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Supplier Sales Going Up, Up, Up

Filed under: Research, Using Ad Specialties

Suppliers got great news recently when ASI released its 2011 supplier sales report showing over two-thirds (68%) of surveyed companies posted greater sales in 2011 than 2010, indicating an increase in sales of 7.1% over 2010.

Supplier revenue in 2011 totaled an outstanding $12.2 billion.  So now’s the perfect time to take advantage of new technologies and better marketing that can help power your company into the future.

Total supplier sales for the fourth quarter were approximately $3.6 billion, up $185 million over 2010 Q4 sales. This is the eighth straight quarter of growth – another strong indication that our industry has not only turned the corner, but is barreling full steam ahead.

Further, three-quarters (75%) of suppliers expect 2012 sales to be higher than those of 2011.

Click here to read the full report.

And let me know what steps your company is taking to keep pushing forward by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


ASI Leads The Way

Filed under: Member Benefits, News About ASI

As the New York Giants can surely attest to, it’s great to be No. 1. So it gives me great pleasure to announce that ASI now leads the industry in the critical areas most important to its 27,000 clients, including No. 1 rankings in ESP users, show attendance and magazine circulation.

ESP now has a record 46,000 users, up 12% from the last year. In addition, ESP the most powerful software in the industry generated an unprecedented number of product and supplier searches (29 million), end-buyer presentations created (1.35 million) and supplier ratings (36,000) in 2011.

At the same time, the economy is turning the corner the government announced this week that U.S. jobless claims are the lowest since 2008 and our industry has reported growth in the last eight quarters.

It seems fitting that ASI, the largest full-service organization serving suppliers and distributors in the business, is helping lead the way for our industry, scoring record results while providing the most technologically advanced tools available, year after year.

In addition to record-breaking numbers for ESP, ASI leads the industry in eight key areas:

  • No. 1 in total distributors.
  • No. 1 in research services.
  • No. 1 in website solutions.
  • No. 1 in show attendance and exhibitors.
  • No. 1 in editorial awards.
  • No. 1 in magazine and catalog circulation.
  • No. 1 in education.
  • No. 1 in credit information.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to this: Providing you with the critical products and services needed to succeed in what’s now an $18.5 billion industry.

Our mission is to make you more successful. When that happens, the whole industry succeeds. And that’s the best game-winning touchdown I can imagine.


Customer Service At Its Best

Filed under: Community

I know it’s de rigueur to complain about air travel, so as a longtime frequent flyer I’d like to share a positive story about a recent amazing experience with American Airlines.

I kicked off a two-week trip to Argentina at JFK airport in New York, replete with all the stress you’d expect from moving a large group of luggage-laden people to a far-off country.

But instead of the usual aggravation, I was greeted with a wonderful surprise – all thanks to the gracious and caring folks at American Airlines.

Elvin – one of the friends joining me on a once-in-a-lifetime trip in celebration of my 50th birthday – got in touch with AA before we left asking if they could arrange a special check-in. The airline responded immediately.

When we arrived at JFK, we were met at the curb with a security person, luggage handler and the head of special events. They walked us into a special check-in counter area and, lo and behold, a big video monitor (pictured) saluted me with a personalized birthday greeting.

One of the security guards told me he’d worked at American Airlines for 35 years and had never seen anyone’s name on a video monitor.

And that wasn’t all. We were then taken through a private entrance to the Flagship Lounge, where AA had laid out a spread for us to enjoy. From there, we were led to a conference room where a big birthday cake with my name awaited.

Once onboard, AA even had a replica sign of the video display and a fruit and wine basket at my seat.

It was an incredible kickoff that deserves acknowledgement – and that should serve as a reminder to anyone in business that we should always strive to exceed expectations for service and make people feel special.

The result can be friends – and loyal customers – for life.

American Airlines didn’t spend a lot of money to make me feel super special, but I’m certainly going to reward them with my business whenever I can going forward.

Let me know what special efforts you’ve made for your customers by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. By the way, the picture is of the Iguazu Falls – just one of the amazing sights we’ve seen since landing in Argentina.


50 In Argentinah!

Filed under: Community, Using Ad Specialties

It’s an old adage but one I firmly believe in: Practice what you preach. I’m as bullish on this industry and its products as possible, which is why I chose so many cool items to commemorate a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Argentina to celebrate my 50th birthday.

Something else I believe in is taking a long walk in somebody else’s shoes. The experience of choosing and ordering a full slate of promotional items from start to finish was kind of like stepping into an episode of the reality show “Undercover Boss.” What I learned is being a distributor is really hard work.

To start, I had ASI’s top-notch creative director Jim Lang create two logos based on his idea, incorporating “50” and “Argentinah” in a nod to a gorgeous country. In one, we also used a map of Argentina, which stretches from Bolivia to the tip of South America, encompassing a wide array of geography and climates along the way.

As gifts for the friends accompanying me on the two-week trip, I branded everything from socks, T-shirts and fleeces to bandanas, flip-flops and keychains. There is even a combo iPad screen and keyboard cleaner, as well as a personalized travel diary. Getting really creative – as you certainly can in this industry – I also had M&Ms and playing cards for use during the 12-hour flight actually imprinted with the faces of my friends.

In the logoed travel bags I’m gifting, I included useful items like hand sanitizer, lip balm, sunscreen and bags of pistachios. There’s really no end to what you can choose from when it comes to promotional products!

My actual 50th birthday is February 13 – a birthday I share with my late mother. I decided on this trip months ago and planned it with zeal. Since I’m the master of detail, I deliberated down to the hour, choosing every destination, hotel, restaurant and even wine.

The best birthday gift I could possibly imagine is the gift of friendship, and what better way to celebrate the half-century mark than with my best friends in the land of Jorge Luis Borges, world-famous steaks, Evita Perón and Tierra del Fuego?

Logistically, it’s been a challenge, since I’m coordinating travel plans with nine friends scattered across the country, friends whose professions cover the gauntlet – with the personalities to match. Now that the trip is here, I almost can’t believe it’s finally happening.

We’re spending the first week in Mendoza, which is like the Napa Valley of Argentina. In between taking in lots of sights and horseback riding like gauchos, we’ll drink lots of fine Malbec wines. A highlight is sure to be seeing Patagonia’s glacier-carved landscapes up close.

Luckily, Argentina’s seasons are reverse to ours, so we’ll visit during their summer. The second week we’ll relax our pace somewhat and enjoy the best cosmopolitan Buenos Aires has to offer, including shopping, cooking lessons, visits to a silversmith and art galleries and, of course, dancing the tango and meeting porteños.

As the gauchos say, disfrute compadre. In other words, we will enjoy and, above all, have fun!


A Record-Breaking Show In Dallas

Filed under: ASI Shows, Members, News About ASI

They make everything big in Dallas – hats, steaks, hair and especially trade shows. We just ended our three-day event in Texas and set a new all-time record for distributor companies with 1,556.

Dallas had it all – 837 distributors enjoying classes Wednesday, including the industry’s biggest speed networking event,  and a keynote Friday by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, who shared humorous comparisons between Twitter’s beginnings and the networking relationships  built between industry suppliers and distributors.

Stone was as laid-back as a highly-successful tech dude could be. He spoke in a series of stories, about everything from the founding of his mega-successful company to a German film that helped fuel his reach-for-the-stars philosophy. In the end, everyone in the audience was left with inspiring advice they can apply to their own business to boost their success rate.

“The only real way to succeed is to just jump off the cliff,” said Stone, pictured with me here at the meet and greet. “You really have to go for it; you can’t hedge.”

The three-day show itself drew a ton of raves, including ones from Missy Herring, of South Texas Custom Printing, asi/529109, who called it “tremendous,” and another from Sergio Munoz, of Debco, asi/48885, who said:  “ASI Dallas has been just great for us – amazing traffic and a great quality of attendees. Distributors are asking questions and coming prepared with projects they need help with. We’ve been getting great leads, and it’s been a very productive show.”

Last night we let loose at our very first gala at the Dallas House of Blues, where they celebrate America’s best musical art form with a giant dose of good ole fun. We’ll definitely be back.

If you missed us in Dallas, check out photos and videos on www.asicentral.com. If you were at the show, let me know what you thought by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

And don’t forget to register at www.asishow.com for upcoming ASI Shows in 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.


Super Bowl Means Super Sales

Filed under: ASI Shows, Member Benefits, Using Ad Specialties

No matter which team scores the Super Bowl trophy, ASI member companies printing T-shirts, jackets and other sports-related memorabilia will be big winners this weekend.

Hundreds of ad specialty companies are sure to work into the wee hours Sunday into Monday to get Super Bowl items to eager sports fans. We spoke to Jay Meyer, president of Blue Dolphin Screen Print & Embroidery (asi/141732) of New Hampshire, which is one of the companies working tons of OT this weekend to keep sports fans happy.

If the New England Patriots win in the big game against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI, Blue Dolphin expects to print at least 25,000 shirts overnight in the initial order.

“The big sports stores start showing up around 3 a.m. because they want to have the apparel ready in the morning when they open,” Meyer told us. “If it’s really doing well, they’ll reorder, probably another 5,000. Last week after the AFC championship, we printed 7,000 shirts.”

Over 40 employees will work on the initial order, starting by the game’s third quarter. Printing starts as soon as the game finishes. And even if the hometown team fails to take home the title, Meyer said Blue Dolphin still expects to print at least 9,000 Giants shirts.

We’ll be back from the ASI Show in Dallas – where Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wowed the crowd this morning with business and social media tips – and I can’t wait to see the newest commercials along with Madonna’s half-time performance. And the game of course!

Who’s your Super Bowl pick? Let me know by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on TwitterLinkedInand YouTube.


Promo Products Star In Dallas

Filed under: ASI Shows, Media Coverage, News About ASI

We kicked off the ASI show in Dallas in a really big way, with a terrific slate of education – and national news coverage of our industry.

Steve Noviello, an Emmy Award-winning consumer reporter for the Fox affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth, reported a series of hot product segments from the Dallas Convention Center that were aired across the country.

The segments were seen by viewers in 13 markets, reaching a total potential audience of 610,606 — with a total publicity value for the industry of $27, 642. The reports, which ranged from 1-2 minutes, aired in Dallas, LA, Chicago, Philadelphia, DC, Atlanta, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Orlando, Salem NC, Louisville KY and Gainesville, FL.

Steve discussed the power of promotional products and the strength of the industry itself while showing off some of the newest products we have to offer. He also included some election products, mentioning that the very first promotional products in the U.S. were commemorative buttons dating back to the election of George Washington in 1789 – and how much money the industry is expecting to make off the 2012 election.

Click here to view one of the segments, broadcast in Phoenix.

KDFW (also known locally as Fox 4) broadcasts more local news per week than any other station in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and the most of any television station in Texas.

Steve’s team was terrific to work with, joining Counselor senior writer Dave Vagnoni and ASI Show’s executive director of operations, Cheryl Childers, at the Dallas convention center before sunrise to set up the segments that aired continuously across the country. Joe “The Joe Show” Haley worked hard at gathering all the products showcased during the segment and made sure everything arrived safely – and on time – in Dallas.

Thursday and Friday are exhibition days in Dallas, and Friday morning we’re in for a special treat with a keynote by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone. I hope to see many of you there!

Let me know what you think of the news coverage for our industry by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.