July 16, 2013
I’m in Chicago for the last major ASI Show® of the season, meeting with members, listening to the constant rumble of the famous “El” train and marveling at the stately architecture. No wonder a record 16 distributor sales meetings are taking place during the show at McCormick Place – it’s a great show in an amazing city.
Along with two exhibit days and a full day of ASI education, we’ll also celebrate the 2013 Counselor® Award winners at a special ceremony on Wednesday at the Art Institute of Chicago, following cocktails among the Impressionists. Which companies hit the Top 40 lists? Who is 2013’s Person of the Year? Check out www.asicentral.com (and this blog) for complete coverage on Thursday.
If you’re here with us, make sure to check out a few features special to this show, the industry’s premier summer event:
If you’re here in Chicago, let me know what you’re looking forward to the most by posting a comment or e-mailing me here – and keep those tweets coming! And be sure to visit www.asicentral.com for show blogs and videos.
July 3, 2013
It’s all things tech at ASI®, with upcoming technology workshops led by our CTO in Chicago and over 10 new features in the latest ESP Web® upgrade (our 6th, if you’re counting).
The ESP upgrade was designed with ease of operation in mind, allowing distributors to quickly create and manage their preferred supplier lists and for new suppliers to introduce themselves and their products to the industry.
My favorite new feature might be the “Joe Show” hot products videos you can now access from ESP’s home page, along with clickable product links. Joe, one of ASI’s most experienced editors, dishes out clever campaign ideas and tips with each new show. And thanks to Joe’s turbo-charged personality, you get a big dose of entertainment along with useful tidbits you can mimic on sales calls.
Other smart new features include one-click virtual sample editing (just click the wand to open the editor) and top sellers in the page footer, along with larger images of the most popular products. If you’re like me, you want intuitive features, a clean design and, above all, simplicity. If you’ve checked out ESP’s latest and greatest, please let me know what you think by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.
And if you’re joining us at ASI Chicago, taking place Tues., July 16 (education day), Wed., July 17 and Thurs., July 18 (exhibit days) at McCormick Place, stop by the ASI booths for a demo. (Show registration is still open at www.asishow.com or by clicking here).
That Wednesday, we’re also offering one-hour workshops led by our chief technology officer, Armughan Rafat, who will make sure you’re up to date on ASI’s latest technological advances and help you map out your business strategy to include all the updates coming down the pike.
We’ve scheduled two sessions to choose from: 10-11 a.m. (includes refreshments) and 12-1 p.m. (includes lunch on ASI). Armughan will leave time at the end to answer any questions – and to hear your ideas and suggestions for future improvements. The workshops count toward your BASI/MASI, too.
Click here to register for either session.
July 1, 2013
Here’s the beauty of Internet radio shows like ASI Radio: it’s interactive, it’s mobile and, since there’s no transmitter, anyone anywhere can listen in. Now, you can log on and listen in from the Far East as easily as you can from the East Coast. Hopefully, no matter where you are Tuesday, you’ll listen to our special 5-year anniversary show.
ASI Radio debuted in 2008 with the same five co-hosts still livening up the airwaves Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. ET. Since then, they’ve done an incredible 275 shows. In an era when the same old, same old is repackaged and sold as new, ASI Radio consistently delivers original business insight, breaking news and the most authoritative research and resources available – along with a fun, weekly dose of awesome.
Tuesday, July 2, we’re celebrating with cake, champagne and a trivia contest, so be sure to join us – and to compete to win prizes for correct answers. Call in at (215) 953-4979 or email us at email@example.com.
I’ll be a special guest, offering up congratulations along with a sneak peek at Counselor magazine’s upcoming “State of the Industry” report and some info on ASI®’s next Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study.
Every week, ASI Radio offers something for everyone along with the latest sales and marketing trends and tips. Each show also features an industry news recap by Counselor® Editor Andy Cohen, a product safety minute and a list of each host’s favorite promo product, also available online, complete with images and descriptions.
Above all, ASI Radio is a true reflection of this industry’s sometimes zany, always creative personality. The five hosts know more about this business than just about anyone (except me!). Joe Haley, the host of “The Joe Show,” covers new products; Advantages® Editor Kathy Huston tackles distributor sales; Cohen provides business analysis, SGR™ Editor Michele Bell reports on the supplier side while ringleader and Editor-in-Chief Melinda Ligos keeps the show moving and the topics flying.
But collective knowledge aside, they’re also true entertainers. Log on for the laughs; log off armed with plenty of news you can use.
And where else in the industry can you get business insight from the likes of economist Steve Forbes and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, who were both interviewed on the show prior to appearing as ASI Show® keynote speakers? Short answer: nowhere. ASI Radio is the first and still the only industry radio show around.
If you miss Tuesday’s live show, don’t worry. You can check archives of previous shows and featured interviews anytime at www.asicentral.com/radio. And, you get credit toward your ASI BASI or MASI certification for listening to the recording of each show later on, when you listen to it as a class in the Online Learning Center.
But try and join the gang on Tuesdays – because you never know what Joe, Andy, Melinda, Michele and Kathy will say!
June 14, 2013
One thing I’ve learned from 30 years in business is that the bigger the world gets, the more we need to work together. Today, even the most successful businesses are networking and forming strategic alliances while learning together at conferences like the ASI Power Summit.
ASI designs each Power Summit agenda around breaking business trends impacting the advertising specialty marketplace. But along with new ideas and strategies, the most valuable takeaways are often the bonds participants build with each other.
At our first-ever Canadian Power Summit, which just ended, we opted for an interactive format and more round-table discussions. I don’t know if it was the awe-inspiring Canadian Rockies, the late-night cocktails or the potent combination of both, but from the feedback I’ve gotten so far, the construct worked.
In my iPhone pics, you can see the view from my room, me and AIA president and CEO David Woods in one of the gorgeous meeting rooms and a group at wine tasting. To see more (really good!) photos, click here.
Not surprisingly, we spent a lot of time at the summit discussing the Canadian economy and learning new ways to encourage more business between companies on both sides of the border. As close as we are, there are interesting differences between the two countries, some of which were revealed at the summit in a special sneak peek at Counselor® magazine’s upcoming “State of the Industry” report.
Canadian highlights include:
Also at the summit, we celebrated Canada’s fastest-growing ad specialty companies, while learning a few of the secrets behind their success during one of our final panel sessions. Our top 10 list was determined by the percentage each company grew between 2010 and 2012. The top companies are:
10. Akran Marketing, 15%
If you missed this year’s Canadian summit, you can sign up for next year’s, taking place June 11-13 in Ontario, at Queen’s Landing, Niagara-on-the-Lake. Don’t forget: Anyone who attended the 2013 summit received a coupon for $300 off the regular rate for the 2014 event.
In addition, registration’s now open for the U.S. conference, ASI Power Summit 2013, Sunday, September 15 through Tuesday, September 17 at the Montage Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.
June 12, 2013
I probably qualified for enough frequent flyer miles to get to the moon this week, leap-frogging from ASI® headquarters in Pennsylvania to meetings in California before heading to Banff, Alberta, for the inaugural ASI Power Summit in Canada.
The summit, which takes place Wednesday through Friday at the legendary Fairmont Banff Springs resort, features sessions on emerging markets and breaking business trends impacting the advertising specialty marketplace. I’m really looking forward to an on-stage discussion with our keynote speaker, the multi-talented Dr. Jack Mintz, a world-renowned corporate taxation expert and director of the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary.
While it’s our first Power Summit in Canada, it’s our seventh altogether, with registration already open for the ASI Power Summit 2013, Sunday, September 15 through Tuesday, September 17 at the Montage Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.
The hallmarks of every ASI Power Summit include an intimate, relaxed setting in a beautiful place, conducive to great conversations and superior networking among the industry’s most knowledgeable and influential people. The list of business leaders speaking at the Canadian Power Summit reads like a “Who’s Who” of ad specialty insiders and representatives of a number of Counselor Top 40 suppliers and distributors.
In addition to a full slate of panel discussions, on Thursday we’ll celebrate the release of our first-ever list of the fastest-growing ad specialty companies in Canada, a list topped by a company that grew an incredible 253% between 2010 and 2012.
I’m sure a high point of that night’s dinner discussion will be Canada highlights from Counselor® magazine’s upcoming “State of the Industry” report. Sneak peek alert: 2012 Canadian distributor ad specialty sales rose to $1.56 billion, up from $1.48 billion in 2011.
The ASI employees working at the event include Editor-in-Chief Melinda Ligos, pictured from left with Glenna Fulks, assistant director of corporate events, marketing guru Colin Graf and Counselor Editor Andy Cohen. They tell me the hotel’s bison served over risotto is not to be missed.
After three action-packed days, I’m looking forward to one day’s worth of hiking in Banff National Park, where “residents” include black bears, grizzlies, wolves, cougars and elk. I sure hope the hotel gift shop carries bear spray along with their branded gear!
May 23, 2013
The views from the top of the world – the top at One World Trade Center, that is – are striking. Although still under construction, I was lucky enough to get a recent tour of the $3 billion (and counting) tower being built on the WTC site. To the New Yorker I’ll always be, no matter where I live, it was unbelievably exciting.
Sporting the required hard hat, I zoomed up, up, up with ASI® Vice Chairman Matthew Cohn, who had arranged for me to be his guest as part of Matthew’s active involvement in the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), a networking organization of over 20,000 business leaders in more than 120 countries. There were only about a dozen of us, and we spent more than two hours on the site. It was a total thrill!
We traveled to the 90th floor in an outside construction elevator, which wasn’t as scary as you might imagine. Although wind gusts could conceivably reach 100 mph, and most tall buildings are designed to sway in strong wind as much as three feet, I didn’t feel any movement – well, no more than I had anticipated.
A few weeks ago, the building reached an important milestone when a crowning, 408-foot spire was raised, bringing the high-rise to 1,776 feet, a symbolic reference to American independence. (Click here to watch a very cool New York Times time-lapse video of the spire, a broadcast antenna, going up.) I wish my iPhone photos could do the scene justice. On a clear day from the “top of the house,” as the hard hats say, you can see all the way into Connecticut, New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean.
As you can imagine, those of us on the tour had a lot of questions about security. The 104-story building – currently the tallest in the U.S., with 3 million square feet of office space – was built on bedrock atop a 185-foot windowless concrete base, designed to withstand ground-level truck bombs. In addition, there’s a concrete core, six feet thick in some places, that’s been likened to that in a nuclear power plant, with rebar “big as tree limbs,” housing elevators, communications, stairs and sprinklers. There are even biological and chemical filters throughout the ventilation system.
Interestingly, a lot of the mostly steam-powered building’s structure is constructed from post-industrial recycled materials, and recycling is also a big part of its operation, from rainwater collection for cooling to 80% waste product recycling.
Eventually, the entire World Trade Center complex will feature a total of five high-rises along with a nearly $4 billion underground PATH transportation hub, below – on track to be the world’s most expensive train station.
Although suitably wowed by the complex’s wonder, to me the most moving sight was of the two iconic steel tridents, at right, that once supported the south tower. Amazingly, though scarred and burned, they withstood the building’s fall and now grace the National September 11 Memorial & Museum opening next year.
This visit carried a lot of personal meaning, and brought back a lot of memories.
I worked in Manhattan for 15 years, and most of that time I lived in Hoboken or Jersey City, across the Hudson River. Every day, I took the PATH train into WTC, rode an escalator to the shopping concourse, walked onto the Plaza and then crossed the street to my office in the World Financial Center.
I hadn’t worked regularly in New York City for a couple of years, but the day before 9/11 I had an appointment and decided to go in early and have breakfast at a favorite spot in the WTC. It wasn’t the famous Windows on the World restaurant at the top of WTC – it was around the 42nd or 43rd floor, with incredible views and good omelets. The next day, I would have been a casualty of the attack.
Until last week, I had only visited the site once. It was absolutely perfect to see a soaring new structure, rising from the rubble, zoom to the 90th floor, tour the new PATH complex several stories into the ground, and come out with dust and dirt all over my pants and shoes.
Thanks, Matthew. A wonderful gift, a wonderful new memory.
May 10, 2013
Filed under: ASI Shows
ASI® ended its recent New York show with an announcement we hope pleases tri-state members as well as the out-of-towners looking for new product ideas and contacts while sampling all the city has to offer. Next year, we’re pushing the dates from midweek to Thursday and Friday, April 3 and 4.
Our aim is to make it easier for people to end a long work week with a fun weekend in the city – or to get home knowing they’re heading right into two work-free days.
Despite the rain, this year’s event at the Javits Center was everything we hoped, attracting over 2,000 distributors from 10 countries and 275 suppliers showcasing the latest ad specialty products. Since we’re all about making each show as productive and enjoyable as possible, we made a few changes, including moving the show to the brighter, more accessible North Pavilion and cutting back from three to two days, while offering ASI Education throughout the entire show, so members could easily earn more credits toward ASI Certification.
I spoke to one new member who said she attended nearly every class and got a lot out of the informed instructors and valuable content. Early feedback shows the Ad Specialty Crash Course: Sell Successfully Now workshop and the Distributor Success Lunch: Use Social Media for Sales Success (both part of the Distributor Success Track sponsored by Fields Mfg., asi/54100) proved especially popular.
Your comments are critical. If you like something, please let us know. Equally important, if you think an area needs improvement or could be done differently, your ideas are welcome. Staffers working the booths and meeting with members gathered a ton of positive reactions to ASI New York, including:
I saw a lot of people at Counselor® magazine’s annual Hot Party, which was in a jaw-dropping setting – the nightclub 230 Fifth on 27th Street, in sight of the always-glorious Empire State Building (whose image was captured in a six-foot ice sculpture that doubled as a drink luge, pictured below). In addition to a cool lounge, we could head up to a second rooftop bar, where anyone feeling the chill could snuggle in luxurious red robes supplied by the club.
For a complete listing of the 49 Hot List winners we celebrated, click here. And to see photos from the party on ASI’s Facebook page, click here (and if you haven’t already “liked” our Facebook page, please do). The Hot Party was sponsored by AlightPromos (asi/34194), AIA Corporation (asi/109480), Delta Apparel (asi/49172), Castelli North America (asi/44305) and Chulani (asi/45100).
If you were at the show, I hope you heard the keynote by Buddy Valastro Jr., aka “The Cake Boss” from TLC’s hit reality show, which is watched by an astonishing billion people worldwide. If you missed it, check out my blog from Thursday, www.asicentral.com or this week’s Promogram® for some of the business tips he shared – or just to read about his fascinating trajectory from small business owner to brandmaster. In addition to the speech, Buddy brought a specially-made cake to share during an afternoon presentation in the Exhibit Hall.
The cake went fast, but luckily for the ASI staffers who stayed put in our Trevose office helping other members, we brought back another “Cake Boss” creation for them to sample, too. I think the general consensus was “yum.”
While I’m looking forward to kicking back in the garden this weekend, I’m also gearing up for our next show in Chicago (Tues., July 16 through Thurs., July 18) at McCormick Place, which features a keynote by Christopher Gardner, the inspiration behind the award-winning movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” starring Will Smith.
And on August 12, ASI hosts a brand-new show in Dallas called Promotions Southwest. The Advantages Roadshow, the industry’s No. 1 traveling roadshow, is in Canada May 14-16 before taking a break until starting again in early August. To learn more about exhibiting or sponsorship opportunities, contact Karen DiTomasso, vice president of sales, at firstname.lastname@example.org or register today at www.asishow.com.