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Onward To Dallas

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

We’re winging our way to the ASI show in Dallas for a three-day event that promises to be as action-packed as the great state of Texas itself.

Education day on Wednesday features  the “Industry’s Biggest Speed Networking Session”. As always, all sessions are eligible for credits in the ASI Certification Program. In addition to two days of exhibits featuring the industry’s hottest new products, Dallas features a brand-new gala at the Dallas House of Blues and a keynote by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone.

In addition to offering up some awesome business tips, Stone will let us know how one of the most influential social media outlets in the world opened opportunities in marketing, politics and philanthropy.

We’re definitely on a roll, especially considering what a great success we enjoyed in Orlando, with record-breaking education, a SRO keynote and 2,100 people whooping it up at Disney’s Animal Kingdom gala. If you missed us in Orlando, check out some video highlights:

Click here to see an interview on the Orlando Fox affiliate with keynoter James Carville, a Democrat who sparred onstage with Republican pundit Bill O’Reilly.

Click here for a wrap-up video with highlights from a barn-burner of a show.

Click here for best-selling product highlights from our Supplier of the Year, Hub Pen (asi/61966).

And click here for a roundup of terrific products for the adventurer set, featuring Counselor Distributor Choice Award winners.

Featured products include Tekweld natural insect repellent mister (asi/90807); carabiner bottle opener watch and matching wristwatch from Logomark (asi/67866); Elleven Amped checkpoint-friendly compu-backpack from Leed’s (asi/66887) and the Port Authority Nootka jacket from SanMar (asi/84863).

Let me know if you’re joining us in Dallas by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


2011 Industry Sales Top $18.5 Billion

Filed under: News About ASI, Research

The numbers are in, and the results couldn’t be much better. ASI’s 2011 distributor sales research report shows total industry sales of $18.5 billion, up 6.2% from 2010.

Sales have increased for eight straight quarters, with a 6.5% 2011 fourth-quarter sales increase reported – the highest since the first quarter of 2011.

What this proves is that the industry rebound begun two years ago is real – and lasting. A majority of distributors feel optimistic about 2012 sales, which is another indication of continued growth.

The bottom line is that companies, charities, schools, hospitals, teams – you name it and there’s a logo on it – are continuing to buy ad specialties for a very simple, undeniable reason: they work.

Highlights of the survey, conducted by ASI’s executive director of research, Larry Basinait, include:

  • Eighty-five percent of larger distributors (over $1 million in revenue) reported an increase in sales in 2011, while over two-thirds (70%) of all distributors reported an increase.
  • Over one-half (54%) of all distributors reported an increase in the fourth quarter, with distributorships of at least $250,000 in annual revenue reporting greater percentage increases in sales than small distributorships.
  • More than three-quarters (77%) of all distributors feel sales for 2012 will be higher than sales in 2011.

To read the report, click here.

ASI commissioned the exclusive survey to estimate industry sales for 2011. The industry outlook for 2012 was also included in the study. Invitations went to ASI distributor members who were the primary contact with their firms, and had been in business at least one year.

One thing we can’t do is become complacent. We need to keep the economic ball rolling throughout 2012 – and beyond. So let me know what you’re planning to do this year to keep your numbers up, or tell me what worked best for you in 2011, by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Listen, Laugh, Heal And Hope

Filed under: ASI Shows, News About ASI

After listening to Michael J. Fox this week on ASI Radio, I’ve decided to adopt a new catch phrase to use in response to whiners or naysayers: “A lady had a baby in a tree. What do you got?”

Let me explain. Fox told our listeners he draws inspiration from a reported story about a pregnant woman who not only survived floods in Africa by clinging to a tree, but did it while giving birth – alone.

He said, “When anyone comes to me with a problem, my first reaction is, ‘A lady had a baby in a tree. What do you got?’ There’s nothing you can imagine that you can’t overcome. Look for a tree branch, fight the current … You have choices; you have options. You can climb that tree if you have to.”

As always, Fox was compelling. Which is why we’ve invited him back as a keynote speaker. He’ll speak Wednesday, April 4, at 8:15 a.m. at ASI San Diego.  Register now if you haven’t already – I can guarantee you’ll walk away inspired and armed with advice you can easily apply to your life and business.

Like another upcoming keynoter, Biz Stone (who’s speaking at ASI Dallas next Friday), Fox says humor is critical. When asked what scares him, Fox said, “People who don’t have a sense of humor. They’re the most dangerous people in world. Humor is essential. Humor is a way of expressing humanity and maintaining humility and being able to laugh at yourself.”

Fox told us he was shattered when diagnosed with Parkinson’s while still acting in the hit sitcom “Spin City,” but that becoming proactive about his health made a big difference in his life.

“You kind of expect people smarter than us to tell us how to get better,” he said. “It doesn’t work that way. I realized patients have to be agents of change … Everything is up to me.”

Fox established The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to push for a cure. Check out his website, which is packed with valuable information – and inspiration.

I spent 15 minutes listening to the guy on the radio this week and walked away feeling pumped about life’s possibilities – and about our industry.

Fox told us his foundation often uses promotional products to promote its cause, saying, “Those keepsakes really, really mark a connection between a company and people and a charity. I think it’s important people express their involvement and companies express their connections … It’s really valuable and important.”

I can’t think of a better endorsement. To listen to the entire interview, go to www.asicentral.com/radio.

Let me know what you took away from the interview by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Sourcing City And ASI Form Strategic Alliance

Filed under: Industry Initiatives, News About ASI

ASI is very pleased to announce a new strategic alliance with Sourcing City, the market leader of digital services and networking trade events for the ad specialty industry in the U.K. Together, we’ll work closely together to foster connections and introduce best practices that will benefit the U.S. and U.K. markets. 

To that end, Sourcing City and ASI created a three-year, multi-point strategic plan, with various elements to be rolled out over the next year.

Initially, supplier members will be able to exhibit at both ASI and Sourcing City trade shows. Sourcing City has an invitation-only event called Marketplace in September 2012 and will be launching a new trade show, Sourcing City Live!, in January 2013.

Sourcing City also has strict policies to ensure its suppliers are properly vetted to guarantee they are truly U.K.-based manufacturers or importers of products, preserving the supply and distribution chain ASI has endorsed and nurtured for more than 50 years. 

ASI believes this alliance will help members on both sides of the pond form lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. I was invited to the recent Sourcing City Marketplace event and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. ASI is looking forward to fostering an even greater understanding of customer relations and the needs of distributor partners in both regions.

Alistair Mylchreest, CEO of Sourcing City, said in the release he’s excited to be involved with ASI on such a close level. “In particular,” he continued, “we want to help professional distributors and suppliers grow their per capita spend in the U.K. market, and we are certain joining forces with a U.S.-based powerhouse like ASI is one great way to accomplish that.”

Click here to read the press release announcing the alliance. For more information about Sourcing City, visit www.sourcingcity.co.uk.


Orlando Knocks It Outta The Park

Filed under: ASI Shows, Members, News About ASI

And we’re off! The 2012 show season kicked off in grand style in Orlando this week, posting record-breaking education, attendance and exhibitor levels, contributing to making it the fastest-growing show in the industry.

In a standing-room-only keynote, 1,438 industry professionals watched Bill O’Reilly and James Carville face off on the nation’s hottest political and business issues. The event was co-sponsored by Pepco Poms (asi/77280) and Showdown Displays (asi/87188).

Education participation set a record, with 2,410 distributors attending classes during ASI Orlando’s Education Conference on Monday, January 16. All sessions were eligible for credits toward BASI (Bachelor of Advertising Specialty Information) and MASI (Master of Advertising Specialty Information) certification.

During a reception in their honor, 17 graduates of the ASI Certification Program were recognized in a pinning ceremony. To date, over 15,000 industry professionals have registered for classes necessary to obtain the industry certification.

We got tons of great feedback throughout the show. Here’s a sampling:

“ASI Orlando has been fantastic,” said Jason Emery of Logomark (asi/67866). “The attendance is phenomenal. We brought seven people to the show and could have used another two. There were times when we couldn’t even get into our own booth. Distributors are having open conversations about their annual strategic plans versus only looking at individual products.”

Michael Leigh, of Calibre International (asi/43442), said: “This has just been an amazing show. We’ve spent a lot of time with quality distributors. This is not a ‘scan and go’ crowd. Everyone is interested in finding new products to help them do a great business in 2012.”

Our new show VP and GM, Lorenz Hassenstein, got off to a great start. “ASI supplier members are reaping the benefits from this year’s Orlando event, and many already are planning to expand their presence at future 2012 ASI Shows, and certainly Orlando next year,” he said, adding that strong attendance was being viewed by exhibitors as a positive sign for the year.

American Solutions for Business (asi/120075), Brown & Bigelow (asi/148500), Geiger (asi/202900) and AIA (asi/109480) were among the Top 40 Distributors that hosted large sales meetings at Orlando.

Visit http://www.asicentral.com/ for full coverage of ASI Show Orlando.

Upcoming 2012 ASI Shows are Dallas (February 1-3), San Diego (April 2-4), New York (May 8-10) and Chicago (July 17-19). To learn more about exhibiting or sponsorship opportunities for 2012, contact Karen DiTomasso, vice president of sales, at kditomasso@asicentral.com.

If you attended the show, please let me know what you thought by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Flying High In Orlando

Filed under: ASI Shows, Community, News About ASI

Bill O’Reilly and James Carville tearing it up onstage during one of our most exciting SRO keynotes ever.  A male ballerina in glorious pink flying across the stage during the Sell It Now keynote. Tons of fun at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Record-breaking education.

All this – and much, much more – at ASI Orlando this week.

If that weren’t enough, Tuesday night we saluted Hub Pen as Supplier of the Year at the annual Counselor Distributor Choice Awards, along with more than 250 of the industry’s top-performing suppliers.

We’ve still got a full exhibition day left, but I think it’s safe to say Orlando’s been a great success on all counts.

Hub Pen, of Massachusetts, secured the industry’s most-valued supplier status across 56 categories. In a Counselor story on the company, we cited all the reasons why Hub Pen is an award-winning company, lauding the nearly 60 years distributors have relied on the supplier for great pricing, unparalleled service and a sterling reputation for the personal touch.

The company was founded in 1954 by Frank Fleming, who once tirelessly assembled pens by hand. Congratulations to everyone at Hub for this much-deserved recognition.

For a complete list of winners and photos from the awards ceremony, click here.

For all the show news, photos, tweets and more, go to www.asicentral.com.

And if you’re at the show, let me know what you think by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


ESP Mobile Is Here

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

Drumroll, please. You can now download the free iPhone app from the Apple App store, free with your ESP subscription.

For a video with all the reasons why this should be your No. 1 app, click here. Any iPhone user can download the app today directly from iTunes here.

ASI’s development team has automatically applied an ESP Mobile license to all members with a current license to ESP Web.  These members simply download the app from the Apple App Store and enter the same log-in credentials as ESP Web. That’s all it takes.

Users who only have a license to ESP Online will need to get set up through Product Support – in a process that takes about the same time it takes to fix yourself a cup of coffee. If you have any questions, please contact ASI Product Support at 800-546-1350 (press option #2).

If you’re on site with us in Orlando and have any questions about ESP Mobile, come speak to our Product Support team at the ASI Booth.

To download ESP Mobile from the App Store, follow these few simple steps:

1.  Visit the Apple App Store on your mobile device.

2.  Search for “ESP Mobile.”

3.  Download the free app.

4.  Once the download is complete, tap the app icon to start up the app.

5.  Enter your credentials.

6.  Kick back and enjoy everything this new app has to offer.

Why get ESP Mobile? Check it out:

  • Choice. Filter product searches by supplier, color and price and sort results by price, cost, ASI number and more.
  • Information. Sort suppliers by ASI number, rating, area code and preferred rank. See a supplier’s complete contact info, including website and line names.
  • Versatility. See imprint information, production time, rush services, locations and product safety warnings – all on the same screen.
  • Visuals. Scroll through high-quality product images and video and add products to your clipboard.
  • Speed. Quickly and easily find and load the product you’re looking for.

Suppliers interested in advertising in ESP Mobile should contact their ASI rep or contact Gene Rahill at grahill@asicentral.com and Suzanne Izzo at sizzo@asicentral.com.

Try it and let me know what you think by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


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