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A Few Words from Norman Cohn

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

I recently attended the 2012 ASI® Power Summit in Naples, Florida, a wonderful annual gathering of about 250 of this industry’s most respected leaders.

During one of our dinners, I had a chance to address the group and to thank everyone on behalf of ASI CEO Tim Andrews, the ASI team and our family for taking the time to attend, learn and benefit from the summit. I wanted to make sure that when participants returned home, they could ask themselves a simple question – Was it worth your time to attend? ­– and get a resounding “YES!” as an answer.

At every Power Summit, we do everything possible to ensure everyone has a great learning and networking experience. And that’s because we want all of you to come to the next Power Summit, Sunday, September 15 to Tuesday, September 17, 2013, at the Montage Deer Valley Resort in Park City, UT.

As I said in my remarks, over the years, I’ve witnessed tremendous changes to this industry – and to ASI. But one thing has stayed very much the same: my family’s involvement and love for this business.

It’s been incredible to witness the involvement over the years of our multiple generations, including my mother and father, of blessed memory.

I’m proud to continue to work alongside my wife of 47 years, Suzanne, and my son, Matthew, and daughter, Stephanie, who I’m sure you’ve seen at our trade shows. Our other three children have been involved over the years, and already some of our 10 grandchildren are working as interns.

Throughout more than 60 years in this business, I’ve learned an awful lot. At the summit, I shared five of the most valuable things I’ve learned, and I’d like to share them with all of you as well:

  1. Businesses will always need advertising to get out their message. And the best way to advertise remains ad specialties, which provide the best ROI of almost any media. Businesses that don’t advertise will soon be advertising their business for sale!
  2. You will never be the lowest-cost provider. Someone will always sell cheaper. So sell ideas, not products.
  3. This is one my father taught me: In business, you must always have honesty and integrity. If you give your word, you keep your word.
  4. To keep growing, our industry needs to educate participants, including every sales and customer service person. A great way to prove you are serious is to pass an ASI BASI and MASI test and wear the pin as I do.
  5. One person can’t solve all the world’s problems – but one person can help make the world a better place.  Make a difference, however you can.

Hug your family and God bless America. Thank you.

­– Norman Cohn, ASI Chairman of the Board

Pictured above at the 2012 Power Summit, from left: Jon Sloan, Jill Stirnkorb, Lori Bauer, Norman Cohn and Tom Savio


ASI Releases Landmark Research Study

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

This week, ASI® released the Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study V.3, which contains the most powerful data available to convince clients of the cost-effectiveness of promotional products.

Unveiled at the 2012 ASI Power Summit in Naples, Florida, this definitive research study shows customers, prospects and end-buyers how promotional products can increase sales and brand exposure.

I encourage you to circulate this study as widely as possible, and to visit a specially-designed Web page on asicentral.com for a downloadable PDF, convincing graphics specific to each and every highlight, and a video. Each chart can be seen in full-screen format – and comes with a “recommend” button to share via social networks. Just click here to access these valuable tools. And to Tweet about the results, use this link: http://bit.ly/SHWqEQ.

For the study, conducted from July through September of 2012, ASI’s ace research team hit the streets and interviewed consumers in 12 North American and European cities. The results show promotional products are consistently popular and persistent, with most people owning about 10 items they generally keep for nearly six months, a far longer time period than any other form of advertising.

In addition, the study shows promotional products give consumers a more favorable impression of advertisers in every international city surveyed and deliver commanding advertiser recall among 87% of all recipients – up four percentage points over 2010.

The study – ASI’s third since 2008 – clearly shows that with a cost per impression at about half a penny, promo products offer the best value when compared to local TV or radio, at a fraction of the production cost.

The V.3 study includes demographic information broken down by political affiliation, ethnicity, gender, age and income, since knowing the likely recipient of products is paramount for an advertiser. This year, the comprehensive report includes even more global markets and additional products, such as USBs.

Armed with all of this data, distributors can target an audience and confidently recommend the best, most effective products and ideas to clients.

Other highlights from the study include:

  • Worldwide Wow. Over one-half (52%) of the time, products give consumers a more favorable impression of the advertiser, a trend seen in every country surveyed.
  • Generating New Business. One-third of U.S. consumers say they are more likely to do business with an advertiser after getting their logoed product.
  • Latino Market Magnet. At 54%, Latino consumers own the most promotional T-shirts.
  • Mais Oui. Parisians are far more likely to own promotional USB drives than consumers in other cities, with 27% owning them, versus 9% of U.S. consumers.
  • Safe, Healthy Cities. In Dallas and Montreal, 11% of consumers own promotional health and safety items, versus the U.S. average of 8%.
  • Top 3 Products. Writing instruments (50%), shirts (43%) and bags (29%) were the most popular products by category in the U.S.
  • Superior Pass-Along Value. Sixty-six percent of U.S. respondents give away unwanted items to someone else, up 15 percentage points from 2008.
  • Bags are Big. In the U.S., 29% of consumers who own promo products own a promotional bag, with Asian consumers owning the most of any racial demographic.
  • Cap-Tastic. White men are the most likely demographic group to own branded caps, versus 15% of African Americans and 12% of women.
  • Cheers. Gen-Xers and older own more promotional drinkware than those under 35. Of 12 cities surveyed, Philadelphians love logoed mugs and glasses the most, with 21% of Philly consumers owning promotional drinkware.
  • You Wear it Well. Higher wage earners are more likely to own a promotional jacket.

It’s now up to you to read the study in its entirety, download the graphics that will help you on your sales calls, and spread the word about the power of promotional products every chance you get.

Please let me know how you plan to use this study in your business by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Nice Guys Finish First

Filed under: Community, Members, News About ASI

Every year at this time, the most powerful executives in our industry are named to the prestigious Counselor® Power 50 list. Names move up, names move down – and some names disappear altogether. The consistency is found in the passion and professionalism everyone on the list brings to our industry.

This year is no exception, starting with the No. 1 name on the list – Marty Lott.

Low-key, hardworking and famously dedicated to his employees, Marty is an industry mainstay you’re happy to see applauded. After more than 40 years of dedicated service in a tough business, he’s earned it.

A 2007 Supplier of the Year and routine winner of Distributor Choice Awards, the company Marty started in 1971 in his parents’ Seattle basement is consistently ranked top-notch by the people who count the most: its loyal customers.

We happily celebrated Marty and the other Power 50 leaders Monday night at a beach-side dinner at the sixth annual ASI® Power Summit at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Florida. At right, a few pics, of me with iPROMOTEu’s Samantha Kates Gotlib, and with Casey and Sydra Newell.

We’re learning a lot from our keynote speakers and panelists at this year’s industry confab – but some of the most valuable insight has come from the ad hoc discussions that continue on long after the last official topic is exhausted. Keynote speaker Cindy Gallop discussed the future of brand promotion and keynoter Donna Burnette, a leader in the FranklinCovey Global Speed of Trust practice, guided us through a fascinating interactive workshop to help us figure out how to increase and leverage trust in our daily business lives.

Sunday, ASI’s chairman of the board, Norman Cohn shared his thoughts on 60 years in this business – he started out as a distributor and then worked as a supplier before his family acquired this company. Amazingly, Norman turns 80 in January – and he’s still as busy and insightful as ever.

Whether they’re meeting over drinks, dinner, golf, speed networking or a fast game of trivial pursuit, everyone here has a chance to connect with potential new business partners – and our Power 50 executives.

If you made the 2012 list, congratulations! If you’re still aspiring for a slot, click here to check out your competition. You can get some incentive from the five newcomers on this year’s list:

  • Dale Adams, Omnicom DAS
  • Emmanuel Bruno, Norwood & BIC Graphic North America (asi/40480)
  • Sharon, Taly and Ely Eyal, ETS Express (asi/51197)
  • Joe Fleming, Hub Pen (asi/61966)
  • Alan Chippindale, BrandAlliance (asi/268940)

To learn more about the men and women ranked 2012’s most powerful, don’t forget to check out the December issue of Counselor magazine. And let me know what you think of this year’s list by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Another Super Shopping Solution

Filed under: News About ASI

Powered by ESP, ASI’s latest online marketing tool – ESP Websites for Suppliers – provides one-stop branding, enabling suppliers to display all of their products on their own instantly-recognized site. I liken the ESP Websites platform to having an online business co-pilot at the ready, one that can help any sized company bolster sales and facilitate easy management of any business.

By providing suppliers with the same website and e-commerce services as our popular ESP Websites for distributors, we hope to further facilitate sales because, in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Already, more than 370 ASI suppliers are going live with their ESP Website, which means faster, easier sales to distributors thanks to advanced features like virtual sample-enabled images and secure, distributor-only online shopping.

Other features include:

  • Improved merchandising. Each ESP Website for suppliers is optimized for showcasing more products at once. Each time the home page is refreshed, a new set of products is visible to potential distributor buyers.
  • World-class shopping engine. Employing the same Internet shopping engine used by Walmart and Crate & Barrel enables distributors to quickly, easily locate products.
  • Social media links. One-click connection to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts allows distributors to share their favorite products.
  • Customizable content. Pick and choose the exact info most important to customers.

At ASI, member safety and security are number one considerations. So right from the get-go, we placed added emphasis on the end-buyer-safe design of our latest launch, making sure net pricing, shopping cart and supplier information would not be visible without a distributor logging in with his or her ESP credentials.

If you haven’t already checked it out, please preview ESP Websites for Suppliers by clicking here. And if you need any more information, contact your ASI account executive at 1 (800) 546-1350, or e-mail espadvertising@asicentral.com.

If you’re already on board, please let me know what you think by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Four More Years

Filed under: Community

Now that the election is over, here’s hoping we can do what both candidates suggested in their final campaign speeches: move forward and get the country working again.

I’m sure every business in America, no matter who they supported, is waiting to see the impact of the full implementation of Obamacare, tax rates, interest rates and lending. The health care law alone will be nearly fully implemented in 2014.

Clearly, this was a hard-fought victory for President Obama, who held an advantage of about 700,000 in the popular vote early Wednesday. Polls teetered throughout the summer, and even the U.S. Gallup Poll conducted November 1-5 among likely voters showed Romney over Obama by 1 point, 49% vs. 48%, respectively.

ASI’s own poll among members showed Mitt Romney as the preferred presidential candidate, holding a commanding 41-point lead over President Obama, 70% to 29%.

But no matter who you supported, the election did provide a substantial boon to our industry.

Nearly half of all distributors sell election-related items like yard signs, flyers, pins, buttons and T-shirts used by campaigns and special interest groups to promote their candidate or cause.  When we added it all up, ASI estimated total election-related ad specialty spending in 2012 would hit $870 million.

I’m curious as to trends in ad specialty items sold. If your company did sell election-related items, what did you observe? I know yard signs are typically more popular in local races versus a national election, but I couldn’t help noticing their absence in my own neighborhood. What was your biggest seller?

In closing, I can only echo what Romney said in his concession speech from Boston: “This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation.”


And the Winner Is … Democracy

Filed under: Community, Members, Research

With the presidential race in a virtual dead heat and voting in many places along the East Coast still a struggle because of the storm, who knows how long it will be before we have a final decision? No matter who finally wins, I just hope everyone exercised their hard-fought right to vote. If our members are any indication, however, it’ll be President Romney come January.

We polled members on ASICentral.com in September, October and November. Results from the November poll were compared with those from the Gallup Poll conducted November 1-5 among likely voters.

Here’s what we found:

  • Among ASI members, Mitt Romney is the preferred presidential candidate, holding a commanding 41-point lead over President Barack Obama, 70% to 29%. This contrasts with U.S. Gallup Poll results, which show Romney over Obama by 1 point among likely voters, 49% vs. 48%, respectively.
  • The October debates may have had a large influence on ASI members, as three-quarters considered them important in selecting a candidate, and Romney’s margin as the candidate of choice and predicted winner increased substantially in ASI polls.

  • Romney supporters are more likely than Obama supporters to be owners (68%), senior executives (72%) or sales reps (56%), while Obama supporters are more likely to work in customer service (45%).

  • While Romney is the preferred candidate among both male and female members, nationally Romney is stronger among male voters while Obama is stronger with female voters.

  • ASI members by all age classifications prefer Mitt Romney over Barack Obama. But the preference grows as the member age category increases. This is also the trend in the national Gallup Poll, but with a greater proportion of respondents favoring Obama in all age classifications.

  • Increasingly more ASI members predict Romney will win the election. Two-thirds (66%) indicated they thought he would win in the November poll, vs. only 53% in the September poll and 68% in the October poll.

Let me know if you voted yet and, if you’re in an area hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, if you had any trouble getting to the polls, by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


    After Sandy: An ASI Industry Update

    Filed under: Community, News About ASI

    It’s now been a few days, but the East Coast and beyond remains in a state of crisis after Hurricane Sandy hit.

    Please keep in mind as you attempt to reach customers and colleagues that millions remain without power and many towns remain flooded.  Gasoline is becoming a scarce commodity and not being able to travel is looming as a real possibility.

    So far, the hurricane is responsible for at least 133 deaths in the Caribbean, the U.S. and Canada. As news reports continue to come in, it’s clear we will feel the effects of Sandy for months, even years, to come.

    Like more than two million households in New Jersey, my home in Princeton lost power.  Here, I’ve posted a couple of photos, taken standing at the end of my driveway looking left and right.  The trees are bigger in person!  Luckily, I have a generator (purchased after Hurricane Irene dumped three feet of water into my basement last year) so I opened my doors to friends in need of a dry, safe place to stay.

    Two of my new temporary housemates live in Hoboken, N.J., a city of 50,000 people across the Hudson River from Manhattan.  Hoboken has been devastated by flooding and the National Guard recently swept through to evacuate many residents in need.  I can’t imagine what it’s like in New York City at nightfall with the lights still out in so many areas.   Friends live in a building with 11 feet of water in the basement.  And, as of Wednesday, about 90% of Long Island remained without power.

    Communities are starting to get help, and everyone appears to be working together to help their neighbors. President Obama was in New Jersey, touring the inundated Jersey Shore with Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican.   It was refreshing to see our elected officials putting aside politics in favor of the citizenry.

    If you haven’t yet seen this National Guard footage, shot from the air over Seaside Heights, N.J., one of the hardest-hit shore towns, click here. It really puts things in perspective. An 82-year-old resident of Sea Bright, N.J., said in an interview he’s never seen anything like the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy – and he’s witnessed the very worst of the big storms over the years.

    If you want to help those affected, one of the best things you can do right now is text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. They will buy and distribute the supplies needed most.

    As I wrote in an e-mail to members, ASI® is here to help our members.

    If your business is affected in any way, we can help spread the word. Please e-mail closures, service disruptions or power outages to feedback@asicentral.com or post it to ASI’s Facebook page. We’re posting continuous updates to ASI Central’s home page and will tweet your status as well. For further industry news updates, follow Counselor® PromoGram.

    Throughout the storm, all ASI products and services were secure, safe and actively monitored. The company – located outside Philadelphia – officially closed Monday and Tuesday, but we are now back in business. However, about half of our staff remains out of the office, dealing with storm-related issues. ASI is continually returning voice and e-mail messages, but please be patient if you’re trying to reach someone – and turn to asicentral.com for answers to basic questions.

    In our complex we’re proud to be loaning our parking lot to many of the out-of-state utility crews working to restore power.  Their big trucks are here overnight, while the drivers and repair crews are staying at a hotel next door.  The pic at top is from a recent prep rodeo.

    Please let me know how you, your community and your business is faring by posting a comment or e-mailing me here.