September 13, 2013
One of the things I love about working in magazines is that when you work really hard on something and are unabashedly proud of it, you have a finished product you can actually look at and read through. That’s how I feel about the redesigned Wearables® sitting on my desk right now. It takes a lot for me to offer such naked praise for something I helped create, so believe me when I say I really think our September issue looks fantastic.
Not that it was easy. It took months of hard work between myself and our very talented art team: Art Director Hillary Haught, Senior Editorial Designer Glen J. Karpowich and Editorial Photographer Mark Pricskett. They had the jump on me months before our first meeting when they started posting potential fonts on the corkboard in their back office.
Some things we knew from the beginning. We wanted a bold, yet elegant, look that captured the best qualities of today’s leading fashion magazines. We wanted to grab the reader’s attention with the way we presented industry products. And we wanted to consolidate the information in the magazine into a few tightly focused sections.
I look at Wearables as a hybrid: part fashion, part business. We dig into the leading runway trends because they have a significant influence on what our readers’ clients want as well as the products that suppliers bring to market. We want our readers to be ahead of the curve on these trends. That emphasis allows us to take a creative approach in presenting apparel, just like some of the leading style magazines you see on newsstands. (Yes, that was me at the Neshaminy Barnes & Noble grabbing Details, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour and more.)
Throughout the redesign process, it was enjoyable to see the look of the magazine take shape. I spent many afternoons at Glen’s desk trading design ideas, revising mock layouts, debating one decision versus another. Sometimes there were unexpected hurdles. For example, the font we initially chose – Bauer Bodoni – looked great when we mocked it up in our “Trends” section. But later on we discovered that in articles with a lot of copy it was hard to read because of its thin design. That sent us back to the drawing board.
Of course, a new look doesn’t mean much unless it’s tied to meaningful content. That’s partly why we chose to debut it in September, so it can be used in our Style Issue, which always features a stunning photo shoot for our Fall Fashion Preview. Mark always does a great job with it, and we decided to take it to another level this year with colored backgrounds, set props and edgy styling. Each photo shoot always is an adventure; you go in with a plan for the outfits, but then inspiration strikes and you end up with something completely different (and far better) than what you originally planned. We had a Carhartt shirt the model was going to wear to showcase the plaid trend. Midway through, our stylist Conrad Booker thought it would look better backward. I thought he was crazy at first, but it ended up looking fantastic. That outfit became our cover.
I’d like to think a redesign is like a relationship: It’s easy to fall in love with it, then take it for granted once you get used to it. Our goal with Wearables is to avoid falling into that trap. We want to keep pushing the boundaries of what we can do with design – and I know our editorial design team is eager to keep unveiling new tricks. In addition, we want to keep providing what our readers want: spotlights of the latest trends, effective ways to improve their businesses and in-depth information to keep them ahead of the curve. Keep looking for our “Screen-Printing Success” section, too, which features all the latest decoration trends, techniques and products. Decoration is the differentiator in our industry, and the ones who do it well really stand out.
Everyone I’ve talked to really likes the new design, which is comforting to know. I hope you will like it too. Visit www.wearablesmag.com to see the redesign issue, and don’t hesitate to tell me what you think by e-mailing me at email@example.com.
– C.J. Mittica, Wearables editor
August 19, 2013
It’s a no-brainer that Korean superstar Psy and his “Gangnam Style” video is now the most-watched YouTube video, with 1.7 billion views. What’s more interesting to me are sensations like speed demon videographer Devin Graham, whose videos now boast a combined 200 billion views.
In a unique marketing twist, Devin recently partnered with Ford to show off its latest high-performance hot hatch. First, check out the stunts he pulled off with the Ford Focus ST, a mountain and a group of pro long boarders. Then, consider what a video master like Devin can show your company about capitalizing on the viral video craze. It’s all about taking your brand for a new ride. Not only does Ford get to look cool to Generation Next, thanks to Devin they get to show off their hottest product to nearly a half-million eyeballs.
Such ingenuity is exactly why we picked Devin (@devinsupertramp) as one of our featured speakers for the 2013 ASI Power Summit, coming up fast September 15-17. Where else can you careen down challenging mountain bike trails sporting a GoPro camera like Devin and get a briefcase full of great tips on motivating employees to the max from New York Times bestselling author Adrian Gostick? Just don’t try both at the same time!
ASI’s annual Power Summit, where the best minds in our industry meet for three days of brainstorming, networking and superior learning, is happening at the Montage Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah. But act fast to qualify for a special discount of $300 off registration. Visit the 2013 Power Summit website, where you can register and browse the agenda, the speakers and their hard-hitting topics as well as the numerous recreational opportunities in Park City and beyond.
Other benefits of attending include a first look at the expanded, 2013 Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study, the 3rd annual Marketing Smackdown (a real-time showdown with top distributors picked by the audience), a slate of panels and top-drawer speakers like Bruce Money, a Harvard MBA and consultant for Nissan and CSX, with a topic that should be on everyone’s front burner: our changing demographics.
Come for the summit, then take a few days to explore Utah’s vacation paradise, which boasts dramatic mountain vistas, wondrous rock formations, a unique Western culture and even Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. If you want to shake it up, you can bike, hike, fly in a hot air balloon, ride a roller coaster and go white water rafting. Or, you can just kick back and relax in a hot tub.
Make sure you check out Devin’s view on Utah, in a video featuring pro trail bike rider Jeremy VanSchoonhoven, a finalist on “America’s Got Talent,” riding killer rocks in Maob, named one of America’s best adventure towns by National Geographic.
So what do you say? Power riding at the Power Summit? Move over, Psy. Here we come!
August 7, 2013
Thirty years ago this summer, I worked as a Dow Jones News Fund intern in New York City. I was 21 and it was the first time I’d ever left Indiana for more than a few days. As you can imagine, those few months in the big city changed my life forever.
I flashed back to that summer the moment I met two Dow Jones interns from the very same program: Grace Thompson and Samantha Phillips, who are spending their summer working in our editorial department at ASI headquarters outside Philadelphia.
Grace is on the Dean’s List at Rowan University, majoring in Writing Arts and minoring in Journalism. She plans to pursue a Master of Fine Arts after graduating next year and hopes to write the next Great American Novel. Samantha recently graduated from Elizabethtown College with a B.A. in Professional Writing. Her dream is to become a magazine editor, event planner or film critic. In the photo, Grace is to the left of me and Sam (as she’s known around the office) is to my right.
Every day, Sam, who’s 24, and Grace, 20, tackle everything from researching and writing stories for our award-winning magazines to proofreading and assisting during photo shoots, radio shows and ASI events. Everything they do is hands-on, which adds up to critical experience they can tout on their resumes.
ASI interns are paid. And yet, of the one million undergraduate interns helping companies throughout the U.S., roughly half earn no salary, working instead for the experience or the college credit.
Here at ASI, we believe that, like everyone else, interns need money for housing, food, gas – and the occasional new cool apps. In return, they perform much-needed jobs while offering all of us fresh perspectives. Interns can be a great resource to any company, but especially to those courting the next generation. Interns know what’s hot before anyone else, and can provide invaluable insight into products and especially social media marketing.
So don’t just delegate them to fetching coffee. Think of them as junior staff members and tap their brains as often as possible. Someday, you might be working for them!
To prepare for entering the full-time working world, both Sam and Grace spent a week in New York City in Dow Jones’ business journalism residency, along with 18 other interns from all over the world. Grace, a Florida native now living in New Jersey, says her favorite part was being in the heart of Manhattan and experiencing all the different cultures, both within the group and out in the city.
After talking to Sam and Grace and comparing notes on our shared experiences in the Dow Jones program, I was moved to contact the managing editor who meant a great deal to me during my own internship: Jim Furlong.
I was an editing intern, assigned to international business and economic news for what was then a joint venture between the Associated Press and Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal. My job was rewriting WSJ stories so shorter versions could be sent over the wires, to be read across the world. Since I was an economics and journalism major at Ball State University, it was a perfect fit.
The photo at right shows me from around that time, in a college dorm with my friends Cheryl, far left, Melissa and Richard on either side, and Mark, above. Jim, my boss that summer, was 47 – younger than I am now. We initially reconnected on Facebook, which I was delighted to find he also uses to keep up with friends and family. In an email, I told him how much his honesty and generosity meant to a farm kid like me, living in an apartment in Hoboken I’d found on a bulletin board, working the 7 p.m.-2 a.m. shift.
“I want to thank you so much for everything you did,” I wrote, “and everything that came about as a result. I’ve had a wonderful career, which continues, and a life better than it would have been if I had not met you.”
I ended up working at Dow Jones on the newswire side for seven years before switching, briefly, to public relations at an Ogilvy agency. After six months of hating every minute, I returned, but this time on the business side. All told, I spent 16 years at Dow Jones in a variety of senior management, editorial, marketing, technology and product development roles.
Imagine my surprise when, a few days after I messaged Jim on Facebook, I got an actual letter (remember those?) in return. I couldn’t believe how much he remembered about me, right down to the P.R. job, which he described as donning the “flak jacket.” I also had to laugh at his description of my younger self as a “live one.”
His letter, at right, was exactly as I remembered him: smart, warm and funny. “Thank you for remembering one of your old editors,” he wrote. “Your comments mean a lot.”
The lesson for all of us is that it’s never too late to thank those who help you when you’re on your way up. If you’re lucky, they’ll remember you. If you’re really lucky, they’ll call you “friend.”
August 5, 2013
Remember the dark days of the Great Recession? We were mired in a subprime mortgage crisis, losing millions of jobs and experiencing 10% unemployment. Nearly every industry took a hit, including ours. Distributor sales dropped to $16 billion in 2009, down from a record high of $19.8 billion the year before.
Today, our industry has almost fully rebounded, with total 2013 distributor sales expected to reach new heights, according to the latest “State of the Industry” report from Counselor magazine. Counting Q2, in which sales rose to $4.9 billion, we’ve now enjoyed 14 straight quarters of growth.
Of course, anything can happen between now and the end of the year. Regime changes, shifts in consumer confidence and even natural disasters could impact profits and sales. And I know we’re all holding our breath to see how the ongoing implementation of the new federal health care law affects our bottom line.
But for now, I’m happy to spread a little good news for a change.
It’s time to capitalize on the gains, increase sales, spend a little more on marketing – and get the word out about the ROI and high rate of advertiser recall of promotional products. With the U.S. economy still struggling to gain a firm foothold, a lot of companies, schools and non-profits continue to count every penny, which makes our message all the more compelling.
ASI makes it easy for you to go on your next sales call armed for bear, with tons of useful stats about the health of our industry and viability of our products. If you haven’t already, read Counselor’s SOI issue cover to cover and cherry pick the stats and info most useful to your business. And be sure to read the growth strategies that are working wonders for industry leaders – and put them to work for you.
Along with tons of sales-generating ideas, this year’s report analyzes 2012 sales to determine the biggest markets and most popular products. This year, health and education kept their grip on the number one and two markets, while manufacturing and construction both rose, providing new opportunities.
Other highlights from the 2013 Counselor “State of the Industry” issue include:
The SOI report, which comes out in print and online, is considered the most important and influential in the industry, for good reason. It’s a definitive analysis of this industry’s most recent past as well as a roadmap to the future. So do yourself and your business a favor and check it out.
And keep an eye out this fall for ASI’s next Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study. We’ve got researchers in the field now – surveying end-buyers from Atlanta to Australia – to give you even more powerful data proving ad specialties are a high-impact, cost-effective ad medium.
In the meantime, you can visit ASI’s customizable End-Buyer Website for even more surefire methods of selling the ROI of promo products to prospects and buyers.
July 31, 2013
Whenever you think you’ve got it tough, consider what Michael Ryba recently accomplished. Michael, an account exec with Brown & Bigelow Inc. (asi/148500), earned his Bachelor of Advertising Specialty Information™ (BASI) from ASI® – while undergoing cancer treatment and recovering from surgery.
“I’m so proud of my achievement,” says Michael, who pursued his BASI to become proficient in selling other types of ad specialties beyond his niche of decorated apparel. “Clients and prospects ask me what the BASI in my e-mail signature line is – and when I tell them what it means, they say, ‘Wow, none of my other distributor reps have that designation and knowledge.’ ” Even better, his sales are up.
It really makes my day when I talk to people like Michael who are excited about continuing their professional education – and growing their businesses as a result. Today, I’m proud to say ASI’s Education Certification Program (launched in November 2010) has hit a big – and excellent –milestone: We’ve certified more than 1,000 industry professionals, who’ve earned their BASI or Master (MASI) of Advertising Specialty Information™ certifications.
As ASI’s Executive Director of Professional Development, I’m passionate about offering such a breadth of live and online professional development opportunities to our members because of how much it benefits individual careers – and the industry as a whole. And, lots of you have the right idea. More than 27,000 industry pros are enrolled in ASI’s Education Certification Program, and to date 5,040 have attended live education classes during the 2013 ASI Show® season, making ASI the largest educator in the industry.
Here are three quick reasons from my desk to yours why you should join us:
1. You – and your industry knowledge – stay current and relevant. By being up-to-the-minute on new products, decorating trends, the latest social media and mobile technology, and more, you’re part of the super-fast-paced, new “normal” we work in. You’ll make yourself indispensable to your clients.
2. You’re engaged in the industry – and engaging to clients. Don’t be content to conduct business the way you always have. The more you expand your professional knowledge and skill areas, the more excited you’ll be about your career and where it’s headed.
3. You’re a vital part of your company’s team, and the industry. The more knowledge you have, the more meaningful your contributions to your firm, and the marketplace as a whole.
To those ends, ASI’s Education Team is dedicated to creating the best educational experience possible for you. For example, every year we create a 100%, brand-new slate of 60+ educational courses that you can take live at our five ASI Shows and our traveling Advantages Roadshow – we’re working on our 2014 lineup now.
In addition, our Online Learning Center currently houses more than 400 on-demand courses that you can take 24/7 – so if you want to brush up on how to cold call or what the top five apparel-decorating methods are at 2 a.m., be our guest. Our goal is to offer you up-to-the-minute seminars in lots of subject areas, including sales, marketing, social media marketing and hands-on technology. (Sneak peek: Instagram is gaining steam, so I’m developing a course that will teach distributors how to leverage this cool site – and gain super sales from it.)
Participation is free and user-friendly, with all courses automatically tracked electronically. Click here for a complete overview.
I welcome your feedback, so drop me a line anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy learning!
– Nicole Rollender is editor of Stitches® magazine and ASI’s Executive Director of Professional Development
July 18, 2013
ASI® ended its 2013 ASI Show® season with a great show in a wonderful town, attracting more than 4,200 distributors from firms in 47 states and 12 countries. Over three days at McCormick Place, our Chicago show – the largest ad specialty show of the summer – really delivered.
To me, the Chicago show is more than a trade show – it’s an opportunity. Whether you came for the 78 education sessions, the black-tie Counselor® Awards or the non-stop networking, the best the industry offers is right at your fingertips.
Plus, you get to work hard and play hard in one of my favorite cities. To a Midwestern boy like me, Chicago is the center of the universe, filled with terrific museums, stunning architecture, the best deep-dish pizza on earth and some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. No wonder a record 17 distributor companies, including Allegra Network (asi/372000), EmbroidMe (asi/384000), iPROMOTEu (asi/232119), WorkflowOne (asi/333647) and HALO Branded Solutions (asi/356000) chose the Windy City to hold major sales meetings.
I’m not alone in my praise. Here’s what attendees had to say about the show:
The show was also deemed worthy enough to attract the attention of the prestigious Chicago Tribune newspaper, which ran a story in its business section, along with nine online photos and interviews with a slew of companies, including Vernon Hills, PromoPet, St. Regis Crystal, Helping Hand, American Greenwood, Dunbar Foods and Lion Circle.
Exhibitors (including 83 new to Chicago this year) were just as pleased. Scott Anderson from Leed’s (asi/66887) told us his booth was busy from the get-go, thanks to a great mix of quality distributors. And despite the heat wave, there’s no better time than July or place than the three-day Chicago show to kick off the second half of the year and to prepare for the all-important fourth-quarter selling season.
And if you weren’t inspired by the networking and the deal-making, you had to be motivated by Thursday’s keynote by Christopher Gardner, the inspiration for the Will Smith movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” (pictured here with ASI’s chairman, Norman Cohn, in a borrowed ASI Show hat).
“Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t do something,” Gardner told our audience about the time he lived on the streets with his 18-month-old son before his smarts and his moxie helped him break into the financial industry and become a self-made millionaire. “You want something – go get it. Period.”
Here are some other gems he shared with us:
Gardner’s is an unbelievable story, but if he doesn’t make you believe you can do anything as long as you set your mind to it, I don’t know who can. But you need to get a plan, stick to the plan and, above all, be passionate.
If you missed this year’s show, don’t worry. We’re coming back next year – and registration is now open for the 2014 ASI Shows (Orlando, Jan. 5-7; Dallas, Feb. 4-6; Long Beach, March 25-27; New York, April 3-4; and Chicago next July) at www.asishow.com. Special 2014 presentations include keynotes by former President George W. Bush and the stars of the hit ABC reality show, “Shark Tank.”
For complete coverage of ASI Show Chicago, visit www.asicentral.com for a wealth of information, including blogs and videos from ASI’s on-site editorial team.
July 18, 2013
If the 2013 Counselor® Awards had a theme, it was family, from the recognition given to family businesses of the year to the three generations of Cohns on stage handing out the awards during a glittering ceremony at the Art Institute of Chicago.
The women were stunning, the men distinguished and the food delicious. Beyond the finery, what struck me most was the camaraderie. Everywhere I looked I saw people talking to each other, laughing and really connecting, whether it was during cocktails, the behind-the-scenes tour of the Impressionists galleries or over dinner. In the end, networking really is what this industry and the art of business is all about.
In addition to recognizing outstanding individuals and companies in seven categories, we announced the Top 40 Distributors and Top 40 Suppliers rankings – the largest companies in our $19.4 billion industry based upon 2012 revenue. Click here for complete coverage of all our winners, and be sure to check www.asicentral.com and our Facebook pages for show info and photos.
I was really touched by the first award handed out, in honor of Cohn family matriarch, Bess Cohn, and her long-standing commitment to philanthropy. In his acceptance speech, Danny Rosin, co-owner of Brand Fuel (asi/145025), spoke about the importance of giving back and, as the messages displayed on screen during our live tweet stream acknowledged, Danny “exemplifies volunteerism.”
Before handing out the Marvin Spike Lifetime Achievement Awards, ASI® Chairman Norman Cohn (pictured with me and his family) gave a truly heartfelt tribute to his dear friend, former ASI president Marvin Spike, who passed away in December. And hearing Bill Vernon, who accepted on behalf of the 100+-year-old Vernon Company (asi/351700), tell stories about his old pal Marvin and his early days with Norman back in Iowa was like a living history lesson of the entire industry.
Maribeth Sandford, CEO of Bag Makers (asi/37940), shared her lifetime achievement award with four generations of her family, including her adorable 6-month-old great-granddaughter, Josie. “This is what it’s all about – family,” she said during her acceptance speech. “And what a wonderful opportunity I’ve had with the ASI family.”
Chris Lee, our International Person of the Year, might have said it best when he summed up the industry as “amazing people, amazing stories.”
The final award of the night, for Counselor’s 2013 Person of the Year, meant a lot to me, personally, since it went to one of the very first people I met when I joined ASI over 10 years ago: David Nicholson, president of Top 40 supplier Polyconcept North America, a $443 million company. I really meant it when I described David, pictured left, in my introduction as one of the warmest, most welcoming people I’ve ever known.
Good friends and family, amazing food, inspiring stories and a lotta laughs. Now, that’s my definition of a special night for a very special industry.
Additional winners of the 2013 Counselor Awards are: