January 3, 2013
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 27, 2012
The end of one year and the start of another offers a great opportunity for reflection. Above all, it’s the perfect time to think not of ourselves, but of others, and to ask if we did enough to help friends and neighbors who might be in need. As Norman Cohn, ASI’s chairman of the board, is fond of reminding us, “One person can make a difference.”
I was especially heartened by the way this industry responded after Hurricane Sandy devastated so much of New York City, Long Island and the Jersey Shore. Generous assistance came from numerous corners and in many forms, through fundraising, food and supply drives organized by dozens of suppliers and distributors.
Here at ASI®, we’re involved in a number of charitable initiatives that promote the idea of “goodwill toward men” (and women) all year long. I’d like to share some of our most important activities, which might give you ideas on what companies and employees can accomplish by working together toward a common goal:
Employee Turkey and Pie Giveaway. Each November, the Cohn family shows their thanks to employees by giving them a choice of a free Thanksgiving turkey or pie. This year, we distributed 270 turkeys and 280 pies. The pies specifically benefited the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA) Pie in the Sky charity of Philadelphia. It works like this: Every pie ASI bought provided a fresh, hot, homemade Thanksgiving dinner that served four, delivered right to the door of a MANNA client coping with a life-threatening illness and at acute nutritional risk as a result.
Promotional Products Education Foundation. PPEF benefits the children of employees in the industry through several types of scholarships. ASI has already donated $110,000 to the foundation.
Annual Holiday Gift Drive. Every December, hundreds of ASI employees donate money to buy gifts for area families living in or receiving services through a homeless shelter run by the Family Service Association of Bucks County, PA. This year, we purchased a total of $6,279 worth of gifts, which helped people in need while allowing volunteers to feel good about doing their part.
Helping Cure Diabetes. In the past five years, the daughters of ASI Co-Chairman Matthew Cohn, Sydney and Mackenzie, have raised over $2 million to help fund research for Type 1, or juvenile diabetes, a devastating disease that affects millions of people, including a large and growing percentage of children like them (www.cohnsisters.com). In the last year alone, the girls raised a record $500,000+ through fundraisers like an annual JDRF walk for the cure in Philadelphia. JDRF is the world’s largest charitable funder of diabetes research.
American Red Cross. Every year, ASI’s administrative staff puts together a wonderful silent auction to raise money for the American Red Cross using sample promotional products sent by suppliers and featured in ASI magazines. This year, they raised a record-breaking $3,000 – a total ASI Chairman of the Board Norman Cohn matched through the United Way, for a grand total of $6,000 donated to our local Red Cross chapter here in Pennsylvania. In addition, employees have donated a total of 892 pints of blood.
United Way. Each year ASI matches any funds employees donate to United Way agencies. This year, ASI and its employees contributed a total of $20,640 to the United Way of Bucks County, PA. Last year ASI donated $16,578.
A Woman’s Place. A shelter for battered women located in Doylestown, PA. Since October 2006, more than 100 used cell phones have been donated by ASI employees, to be used only for emergency calls to 911.
The Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House. Each December, employees donate whatever they can to get a photo taken with Santa to benefit the local Ronald McDonald House, which provides a home away from home for families of critically ill children receiving treatment at local hospitals. So far, ASI has donated $2,675.
Dress for Success/Work-N-Style for Men/MenzFit. Provides interview-appropriate clothing to Philadelphia area low-income men and women entering or reentering the job market. So far, employees have donated 741 pieces of clothing, shoes and accessories.
Hometown Initiatives. As a way of giving back to my Indiana hometown, I started a food bank endowment that’s now close to $100,000, along with a separate charitable activity in Hope called the Hawcreek/Flat Rock Endowment Fund, whose endowment has already reached nearly $500,000. In my adopted hometown of Princeton, N.J., I’m heavily involved as a board member and former board president of the Arts Council of Princeton, which provides hundreds of free and reduced-price art courses for kids, and as a trustee of the McCarter Theatre Center for the Performing Arts.
These are just some of the initiatives we believe in here at ASI. As we enjoy holiday festivities, let’s all pause to give thanks for having enough to be able to give back – and to think about ways we might contribute to the greater good in 2013 and beyond.
December 18, 2012
In today’s online age, there’s really no better way to impress new and even existing clients than with a customized microsite that shows off their brand in action, which is why ASI® just launched the all-new Company Stores.
Powered by ESP Websites, Company Stores represent the next generation of online selling. It’s fast, easy – and impressive. All you do is choose from ASI’s slate of online templates, stock it with up to 1,000 products, click once to add your client’s logo and voila: a branded store for your best customers.
Click here for more info or call your account executive at (800) 546-1350.
ESP Websites™ Company Stores highlights include:
Hopefully, you were able to join ASI’s user experience VP, Rob Watson, for a demo of Company Stores. Stay tuned for more upcoming webinars and demos, as it’s really the best way to test drive ASI’s latest products and feature updates.
December 13, 2012
One of the liveliest discussions at the recent ASI® Power Summit concerned a hot-button issue important to so many of you: whether to hire from inside or outside the industry. I used that discussion as a springboard to a favor I asked of the 250 industry movers and shakers gathered in Florida.
In the summit’s closing moments I asked everyone in the audience to hire one minority sometime in the next year. “Don’t hire someone like me,” I said. “We don’t need more 50-year-old white males!”
It’s not surprising so many of you look just like me since white males outnumber everyone else in our industry. But if the presidential election taught us anything, it’s that the country’s demographics are changing – fast.
According to a study released days after the election by the non-partisan Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans backed Obama by huge margins and helped him win. (To read the full report, click here).
Fully 89% of Mitt Romney’s supporters were white non-Hispanics, compared with just 56% of Obama’s. If this industry doesn’t get with the program soon, we’ll lose just like Romney did.
As study after study tells us, people tend to trust and buy from people who look like them, culturally and ethnically. So it’s good economic sense for every company in this industry to take an aggressive stance on hiring more minorities. Consider this: if every top distributor hired and trained a minority in 2013, in five years we’d have 25,000 experienced representatives courting new business.
Click here to watch my YouTube video on the subject, which also recaps Power Summit sessions ASI held on building trust and the 2013 industry sales outlook.
In closing, do me a favor: look around your own office and count the number of minorities versus white males. And then let me know what you think of my suggestion by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
And for more info on the 2013 Power Summit, September 15-17 at the Montage Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, click here. Maybe by the time fall rolls around, I’ll look out and see some new faces in the Power Summit audience.
November 13, 2012
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.
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:
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.
November 7, 2012
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.”
November 6, 2012
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:
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.