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5,500 ESP Websites … And Counting

Filed under: News About ASI, Using Ad Specialties

Everyone loves celebrating milestones, whether it’s a birthday, graduation or even billions of burgers sold. Here at ASI®, we’re commemorating ESP Websites surpassing 5,500 published sites.

It’s worth noting because ESP Websites have attracted distributors in droves since launch, with over 5,500 sites already live and thousands more waiting in the wings. In response, our tech team has worked double time on upgrades and recently announced an additional 50 new features, including:

  • More videos. Manage up to 50 product videos – seven times more than before – to demo how products work and look.
  • Custom products. Copy a product to create a custom product – and choose how it’s displayed: shared or private.
  • Easier filtering. Breeze through over 130 templates, which now include popular filters like Logo Size, Video, Social Feed, Google Maps and Left Navigation.
  • Super socialization. Share products directly on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – and now Pinterest.
  • Virtually a snap. Easier interface on display settings for Adobe-powered virtual samples as shoppers automatically see their logos on more than 100,000 products.

We’ve also gotten rave reviews, including an “awesome” endorsement from Lisa Marks, owner of On Your Marks (asi/351700), which is powered by The Vernon Company. Marks now has 10 ESP Websites and is certain she’ll see an increase in business over the next 12 months as a result.

“Searchability for our customers is paramount, and we now have an easy solution for them,” Marks told us. “It’s enabled us to compete for new types of business and easily integrates with our e-mail marketing. Plus, we can easily customize our client sites, making them more individualized. But you don’t have to be a Web designer/expert by any stretch – and when you need ASI support, they’re great.”

For more info on getting your own ESP Website (LogoMall® customers, by the way, can upgrade for free), click here or call (855) 240-9360.

If your company is one of the 5,500 or so who helped ASI reach this milestone, let me know what you think of ESP Websites by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

P.S. In case you’re wondering what burger milestone McDonald’s has reached, it’s over 247 billion sold – and counting. With ASI Dallas coming up next week, I’ve got beef on the brain. Any guesstimates on how many burgers each cow can potentially make???

Celebrating the Industry in Orlando

Filed under: ASI Shows, Community, Members, News About ASI

We’ve enjoyed one incredible event after another here at ASI Orlando, including a truly fabulous 80th birthday party for ASI® Chairman Norman Cohn, a super-energized crowd at the 2013 Counselor® Distributor Choice Awards and a standing-room-only keynote by expert economist and political commentator Steve Forbes.

Turns out, Forbes – a very thoughtful guy who provided us with tons of solid business advice – is also very funny. “It’s great to see so much energy,” he said after being greeted by thunderous applause. “I wish we had such energy in Washington.”

A conservative Republican who once ran for president, Forbes was optimistic about the future, despite “headwinds” like an antiquated tax code and a weakened American dollar.

“Many amazing things are about to happen,” the Forbes Media chairman told a crowd of about 900 people (so many we had to keep bringing in extra chairs). “We’ll have major advances in health care, and America will become a manufacturing giant again thanks to our brainpower and technology.”

Orlando really has been one great celebration after another. Sunday night, we celebrated suppliers at the 2013Counselor Distributor Choice Awards (sponsored by AIA Corporation, Crystal Sensations, Dunbrooke, and Moderne Glass Company). Taking home the top prize was Top 40 supplier The Magnet Group (asi/68507), which was named Supplier of the Year.

In accepting the award, Magnet CEO Bill Korowitz graciously thanked his employees in a heartfelt speech. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know Bill, personally and as a member of the ASI Advisory Board, and have come to really appreciate his calm, thoughtful and reasoned side. If I had to sum him up, I’d say he’s just the kind of guy you’d like to have as your neighbor. In business, he’s always willing to try new approaches and on those rare occasions when he’s wrong, he’s always willing to admit it.

In addition, over many whoops and hollers from a very enthusiastic crowd, we announced supplier winners in 59 different product categories – including three new categories of blankets, coolers and hospitality items. In all, 42 suppliers won awards at the ceremony, which honor suppliers for their service and dedication to their distributor customers.

For more info and a list of all the winners, click here.

Before the ceremony started, ASI’s chairman of the board, Norman Cohn, took a few moments to share his thoughts on another industry icon – former ASI president Marvin Spike, who recently passed away.

“Marvin was an extremely passionate supporter of the advertising specialty industry,” Norman said. “He will have forever left his mark not only on ASI, but on the entire industry. Marvin cared about each ASI member as if they were his own family. He was a loyal friend, leader and contributor to the entire industry. I am proud to have called Marvin a close friend. His life defined integrity and he will be missed.”

Unbelievably, Norman – a very familiar presence at all ASI Shows – just turned 80. On Saturday, we celebrated with a lovely party at the Walt Disney World Resort. While it’s hard to keep anything a secret in this industry, somehow we managed to keep the ultimate destination a secret for weeks.

After a champagne toast, the invited guests (who still didn’t have a clue where we were headed) were loaded onto three buses and whisked away to a private backstage-access area at the park. After riding in giant clamshells through an amazing 3-D attraction based on the “Finding Nemo” movie, we were treated to four different buffets of Norman’s favorite foods (including ’50s diner food and his very favorite, pigs in a blanket), 12-foot-tall calypso dancers, dueling pianos and even an enormous dolphin viewing tank, complete with an actual deep-sea diver.

As the birthday cake was wheeled out, ASI Vice Chairman Matthew Cohn called the celebration “an intimate evening of things my dad loves. He loves this industry and he loves his family.” As I said in my toast, many of us wouldn’t even be in this industry without Norman Cohn – who really is the sun in our ASI universe.

In my favorite moment of the night, Norman thanked all his guests, making special mention of his “trophy wife of 48 years,” calling Suzanne Cohn “the reason I’m so lucky in life.”

In true Norman fashion, he was wise, funny – and very, very grateful. “I’ve been active in this industry for 60-plus years and I’ve seen a lot of change and growth,” he told us. “But one thing never changes – my family loves this industry and this business … Hug your family, God bless America and thank you all for being here.”

After a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday,” we got all decked out in light-up hats, lanyards, glasses and rings for a final treat: dessert, coffee and front-row seats to a mesmerizing fireworks, laser and water show.

All in all, it was a really special occasion.

Off and Running in Orlando

Filed under: ASI Shows, Members, News About ASI

ASI kicked off the first show of 2013 with something familiar – an opening seminar detailing how to get the most of your trade show experience – and something new: me at the helm. I stood in for ASI Vice-Chairman Matthew Cohn after his plane was delayed and had a terrific time greeting the 230+ gathered for a quick intro to ASI Orlando.

The response tells me everyone with us in Florida is eager to hit the ground running. Personally, I’m more excited about the 2013 show season than I’ve been in years.

My best advice is to make the most out of your time on the show floor. One way is to spend as much quality time as possible in each supplier’s booth, talking to them about your sales challenges and getting some new ideas on the best ways to sell their products. In short, don’t just scan and go. Look, learn and listen.

And if you see a really terrific booth, with innovative signage, an interesting design, etc., vote for it by texting the booth number to 22333 – it’s free.

Please also make sure you fill out the feedback forms after each class as we really want to know what worked and what didn’t so we can further improve your trade show experience. And always take home or download your show directory (mobile app: www.asishow.com/orlando) as it’s an information-packed resource you can refer to throughout the year.

I’ve already said hello to a ton of people and I encourage all of you to do the same, whether it’s at one of our receptions or events, walking the show floor or stopping by one of three Happy Hours sponsored by Broder, Logomark and Impact Advertising in booths #1501, #801 and #525. When I opened the floor to questions after my talk, the first question was “What are those booth numbers again?” I guess there’s no better way to draw a crowd than free beer!

As always I want to know your impressions so if you’re in Orlando, post a comment or e-mail me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Here’s to a great new year – and an amazing show.

Orlando, Here We Come

Filed under: ASI Shows, Community, Members, News About ASI

ASI is kicking off the 2013 show season in a big way, with a major event in Orlando featuring expanded education, a newly redesigned show floor, three specialized pavilions, two networking receptions and a Gala Celebration at Universal CityWalk.

In addition, we’re celebrating the recent 80th birthday of ASI Chairman Norman Cohn, starting with a party held in his honor Saturday night. The only thing Norman asked is we throw a party, “where people will have fun and be glad they came.” A larger celebration with a birthday cake will be held Monday 4-4:30 p.m. during the Closing Celebration, featuring the Passport to Winnings drawing.

We’ll get down to the serious business of the economy Monday morning – with a keynote by Forbes Media Chairman Steve Forbes (co-sponsored by Pepco Poms, asi/77280, and Showdown Displays, asi/87188.) I’m sure Forbes will have some pretty firm opinions on how the last-minute, New Year’s legislation will impact small business tax incentives of particular interest to so many of our members.

ASI Orlando takes place Saturday, Sunday and Monday at the Orange County Convention Center, an enormous complex owned and operated by Orange County government and located in the heart of the area’s tourism district. Thanks to its many conveniences, it’s a great place to host a show.

This year, anyone attending ASI shows will enjoy an expanded slate of ASI Education classes, including a new series of seminars for owners.

Of course, all education sessions are eligible for credits toward BASI (Bachelor of Advertising Specialty Information) and MASI (Master of Advertising Specialty Information) certification. In Orlando, our newest graduates of the free ASI Certification Program will be honored at a special reception and on-stage pinning ceremony before the Forbes keynote.

We’re especially looking forward to the leading companies launching their 2013 sales season with meetings at The ASI Show Orlando, including Brown & Bigelow (asi/148500), The Vernon Company (asi/351700), AIA Corporation (asi/109480) and Geiger (asi/202900).

Finally, on Sunday, we’ll honor 270 of the industry’s top-performing suppliers as well as the 2013 Supplier of the Year at the annual Counselor Distributor Choice Awards.

Be sure to check www.asicentral.com for complete coverage of the show, including blogs and videos.

If all that wasn’t enough, I’m personally looking forward to leaving behind the N.J. cold for  Florida temps in the 70s!

And if you haven’t registered already, upcoming 2013 ASI Shows are Dallas (February 6-8), Long Beach (March 22-24), New York (May 8-9) and Chicago (July 16-18). To learn more about exhibiting or sponsorship opportunities for 2013, contact Karen DiTomasso, vice president of sales, at kditomasso@asicentral.com.

If you’re in Orlando, please let me know what you think of the show’s new features by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.