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Poll: Should Prizes Be Banned From Kids’ Meals

Filed under: Poll, Uncategorized

OK, maybe it’s me, but I just think this is ridiculous.

Santa Clara County, CA, supervisors have passed an ordinance this week that bans restaurants from giving away toys and other promotional products with high-calorie kids’ meals. The ordinance won’t be enforced for three months, but after that there will be fines of up to $1,000.

According to Supervisor Ken Yeager, “This ordinance breaks the link between unhealthy food and prizes.”

Sure, it’s a nice idea, but is the Happy Meal prize really the reason our kids are so fat and unhealthy? Hardly. It’s the parents who allow their kids to eat these foods five times a week that are the problem. But that’s just my opinion. What do you think?

Take the poll now!

Get On Counselor’s Hot List

Filed under: Awards

Are you doing something unique, hip, fun or trendy in the industry right now? Do you know somebody who is?

Counselor is looking for nominations of people for its third annual Hot List, which will be published in August – our Hot Issue. We’re on the lookout for anyone in the industry who is taking an interesting approach to business, shaking up the status quo or simply networking like a maniac at all hours of the night. We’re in search of those people who are making the industry a unique marketplace that’s fun and energetic.

Send an e-mail to Karen Akers at kakers@asicentral.com explaining in 50 words or less why your nomination should be recognized on Counselor’s Hot List in August. And, please make sure to include a picture of the person you’re nominating.

For links to previous Hot Lists, click here.

Tip of the Day – The Significance of ROO

Filed under: Tip of the Day

It’s important to note that ROI isn’t the only acronym in town; ROO, or return on objective, measures the amount of money that it takes for a company to woo prospective clients, according to Cliff Quicksell Jr., founder of Quicksell Consulting. “ROO is the total cost of goods sold – what it costs you to do the piece – divided by the number of objectives met,” he says.

Quicksell offers an example of ROO in which an industrial company shows off a piece of equipment at an industry trade show. “Say I have a new piece of equipment and I’ve qualified 100 people that need it,” he says. “ROO is based on my objective to bring qualified buyers into the show.
“So, I’ve targeted those people with a marketing piece to bring them to that show, and each of those pieces cost me $10. Ten times 100 people costs me $1,000. Of those people, 50 actually come into my booth to see and talk about the equipment,” he says.

In this case, Quicksell says the marketing piece cost the company an average of $20 per person ($1,000 divided by 50 people). But he takes it a step further. “Of those 50, let’s say that 25 buy that equipment I’m selling,” he says. “So now, it cost me $40 per person, or 25 people divided into $1,000.”

The company can now measure that cost to the price of the industrial equipment that they’re selling. This measurement is the ROO, which offers more insight than does ROI, according to Quicksell. “The reason that metric is so important is because everyone’s marketing dollars are being measured at that level,” he says. “If it costs me $20 to bring a buyer in, does it make sense? It doesn’t if I’m selling $30 items. ROO goes a little deeper than just the ROI.”

From Advantages April 2010 issue.

Tip of the Day – Six Sales Sins

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Here are six common mistakes salespeople make and how to avoid them.

1. Fuzzy Thinking
If you can’t describe the objective of your interaction in one sentence, you may be guilty of fuzzy focus, trying to say too much at once. You’ll confuse your listener, and that doesn’t make the sale.

Decide exactly what you want and need to accomplish in this contact. What would be a positive outcome? For example, imagine that a busy executive says, “You have exactly 10 minutes of my time to tell me what you want me to know about your company. In one sentence, tell me how I should describe your benefits when I talk to my managers tomorrow.” At any stage of the sales process, you should know in advance why you are interacting, what benefits you are offering your prospect or client, and what you’d like the next step to be.

2. Talking Too Much
Salespeople often talk too much about themselves and their service or product. They make a speech rather than having an exchange or interaction, otherwise known as conversation.

The key to connecting with a client is conversation; the secret of client conversation is to ask questions; the quality of client information received depends on the quality of the questions – and waiting for, and listening to, the answers. In fact, a successful encounter early in the sales process should probably be mostly open-ended questions, the kind that require answers other than just “yes” and “no.”

And, don’t rush on with pre-programmed questions that pay no attention to the answer you’ve just received. Learn to listen, even pausing to wait for further comments. Silence draws people out.

3. No Memorable Stories
People rarely remember your exact words. Instead, they remember the mental images your words inspire. Support your key points with vivid, relevant stories.

Help them “make the movie” in their minds by using memorable characters, exciting situations, intriguing dialogue, suspense and humor. Telling stories of satisfied clients and painting a picture of how this client’s condition will be improved with your product or service is appropriate.

4. No Third-Person Endorsements
There’s a limit to how many bold claims you can make about your company and product results, but there is no limit to the words of praise you can put in the mouths of your delighted clients. Use case histories of your clients’ success stories about the benefits they received from your service or product.

When you are using their actual dialogue, you can say much more glowing things about yourself and your company than you could if the words were your own. Your endorsement stories should use the same ingredients as a good Hollywood movie: Create memorable characters, use vivid dialogue, and provide a dramatic lesson learned.
5. No Emotional Connection
The most powerful communication combines both intellectual and emotional connections. Intellectual means appealing to educated self-interest with data and reasoned arguments. Emotion comes from engaging the listeners’ imaginations, involving them in your illustrative stories by frequent use of the word “you” and from answering their unspoken question, “What’s in this for me?”

Obviously, a customer is going to justify doing business with you for specific analytical reasons. What gives you the edge is creating an emotional connection, too. Build it by using stories with characters that they can relate to and by providing a high you/I ratio, using the word “you” as often as possible and talking from their point of view.

6. Not Having a Strong Opening and Closing
Engage your audience immediately with a powerful, relevant opening that includes them. For example, “You have an awesome responsibility.” Then fill in what it is: increasing sales, reducing errors, cutting overhead, whatever your product can help your prospect do.

Another excellent strategy is to do some research. Then you can say, “Congratulations on your company’s recent success,” and describe it. Or, “I love your new commercials.” Most salespeople start by talking about their company. Talk about your prospect instead.

From Advantages magazine.

Tip of the Day – 5 Earth-Friendly Options

Filed under: Green, Tip of the Day

Curious about what to look for when sourcing for earth-friendly promotions? Try searching for these options:

  1. Biodegradable corn plastic is used for everything from pens to mugs.
  2. Solar-powered technology “fuels” earth-friendly flashlights, calculators and more.
  3. Organic cotton, bamboo or hemp makes apparel “green.”
  4. Recycled PET transforms traditional polyester and plastics into environmentally correct choices.
  5. Naturally appealing products like plant seedlings, seed packets and even imprinted walnuts provide a clever alternative to man-made promotional items.

From Advantages University, April 2010.

ASI Education Update: Webinars Page Redesign

Filed under: Education, site updates

The value of education within the promotional products industry cannot be emphasized enough, and success greatly depends upon your knowledge of everything from the latest sales and marketing trends to negotiation strategies. Our ASI Education folks — in particular Nicole Rollender and Dana Reaume — do a terrific job every month presenting Webinars geared toward the education of promotional products professionals.

(For those of you who don’t know what a Webinar is, let me elaborate. It’s a free 60-minute online course that you take simply by logging onto your computer at a predetermined time. The presenters and moderators do all the work – all you need to do is show up and pay attention! From informative discussions and slideshows to interactive discussion rooms, our ASI Education Webinars are really a great way to learn how to succeed in this industry. Best of all, Webinars are archived so you can learn any time, 24/7.)

And now we’ve given the ASI Education homepage a nice, new snazzy look so you can register and access archived Webinars more easily. Click here to see the page, and use the tabs above the calendar to toggle between the upcoming and archived Webinars. (NEXT WEBINAR: Become an Eco-Apparel Selling Expert, Weds. April 14, 2-3 pm EST – Register now!)

Got questions or comments about the new Webinars homepage? Feel free to email us at feedback@asicentral.com.

Shout out to Sr. Web Designer Craig Veltri for the design!

— Deez

Dress Me Up! The Sales Rep Interactive Feature

Filed under: General


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Last month, Advantages’  Editor and fellow Jerseyan Kathy “K-Hu” Huston suggested a fun and interactive online feature for an April story about first impressions. “Let’s play dress up the sales rep!” Kathy exclaimed in her usually buoyant way, and I was immediately intrigued. She had in mind the appropriate and inappropriate ways a sales rep should dress, but wanted to know if we — the Online Masters of the ASI Universe — could create a feature that allowed for dragging-and-dropping different pieces of apparel on scantily-clad male and female models.

Kathy, I said, we can do anything your little heart desires, and so was born the great Dress Up The Sales Rep Interactive feature!

Kudos to team member Craig for the design and functionality. Enjoy! 

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Counselor Awards Tix Available

Filed under: Awards

From guest blogger and ASI Marketing Manager Kate Malone …

The Plaza – A Celebration of the Industry’s Best

I love New York, especially The Plaza, one of New York’s most celebrated hotels and the only New York City hotel designated a National Historic Landmark.

Speaking of The Plaza and celebrations, ASI is hosting its annual Counselor Awards in its Grand Ballroom on May 5.  And, the event is going to be spectacular!

You’ll be networking, drinking and dining in the elegance of an opulent French chateau.  Perfect for honoring our industry stars.  And perfect for connecting with old and new industry friends. 

We’ll recognize and congratulate the industry’s best firms and individuals including the 2010 Counselor Person of the Year, International Person of the Year, the companies representing the year’s Top 40 distributors and Top 40 suppliers, Woman of Distinction and additional impressive leaders.

We hope you’ll join us. 

If you haven’t purchased your tickets, please click here.

Tip of the Day – How To Improve Cash Flow

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Did the check come in today? This is a common question for distributors these days, as they wait for payments from clients on jobs they’ve already paid suppliers for. And maintaining a strong cash-flow position has only gotten trickier since the economic downturn.

“With the way the economy has been, there have been a lot of suppliers in the industry – suppliers we’ve had credit with for four years – now requiring us to prepay,” says Marty Stanchfield, president of Realm Promotions (asi/305338).

To stay one step ahead of costs, Stanchfield has actually transferred these shorter turnaround times from suppliers back onto his clients, tightening payment terms from net 30 to net 15.

“We thought that going to net 15 would lose customers,” says Stanchfield. “But just explaining that we’re in business for them and explaining that we’re just doing this to stay healthy and keep offering our services – we haven’t had any backlash at all.”

When that argument is not compelling enough, Stanchfield says that speaking to the client’s desire to save money is almost always an effective strategy. He’s currently offering a major client a cash discount if their invoice is processed early, so Realm’s check is ready immediately after the order is received.

Jon Lyles, account manager for Fire Sign Inc. (asi/194443), has done something similar, offering a 1% discount to clients who pay net 15 or less. “It gives you a little bit faster cash flow, and that 1% makes a big difference for them,” he says.

Another strategy Lyles uses is to require a partial payment or half-down deposit from clients, which keeps a steadier cash flow coming in. Should a new business opportunity come up, this also allows Fire Sign to be in a better position to approach its local credit union or bank about a loan.

Since getting financing from banks can be a challenge for small businesses right now, another option is to look at accounts receivable financing companies. Promotional Capital (asi/820128) offers both up-front funds to pay suppliers and advance funds on open invoices for clients that may be running late on their payment.

“We’re trying to fill this gap,” says John Herman, president and CEO of Promotional Capital, who was previously a distributor himself. “In our program it’s potentially possible that distributors are not going to have any need for their cash to process an order.”

Herman emphasizes that good cash flow often means ensuring clients have good credit. “It’s imperative that you get credit applications from your clients,” he says. “It used to be very lax, nobody got those, but today a distributor has to get those applications and they’ve got to follow up on those applications and do their own due diligence.” – AP

From Counselor’s April Marketwise.

Nominate Your Company For The Best Places To Work Contest

Filed under: General

For the third year in a row, Counselor is setting out to identify the industry companies that employees simply love to work for. These are the distributors and suppliers that have a loyal work force and that provide a work environment which employees want to go to every morning.

Counselor will be unveiling its second-annual Best Places To Work issue in September, and it will undoubtedly include an elite list of industry companies. Do you want your company to be considered? Getting involved is easy – and it’s completely free to participate. The only necessary qualification is that a company has at least 10 employees. To nominate your company, or any others in the market that you think deserve to be recognized, simply click here. Also, there’s no risk to participating. Only the honorees – those companies with the best scores from the survey – will be published in Counselor

So, don’t delay. Click here to register your company to be considered for one of the most exclusive lists in the ad specialty market: Counselor’s Best Places To Work. 

For prior winners from 2009 and 2008, click here.

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