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ASI = Awesome

Filed under: News About ASI

It’s one thing for employees to say they’re happy. It’s another thing altogether for them to vote anonymously to get their company officially named a great place to work.

Recently, enough of them did just that, helping ASI score an official award from Greater Philadelphia Media, which sponsored a contest to recognize top regional employers, based on nominations by their employees. For the second year in a row, ASI won the “Best Places to Work” award among companies with more than 200 employees.

I’d like to congratulate our entire HR team, ably headed by Senior Vice President Carol Albright, who’s worked at ASI since 1986.

In addition to the top award, ASI was nominated by its employees in the categories of Best Place for Working Moms, Best Employer Overall and Best Employer on the Job Training.

We’re now actively recruiting for numerous positions, so if you know anyone with a stellar resume who wants to work at one of the best places in the state, please email Nicole Saba in HR at nsaba@asicentral.com and check www.asicentral.com for more info on the company. We especially need account executives, a QA engineer and a junior Web developer, among numerous other positions.

ASI offers competitive salaries, an award-winning wellness program and an array of educational programs, including an innovative mentor program and in-house training classes about the advertising specialty industry, the company and its products.

We also have a lot of fun. Every year, employees enjoy a killer field day, ice cream social, Halloween bash and holiday mixer. And we never fail to recognize outstanding professional achievements through quarterly president’s awards and an annual employee awards ceremony.

So if you think you or someone you know has the right stuff, please get in touch.

Let me know what you think makes for a great place to work by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


NYC Show Ends on High Note

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

ASI just wrapped its New York City trade show and I’m pleased to announce an increase in distributor firms of 4% over last year.

Like an army of dedicated mail carriers, 2,400 distributors from 16 countries braved unseasonably cold weather and surprising spring sleet and slush to head to the Javits Center this week.  

One of my favorite events was Thursday’s speed-networking session – the industry’s biggest. Click here for my Tim’s Take on the session and an interview with ASI’s professional development manager, Dana Reaume (pictured below).

How many of you hate getting your photo taken because it never looks professional enough? We hear you, which is why we set up the ASI Social Networking Booth, where a professional photographer will take your photo for use on all your social media sites. Perfect for your Facebook page.

So far, nearly 500 members have taken advantage of this free service. If you missed it at the New York show, don’t worry. We’ll be in San Diego, May 18-20, and in Chicago, July 19-21. I promise you, it’s a snap. Click here to take a look.

The New York show is always one of my favorites because I worked in the city for so many years and it always feels like going home. I love seeing old friends and checking out all the innovative new products. This year, we saw thousands of items showcased by 350 suppliers, including more than 100 exhibitors who weren’t in New York last year.

We got tons of positive feedback from suppliers and distributors who were excited by steady traffic during the two exhibition days. Jeremy Rich from Debco (asi/48885) heard great things about the 75 new products his company exhibited and Lindsay Mortensen from SnugZ USA (asi/88060) described the show as a good mix of quality and quantity.

Distributor Gary Goodhart from AIA Corporation (asi/109480) said they bring sales reps in from all over. “They really benefit from the great education,” he said, “meeting with suppliers and seeing everything that’s new for the year.”

Let me know what kind of show experience you had and if you have any suggestions for next year by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Green Going Gangbusters

Filed under: News About ASI, Using Ad Specialties

Before the economy took a nosedive, green products were all the rage. Now, their value and appeal is rising anew.

ASI’s Green Catalog, on sale now, goes so far as to include tips, keys to being green and ways to promote eco-friendly products as a responsible alternative – something consumers are clamoring for and a perfect pitch to make to clients.

Featuring 120+ products from more than 30 suppliers, in all price ranges, the catalog showcases everything from biodegradable denim, recycled desk products, ringtone cards and grow cups to lead-free key tags, organic lip balm, eco-friendly golf balls, eco watches and all-natural dog treats.

Products are also grouped by easy-to-use categories, including bags and briefcases, clothing, drinkware, health and beauty, home, office, outdoors, pets and sports.

The Green Catalog has already sold over 80,000 copies. To get yours, contact Dan Brown, executive director of marketing services, at dbrown@asicentral.com or at 800-546-1392. To order the Green Catalog online and to see sample pages, click here.

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 at any time throughout the year.

Selling through catalogs continues to be an effective marketing medium for distributors and suppliers. Results of an ASI research study indicate that over 86% of active distributors declare catalogs to be important or even essential for generating sales. 

Let me know what green products are your top sellers by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Go for the Green

Filed under: Members, Using Ad Specialties

Test your St. Pat’s Day knowledge: What color was originally associated with the patron saint of Ireland? If you guessed blue, you’d be right. Today, of course, we brighten Irish-themed celebrations with all things green – including the rivers in Chicago.

Here at ASI, we’re celebrating with our second-annual list of the top 7 promotional products lighting up St. Patrick’s Day marketing promotions, advertising campaigns and themed parties. You can bet your lucky shamrock the products below will bring you some promotional green:

  •  Seeded Shamrock Paper from Okina/Symphony Seed Papers (asi/74930). Seed paper ornament in a four-leaf clover shape with planting-instruction card. For more info, contact 888-824-9342 or laura@seedcards.com.
  •  Irish Tweed Cap from Hammacher Schlemmer (asi/59444). 100% virgin-wool tweed cap is naturally water-repellent and wind-resistant. Tiny flecks of woven color originate from dye made from blackberries, fuchsia and moss plants. For more info, contact 866-714-0530 or corporateorders@hammacher.com.
  •  Little Green Book of Blarney from The Book Company (asi/41010). Pocket-sized, colorfully designed gift book offers essential information, tips, recipes and more enclosed by an elastic band that also acts as a placeholder. For more info, contact 800-367-9388 or emails@thebookco.com.
  •  Celtic Flask from Alchemy of England (asi/33750). Round 6-ounce pewter flask with Celtic Kai knot brass inlay. For more info, contact 800-578-1065 or joy@alchemyofengland.com.
  •  Erin Go Bragh Flag from Eder Flagpole Co. (asi/51678). 3? x 5? nylon outdoor flag is specially treated to resist sun and chemical deterioration. Finished with a strong, durable white header and brass grommets. For more info, contact 800-558-6044 or eder@ederflag.com.
  • Leprechaun Masks from The Beistle Co. (asi/39540). Fun holiday masks with leprechaun faces and a 12? elastic band attached. For more info, contact 717-532-2131 or sales@beistle.com.
  • Shamrock Wand from Essef Distributors Inc. (asi/52710). Green plastic wand features a shamrock and a shiny array of glitter. Imprint on either shamrock face or handle. For more info, contact 516-741-4140 or info@thelincolnline.com.

 To watch a “Joe Show” video featuring the products and to see photos and purchasing information for each, click here.

And let me know how you’re celebrating by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Virtually a Snap

Filed under: ASI Shows, Members, News About ASI

Our March Virtual Trade Show attracted 1,700 attendees, no doubt drawn by the ease of networking from the comfort of home or office. We did get one “complaint,” but it’s one we’d gladly hear again: a supplier reporting “too many leads to handle.”

This show distinguished itself by logging more visitors per booth than previous shows, for an average of 837. Altogether, visitors stayed an average of 72 minutes, conducted 1,776 one-to-one chats and viewed nearly 3,000 documents and 900 webcasts – efficiently and effortlessly.

If you missed this week’s virtual event, you can access it now on-demand. If you did not register for Wednesday’s show, check here first. If you did register, log on here.

Who attended? A number of top exhibitors, including:

  • BCG Creations (asi/37693)
  • Blue Loyal (asi/40658)
  • Data Management (asi/48584)
  • Eskesen (asi/52687)
  • Express-A-Button (asi/53408)
  • Graphco Line (asi/57956)
  • iClick Inc. (asi/62124)
  • Ingredients Corp. of America (asi/62649)
  • The Magnet Group (asi/68507)
  • National Gift Card (asi/073011)
  • SanMar (asi/84863)
  • Showdown Displays (asi/87188)
  • World Emblem (asi/98264)

We always love feedback and comments. Sharon Brill of Raelyn Marketing Promotions called the virtual event “your best ever.” Samantha Tyrrell of Paradox Crafts, a first-time visitor, said she liked the format because at brick-and-mortar shows, “It’s hard to not feel like you’re taking a sales rep from others when you have a lot to ask. This was much easier.”

Brenda Metcalf of Salt 1 to1 Inc. also commented on the in-depth talks she was able to have with suppliers and thanked our crew for their help in getting her team up and running.

ASI’s virtual shows always feature top suppliers, virtual show booths, multimedia demos, digital catalogs, online sample requests, a complete passport program and thousands of dollars in prizes. We know the all-day, online events are effective because exhibiting suppliers experience an average 24% increase in ESP searches the day after each show.

And, you can attend education classes that are applied to your BASI or MASI certification right from the show floor.

While virtual events won’t replace in-person shows (New York City is March 22-24) but you can’t beat the ease and value. This was our seventh virtual show and we expect to host three more in 2011. The next one is April 19, so mark your calendar.

If you were at the show, tell me your experience – and offer any suggestions for improvement – by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Ready, Set, Research

Filed under: Community, Guest Blog, News About ASI, Research

Each year, ASI conducts the most comprehensive and important research about our industry to create the Counselor  State of the Industry report. But we can’t do it without you.

All we ask is that you take 10 minutes to complete a survey. And you could win some great prizes just for participating. There are distributor winners chosen at random for prizes totaling $1,500 in Master Card gift cards, and suppliers can win one of three full-page ads in an ASI publication of their choice.

Why is the survey important? Because of the in-depth reporting each year on key sales, marketing and operational metrics used every day by industry practitioners. Nowhere else do you get the scope of this detailed information about our industry. And it’s free to ASI members.

If you’re a distributor, you can link to the study here. Suppliers can link here to their survey. If you’d rather fill out a paper version of the study, email me at larry.basinait@asicentral.com and I’ll send you the .pdf you can mail back to us. But hurry, the deadline is March 25.

Thanks so much for taking the time to help the industry gather this important research. If you have any questions, please shoot me an email.

Larry Basinait, executive director of research services


Sales Surge Continues

Filed under: Industry Initiatives, News About ASI, Research

While no one is uncorking the champagne quite yet, economic indicators point to recent consumer spending surges nationwide as a sure sign we’re heading in the right direction. If I was a betting man, I’d put big money down on our industry, as ASI is now projecting 11.2% growth in 2011.

ASI’s 4th quarter report and 2010 year-end analysis of distributor sales show distributors are very optimistic about 2011, particularly the largest distributors. Three-quarters (75%) of all distributors feel sales for 2011 will be higher than sales in 2010, while nearly eight in 10 larger distributors feel sales will be higher.

Gregg Taft, owner of BNoticed of San Diego, California, is even more optimistic.

Gregg predicts his company sales will increase by 25%-35% in 2011. He says just as his clients are investing more in promotional advertising to take advantage of the upturn, his company is likewise investing more in new processes, technology and marketing tools.

So as reinvigorated clients reinvest in their brand, companies like BNoticed are more than ready to deliver the tailored promotional product solutions they need.

As we’ve reported, total industry sales for 2010 were $17.4 billion, up 9.1% from 2009. And the year ended with a bang — over one-half (52%) of distributors reported an increase in the fourth quarter.

We get our figures through exclusive surveys of distributor members who are the primary contact with firms that have been in business at least one year. Those surveyed include 53 of the largest players in the industry. Click here for complete survey results.

What’s happening in your neck of the woods? Let me know by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.