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Tip of the Day – 10 Ways to Increase Email Open Rates

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Here are 10 insider tips for crafting e-mails that will increase your open rate – and get customers and prospects really interested in you.

  1. Choose your subject wisely. Your e-mail recipient sees two key details before determining whether to open and read your e-mail: your name as the sender and the e-mail’s subject line.
  2. Grab your reader’s attention quickly with a clear and concise message. The first line of your e-mail should be consistent with your subject. Otherwise, your readers may think the subject was just a red herring or get impatient and move on from your e-mail almost immediately. You basically have 15 to 20 seconds of your readers’ attention.
  3. Know your readers. Include content that your readers want to read. If you repeatedly send them things they didn’t ask for, you risk having them unsubscribe from your list, and then you’ve lost them forever.
  4. Use strategic formatting: boldface, bullet points and subheads. Various studies have shown that most people scan words online, rather than read them. Use boldface to stress key ideas or subheads to draw the reader into a longer e-mail. Bullet points and numbered lists can delineate multiple ideas in a scan-friendly fashion. For more information on how people read things online, check out respected online consultant Jakob Nielsen’s work at www.useit.com.
  5. Include a call to action and response device. Why are you e-mailing the recipient? Is it to get them to buy something? Do you want them to learn more about a product?
  6. Choose the right day to send your e-mails. Mid-week is often the best time to ensure your e-mails get read. On Mondays, people are returning after the weekend to find their inboxes full of messages from the weekend. They’re also busy figuring out what their schedule for the week looks like, which further decreases the likelihood that an optional e-mail will get read.
  7. Write like you speak. People want to feel like they’re hearing from a real, live person. Considering you are in fact a real, live person, write the way you normally speak. Use your natural voice. Avoid corporate-sounding words. Don’t be a slave to grammar: If you’d normally start a sentence with “and” or “but,” do it. All that matters is that you communicate your message in such a way that your recipients absorb it and consider acting upon it.
  8. Consider e-mail marketing software. Companies such as Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com), iContact (www.icontact.com) and MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com) provide numerous features to support your e-mail marketing campaign, such as managing your e-mail lists, tracking who’s opening and reading your e-mails, and integrating them with social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook. Some services charge a monthly fee, but others offer a sliding scale based on the number of your e-mail recipients. MailChimp offers the software for free to anyone with 500 or fewer subscribers, with a sending limit of 3,000 total recipients per month.
  9. Track who’s reading your e-mails. Sites such as www.didtheyreadit.com or other e-mail marketing managers offer you the ability to track who is and isn’t opening your e-mails, as well as how long the e-mails sat in their in-boxes before getting opened. Some include the capability to measure whether people are clicking links within the e-mail or forwarding the messages to others. “If you’re going to send all these e-mails out, you don’t want to just send them,” Watson says. “You want to track them.”
  10. P.S. Don’t forget a postscript! For those people who skim e-mails rather than read them, the e-mail’s last line usually stands out because it marks the end of what they’re skimming. Use a postscript (P.S.) to reiterate the main offer in your e-mail. If recipients skimmed past it to begin with, this is your second chance to catch their attention. If the recipient actually read the whole e-mail, then it’s a short reinforcement of your core message.

Read the entire Stitches article here.

The Squirrel vs. The Nut

Filed under: General

Here at ASI, Joe Haley is known for lots of things, least of all his ability to keep his opinions to himself.

Not only is he a managing editor at ASI and the dapper star of The Joe Show, but he’s also one of the most outspoken personalities of the weekly ASI Radio Show. So outspoken, in fact, he’s got his very own segment each week — Joe’s Rant — dedicated especially to those things in life that simply stick in Joe’s craw. (And there’s certainly no lack of ’em, that’s for sure.)

From Larry “The Perv” King and Al “Global Warming” Gore, to inconsiderate airline passengers and rude drivers who don’t use signals, nothing is sacred to Joe and he’ll rant about anything.

Including squirrels.

If you missed this week’s segment, you missed Joe throwing down the gauntlet and declaring war against the squirrels of his neighborhood because, as he says, not only are they destroying his property, but they’re now apparently taunting him by eating his tomatoes and dodging his traps.

Listen to the segment here.

This story has become so well known at ASI that there’s even a running count as to who’s winning the war. Latest count: Squirrels 4, Joe 0.

Also, one of our designers (Steve Hawk!) decided to take a few moments to create an image of Joe vs. the Squirrel or, as it’s become known internally, The Squirrel vs. The Nut. Enjoy!

Tip of the Day – Secrets to Efficient Time Management

Filed under: Tip of the Day

An economy mired in recession forces business owners to do more with fewer resources. To do that, they need to determine how best to manage their resources – and most importantly, their time.

When businesses ask Jan Yager, a Connecticut-based consultant, for time-management help, he lays out a series of simple, straightforward strategies that include delegating tasks (not relationships) and grouping similar tasks together. “If you have a skill that’s unique and your strength, that’s what you’re doing,” says Yager, author of several books, including Creative Time Management for the New Millennium.

Translation: Play to your strengths and delegate your weaknesses or the tasks that don’t require you to personally perform them. In addition, on the subject of relationships, Yager says they typically can’t be given to someone else to maintain in the same way that you built them, because trust is a person-to-person enterprise. “You want to be the one who’s creating and managing those relationships,” he says. Tasks, on the other hand, can be done in different ways by different people; if they’re qualified, they’ll still get the job done. If someone proves good at a task, give them similar ones. They may prove good at those, too.

Mark Ellwood says setting goals clearly is important. His Toronto-based firm, Pace Productivity, has advised Fortune 1000 companies in numerous countries, and his book, A Complete Waste of Time, includes all sorts of humorous anecdotes geared toward helping people avoid wasting time. That starts with clarity in addressing goals. “Managers tend to not be as clear as they would like in quantifying their goals,” Ellwood says.

Ellwood uses the word “smart” as the catch point, with each letter of the word representing a key aspect of the goals:

  • “S” is for specific, selective and substantial. Pick one good, big goal that will move your business forward.
  • “M” is for measurable. An objective outsider should be able to measure whether you and your staff achieved your goal.
  • “A” is for appropriate. The goal must be appropriate to you and your staff and must clearly benefit you.
  • “R” is for realistic. The goal must be attainable with your current resources and skill sets.
  • “T” is for timely. Create a reasonable timeline to achieve your goals, and hit your deadlines. “If you can start out with a clear goal to go toward, that will determine what you do,” Ellwood says. “Planning makes a difference.”

So too does eliminating minor administrative tasks and time wasted on e-mail. Ellwood is a fan of administrative assistants, who can ease the burden on business owners and other management-level individuals. He’s not so much a fan of e-mail, which can sap tons of time. In his eyes, there’s not enough return on the time investment, which is in part why his second book is titled Cut the Glut of E-Mail. Bottom line: The boss (or you, as the business owner) doesn’t need to be included on every e-mail. “Bosses will inevitably tell you they’re overwhelmed by e-mails, but they don’t want to cut that out because they’re afraid to,” Ellwood says.

Finally, take a vacation. Rest matters, because it improves the creativity that drives innovation in business. Don’t chastise your people for taking a break. Make it happen, so that the hours they put in for you have a higher quality of productivity. “Time management has really become a crisis issue in America, especially because people are less willing to take vacations because of concern they’ll be replaced,” Yager says. “Vacations are important, even if it’s a “staycation.’ Children grow up fast. Vacations are the cement of the relationship. It’s a chance to get to know each other. You come back replenished.”

From Embroidery Business Insights, vol. 125

Tip of the Day – Smile Your Way to Sales

Filed under: Tip of the Day

The human brain prefers happy faces. So says Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D., president of Kinsey Consulting Services and author of The Nonverbal Advantage. When you smile at someone, they almost always smile in return. And, because facial expressions trigger corresponding feelings, the smile you get back actually changes that person’s emotional state in a positive way. Here are three reasons smiling can get you more sales, all backed up by in-depth research.

  1. You’ll be unforgettable. Research from Duke University proves that we like and remember those who smile at us – and shows why we find them more memorable. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the Duke researchers found that the orbitofrontal cortices (a “reward center” in the brain) were more active when subjects were learning and recalling the names of smiling individuals. 
  2. You’ll encourage collaboration. According to a report by the British Psychological Society, positive and negative emotional responses systematically alter the use of language. Speak to a positive listener and people will likely use more abstractions and subjective impressions. But if people talk to a negative listener, they’ll probably stick to the relative security of objective facts and concrete details. Researchers speculate that this is because the smiles and nods of a positive listener are interpreted as a sign of agreement and understanding, encouraging the speaker to provide more of their own opinions and speculations. By contrast, negative listeners provoke speakers to adopt a more hesitant and cautious thinking style. 
  3. You’ll improve your productivity. Charles Garfield, author of Peak Performance, once coached the Russian Olympic weight-lifting team. Garfield noticed that when team members lifted to exhaustion, they would invariably grimace at the painful effort. In an experiment, he encouraged the athletes to smile when they got to that point of exhaustion. This seemingly minor difference enabled them to add two to three more reps to their performance. No matter the task, when you grimace or frown while doing it, you are sending your brain the message, “This is really difficult. I should stop.” The brain then responds by sending stress chemicals into your bloodstream. And this creates a vicious circle: the more stressed you are, the more difficult the task becomes. When you smile, your brain gets the message, “It’s not so bad. I can do this!”

From Advantages magazine.

Tip of the Day – Five Trend-Tracking Tips

Filed under: Tip of the Day

  1. Know why you’re tracking trends. Experts at trendwatching.com urge trend watchers to establish a goal. For promotional planners, the goal could be a better understanding of a target audience; keeping up with hot products to better motivate incentive program participants; or to find inspiration for spot-on campaigns and events. 
  2. Have a point of view. Context matters. Are you interested in trends affecting a specific market, demographic or timeline? Also keep a broad perspective. Trendwatching.com reminds trend-watchers that “you are not your own customers.” There might also be a trend worthy of note in an industry outside your specialization. For example, a luxury trend within the hotel industry can easily spill over by setting expectations of travelling consumers in a broader way. Therefore, consider pamper-intensive promotions for cruises, airlines, travel agents, etc. 
  3. Weave your web of resources. Trend alerts are everywhere in the virtual and bricks-and-mortar world. Follow blogs. Sign up for RSS feeds from resources related to areas of interest. Subscribe to magazines or newsletters that follow trends within the industries you service. Stay observant on the streets, at the mall and when travelling. Every day you’re presented with clues as to what the next big “thing” will be. 
  4. Fine-tune your trend framework. Keep a journal or log of every time you see a potential trend, then categorize your findings. Put it in context. For example, is there a specific age group or gender embracing the trend? Where is it happening? Is this a local or regional phenomenon? Does it relate to a specific event that’s transitory? 
  5. Embed and apply. Experts at trendwatching.com encourage companies to leverage their trend-spotting through active product innovation and services. You too can “embed and apply” by explaining to clients key trends you think can positively affect their promotions. Rather than simply recommending a 1980s neon-bright T-shirt for an upcoming promotion at college campuses, explain why neon colors are popular right now and that the youthful demographic has embraced the trend as fashionable. Therefore, they’ll be more likely to wear the shirt and, in the process, showcase your client’s logo. 

Source: www.trendwatching.com.

Tip of the Day – 3 Reasons Why Email Subscribers Unsubscribe

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Why do subscribers choose to unsubscribe from a mailing list? Here are the three most common reasons, according to the experts at GraphicMail:

  1. Your content is not relevant. Subscribers opt in to your e-mails with certain expectations of the nature of content they want to receive. When these expectations aren’t met, they unsubscribe. Solution: Get to know your subscribers and what information it is that they want to receive from you. A simple idea is to add a subscriber preference field to your subscription form – when the subscriber creates their profile they can then indicate what they’re interested in: promotions, new product launches, industry news, etc. Alternatively, look at the reports of your past sends. What kind of content generated the highest click-through rates?
  2. Your subscribers don’t know who the e-mail is from. If a recipient doesn’t recognize the “From” name as the same sender whose e-mails they subscribed to, they unsubscribe. Solution: Keep your “From” name consistent. 
  3. They’ve forgotten that they’ve subscribed. With the mass of e-mail communications sent daily, people sometimes forget that they’ve subscribed to your e-mails. This could mean that you’re not sending e-mails regularly enough – if you’re only sending quarterly e-mails chances are they’ve forgotten about your brand. Solution: Regularly ask subscribers to update their profiles. It ensures that you always have their latest contact details, gives them the option of choosing what kind of communication they’d like to receive from you and reminds them that they are subscribed to your list. As an added benefit, it can help you achieve greater relevancy in your e-mails.

From Advantages August 2010 issue.

Tip of the Day – Learn to Network Everyday

Filed under: Tip of the Day

To some, networking seems foreboding. You go to an event. You shake hands. Make some small talk, insert some business discussion, and exchange business cards. Then you find some excuse to call them later. You both want something. Maybe it’s business, maybe it’s a job, but either way, there’s money involved.

What can be foreboding for some doesn’t have to be. “It’s not always this fearful thing with sweaty hands and awkward moments, although I think it is sometimes for people,” says Margaret Riley Dikel, a one-time college librarian whose research led to the creation of The Riley Guide, a free career and employment guide.

In her work advising people on their careers, Riley Dikel has dealt with her share of networking. There’s one thing she emphasizes: It’s not the same as going to someone with your palm out, expecting something. In fact, it’s better if it has nothing to do with that. It’s about meeting and connecting with people.

And it’s not something for which you need a formal event. Distributors and decorators meet people every day: At the grocery store, a child’s soccer practice, on the train to work, in their neighborhoods, or in any type of shop. Everyone has friends and family. There’s no reason why they can’t be part of a network, Riley Dikel says.

“[For] a lot of people, it’s a very nervous situation,” Riley Dikel says. “It’s not much more than making a connection with people. Make a list of the people you know: Friends, family, and others. You probably already have a very large network in place. It probably wasn’t as stressful to make that network.”

When networking, you don’t need to talk about business at first. Start a discussion the same way you would with anyone. If you’re a sports fan, bring up your local team. If it’s fashion, tell someone about their clothes. (Make it positive if you’re looking for keepers.) Did the local city council make a policy change affecting business? Bring it up. Did something strange happen to you recently? Share the story! People are people, and conversation is conversation. You might be surprised how much two strangers can have in common. Talk can lead to business eventually.

From there, take advantage of the situations in which you already expect to be. For example, Caden Concepts (asi/155453) in Los Angeles used an event for one of their other business (Belly Bandit) to promote their distributorship by bringing and handing out pens and tote bags as promotional products. When people would comment on the giveaways, it would open the door for execs Kari and Lori Caden to start talking about Caden Concepts. “It’s being able to discuss it without being pushy,” says Kari Caden, vice president of the company.

Caden says she often recommends the businesses of friends, and in return, they do the same for her. That gains her business and expands her network. Chamber of Commerce and Los Angeles Business Journal functions offer networking opportunities, and most metropolitan areas have similar organizations.

In part, it’s still about being a conversationalist. A natural extrovert may have an easier time with networking. “You can network all you want, but if you don’t have the personality for it, if you don’t reach out to people, then you’re just going through the motions,” Caden says.

For the natural introvert, take it down a notch. Keep it simple, and stick to what’s comfortable for you at first. Sooner or later though, you have to reach out. Or you can send your extroverted salesman in your place. (After all, a smart businessperson hires good people to fill the gaps of your team.) But don’t be afraid. That’s the important thing. As Riley Dikel says, “I think one of the first things is to not be afraid to stick your hand out and say hello.”

3 Easy Ways to Network After You Meet Someone

  1. Send them a promotional product. Make it a friendly gesture with no strings attached. It’s a nice thing to do, and it puts a work sample in their hands. 
  2. Invite them to lunch. Everyone has to eat.
  3. Add them to an e-mail list. If they’re interested, of course. Make sure to ask first though.

From Stitches Embroidery Business Insights, vol. 124.

Tip of the Day – 5 Ways to Expand 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 are five ways that you can expand your marketing efforts right now.

  1. Get organized. To effectively market to targeted audiences, distributors first need to get their lists and systems in good shape.“Coordinate, consolidate and clarify your many lists,” says Marsha Londe, owner of Tango Partners. “Identify your groups by business, title, or information that allows you to sort and target your audience. Once you’re organized, continually update. Then, you don’t have to go through this process again.

    “Don’t send a mailing without first confirming or correcting your contact information. If you miss the intended recipient, you’ve wasted time and money, and missed an opportunity.”

  2. Coordinate a targeted mail campaign. “Coordinate the product with the message and determine your packaging,” Londe says. “The most important element is that the product they select has to have a reason or a purpose. It has to complement or coordinate the messaging. Who’s the audience, what are the objectives, and what’s the budget and time frame?” 
  3. Fill the pipeline. Londe suggests that distributors plan out their next year’s worth of marketing efforts now. The reason? To fill your sales lead pipeline in case you run into a slow time.“Suddenly there can be lull in sales, and you don’t have anything in place because you haven’t planned,” Londe says. “If you plan ahead, come July or August, which is a really typically slow time, you can gear up for the holidays. When you’re going through next year’s Christmas list the December before, then you have one step out of the way. It’s organizing, sitting down with your team, and making a plan of what you’re going to do.”
  4. Get involved locally. While it’s a good idea to join the local chamber of commerce and make networking part of your new marketing efforts, just joining these organizations and showing up to meetings usually isn’t enough to get noticed.I joined a local chamber of commerce a couple of years ago, and nothing happened,” says John Zalepka, president of Corporate Brand Inc. (asi/168854). “I paid for a bold listing in the directory of all of the chamber members – still nothing. Then, I joined the golf committee. I attended a few early-morning meetings, where I met other local businesspeople with similar interests. Next thing I know, they needed a giveaway for the outing, and they had a $5,000 budget. This proves that sometimes, all you have to do is get involved.”
  5. Market yourself consistently. “Being busy is no excuse for not marketing yourself. Sure you’re busy now, but what’s your forecast for the slower months?” Zalepka says. “You need a pipeline of qualified prospects that you continually work until you convert them into clients. Pick up the telephone and call some people. Make the follow-up calls after meeting people at a networking event. Call your top 10 clients and ask them for a couple of referrals, then make those 20 calls another day. The bottom line is, do something everyday.”

From Education Adviser newsletter, vol. 30.

Wanted! Dynamic Speakers for ASI Education

Filed under: Education

From guest blogger Dana Reaume, Manager, Professional Development of ASI Education …

August is the month to savor the last days of summer, to admire our tans and to take that much-needed vacation we’ve been dreaming about all year long. For the ASI Education team, August is also the month we put our noses to the grindstone to create the upcoming ASI Show education programs. If you’ve heard the news of our star-studded 2011 keynote lineup – which includes Michael J. Fox, Laura Bush, Wayne Brady and Mike Ditka – you know we’ve been working hard!

Now we’re looking for a few fresh faces to join our roster of highly-rated education-day speakers – professionals who can deliver compelling presentations on the most effective tools and techniques used in business today.

So, if you’re a thought-provoking sales, marketing or business-building guru interested in showcasing your talents at the 2011 ASI Show education programs, please fill out a Call for Presentations form! This is a priceless opportunity to help brand yourself as an expert in your field – and also take advantage of amazing networking opportunities to grow your bottom line and your career.

Click here to fill out a Call for Presentations form. We’d like to hear from you by Friday, August 20, 2010.

Top 10 Colors for Autumn

Filed under: Tip of the Day


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Looking for color inspiration for autumnal promotions? The top 10 colors for fall 2010, according to the Pantone Fashion Color Report, are:

  1. Living Coral
  2. Endive
  3. Purple Orchid
  4. Rose Dust
  5. Golden Glow
  6. Lagoon
  7. Lipstick Red
  8. Woodbine
  9. Oyster Gray
  10. Chocolate Truffle

OK, OK … I know what you’re thinking (because I’m thinkin’ it too), what do these colors actually look like?!

Here’s the actual color palette:

From Advantages University, August 2010.

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