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ASI’s Norman Cohn in The Wall Street Journal

Filed under: Community, Media Coverage, Members, News About ASI

Tuesday’s front page of The Wall Street Journal which reaches a global audience of over 2 million – features a profile of ASI® Chairman Norman Cohn.

I encourage you to share the story with clients, friends and family via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., using this link: http://webreprints.djreprints.com/45722.html.

This story is part of a multi-year public relations and educational outreach effort ASI has made on behalf of the industry to reinforce the undeniable ROI of ad specialties and the power and reach of a vital industry that employs over 400,000 people across North America. Click here for recent examples of more stories in Bloomberg Businessweek, the Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor and on Fox News.

Norman – who is in his 50th year of leading ASI – is a one-of-a-kind leader: competitive but not a bully, smart but approachable, strong but kind. He absolutely loves the industry he has nurtured since he was 19.

While researching The Wall Street Journal story, the reporter spoke with a number of industry people, including Peter Geiger of Geiger (asi/202900), Bob Stevens of Footprints USA (asi/55030), Barry Hermanson of Aunt Beth’s Cookie Keepers (asi/37465) and Paul Bellantone of PPAI. I’d like to thank them and everyone else who participated.

I think the piece is incredibly positive and, along with all the other coverage we’ve generated, presents enduring evidence of the brand-building business tools at the heart of our industry. I couldn’t be prouder.

Let me know what you think of the story by e-mailing me here.

Are We There Yet?

Filed under: Community, Members, News About ASI

To many of us, summertime means one thing: road trip. My favorite was one I took with my family in August of 1974, when we drove from Indiana to Florida in an old Ford with a camper that had no bathroom or shower.

I vividly remember sites like Weeki Watchee (a tourist attraction that featured “real” mermaids underwater) and The Lost Sea, a “secret” underground lake in Sweetwater, TN.

My biggest regret: I missed seeing Nixon resign on TV after I’d spent a great deal of time watching all of the Watergate hearings after school each day. Instead of witnessing that historical moment on the tube, I was sitting in a restaurant in Birmingham, eating corn on the cob.

Here at ASI, annual road trips are fast becoming a tradition for three Counselor® magazine editors who embarked today on an eight-day, 17-city cross-country quest to find the coolest workplaces in the industry.

Melinda Ligos, Andy Cohen and Joe Haley are visiting companies from New York to Seattle and beyond for Counselor’s upcoming Best Places to Work issue, which will highlight the many ways the people in this industry have devised to light up their 9-5 lives.

Their first stop: Axis Promotions in New York City, where they enjoyed a Monday morning breakfast party with bloody marys and mimosas.

You can look for the Best Places issue this fall – but this week you can check out www.counselormag.com/counselortour for a running road trip blog and photos. And! Every time you tweet with the hashtag #counselortour, you’ll become eligible for a $500 prize.

Wish Melinda, Andy and Joe good luck on their Ulysses-like odyssey and don’t forget —
every time you tweet about the road trip, you enter to win $500.

Let me know what road trip you’re taking this summer by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Business A-Go-Go

Filed under: News About ASI, Using Ad Specialties

Every company is continually on the lookout for that all-important “cool factor” when it comes to garnering interest in their products.

Outstanding functionality makes things cool. Sharp design makes things cool. Clever marketing does its part as well. I think ASI’s ESP Mobile™ for iPhone, iPad and Android clinches cool because it’s rapidly becoming a go-to resource for a growing number of industry companies. To me, that’s pretty cool. And I say this from the middle of a heat wave!

This week we announced user popularity of ESP Mobile has led to total downloads surpassing 5,000 users. If you’ve jumped on our mobile bandwagon, just consider how many times you’ve conducted business on the run since downloading the app to your device.

Quite a lot, right?

When we asked around for a few distributors to tell us how they’re relying on ESP Mobile to do business, Mike Woodall, owner of BrandIT (asi/145195), told us he downloaded the iPad app the first week it dropped.

He likes its simplicity – and accessibility. He even takes his iPad to his daughter’s volleyball games and practices, to research products right then and there.

To get a leg up in business these days, it’s clear you need to be ready – and able – to do business anytime, anywhere. So I’m glad ASI® can provide a quick, efficient means for salespeople to search products on ESP Web™ – where distributors can source and order every ad specialty product in the industry from more than 3,200 suppliers – and send proposals to clients 24/7.

As you know, ESP Mobile for Android, iPhone and iPad is only available to authorized distributors of promotional products who are ESP® subscribers. If you haven’t gotten ESP yet, call your ASI account executive at 1 (800) 546-1350. And anytime you have questions, contact ASI’s product and technical support team at support@asicentral.com. They’re always happy to help.

And I’m always on the lookout for comments posted here or e-mails sent to me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Stay cool!

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Filed under: Community

Simply put, I love this time of year, when the days are long, the air is sweet and there’s no place I’d rather be than puttering in my garden.

I chose my house in Princeton, N.J., which is set on little more than an acre, knowing the grounds would need a lot of work. In a word, it was a dump. Luckily, I enjoy a good challenge – and found a terrific advisor in a local landscaper named Polly Burlingham. By tackling a different part of the yard each spring, and working within a reasonable budget, we’ve achieved a kind of garden nirvana.

Like a lot of you, Polly runs a small business. Over the years, Polly’s Green Gardens has designed numerous intimate garden spaces and seasonal container gardens, including the urns at Drumthwacket, the N.J. governor’s mansion, and the hanging baskets lining Nassau Street in downtown Princeton. I knew I’d love working with her the minute I found out she’s also from Indiana and, like me, adores that state’s flower – the peony.

Every year, when there’s still a nip in the air, we walk the yard, plan – and dream. Knowing I’ll soon see pink peonies and splashes of my favorite color, purple, makes those chilly rainy days pass in a flash.

From the start, Polly convinced me of the importance of also incorporating deer-resistant, drought-tolerant native plants and shrubs into as natural-looking a setting as possible. With native plants (largely resistant to pests and diseases and requiring little or no irrigation or fertilizer), you help maintain a natural ecology, which is good for all of us. Plus, they attract wonderful songbirds and butterflies – and remind me of home.

Since I have a lot of shade and a number of mature trees, it’s been a real trick to introduce color. But over the last eight years, Polly’s done a great job blending together ornamental grasses and green-on-green hostas and hellebores with blooming perennial borders.

As you can see from the photos, the overall effect is one of peace and serenity, versus showy formality. Instead of high drama, I prefer elegant touches like my beloved osage-orange arbor.

Whether you like growing prize tomatoes or purple hydrangeas, I hope it’s a good year for your garden. The Farmers’ Almanac is predicting unseasonably hot and dry weather for those of us out East, but I’m hopeful I’ll still be enjoying my backyard oasis come September.

Let me know your greatest gardening challenge – and how you overcame it – by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Score Big with Top Golf Products

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

It takes a lot of imagination to devise cool new products for a game as old as golf, which began in Scotland way back during the Middle Ages.

And now that I’m in my middle age, I’m not afraid to make a confession: I’m not a golfer. I know that for a businessman, that’s about as crazy as saying I don’t like making money, but it’s the truth. That said, I am really impressed with the batch of golf products Joe “The Joe Show” Haley recently compiled in honor of this Sunday’s Father’s Day.

To see all the pics and watch Joe’s video demo, click here.

The ad specialties below can be easily branded by any number of companies and charitable organizations to reward tournament winners and to advertise a brand, club, group or greens any time of the year:

  • Golf bag, from King Par (asi/64861). A lightweight, multi-pocket golf bag with retractable legs is the perfect high-end gift for executives or as a prize for tournament winners.
  • Umbrella, from Windbrella (asi/97247). Every golfer needs an umbrella that is oversized and has vents to prevent the wind from turning it inside out. Imprint a school or company logo on this model’s panels.
  • Cover keeper, from Eisinger Smith Inc. (asi/51810). Golfers love to protect their clubs, but the problem with golf club covers is that they tend to disappear, like the missing sock during a wash cycle. The cover keeper ensures that once the club has been removed, the cover doesn’t stray.
  • Spotless Swing 3-in-1 towel, from Pro Towels Etc. (asi/79750). This 3-in-1 golf towel has a carabiner so it easily attaches to any loop on a golf bag. It has three surfaces: inside for muddy clubs, a grooved towel for irons and the outside surface for hands and faces.
  • Ball marker, from Tin Cup Products (asi/91354). Make like a pro golfer and use a similar felt-tipped marker and tin cup to mark yours, too.
  • Hook/slice correcting ball, from Polara Golf (asi/78841). The average duffer has one of two unwanted habits: either hooking or slicing the ball too often. This ball can correct those tendencies by 75%, which means straighter drives from the tee box.
  • Flag, from Quinn Flags (asi/80228). Golf outing organizers can give away customized flags at day’s end so golfers have something to remember them by.
  • Divot tool set, from EMT (asi/52263). The switchblade-action divot repair tool comes in a gift tin and includes three ball markers that adhere to the unit via a magnet. The ball markers and tin can be totally customized.
  • Shot glass, from Crown Products (asi/47700). Now for something completely different – this shot glass is made of food-grade silicone and will not break, even if it’s run over by a car. But the neat thing is it has a dimple on the bottom, and when turned over it can actually be used as a golf tee. A fun giveaway for a charity golf event.
  • Wristlok bracelet, from Fey Promotional Products Group (asi/54040). Comes with removable tabs and is perfect for golf outings. Each tab can be used for a drink or to participate in contests like longest drive or closest to the pin.
  • Cap with ball marker, from Headwear USA (asi/60282). Many golfers wear a cap or visor when golfing. This cap features a unique magnetized ball marker.
  • Award, from Proactive Sports (asi/79682). At the end of the day, a glazed ceramic award with polished chrome finish that comes in three different sizes is the perfect prize.

Let me know what golf gifts resonated with your clients this year by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Know Your Audience

Filed under: Community, Guest Blog, Using Ad Specialties

First, let me say it’s an honor to be asked to guest post on Tim’s personal blog. It’s a slight change of pace for me. Most of the guest blog experience I’ve had has been on the BELLwether Blog, where rock star Michele Bell allows me to express my less politically correct side – a side she affectionately refers to as “El Diablo.” For this space I’ll tone it down in the interest of continuing to receive a paycheck.

Now that the kissing up is out of the way …

In early May I attended the Mashable Connect 2012 conference at the beautiful Contemporary Resort in Walt Disney World. Mashable is the largest independent online news site dedicated to covering digital culture, social media and technology. This meeting brings together the uber-smart, doing the hippest and most forward-thinking things. To say I felt like the dumbest person in the room is an understatement. Yes, I came away with a ton of ideas (none I’ll share here as I plan to use them to get you to buy stuff), but I also came away extremely impressed with the use of promotional products at the event. Not just in the quality, but how the conference organizers and sponsors really “knew” their audience.

Let’s start with registration. Prior to dinner I took a stroll down to the registration desk to pick up my badge and other materials. Well, I’ll be honest – through the online social community that was set up for attendees, I’d heard there would be a pretty killer goodie bag. And I was not disappointed. Included in the logoed tote was a mini screen cleaner, adhesive whiteboard cards and marker, a mini Etch A Sketch for passing the time, a laptop sleeve, a sweet pair of shades with case from Norwood (asi/74400), a bag of trail mix, two Gildan T-shirts and an awesome Power Stick portable charger from Ecosol Solar Technologies (asi/51566). Quite a haul, right?

Later, while relaxing in my room, I received a knock on the door and was greeted with a present from the nice folks with Disney’s social media team: a super-cool logoed USB hub from Prime Line (asi/79530), and, of course, a bag of Chip and Dale pretzels.

The next day, I found the funniest example of knowing your audience. One of the sponsors, Definition 6, gave out hangover kits. Included was a bottle of water, a Clif Bar, Advil, Alka-Seltzer and a 5-hour Energy shot – which I’m sure a good number of attendees were thankful to receive. For some reason mine didn’t make it home. Must have left it in the room. Believable? Didn’t think so.

To put it simply, everyone involved did it right. Hosts and sponsors knew the attendees were primarily tech geeks, and with only 200 people there, could go a little bit higher-end. When done right, companies can use events to leave a lasting positive impression on the individuals in attendance. Think about the last event you went to; there were most likely plenty of sponsors. Which ones do you remember? It’s the ones that seemed to do just a little bit extra. Keep this in mind when pitching your proposal for your client’s next event. And now for the plug … Using ESP®’s Event Planner, you can easily put together a winning proposal, at a variety of price points, that your clients will love.

Check out the video by clicking here to see all these items and more. And please follow me on twitter @ccgraf.

– Colin Graf, ASI® marketing director of supplier membership/digital advertising

Adobe and ASI: Perfect Together

Filed under: News About ASI, Using Ad Specialties

When it comes to images, one of the first things that pops into mind when I think of clear, crisp visuals is “Adobe.” They’re synonymous in the same way as, say, fine engineering and BMW or terrific T-bones and Peter Luger Steakhouse.

Which is why when it came time to choose a company to provide members with state-of-the-art graphic features across the ESP® platform, ASI® chose Adobe, the undisputed platinum standard in virtual sampling technology.

ASI’s virtual sample tool sets an industry standard for simplicity and effectiveness. It’s an easy-to-use, “no-click” solution where a logo is uploaded to ESP Web and then applied automatically to every product that is virtual sample-ready.

Out of the box, over 100,000 products are virtual sample-ready in ESP Web. Thousands of products are added daily, and the number will soon exceed hundreds of thousands.

Features of Adobe’s leading sampling technology include:

  • Easy operation. Add a logo once and it’s automatically applied to all virtual sample-ready products. Add text, too.
  • Perfect sizing and placement. Once a logo is applied, it always appears at the proper size and in the right spot.
  • Quick switch. Update new logos in a snap.

Virtual samples are free for all ESP users and available now. The new Adobe solution will upgrade the current virtual-sample tool in ESP Online in late June.

LogoMall® and other website customers interested in upgrading to ASI’s ESP Websites should visit www.asicentral.com/ESPwebsites. Call (800) 546-1350 and ask to speak to your account executive to sign up for ESP.

And please let me know what you think of our new virtual reality by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.