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Business Grab Bag

Filed under: Community, Industry Initiatives, Research, Using Ad Specialties

How many of you gave gifts to clients and prospects this year? According to a recent gift-giving survey from ASI, average spending on such gifts was up 13.9% to about $30 per gift this year.

Our executive director of research, Larry Basinait, found clients aren’t the only ones benefiting from corporate beneficence. Employers who answered our survey say they spent an average $42.52 per employee “thank you” gift this year, up 19.6% from 2010.

Like last year, our survey shows gift cards and cash remain the most popular employee gifts, with 38% of respondents planning to give gift cards to employees. Cash bonuses are second, but fell by 8 percentage points to 24% since 2010.

Does gift-giving work? Nearly a quarter of respondents say giving gifts to clients and prospects results in sales and leads, with over one-quarter (27%) of those surveyed saying the gift resulted in a referral and 24% reporting generating a lead or a sale.

Other survey highlights include:

  • Food/beverages are the most commonly cited gift for clients or prospects, with 32% of respondents giving them.
  • Over one-half (52%) decorate their gifts with their logo.
  • The most commonly attributed results of gift-giving are broad, such as a thank you (69%) or generating goodwill (60%).

Over at “The Joe Show,” Joe Haley demonstrated a number of the year’s hottest business gifts, including:

Coffee table books, from National Geographic Society, asi/73383. Beautiful books from National Geographic not only include incredible photography, but they can also be customized and personalized.

iPad keyboard, from Pingline, asi/78137. High-tech products and accessories like the Bluetooth-activated keyboard – which makes typing a whole lot easier – are on everyone’s wish list.

Outdoor jacket, from Trimark Sportswear Group Inc., asi/92122. Jackets are essential and appreciated, come in men’s and women’s styles and are perfect for people who work and play outdoors in the winter months.

Leather wrapped thermos, from Sweda Co. LLC, asi/90305. Practical and elegant, it’s just the thing for the sales rep on the go.

Customized wine and spirits, from A Plus Wine Designs, asi/30223. Make a strong showing with a giveaway that’s perfect for holiday parties and to leave with clients on visits.

Leather Nook cover, from Royce Leather, asi/52390. Sure to give the iPad a run for its money, the new Nook tablet is a best-seller this year, and accessories will show thoughtfulness.

Throw blanket, from KTP Design Co., asi/63773. Winter months bring images of snuggling up in front of a warm fire. Enhance that experience with a custom woven afghan that companies can imprint with any image or logo.

Ogio bag, from SanMar, asi/84863. Duffel bags are perfect for travel and going to the gym. This bag has flexible spines, allowing it to stand or bend at will.  

Ornaments, from Faro USA, asi/53697 & Marbex Inc., asi/68708. A finely-crafted holiday ornament doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate. Most can be easily mailed, hung from a company’s tree or given out to visitors.

What was your favorite gift to give this year? Let me know by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Happy Holidays from ASI

Filed under: Community, News About ASI

As everyone gets ready to head home for the holidays – or at least leave the office for a couple of days – I want to wish each of you my very best.

Despite the economic uncertainties here, there and everywhere, I was heartened this week to read about the so-called Layaway Angels, the mostly anonymous strangers who are paying off layaway balances for people struggling to make their final payments in time to put those presents under the tree.

To date, these angels have paid off about $420,000 worth of toys and clothes in big box stores all over the country – without expecting so much as a “thank you.” I don’t know about you, but when I read about generosity like that, it makes my heart swell to three times its size, just like the Grinch’s in the classic cartoon.

Everyone celebrates this time of year in different ways. Here at ASI, employees knocked themselves out with Ugly Sweater and cubicle decorating contests. And you can’t walk two feet without finding a big tin of delicious cookies just waiting to sweeten your day.

More important, employees opened their wallets and donated a record amount during our annual Adopt-A-Family drive, money that went toward gifts for 53 area children and 16 parents receiving assistance from our local homeless shelter.

Throughout the company, you’ll also see gifts and greetings from numerous ASI members – some so creative and so classy they really knock your socks off. The myriad of ways companies find to proudly display their logos always serves to remind me just how imaginative this industry truly is.

Like many of you, ASI held its annual holiday party last week, choosing to celebrate with a Western roundup theme. That meant lots of Texas-sized cowboy hats, checkered shirts, spiked lemonade – and even mechanical bull rides.

No, I didn’t dare climb aboard myself – but plenty of employees did. We captured a few of the rides on video, so if you’re in need of a laugh as you hustle to finish out the week, click here, here, here and here.


Marching Toward Success with ASI

Filed under: Community, Industry Initiatives, Member Benefits, Members, News About ASI

ASI’s ongoing commitment to advanced technology is moving two giant steps forward with the launch of two new initiatives: ASI SmartSales for distributors and ASI SalesPro for suppliers.

Designed specifically for this industry – in cooperation with tech giant Oracle – ASI SmartSales and ASI SalesPro represent the next generation of sales tools for industry professionals. We spent a year on R&D, and millions of dollars, to ensure our members possess the most technologically advanced sales arsenal available.

Now, it’s your time.

Using ASI SmartSales, distributors will have a complete contact and lead management system to help them close more business and provide accurate forecasting. Every individual salesperson in an organization will be able to easily send out personalized e-mail campaigns with tracking and analytics. Managers will be able to track the sales pipeline and forecasts.

But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what user Lisa Marks, president of On Your Marks, had to say: “Organizing customer contact information is key to a profitable distributorship. SmartSales is helping me organize my marketing and my time for the first time in many years. The fact that it’s cloud-based means our entire team has access day or night. I’ve looked for a perfect solution to help me manage all our communication for a long time, and this is the best. I’m so grateful to ASI for teaming up with Oracle to provide this very powerful, cost-effective tool.”

ASI SalesPro offers suppliers a sophisticated sales tool dedicated to sales management, marketing campaigns and revenue-generating capabilities. With SalesPro, every single salesperson becomes a marketing machine, with the added bonus of superior tracking and analytics.

The plug-and-play business platforms integrate Oracle’s cloud-based technologies with the appropriate ASI products to create a unique, highly secure platform consisting of a hybrid implementation of cloud and locally hosted software and databases.

Distributors with ESP who are interested in ASI SmartSales should e-mail asismartsales@asicentral.com or click here (Password: Own The Customer). Members who want to sign up for ESP and ASI SmartSales should call their ASI account executive at 800-546-1350.

Suppliers interested in subscribing to ASI SalesPro should e-mail salespro@asicentral.com or call 800-546-1226. For a video demo, click here.

These new tools are intelligent, powerful, efficient – and easy to use, since we build everything at ASI with one person in mind: you.

If you have any questions, please call your sales rep today. And let me know what you think by posting a comment or e-mailing me here.

The Future is Mobile

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

Digital power player Randi Zuckerberg shared a ton of business-building advice with us on ASI Radio this week, but since we’re about to launch ESP Mobile, I was most excited by her enthusiasm for the future of mobile.

“More and more companies are creating beautiful experiences on mobile devices, on tablets,” Zuckerberg, former director of market development for Facebook, told our listening audience in advance of her upcoming keynote at the ASI show in New York City.

“They’re bridging all those experiences – watching content on TV and having incredible mobile experiences simultaneously,” she said. “We’re on the tip of the iceberg with mobile, and I’m really excited to see where we go.”

Zuckerberg, who’s launching R to Z Media to help companies take advantage of social media, said she advises people to “provide a product so useful people want to use it around the clock, like e-mail. Focus on building a brand, rather than on being hip or cool.”

What great advice! Somehow I didn’t expect someone cool enough to sing in a cover band called Feedbomb to be so grounded. With her 7-month-old babbling happily in the background, Zuckerberg joked to the radio crew about her son making his very first appearance on ASI Radio – all the while dishing out advice on branding and connecting with clients in cyberspace.

Zuckerberg will share a lot more of that advice May 10 during her keynote on Social Change Through Social Media: How the Web is Changing the Way We Live, Vote, Organize and Work. To register for the show and hear her speech, click here.

On creating a ubiquitous brand, Zuckerberg advised our audience to avoid getting caught in a bubble. “Anyone developing a global brand needs to really get out there and talk to people who are using your products,” she said.

Social media is a great way to catch the attention of a potential client or business partner. Open a dialogue by posting or tweeting articles about them or their campaigns and encourage friends and followers to re-circulate.

“People are really suckers for flattery, and social media is great in that regard,” she said. “When you’re on social media, be sure to really respond to people and have a conversation – don’t make it a one-way communication.”

Zuckerberg, who’s responsible for the successful launch of Facebook’s U.S. election and international politics strategy and Facebook Live’s streaming coverage of the presidential inauguration, gives a lot of credit to her “rock-star” teams. “It’s really important to have a culture where people truly believe great ideas can come from anywhere,” she said. “You’ll be much more effective at creating something truly groundbreaking if you can empower people on the team to be experts. And to come up with really interesting challenges and solutions.”

To listen to the interview in its entirety, click here.

I’d love to know what you liked best about the interview, so post a comment or e-mail me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.