Enter your email for updates: 

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

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

As recent college grads set off on their quest to become masters of the universe, I’d like to pass along some tidbits from a 2005 commencement address given by Apple CEO Steve Jobs at Stanford University.

Jobs, now worth about $5.5 billion, never graduated from college. He started Apple from his parents’ garage when he was 20 and by following the self-imposed mantras below, became one of the greatest American success stories of all time:

  • Trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.
  • Find what you love, in work and in matters of the heart.
  • Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

Great advice for grads now entering the working world. Lucky for them, hiring is finally on the rise, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). For the first time since 2007, employers report a double-digit increase in their spring hiring projections, the NACE reports.

ASI’s crack research team got to thinking about the job fairs those grads are hitting, hopes in one hand, diploma in the other. And so we surveyed HR pros about ways they’re using promo products in their search for new talent.

Results of the new survey found 56% of responding HR staffers say promo products imprinted with a company’s name or logo convey a positive image when distributed during job fairs and other recruiting efforts.

Of those surveyed, 55% choose pens and 41% use logoed items like T-shirts, calendars and high-tech accessories in conjunction with hiring.

We spoke to an HR expert about what else companies can do to grab the best grads’ attention, and she said to think creatively – and think geek, employing technology like QR Codes on event giveaways for tracking and analytics.

Hand out unusual and useful branded items like an iPhone cover to drive word-of-mouth conversation and branding exposure, says Jessica Miller-Merrell, CEO of Xceptional HR. Be original, interesting, useful and, if at all possible, interactive.

When Jobs closed his commencement address, he gave the grads one last bit of advice, which stayed with him after he spotted it on a Whole Earth catalog in the 1970s. Above a photo of an early morning country road on the final catalog’s back cover, it read “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”

Those are words to the wise, no matter what your age or position.

If you heard any sound advice from college speakers this year, let me know by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Here Comes the Sun

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

What better place than California to check out cool new promo products for summer fun in the sun? In my final Tim’s Take video of the San Diego show, I preview several products from ASI members, including a suncare kit, surfboard-shaped towel, sunscreen face stick, beach ball, personal fan and mister.

The show itself attracted 2,100 distributors (up 7% from last year) and 375 exhibitors to the gorgeous San Diego Convention Center. As we reach 2011’s midpoint, it’s clear everyone is feeling optimistic and excited about the rest of the year.

If you missed any of the action, go to www.asicentral.com  for all the news and videos.

Here’s a roundup of jazzy summertime products:

  • Suncare kit from Admints & Zagabor  (asi/31516). This little kit packs a big punch with lip balm, SPF 30 lotion – and a terrific imprint area on its clear plastic pouch.
  • Surfboard-shaped towel from Towel Specialties (asi/91605). A great beach towel to hand out at company picnics, board meetings – you name it.
  • Sunscreen face stick from Leashables by Oralabs (asi/66715). No more greasy hands – just apply this 60 SPF sunscreen straight from the stick. Perfect for golf outings.
  • Personal mister, from Hit Promotional Products (asi/61125). There’s no battery to worry about with this giveaway. You just pump for mist. Comes in super colors and sports a nifty wrist handle.
  • Retractable personal fan from Sweda (asi/90305). This handy dandy item pops open for easy use and instant breeze.
  • Metallic beach ball from K & R Precision Corporation (asi/63770). A heavy gauge ball that comes in mix and match colors with a super imprint area. Guaranteed to grab attention at any event.

 Click here for video of all the products.

 Let me know what products caught your eye this season by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

And don’t forget to register today for the next ASI Show in Chicago, July 19-21, at www.asishow.com.

On the Air with ASI

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

The ASI Show in San Diego is big news this week in the gorgeous coastal city of 3 million.

San Diego’s most popular morning show, on KUSI-TV, came to the convention center Thursday and aired several long segments with senior writer Dave Vagnoni demonstrating some of the hottest products the industry has to offer.

 Click here to watch.

Veteran reporter Mike Castellucci’s enthusiasm for our industry was infectious. He told his viewers all about the cost-effectiveness of promo products while showing off cool items like the guitar shirt, scented T-shirts and even pillowcases that smelled like waffles.  We couldn’t have paid for better advertising!

That wasn’t all. In addition, CBS affiliate KFMB-TV San Diego and Fox 5 News at 10 also aired extensive clips on the San Diego show Thursday. Click here to watch CBS and click here for Fox.

We had a great time in San Diego this week and a barrel of laughs with comic Wayne Brady at his show Thursday night.  It was like an episode of the hit show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” – but featuring all of us. Click here for my Tim’s Take on highlights of the show.

Wednesday, we honored the industry’s best at the Counselor Awards.  For a word about our sponsors, click here to watch my Tim’s Take.

Click here to see photos of all the action. We’ve got a full day if exhibits today – and then it’s on to Chicago, July 19-21.

If you’re at the show, let me know what you liked – or what needs improving. I’m always open to your suggestions. Post a comment or email me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Honoring Marty Lott

Filed under: ASI Shows, News About ASI

No question, this is industry is populated with a lot of outrageous characters. You know who you are! And then there’s Marty Lott, the quietly assured president of Top 40 apparel supplier SanMar – and Counselor’s just-named 2011 Person of the Year.

I think you can tell a lot about someone by the way they handle a crisis. A big reason why we chose to honor Marty at Wednesday night’s Counselor Awards in San Diego is for the way he managed his company throughout the recent cotton crisis.

His undisputed leadership abilities were also on full display while tackling inventory issues affecting so many in the industry. These are but two fine examples in a long career chock full of inspiring moments.  

Click here to view Counselor‘s Person of the Year profile of Marty Lott.

We had a terrific time at the black-tie awards ceremony, held for the first time at the awe-inspiring San Diego Air & Space Museum. In addition to honoring Marty and our International “Person” of the Year, Billy Dolan and Vivian Lo of Camsing Global, Counselor magazine unveiled its annual Top 40, the ranking of the largest suppliers and distributors in the industry.

This year’s distributor list is headed up by Staples Promotional Products (asi/120601) and the supplier Top 40 is lead by Norwood (asi/74400) & BIC Graphic North America (asi/40480).

Click here to view the 2011 Top 40 distributors and click here to see the Top 40 suppliers. Click here to see photos of all the action.

Today is the first day of exhibits at the San Diego show and tonight we’ve got comic Wayne Brady live on stage.  Friday promises to be another action-packed day. And then it’s on to Chicago, July 19-21.

If you’re at the show, let me know what you’ve seen and done by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Happy Happens in San Diego

Filed under: ASI Shows, News About ASI

We’re here in San Diego, enjoying the first day of the ASI Show in the most active industry region in the country. Participating companies represent nearly $2 billion in industry sales and I can assure you that everyone is charged up and ready to network, learn and sell.

In addition to strong distributor attendance, the California show is attracting a majority of the Counselor Top 40 suppliers to the San Diego Convention Center today through Friday.

San Diego really has it all – gorgeous ocean views and incredible sunsets, the famous San Diego zoo (you can see Hua Mei, the only panda cub in the U.S., on the zoo’s pandacam), the Gaslamp Quarter, Old Town and Balboa Park cultural center.

Thursday, show participants can enjoy comic master Wayne Brady. I saw Wayne on Drew Carey’s new comedy show Improv-A-Ganza last week and he was as outrageously talented as ever. I can’t wait to see what he brings to our show. Hopefully, lots of audience participation.

Despite California’s reputation for sunshine, today it’s in the low 60s and rainy, just like it is back East.  But with its typically great weather, miles of sandy beaches and major attractions, San Diego has a secure reputation as an ace tourist destination, which makes it a great place to host a trade show.

We’re opening with Education Day, sponsored by Fields Manufacturing (asi/54100), which includes a brand-new Social Media Marketing track along with a full slate of educational seminars and workshops with 65 points available toward the ASI Certification Program.

Tonight, for the first time, the black-tie Counselor Awards – the industry’s most prestigious and anticipated awards event – will be held at the San Diego Air and Space Museum. We’ll honor Counselor’s 2011 Person of the Year, International Person of the Year and the outstanding sales achievement of the Top 40 distributors and Top 40 suppliers in the industry.

We’ll post all the winners and photos from the event at www.asicentral.com so even if you’re not with us in California, you can check out all the action.

It’s not too late to catch an ASI Show – you can register now for ASI Show in Chicago, July 19-21, at www.asishow.com. To learn more about exhibiting or sponsorship opportunities, contact Karen DiTomasso, vice president of sales, at kditomasso@asicentral.com.

If you’re with us in San Diego, let me know what you think so far by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

On The Road – Again

Filed under: ASI Shows, News About ASI

If there’s a frequent flyer king, I’m betting its Nick DiNicola, the general manager of the Advantages Roadshow.  Over the years,  the Willie Nelson of roadshow warriors has easily logged more than a half million miles criss-crossing the U.S. and Canada with the industry’s best-attended traveling show.

This year, the roadshow’s 12-week schedule took Nick from Vancouver to Ft. Lauderdale, San Diego to Montreal, and nearly 70 cities in between. By the tour’s end last week, more than 6,000 distributors had attended a show, making vital contacts sure to pay off in new orders.

Now, Nick’s on a much-deserved break from the road, but it won’t last too long. The ASI Holiday Preview Tour rolls into Los Angeles, Toronto, Atlanta and Philadelphia this fall.

The show features leading ad specialty suppliers showcasing their seasonal products in a tabletop setting, along with free hot-topic education focused on ways to boost your revenue along with valuable networking.

I know it’s tough to think about the holidays when you’ve yet to throw your first BBQ, but registering for the holiday preview tour is a surefire way to guarantee those all-important holiday sales.

To exhibit, suppliers can call their ASI Show sales rep at 800-546-3300 or contact Nick directly at ndinicola@asicentral.com.

Speaking of BBQs, what summer products are on your radar? Let me know by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

We Got Him

Filed under: Community, Industry Initiatives, Using Ad Specialties

One thing our industry does exceptionally well is jump on breaking waves and ride them right to shore. This week, companies like Northwest Embroidery in Washington state did just that. Northwest sprang into action within hours of bin Laden’s death to embroider Navy SEAL Team 6 hats and get them up on their website.

The company knew Sunday’s feat by the elite military squad would fuel interest in all things patriotic. So did Matt Quinn, owner of Quinn Flags and Banners in Hanover, Pennsylvania, whose phones started ringing Monday morning. Quinn says his sales increased about 400% this week – and that his company was ready to meet all comers.

“We have over 3 million flags in stock today and more are being produced daily,” says Quinn (asi/80228). Other popular items include decorative pleated fans, patriotic bunting and American stick flags imprinted with a client’s name or website.

Gill Studios (asi/56950) of Kansas, has five new stock design bumper stickers and a ribbon magnet along with American flags – and 10% of proceeds from the sales of these items will be donated to a very good cause, the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit that aids injured service men and women of this generation.

Did your company see a spike in sales of patriotic items – or produce anything Osama-related? Pinata Casa, a Texas promo products company (asi/73969) that offers 4-foot-tall piñatas (perfect for Cinco de Mayo promotions!), sold more $50 bin Laden piñatas in the last few days than they’ve sold in the last year. “Osama is one of our most popular piñatas,” Gerald Zhou told us.

Sometimes, it really is all about timing and knowing when to strike when the iron is hot. Just like the Navy SEALs did.

I’d never heard of SEAL Team 6 until Sunday, but according to the New York Times, SEALs – which stands for Sea-Air-Land teams – were created by JFK in 1962 as a way to expand unconventional warfare. Their specialty is using lethal force intelligently in the most dangerous missions on earth.

The “elite of the elite” are the guys who parachute from 30,000 feet with oxygen masks to take back hijacked cruise liners – the guys who jump from Black Hawk helicopters in the dead of night to find and dispatch Public Enemy No. 1 in all of 40 minutes. Incredible.

Let me know if your company did anything special this week by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.