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Tip of the Day – Hang On To Top Customers

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Here are four strategies to ensure you don’t lose communication with – and ultimately, lose business from – your top customers.

  1. Be around. Golf outings, charity events and swinging by the office with a box of cookies go a long way toward keeping you top of mind with your clients.
  2. Service, service, service. It is the one thing that will keep clients’ eyes from wandering. While they may be able to find products cheaper, they run the risk of having items show up incorrect or not at all. 
  3. Be professional. There are thousands of distributors, and not all of them are fully committed to their clients and their businesses. Always show that you are 100% committed all of the time to your client’s promotional needs. The approach will make you stand out from the distributor crowd.
  4. Offer ideas. Sure, other people offer the same products, but do they offer the expertise as to how to use them correctly to receive the best results? Probably not. Your point of differentiation with current clients can be the creativity that you provide over lower-cost competitors.

From Counselor’s August 2010 issue.

Tip of the Day – 5 Ways Business Owners Can Save Money

Filed under: Tip of the Day

There are lots of ways that savvy small-business owners can save some green. Here are five tips to help keep a little bit more cash in your pocket.

  1. Don’t fall for technology hype. Although new technology is tempting – especially those cool smartphones that sync every aspect of your life in one handheld device – they’re not always the smartest purchase. Many business owners get sucked in by latest and greatest tech items such as iPads and innovative computer software; however, think before you buy – are you simply intrigued personally by the product? You must evaluate how useful the item is for your particular business before doling out money for it. If you do want a fancy smartphone, think about its ROI for your business: For example, if one of your service goals is to send a quick response to all e-mails you receive within 10 minutes, a smartphone would be a great investment.
  2. Hang on to your home office. Many business owners think that finding a retail space to rent is the first step in starting a business; however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. If you often travel out of your shop space to see clients, remaining home-based will help tremendously when it comes to saving money. Until you grow large enough that you absolutely need more space for extra equipment or need a showroom, it’s much cheaper to run the show from a place that you’re already paying to also live in. If your business is product-driven, a showroom might be necessary, but even in that case, make sure you find the best deal on renting. Rent is an ongoing expense, so weigh it carefully. Some decorators do choose to rent inexpensive office space with a conference room to meet clients outside of their home-based business, if their homes aren’t conducive to client meetings.
  3. Try used office equipment. If you do move into a retail space, consider purchasing used desks, cabinets and other office equipment. There are always opportunities to buy used equipment and furniture, especially in the last couple years with the consolidation of large companies. If a company is going out of business, it’ll have tons of used machines and office supplies for low prices because it has to get rid of them. In many cases, the goods look brand-new and still run smoothly. In addition, as embroidery shop owners close their doors for a variety of reasons, you can benefit from purchasing their embroidery-specific equipment and supplies.
  4. Rethink recurring expenses. Every recurring expense, such as your rent and even your Internet bill, has to be offset by recurring revenue. Pay attention to what you’re spending the most money on every month and look at renegotiating the prices, if possible. For example, if you’re in a commercial property, you should think about renegotiating the lease or looking for cheaper space to rent. You should examine every dollar that goes out automatically, on a monthly basis. The recurring bills are going to have the biggest effect on your bottom line because if you don’t have revenue to offset expenses, your cash flow will be negative.
  5. Try combination-approach advertising. Just because some companies spend half their budgets on marketing and advertising doesn’t mean you have to do that. Social media vehicles, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, have been proven successful because most people are on one of the three Internet-based programs. Self-promotion items are also a cheap, easy way to advertise if you choose an item that represents your company rather than choosing the cheapest one. Using a combination of these approaches and reaching clients from several angles is the most efficient way to get your message across.

From Stitches’ Embroidery Business Insights vol. 123

Tip of the Day – 3 Steps to a More Productive Workday

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Prioritizing daily tasks is key to successful time management. When you prioritize, you make sure you accomplish the most important tasks first. Make time management a habit, and your stress level will thank you. Follow this process offered by the team of experts behind Thriving in the Workplace All-in-One for Dummies.

  1. Start with a master list. Write down every single task, both mundane and critical, that you need to accomplish. Don’t rank the items at this point. Be sure to include routine duties. Neglecting to schedule the humdrum to-do items can topple your well-intentioned time-block schedule.
  2. Determine the top-priority A-level tasks – things that will lead to significant consequences if not done today. Focusing on consequences creates an urgency factor so you can better use your time. If you have a scheduled presentation today, that task definitely hits the A-list.
  3. Categorize the rest of the tasks. Use these categories:
  • B-level tasks: Activities that may have a mildly negative consequence if not completed today.
  • C-level tasks: Activities that have no penalty if not completed today.
  • D-level tasks: D is for delegate. These are actions that someone else can take on.
  • E-level tasks: Tasks that could be eliminated. Don’t even bother writing an E next to them – just cross them out completely.

From Advantages magazine’s July issue.

Olivia Newton-John Interview

Filed under: Education, site updates

Olivia Newton-JohnHow cool is this story?!

Olivia Newton-John — that’s right, Sandra Dee herself! — is not only a breast-cancer survivor but the spokesperson for a new breast self-exam item called Livgeiger. The actress and singer recently sat down with Counselor magazine for an interview about Livgeiger. Listen to the podcast here.

And here’s the news excerpt From Counselor PromoGram, vol. 732:
Counselor Top 40 distributor Geiger (asi/202900) announced this week that it is the exclusive promotional and small retail provider of a new groundbreaking item called Liv. The breast self-exam item, created by Emmy-award-winning singer Olivia Newton-John and Dr. Ernie Bodai, is FDA-approved and is meant to make it easier and more accurate for women to examine themselves for breast irregularities.

Newton-John, a breast-cancer survivor, is the spokesperson for the product, which will be sold by Geiger’s new unit, called Livgeiger (www.livgeiger.com). The item has a retail price of $19.95 apiece. Companies and organizations can use it as a promotional product by placing logos or messaging on the device’s handle, packaging and carrying case.

In this exclusive interview, Newton-John sits down with Counselor to explain her vision for the product and how it fits into the ad specialty market. Click here to listen to the podcast.

Counselor State of the Industry 2010

Filed under: Research, site updates, Uncategorized

Yes, folks, it’s that time of year again! Time to get a raw data look into the overall health of the promotional products industry, as well as gain some insight on how to move your business in the coming years. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Counselor’s State of the Industry 2010 Business Planning Guide!

From the exclusive Distributor and Supplier Top 40 list to the strategies on how to improve your business, the Counselor 2010 State of the Industry is chock full of stats, facts, how-to manuals and much more!

Plus, as an added online bonus, we’ve created a video with tons of charts, graphs, quotes and “Did You Knows” regarding the industry in 2009.

So what are you waiting for?! Check out www.stateoftheindustry.com now!

Tip of the Day – Ramp Up Marketing Efforts

Filed under: Tip of the Day

One of the most important ways to increase revenues immediately is to first fine-tune and increase your marketing efforts. After all, new business and new channels of revenue are the result of marketing campaigns that reveal new leads to call on. Whether it’s a new referral program, a new online social network campaign or a new targeted print advertisement, distributors have to ramp up their marketing now to take advantage of an expanding market and new opportunities.

Here, ad specialty distributors and business and management experts offer 10 ways that you can expand your marketing efforts right now.

  1. Follow your dollars. 
  2. Get organized. 
  3. Coordinate a targeted mail campaign. 
  4. Fill the pipeline.
  5. Update your website.
  6. Send out e-newsletters or e-mail specials. 
  7. Get involved locally.
  8. Position yourself as an expert within your organizations.
  9. Mention what you do to everyone. 
  10. Market yourself consistently.

For the complete Counselor article, click here.

Tip of the Day – Create a Value-Packed E-mail

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Buzz Hill, owner of SourceMaster, uses a video e-mail tool that allows him to shoot a several-minute-long personal video greeting from his desk, upload it, attach it to an e-mail, and send it to his would-be clients.

The tool, which is powered by CoVideo Systems, is customizable. “If you have a good digital catalog that you want customers to look at, you can link the digital catalog there and direct them to all of your specials,” Hill says. “And it only takes two minutes to customize your templates.”

Hill recently used this techno-savvy door-opener to renew a relationship with a client. “Madelaine had been a customer since about 2007 and ordered on a regular basis, but then all orders stopped in July 2009,” he says. “I called and left messages and sent e-mails, but it looked like the relationship was done.

“Then, I got the video e-mail program, and I made my regular follow-up phone call to her as usual. I got the voicemail, but this time, rather than leave a message to please call me back, I just left a message that I sent a personal video e-mail to her inbox, and to please view it. In the video, I told her I appreciated her business, and although she had not ordered in almost a year, I still wanted her business and appreciated her as a customer.”

From Education Adviser e-newsletter, vol. 29.

Photos From The ASI Show Chicago

Filed under: asi radio show, The ASI Show

During Day 1 of exhibits at The ASI Show Chicago, ASI Radio celebrated its 2nd anniversary … and the cameras were there. Enjoy the pics!

Tip of the Day – 10 Surefire Door Openers

Filed under: Tip of the Day

10 TipsSteal some ideas from real reps who put persistence and creativity to work to win their prospects’ business.

  1. Tell a Great Story – “There was an old grandpa who drove an old Chevy…”
  2. Buy Something From Them – “Might I buy your products back?”
  3. E-mail a Value-Packed Video – Re-establish a personal connection.
  4. Consider Yourself “Awesome” – It’s all in the attitude.
  5. Suggest a Product/Slogan Tie-In – “We’re a cut above.”
  6. Send a Bouquet – “Take some time to smell the flowers.”
  7. Add a Signature Touch – Signed artwork sealed the deal.
  8. Drop a Line – Don’t leave a notepad naked.
  9. Team Up – Help others help you sell your services.
  10. Do What You Love – Use your personal passions to connect with prospects.

Read the complete Advantages story here!

Tip of the Day – Make The Most Out Of A TradeShow

Filed under: The ASI Show, Tip of the Day

Six way-cool tradeshow tips:

  • Go to a show with an idea-oriented mindset, thinking of the whole programs of particular clients and possible applications for everything you see.
  • Use the divide-and-conquer strategy. Meet with other reps from your company before the show to plan how you will cover all the booths. Draw up a list of explicit customer wishes, plus other ideas you’re looking for and give each rep a printout of the list.
  • You can save time by scheduling meetings on the floor with only those preferred suppliers who don’t have local representation or who you don’t normally see back at the office. But be sure to stop by your local suppliers booths to at least say hello.
  • Suppliers’ networking events can be a great way for newer reps to form beneficial relationships with vendor partners.
  • Be sure to take advantage of education sessions and share what you’ve learned with other reps. Also, share product ideas back at the office.
  • Speak with suppliers about their newest products and which markets you should target, as well as ideas for great uses of tried-and-true items.

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