “Made in the USA” section with specially-marked pages so they can easily pick out products that provide a feel-good oomph for buying American.

Other features include:

  • Money-saving coupon section.
  • Budget and planning index that makes it simple for buyers to choose items based on their budgets.
  • Handy mailing in a No. 10 envelope.

Despite the current excitement about digital (which we offer!), savvy distributors know to always include paper catalogs in their marketing mix, since research shows that catalogs remain a proven advertising vehicle. Our study shows paper catalogs drive an astonishing 93% of purchasing decisions.

What’s more, you can easily brand copies in full color with your logo and contact information on the cover, which is guaranteed to set you apart from the competition.

If you want more info, click here or contact Dan Brown, ASI’s executive director of distributor services, at dbrown@asicentral.com or at 800-546-1350.

 Let me know how catalogs have helped your business by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

What’s Your Question for Laura Bush?

Filed under: ASI Shows, News About ASI

Since leaving the White House, former First Lady Laura Bush has spoken out loud and clear on a number of issues. On Tuesday, November 30, she’ll speak her mind on ASI Radio. If you have your own burning question, now’s the time to share it.

Send your question to radio@asicentral.com by 2 p.m. this Friday and we might read it on the air – or ask you to call in and ask it yourself.

The subject possibilities are endless, from education, Afghanistan and women’s health care to life after politics and her hankering for grandkids. I’m sure you can think of plenty of questions for one of America’s most popular First Ladies.

The radio interview will advance Bush’s free keynote at the ASI show in Dallas Friday, February 18. Her speech, “Life in the White House,” is being co-sponsored by Pepco Poms (asi/77280). Early admission and a special meet-and-greet limited to 50 people are also available.

No question about it, the former White House occupants are hot topics these days, coming on the heels of both their books: “Spoken from the Heart” (hers) and “Decision Points.” On November 14, George and Laura Bush appeared together on “60 Minutes” and discussed everything from weapons of mass destruction to jigsaw puzzles.

Tune in November 30 to listen to our interview with Laura Bush online at www.asicentral.com/radio. And send in those questions now.

Who was your favorite First Lady? Let me know by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Spend It to Make It

Filed under: News About ASI, Using Ad Specialties

Where’s the beef? According to suppliers, it’s in e-marketing. A survey in this month’s Supplier Global Resource magazine says suppliers invigorated by this year’s sales surge are reinvesting those earnings in trade shows – and marketing.

According to the survey, 58% of responding suppliers say they’ll beef up e-marketing in 2011, 27% say they’ll increase trade show participation, and 46% say they’ll boost their total marketing spend. All in an effort to get the word out about their products.

As SGR senior writer Betsy Cummings discovers, sales are up and suppliers are on the move.  More than half of survey respondents report sales are up for the year overall, which is prompting companies like Counselor Top 40 supplier Ash City to open a second factory and a second lab while also increasing its marketing spend.

As we’ve noted throughout the downturn, numerous companies that maintain their aggressive edge are coming out on top now that purse strings are loosening. As SGR reports, the mantra seems to be “spend it to make it.” At Liqui-Mark Corp., for example, a 20% rise in sales from 2009 to 2010 allowed the company to invest more in personnel and equipment.

Our survey says action is winning out over inertia: more than two-thirds of suppliers (69%) plan to expand their product line in 2011.

Bob Buddenbohn, owner of American Artisan, attributes his recent sales to an investment in new items in the $1 to $5 price range – perfect for end-users reluctant to place pricier orders.

Trend reports are just one of many resources available to readers of Supplier Global Resource, where so many suppliers turn for the latest news and ideas. If you’re not reading it, now’s the time to start. There are only 40 days left till Christmas, and a brand new sales year will be upon us before we know it.

Let me know what economy-busting ideas are working best for you by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Counselor’s Power 50 Power On

Filed under: Members, News About ASI

The past couple of years forced change upon everyone. But the true leaders of the pack muscled their companies ever forward. This week, ASI recognized 2010’s hardest-charging leaders by naming them to the Counselor Power 50 list.

My congratulations to everyone on the list, and especially to No. 1 Kevin Lyons-Tarr (at right), president and CEO of 4Imprint (asi/197045), who catapulted all the way from No. 11 in a single year. And to our seven newcomers, welcome to the Power 50.

Kevin was chosen No. 1 by proving himself a master in the emerging world of ad specialty e-commerce. His peers testified to his considerable influence over the industry, and all evidence points to even greater things to come.

The top-ranked executives include:

1.         Kevin Lyons-Tarr, 4Imprint (asi/197045)
2.         Marty Lott, SanMar (asi/84863)
3.         Greg Muzzillo and Vera Muzzillo, Proforma (asi/300094)
4.         Nicolas Paillot and Quenten Wentworth, BIC Group & Norwood
5.         Marc Simon, HALO Branded Solutions (asi/356000)
6.         Thomas Myers and Hank Harrell, Broder Bros. (asi/42090)
7.         Eric Bensussen and Jay Deutsch, BDA (asi/137616)
8.         Philippe Varnier and David Nicholson, Polyconcept
9.         Gene Geiger and Jo-an Lantz, Geiger (asi/202900)
10.       Jack Ma, Alibaba Group

For the complete Counselor Power 50 ranking, click here.  To read our press release about the Power 50 list, click here.

How did they do it? No doubt, with considerable vision and foresight – and through aggressive recruitment of top talent inside and outside the industry plus a passionate embrace of all forms of traditional and emerging media.

You can learn even more about the Power 50 in the upcoming December issue of Counselor and online at www.counselormag.com.

As always, I expect some of the names will spark debate. Bring it on! Half the fun comes from the deliberations that begin the minute the list is released.

The 50 high-ranking leaders were recognized Monday night at the fourth annual ASI Power Summit in Aventura, Florida. To see photos from the summit and all the events, click here.

The Power Summit is coming to a close. It’s been a whirlwind of ideas and discussion. To see for yourself, visit the website and check out the videos, interviews and highlights – and register now for early bird discounts on the 2011 summit in Dana Point, California. Just click here to reserve your spot at next year’s exclusive gathering.

And please let me know what you think of this year’s Power 50 by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Promotional Products Beat Prime-Time TV

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

ASI just released the results of a landmark study that proves advertising specialties beat out prime-time TV, radio and print advertising as the most cost-effective advertising medium available. Soon, we’ll send the message about the power of promotional products to the world via a far-reaching public relations campaign. 

The most significant findings of the 2010 Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study show advertising specialties are less expensive per impression than most other media – just a half a cent! – and are very affordable and effective when compared to other forms of media.

Click here for the global study results, an explanatory video and supporting graphics.

Everyone in this industry should make it their business to deliver this message loud and clear to customers, prospects and end-buyers, across every channel available to you. Bring the data with you on every sales call. Perhaps even include the study’s link on your email signature.

To help, we’ve prepared a pdf of the study to download, and we encourage you to send it out and especially to chat it up on your social networks. Click here for the pdf to pass along. To Tweet about ASI’s 2010 ad impressions study, use this shortened link:  http://bit.ly/diQ6zp.

We released the study at the 2010 ASI Power Summit, an exclusive annual gathering of the best minds in the business, taking place this week in Aventura, Florida. Hopefully, everyone there will immediately start spreading the news.

The study is the result of 3,332 online and in-person surveys, including interviews with businesspeople in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, London, Sydney, Toronto and Montreal metro areas.

The 2.0 study, a follow-up to the definitive 2008 survey, includes new demographic information on politics, ethnicity, gender and age, since knowing the likely recipient of products is paramount for an advertiser. This year, the comprehensive report also adds global markets and includes more products, such as automotive accessories and food.

Among key findings, results show:

  • Cost per Impression. In the U.S., the cost per impression of a promotional product stayed virtually the same from 2008 to 2010, at .005 cents.
  • Product Usage. Bags have the highest number of impressions in a month, over 1,000, and over one-third (36%) of those with incomes under $50,000 own bags.
  • Gender Preferences. Males are more likely than females to own shirts and caps, while females are more likely to have bags, writing instruments, calendars and health and safety products.
  • Ethnic Preferences. African Americans have more promotional products on average (11.3) than any other group.
  • Positive Reinforcement. Seventy-five percent of independent voters prefer consumer-branded products; nearly 1.5 times more than Democrats or Republicans.
  • Identifying the Advertiser. Eighty-three percent in the U.S. say they can identify the advertiser on a promotional item they own.
  • Influencing User Opinions. Forty-one percent of U.S. respondents say their opinion of the advertiser is more favorable after receiving a promotional product.
  • Global Reach. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents from Great Britain have received and kept a pen in the last 12 months. In the U.S., writing instruments are used the most often, an average of 18.2 times per month.
  • Popular Products. The most commonly owned promotional products among U.S. respondents are writing instruments (46%), followed by shirts (38%) and calendars (24%).
  • Promo Product Capital. Los Angeles has the highest average number of items owned, at 12.7.

There’s good reason ASI’s research studies are the most influential in the industry’s history, continuously cited throughout the B-to-B industry and across the advertising and marketing spectrum: They work. I credit ASI’s executive director of research services, Larry Basinait, and his research team, for delivering the material that can help us once again prove the undeniable power of promotional products.

At $0.005, the average cost-per-impression (CPI) of an advertising specialty item is less than nearly any other media. To make that claim, Larry gathered data from the Nielsen Company, Outdoor Advertising Association of America, Columbus Dispatch and AdAgeOnline.com.

What this study shows us is that even smaller companies can deliver the kind of high-impact punch enjoyed by multi-million-dollar companies.

It’s also important to note that the pass-along rate has actually increased 11 points from just two years ago – which speaks directly to the global recycling trend. Not only do ad specialties make impressions on everyone who sees them, but messaging is reinforced every time the item is used. No other form of media can allow the advertiser to so closely tie a benefit to the recipient.

So start spreading the news. All we ask is that you properly credit ASI when distributing the study.

Let me know your ideas for getting out the message by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


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