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Calling All Droids

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

Hard to believe, but three short years ago there were only about 2,300 apps available in the Android market. Today, there are over half a million – with 15 billion downloads to date.

This week, ASI® entered the arena, offering ESP Mobile for Android free from Google Play to more than 46,000 ESP® users.

ESP Mobile for Android is integrated with ASI’s ESP Web, where distributors can source and order every ad specialty product in the industry from more than 3,200 suppliers via their Android app, which provides the same business-friendly features as the ESP Mobile iPhone and iPad apps. Now, you can view the latest pricing, see razor-sharp images, check out supplier ratings, request quotes and e-mail clients products on the go, 24/7.

Personally, I’m an iPhone user. My favorite apps – other than ESP Mobile, of course – include OpenTable for restaurant ideas and reservations, which I’ve been using since its 2004 debut on the Web. Today, because of my frequent use for business and pleasure, I’m a designated VIP with 32,200 points, earning 100 points each time I make and complete a reservation.

As a frequent flyer, I’m also a big user of the merged United-Continental app, which lets me check where I want to go, where I’m going and where I’ve been. And no business day is ever complete without my WSJ app – a direct link to my personal newspaper of record.

I’m devoted to these apps because they’re fast, reliable and user-friendly – providing the same critical qualities as ASI’s ESP Mobile apps.

ESP Mobile is currently available for both iPhone and iPad in the Apple App Store. Search for “ESP Mobile +” for iPhone and “ESP Mobile HD” for iPad. For all ASI mobile applications, including our magazines, search for “Advertising Specialty Institute” in the Apple App store.

(Shameless plug: ESP Mobile for Android is only available to authorized distributors of promotional products who are ESP subscribers. To purchase ESP, call your ASI account executive at 1 (800) 546-1350. And if you have any questions, ASI’s product and technical support team will be happy to help at support@asicentral.com).

If you’re using ASI’s ESP Mobile apps, please let me know how they’re helping your business by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

A Very Happy ASI Anniversary

Filed under: News About ASI

I just celebrated a very special day – my fifth anniversary with ASI as the company’s chief executive officer.

ASI recruited me to become ASI’s president in 2003, and on May 23, 2007, I was promoted to   president and chief executive officer. I can still remember my very first day with the company.

As expected, I was a little nervous about meeting the entire staff at a special all-company meeting called to introduce me. I’d been warned that no one ever asked any questions at such meetings – but I was determined to change that. I really wanted to establish an open door policy with employees and for them to always feel free to ask me anything.

I’m happy to report that not only did they ask me questions at that first encounter – but that the questions (and the drop ins!) haven’t stopped.

In the photo, I’m posing with ASI’s chairman, Norman Cohn, whose family got me a delicious cake and shared the sentiment below:

“ASI, the Cohn Family, and the Advertising Specialty Industry are fortunate that Tim’s leadership continues to help the industry grow by ‘Promoting Success.’ ”

I’m most proud of the way ASI has become the industry leader in the development and management of the very latest products and of our reputation for service to our customers. I can honestly say I still love coming to work every day and that I’m looking forward to many years to come.

ESP Websites Lead the Way

Filed under: News About ASI

We enjoyed a great turnout at our ESP Websites online launch party this week, with 475 people logging on to the webinar to learn all about ASI’s new, state-of-the-art Web solution.

Rob Watson, ASI’s VP of digital user experience, showcased the ease and speed of ESP Websites during the 45-minute presentation. From the feedback we received – and the fact that nearly everyone stayed put for the entire webinar – it’s clear this product is a winner.

For those of you who missed it, click here to view the archived webinar.

Participants seemed particularly hot on ESP Website features like social media integration, product of the day and featured product sets, true eCommerce, banner ad options and videos.

During the webinar, you asked a number of great questions, including:

Q: Can I get RSS feeds to the news to put in my app?

A: Yes, you will be able to set up RSS feeds.

Q: Will the Adobe virtual sample work with Macs?

A: Virtual samples are Apple-friendly.

Q: Does the credit card payment automatically process?

A: Yes, it will be in real time. Visit www.asicentral.com/promopayment to get the best processing rates available.

Q: Does this take the place of LogoMall?

A: As a LogoMall® customer, you can upgrade to an ESP Website for free, plus receive a free ESP Website to brand for a best customer.

We’ve loved all the feedback and look forward to helping everyone with the transition.

To upgrade, visit www.asicentral.com/ESPwebsites or call ASI® support at 1 (800) 546-1350. New ESP Website customers are eligible to receive a free ESP Website to brand for a best customer. Contact your ASI account executive at 1 (800) 546-1350 or visit www.asicentral.com/ESPwebsites.

And please let me know what you think of ESP Websites by posting a comment, and if you have any questions, please e-mail me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

ASI Raises the Bar with ESP Websites

Filed under: News About ASI, Using Ad Specialties

ASI is in the business of providing solutions that directly benefit members, which makes today’s launch of ESP Websites as good as it gets.

During countless focus groups, we listened to what members had to say and delivered a product that met all their needs, from social media and videos all the way to virtual-ready samples. I think it’s clear no one else in the industry can match the accuracy, power and shopping sophistication of ESP Websites.

Best of all, LogoMall customers can upgrade to an ESP Website for free, plus receive a free ESP Website to brand for a best customer.

Built for sales and gunning for leads, the new ESP Websites™ couldn’t be easier or faster. With one-click ease, distributors get hundreds of templates to choose from and instant access to the latest online tools and features needed to quickly create a distinct, custom-designed website.

Most important, all sites are e-commerce enabled, allowing members to accept credit cards and customers to make down payments to secure orders.

The built-in features of every ESP Website include:

  • Product of the Day and Featured Product Sets: Give shoppers endless ideas.
  • Social Media: Share products directly on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Videos: Product videos demonstrate how promotional products work and look.
  • Adobe-Powered Virtual Samples: Shoppers can automatically see their logo on more than 100,000 products.
  • Promotional News: End-buyer tailored information automatically pushed to all sites.

Dozens of ASI employees dedicated themselves to perfecting ESP Websites. From concept to launch, it took nearly a year – with 15,000 hours alone devoted to development.

During development, we kept the conversations rolling, asking numerous distributors to take ESP Websites for a test drive. The execs at Top 40 distributor Brown & Bigelow were so impressed the company is now offering it to their top performing salespeople. Here’s what William D. Smith, Jr., the company’s executive vice president, had to say:

“We’re excited ASI has created a state-of-the-art solution that provides our salespeople with a professional, functional and personal web presence. The functionality addresses the needs of tech savvy clients and sales people, with social media links, virtual sample creation, artwork transfers, shopping cart and payment processing. From a corporate perspective, we appreciate that one administrator can easily update editorial content and merchandise on all of the sites, eliminating the need for each salesperson to focus on these tasks. This is an amazing solution we’re proud to offer our team.”

As a stamp of approval goes, it doesn’t get much better than that.

To upgrade, visit www.asicentral.com/ESPwebsites or call ASI support at 1 (800) 546-1350. New ESP Website customers are eligible to receive a free ESP Website to brand for a best customer. Contact your ASI account executive at 1 (800) 546-1350 or visit www.asicentral.com/ESPwebsites.

Let me know what you think of ESP Websites by posting a comment, and if you have any questions, please e-mail me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Welcome to the New Counselor

Filed under: Guest Blog, News About ASI

Innovation is cool, right? We believe so. It’s what we try to promote to our readers, viewers and listeners every day in our various media outlets – print, Internet, video, social networks, online radio, electronic newsletters. So, about six months ago, we looked ourselves in the mirror and said: It’s our turn.

This month, we’ve launched a redesigned Counselor® brand. The logo is bigger and bolder, the print version (which also happens to be physically larger than the previous incarnation) has a completely new look, and our new website (same address: www.CounselorMag.com) ushers in a new online portal for industry news and insights.

It’s an exciting time for the Counselor brand. The print edition, which hits industry offices 13 times a year, has a bold new design that is meant to feature both user-generated content as well as news and trend analyses that will inform the industry – and always make you think. Also showcasing regular sections called News, Case Studies, Apparel, and Social, every issue of Counselor is sure to educate and entertain readers.

This overall effort is more than six months in the making, and has taken a lot of brainstorming and work by a lot of people. The result, I think, benefits the industry by providing a media brand that delivers information and insight anywhere and everywhere. In addition to the print magazine redesign, the Counselor website has been transformed.

Go now to www.CounselorMag.com to see a true media hub for the ad specialty industry. Containing the most recent news, analysis of the most pressing trends, how-to articles that offer practical business advice, and video coverage like no other in the industry, the new www.CounselorMag.com also provides easy ways for readers to interact with us. Twitter and Facebook feeds are planted on every single page – giving visitors ways to post comments and respond to articles in real time.

Plus, news and articles (including a twice-weekly update of the industry’s personnel appointments and promotions) will be changed, updated and enhanced every single day – giving the industry reasons to visit www.CounselorMag.com as often as possible.

So, take some time this week to check out the new Counselor brand. And let me know what you think about our own turn at innovation. Email: acohen@asicentral.com. Twitter: @ASI_AndyCohen.

Counselor Editor Andy Cohen

Bright Lights, Big City, Great Show

Filed under: ASI Shows, Members, News About ASI

The ASI Show in New York City is a wrap. And after hearing from scores of the 2,300 distributors and 310 exhibitors who attended, I’m happy to report it was a definite success all around.

The stats are impressive: The three-day show at the Javits attracted distributors from more than 1,150 firms from 38 states and 11 different countries, making the show as cosmopolitan as the Big Apple itself.

There was non-stop action, from a packed show floor and all-day education to continuous demos of the upcoming ESP Websites and the incredible Counselor Awards.

A definite highlight was a captivating keynote by Facebook marketing executive Randi Zuckerberg (pictured with me, at right), who offered a slate of practical business tips on how to use social media to increase brand recognition and expand market share.

In addition to sharing her Top 10 social media trends, she advised distributors to engage as much as possible with anyone who connects with their company through networking sites because, as she put it, “Haters are an inch from loving you. They just want to be heard. Listen to them and they could become your most loyal customers.”

Here’s what some participants had to say about the show:

Peter Zeiger, from Geiger (asi/202900): “Having access to the newest products for the later part of the year is so important for our team. They have been able to talk with leading suppliers and find new ways to make more money.”

Tommy Lee, from Logomark (asi/67866): “The traffic at ASI New York has been great. In fact, I’m wishing I brought some more people to work the booth.”

Michael Leone, from Hit Promotional Products (asi/61125): “ASI New York has been terrific. We have been so busy. There are so many great distributors at this show.”

Be sure to check out ASI’s home page at www.asicentral.com for all the highlights from New York, including news, videos and photos.

Before we start getting ready for ASI Chicago, taking place July 17-19 and featuring a full day of education with leadership and negotiation guru Tony Robbins and an inspirational keynote by former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, there’s already some news on New York 2013.

Next year’s show will be held in the bigger, brighter North Pavilion of the Javits Center and feature an expanded education program, fashion runway show and keynote by Buddy Valastro, star of TLC’s hit show “The Cake Boss.”

To learn more about exhibiting or sponsorship opportunities, contact Karen DiTomasso, vice president of sales, at kditomasso@asicentral.com.

If you were at the show, please let me know what you thought by emailing me or posting a comment. I’m always interested in your feedback.

Honoring The 2012 Counselor Award Winners

Filed under: ASI Shows, Members, News About ASI

If you needed any further evidence that our industry is on an upswing, look no further than the success stories applauded at the 2012 Counselor Awards.

Kevin Lyons-Tarr, president of 4imprint (asi/197045), was honored as Counselor magazine’s Person of the Year for, among many other things, growing his company 18% last year and more than 30% over the past four years.

At a black-tie gala at Cipriani restaurant in Manhattan, we also unveiled this year’s Counselor’s Top 40. On the supplier side, Broder Bros. (asi/42090) takes over the top spot on the list, after an increase of more than 30% in sales last year. Click here to view the supplier Top 40 list.

And, for distributors, Staples Promotional Products (asi/120601) remains the largest company in the industry, with BDA (asi/137616) and Proforma (asi/300094) rounding out the top three spots on the list.  Click here to see the complete 2012 Top 40 distributor rankings.

In addition, we also honored Ash City’s (asi/37143) Garry Hurvitz for International Person of the Year, Activate’s (asi/141964) Fred Parker for Distributor Entrepreneur of the Year, BamBams’ (asi/38228) Dan Taylor for Supplier Entrepreneur of the Year, Overture’s (asi/288473) Heather Sanderson for Distributor Woman of Distinction and Leed’s (asi/66887) Sharon Willochell for Supplier Woman of Distinction.

Go to www.CounselorMag.com for pictures and videos from the Counselor Awards ceremony, and for more information on all of the award winners.

Last night we also marked another very special occasion: the 50th anniversary of the Cohn family’s leadership of ASI.

In addition to Norman Cohn, our amazing chairman of the board, and his lovely wife Suzanne, we were joined by the family members pictured with me at right.

All in all, it was an incredible night.

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