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Experience the New ASICentral

Filed under: site updates

You have spoken, and we’ve been listening. Welcome to the new feel of ASICentral.com!

For months we here at Team Central have been working to upgrade the entire site in an effort to remove old, outdated pages and consolidate navigation and content in a way that’s more intuitive. The object was to create a more pleasant user experience so that you, our users, can find what you need fast without any broken links, ambiguous navigation or frustrating dead ends. It’s still a work in progress, but we think it’s lightyears ahead of the “old” ASICentral.

So, without further ado, let me try to break down some of the most obvious changes to the site:

  • Large “Search Site” box at the top of every page 

Our search, powered by Google, allows you to find what you need fast. Just type in a keyword and hit “Go” — it’s that simple!. And best yet, it’s at the top of every page, so if you can’t find something, just look to the search box at the top of the page.

  • Removal of horizontal navigation

In an effort to consolidate all our navigation, we knew we had to place it in one intuitive place, so we decided to make room for the search box at the top of ASICentral by moving all the horizontal navigation to the left side, vertically. (WHERE IS THE OLD NAVIGATION? SEE BELOW FOR LIST)

  • Comprehensive vertical navigation

All of ASICentral’s highest levels of navigation — for instance, Members and Join — are represented in our vertical navigation with enhanced iconography for ease of recognition. Everything you need to find on ASICentral can be found here, from ESP Online tutorials and Education, to Research and Help. And best of all, it’s on every page so you never lose your way around the site.

Features: Hover over one of the left navigation items that has a little arrow to its right, like Join. Notice that a level of sub-navigation appears to the right (a “flyout” menu) allowing you to choose a member type. Move your cursor to Distributor and you’re presented with another level of sub-navigation. Click on any level of navigation with the flyouts for quick access.

  • Breadcrumbs

No, these aren’t the stale slices of Wonder Bread you crumble up and throw to the birds, but a clever level of navigation in the top tab of all sub-content pages that allows you to know where you are on the site at all times.

For instance, if you drill down through, say, Join–>Distributor–>Membership Benefits you will find that at the top of the page, under the ASI Central tab, you have a level of navigation — or breadcrumb – that shows you exactly where you are within the site. So, if you want to go just one level up to Distributor, or to the main Join landing page, you can do so right at the top of the page.

Features: For clarity, most levels of navigation preceding the final breadcrumb have their own splash page with thumbnail images and clearly defined explanations. For instance, click on the top level area Education and all the content under it is now presented in a splash page.

  • Old horizontal navigation items, where are they now?!

Everything can be found in the vertical left navigation, including:

Distributor and Supplier Services, such as online tools and resources like ESP Online:

Help, such as FAQs, Product Training and contact information:

Guide, such as content like newsletters, is now called Directory:

Markets has been combined within Research:

  • What’s new?

From the old “Guide” we took the Blogs and Social Neworks and combined them with an Industry Sites section of related web sites. All this content can now be found under the new “Social” listing.

The Green, or Eco-Friendly, market is all the rage and appears to have some staying power in the industry. So, we decided that under Research we should have a Green Market category that presents users with all our relevant content pertaining to this very hot segment of the ad specialty industry.

And that’s the gist of it! Of course, if you have any questions, comments or feedback whatsoever regarding the changes, we’d love to hear them. Either post a comment here or email feedback@asicentral.com.

Hope you like the changes!

–TeamCentral


Apparel: The Survey Says!

Filed under: Research, Survey

My sixth-grade teacher once asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and, without hesitation, I blurted out “Game Show Host!” Of course, this admission became increasingly odder and more uncomfortable as each male student after me proclaimed aspirations of a more manly nature … you know, like cop, fireman or breakdancer (did I mention these were the 80s?). My shortsightedness to feign an interest in what was cool or acceptable at the time resulted in a good, old-fashioned playground pummeling, and I never again spoke about an interest in game shows … until now!

Plunked in front of a TV set like Martin Tupper, I was raised on a healthy diet of “Press Your Luck”, “$50,000 Pyramid”, “Card Sharks”, “Jokers Wild”, and … my all-time favorite … “Family Feud”! Richard Dawson was the host with the most, the epitome of smooth, a suave and sophisticated gentleman with a wry wit and intense charm who knew how to schmooze the ladies and steal kisses from the mouths of wives whose husbands clapped and watched. A genius! And I wanted to be him.

And today I get that chance … well, minus the kissing.

WELCOME TO FAMILY FEUD, PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS-STYLE!

With this month’s release of its annual Apparel Sales Survey, Counselor magazine has given me the opportunity I have waited a lifetime for … to take the big stage and ask you, the family audience, questions about a topic that we have surveyed — in this case, distributor apparel sales.

DIRECTIONS: I’ll provide you with the question posed to industry distributors along with their top answers in random order, and you try to guess which one is the most popular. The winner gets, well, not much, maybe a mention in the blog and a Coke or something, but it’s the best we can do with the economy and all. So be sure to send your answers to feedback@asicentral.com with a listing of all your answers. Got it? Then let’s play the feud!

QUESTION 1: In 2008, what percentage of total annual distributor sales from promotional products does apparel represent? Top 6 answers are on the board:

  1. 51-75%
  2. 11-25%
  3. no apparel sales
  4. 26-50%
  5. 1-10%
  6. more than 75%

QUESTION 2: In 2008, which category specified had the highest percent of distributor apparel sales? Top 4 answers are on the board:

  1. women
  2. children
  3. men
  4. unisex

QUESTION 3: Relative to all distributor promotional products sales, how would you say sales of apparel have changed over the past year? Top 3 answers are on the board:

  1. decreased
  2. increased
  3. stayed the same

QUESTION 4: How did distributor sales volume in uniforms change within the past year? Top 3 answers are on the board:

  1. decreased
  2. increased
  3. stayed the same

QUESTION 5: What are the top three purposes for the promotional apparel distributors sell? Top 3 answers are on the board:

  1. company uniforms
  2. spiritwear/athletics (cheerleading, booster clubs, etc …)
  3. employee/consumer incentives

QUESTION 6: What are the top markets of apparel purchases? Top 8 answers are on the board:

  1. non-profit
  2. financial
  3. manufacturing
  4. education/schools/universities
  5. health/medical/hospitals
  6. restaurants/travel/lodging
  7. associations/clubs/civic groups
  8. professional services (real estate, lawyers, etc …)

QUESTION 7: Which category specified represents the highest percentage of overall distributor apparel sales? Top 5 answers are on the board:

  1. bags/totes
  2. golf shirts
  3. t-shirts
  4. sweatshirts
  5. caps/headwear

QUESTION 8: How important do distributors believe brand names are to promotional apparel sales? Top 5 answers are on the board:

  1. somewhat important
  2. neither important or unimportant
  3. very important
  4. not at all important
  5. somewhat unimportant

QUESTION 9: What percentage of distributor wearables purchases are manufactured outside the U.S.? Top 3 answers are on the board:

  1. 16%
  2. 64%
  3. 8%

QUESTION 10: Compared to 2007, has the amount of product distributors decorated in-house changed? Top 3 answers are on the board:

  1. decreased
  2. increased
  3. remained the same

QUESTION 11: What percent of all distributor apparel purchases are blanks? Top 5 answers are on the board:

  1. none
  2. 91% or more
  3. 11-50%
  4. less than 10%
  5. 51-90%

Don’t forget to send answers now and check the blog often for results. Of course, if you want to see how you did, just check out the updated Apparel Research section of ASICentral for the Counselor Apparel Sales Survey … but not before you send your answers!

“Love ya, will see ya here on the feud” (I just had to sign off like Richard — he’d be proud.)

–TheKissingBandit


Goin’ South: Team Blog @ ASI Show Orlando

Filed under: The ASI Show

WINGman NOTE: This is the first Team Blog post by Chinstrap. Show him some love.

This year’s ASI Show Orlando marked the first first-ever remote broadcast of the ASI Internet Radio Show. Awesome, right?! Well, depends on who you ask.

The superhero team of Lil Spice and I had the unenviable task of literally packing up the entire Pennsylvania-based studio and flying it to Florida for two broadcasts, then flying home and setting the studio back up for a third consecutive broadcast. Yes, you heard right. Our tight show schedule actually had us packing up the equipment right at the end of our Day 2 broadcast in Orlando, then flying back with it to our home base here in Trevose to set up for a radio show the following morning. Back-to-back-to-back is how we rolled, and I could think of a few adjectives better than “awesome” to describe the experience, but I digress.

Takeoff

So, how do you fly with all this radio equipment, you ask? The answer is with a huge, awkwardly shaped equipment case that, unfortunately for me, ended up outweighing Lil Spice, so the job of schlepping it through the state of Florida fell on my often-dislocated shoulders. But needless to say my limbs ended up staying in place and it’s safe to say that set-up went very smoothly.

A photo of me and the infamous case, as we arrived in Florida. Kudos to Spice for making it look like I have a palm tree growing out of my head.

A cheery photo of 'Vanna Spice' when we first arrived at the convention center.

A cheery photo of Vanna Spice when we first arrived at the convention center

Day 1

The first show started early Saturday morning amid a huge crowd of attendees. Highlights included a q/a session with David Blaise and of course the bikini models that handed out radio show pins to the crowd (don’t worry, I took photos).

Day 2

The Radio show on day two was equally as exciting, just without the models. The stand out for me had to have been when Counselor’s own Dave Vagnoni gave 3 contestants a chance to deliver their best ‘escalator pitch’, which actually involved Dave running back up the escalator after every pitch, very amusing. Our show on Sunday also included a hilarious celebrity look-alike contest that was easily won by a Dick Cheaney clone.

Breakin’ it down

Overall the show was a blast and boy do I miss that weather. But here’s the best part, we are doing it all over in Dallas in a few weeks. It was lots of fun and I urge you and your celebrity look-alike friends to join us.

I hope you enjoy the rest of these photos and I will see you in Dallas.

SteVIN – aka ‘ChinStrap’

A Before shot of the radio show booth. Don't those chairs look so comfy?

A Before shot of the radio show booth. Dont these chairs look comfy?

And here is the booth after waved our magic wands.

And here is the booth after we waved our magic wands.

A shot of the models before the show. Odd fact: Lil Spice forced me to take this one

A shot of the models before the show. Odd fact: Lil Spice forced me to take this one

random photo of the editors preparing before the first show.

random photo of the editors preparing before the first show.


ASICentral Homepage News Rotator

Filed under: site updates

Remember those old Taco Bell commercials with the tagline “Change is Good”? The thinking behind that ad campaign was that not only are their tacos made of cheap meat, but they’re also so inexpensive that you’ll need deep pockets to keep all your change. (Apologies to Team Blog designer “Crack” who heads to the border almost daily.)

Well, as you might have already noticed, ASICentral has undergone a different type of change, one that I believe is equally as good as the kind you might find unexpectedly in your pocket after consuming copious amounts of junk food, but without the intestinal distress (at least, I hope).

Replacing the former one-dimensional News area, the new “News Rotator” is a more dynamic, multi-level feature that serves content screens at timed intervals. Think AOL.com. So, instead of being able to offer our users the maximum of seven stories at a given time, we can offer them four times that, and in a more aesthetically pleasing way.

One of the new screen panels of the news rotator

But just like anything else, change sometimes requires an explanation. So here’s a few pointers about our new News Rotator:

  • Once you’ve logged onto the site, the rotator is on the clock and should begin automatically shifting through screens at predetermined intervals (about 3 seconds).
  • There are 4 content pieces per panel — the top-right pertains to the dominant image at left. The second and third content pieces fall under the first — with all three having summaries describing the content. The fourth content piece occupies the narrow blue strip at the bottom of the rotator and has no summary.
  • You can control the rotation of the panels with the controller in the bottom right corner, in the following ways:

  1. To pause the panel: Use the pause button in the control feature in the bottom right corner — this looks like the number 11.
  2. To move forward through the panels at your own pace, hit the right-pointing button in the bottom right corner
  3. To move in reverse — or rewind — through the panels, hit the left-pointing button in the bottom right corner

If you’re still unsure of how to control the rotator, just think of your media players and how you might navigate through your CDs and DVDs. Yeah, it’s like that.

There ya have it, the new News Rotator! Like it, hate it, got ways you think would improve it? Send us a note at feedback@asicentral.com now, or just comment below.

–YoQuieroNewsRotator


ASI Show Orlando 2009 Highlights

Filed under: The ASI Show

Didn’t get to go to the first industry show of the new season? Have no fear … Team Blog is here! Experience the show as if you were there with our chronological, blow-by-blow account of all that went down in sunny F-L-A, including photos, videos, audio and more. Enjoy!

SATURDAY MORNING & AFTERNOON: “Education Day”

Traditionally, a time for suppliers to set up their booths and distributors to attend education sessions … so relatively calm overall. But ASI was on the case anyway and had a chance to catch up with some of the education session speakers and attendees — Find out what they had to say:

  • Million Dollar Sales Summit: Watch ASI’s Andy Cohen interview both session speakers and attendees of this informative class that also focused on ASI’s Impressions Study.
  • Trends for 2009: Watch ASI’s Andy Cohen interview Halo/Lee Wayne’s Jim Stutz after his session about some of the best trends for 2009.
  • New Distributor Success: Watch ASI’s Melinda Ligos interview with David Blaise immediately following his New Distributor Success session.
  • Selling to the Hospitality Industry: Watch ASI’s Dave Vagnoni talk to Cliff Quicksell after his seminar about selling to the hospitality industry.
  • Tim Andrews Interview: Watch ASI’s Kathy Huston interview ASI President and CEO Tim Andrews after an early morning session that focused on the success of a the company iClick.
  • Tim’s Blog: ASI CEO and President Tim Andrews reports from the ASI Show Orlando.

SATURDAY EVENING: “Distributor Choice Awards”

Much-anticipated award that names and celebrates the most-valued ASI suppliers in the advertising specialty industry, as determined by ASI distributors.

  • Winners: Get a complete list of winners in 46 categories, including the vaunted Supplier of the Year — congrats to Leed’s!
  • Finalists: Full list of all the suppliers considered for the awards.
  • Photos: ASI was all over the DCAs! See pics of the Supplier of the Year, Winners with Tim Andrews and Networking at the show.
  • Supplier of Year Interview: Watch ASI’s Andy Cohen interview Leed’s Sam DiBiase immediately following the presentation of the Supplier of the Year award.

SUNDAY MORNING & AFTERNOON: “ASI Show Orlando, Day 1″

Technically, it’s really Day 2, but it’s the first day the floor at the ASI Show opens, and that’s when the fun really begins. And that’s where we find ASI’s finest combing every nook and cranny searching for cool new products!

  • The Joe Show, Day 1: Zany Joe Haley has a cache of hot products he’d like to show you, including a bobblehead pen, asphalt stickers and more! Check ‘em out!
  • New Products with Tim Andrews: ASI President and CEO Tim Andrews has, among others, some great new “green” products he’d like to show you, including pens made out of recycled denim and currency. (No joke!) Check ‘em out!
  • What’s New with Supplier Norwood: ASI President and CEO Tim Andrews is on the scene from the Orlando Show with details. Find out more.
  • ASI Internet Radio, Day 1: The gang of ASI editors talks about all things promotional products from the floor of the ASI Show Orlando. Listen to the archive!
  • Tim’s Blog: ASI CEO and President Tim Andrews reports from the ASI Show Orlando.

SUNDAY EVENING: “ASI Fashion Show” and “ASI Show Gala at Universal”

It was a festive atmosphere at the ASI Fashion Show as real models paraded down a real runway wearing the hottest trends for 2009! And afterwards, the party continued at the ASI Show Gala at Universal.

  • ASI Fashion Show Pics: See photos from an exciting show. (NOTE: Scantily clad models included!)
  • ASI Fashion Show Interviews: What did attendees think of the Fashion Show? Watch ASI’s Dave Vagnoni’s interviews.
  • ASI Show Gala: Watch ASI’s Dave Vagnoni and Melinda Ligos interview attendees at ASI Show Gala at Universal.

SUNDAY MORNING & AFTERNOON: “ASI Show Orlando, Day 2″

OK, on to Day 2 (or is it Day 3? Well, it’s the final day if that helps!) … and again we find our very own Joe Haley scouring the Show floor for hot new products. Also on the floor, the Radio Show Editors prepare for another live show, and Tony Robbins, world-renowned authority on the psychology of leadership, prepares for his ASI Show Orlando keynote speech.

  • The Joe Show, Day 2: He’s baaaack! Zany Joe Haley shows off some hot products, including silicone coffee sleeves, fan wavers and more! Check ‘em out!
  • ASI Internet Radio, Day 2: The gang of ASI editors talks about all things promotional products from the floor of the ASI Show Orlando. Listen to the archive!
  • Tony Robbins Keynote Speech Impressions: ASI’s Dave Vagnoni interviews attendees of Tony Robbins keynote speech. Find out what they thought about it.

BONUS: MONDAY MORNING: “Radio Show Wrap”

The gang of the ASI Internet Radio Show wrapped up the entire show in one succinct, 30-minute episode.

–OrlandoJones


 

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