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Counselor’s First-Ever Halloween Party Contest Winner Is …

Filed under: Fun

Congratulations to distributor firm CustomInk, winner of the first-ever online competition honoring the best Halloween party in the industry.

In October, my good pal and Counselor Editor Andy Cohen encouraged industry companies to submit their stories, photos and videos to our Best Places to Work Facebook page describing why their office Halloween party was the wackiest, most entertaining and most creative this year. The spoils? A $100 gift card.

And, wow, did we ever get some great submissions!

Sifting through tons of great Halloween content, Andy and I finally decided that CustomInk simply rocked Halloween harder than any other company, with employees dressing up in costumes ranging from the cast of Glee and Jersey Shore, to pop culture icons like Michael Phelps, John Oates (from Hall & Oates), Uncle Eddie from Vacation, Rosie the Riveter and many more. Congrats, CustomInk!

See their pics here.

And enjoy some of our favorite images, below.

Cast of Glee.

John Oates.

Rosie the Riveter.

Snap, Crackle, Pop.

Cast of Jersey Shore.

My Shirt – Hip or Hideous?

Filed under: Fun, General

OK, during yesterday’s ASI Radio Show, I was assuming my normal duties as one of the radio techs, when all of a sudden two minutes into the show my shirt becomes the topic of conversation. Host Melinda Ligos introduced me as usual, then went on to say:

“Vinnie’s wearing a very interesting, denim-y shirt today. A lot of sheen to it. So he’s gonna head out to the nightclubs right after this …” (listen to the ASI Radio clip here).

And so on and so forth it went. And now my shirt has become something of a discussion piece in the office, flecked with comments ranging from nightclub anticipation to rodeo wrangling.

So I have to ask you, what do you think of this shirt?!! Hip or hideous?! Feel free to post comments below … I can take it!

— DiscoVin

Tip of the Day – 4 Tips to Increase Your Profits in 2011

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Here are four strategies for boosting profits.

Step 1: Negotiate Better Terms
“I still believe in, ‘Don’t ask, don’t get,’” says Brad Akers, president of Tip-Top Branding (asi/344851), a distributor based in Chicago. Distributors should ask suppliers if they’ll extend special pricing on certain occasions such as high-volume orders, he says. Even 5% can make a substantial margin difference.

Of course, suppliers will be more apt to cut distributors a break if they can guarantee a certain level of business, early payment terms or other carrots, says Shaun Smith, managing director of Leadas Business Advisors, a business consultancy in New York. When Akers asked a supplier recently to “tighten up a bit” on an order of 10,000 T-shirts, the supplier offered Tip-Top a pricing discount. “If 20 other factories carry the same items, typically you’re more apt to get them to price match or come down a bit,” Akers says.

In fact, distributors like Akers, while espousing the virtues of service, don’t think relationships – in this price-conscious market – drive business decisions about price cuts as much as the need for orders in a tight market. When it comes to bargaining for free spec samples, rebates, reaction time or other requests, he says, “If a supplier wants the business, people will get very aggressive whether they know you or don’t.” That fact, he says, can give distributors a leg up on boosting order margins.

Step 2: Get More Strategic With Sales
Identify which customers are more profitable than others, says Jonathan Byrnes, president of Lexington, MA-based business consultancy Jonathan Byrnes & Co., and the author of Islands of Profit in a Sea of Red Ink: Why 40 Percent of Your Business is Unprofitable and How to Fix It. Then he suggests distributors color code clients or otherwise break them down into categories from best to worst. “You could do something like red, yellow and green charts for each customer on how profitable they are,” he says.

For example, greens might be fine, the yellows might need more sales attention and the reds might represent cases of customers – potentially lucrative – whose accounts need serious attention. Then distributors should direct sellers to focus their attention accordingly, so that they can target accounts that have the most potential to not only turnaround, but also provide the best margins, Byrnes says. The key, he says, is not to give salespeople too many demands at once. Just one thing to fix on a few key accounts is plenty.

“The first thing people think of is, ‘How can I fire 40% of my customers,’” Byrnes says. “But that’s the wrong thing to think about, because the most important thing is to take those good customers and make sure you never lose them, because your competitors will be going right after them.”

Step 3: Outwit Bad Buyers
Sure, the 80/20 rule – where 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your clients – applies to almost any distributor, but firing bad customers indiscriminately is a dangerous move, says Bruce Bachenheimer, clinical professor of management at Pace University in New York. For years, experts have suggested small-business owners dump the deadweight. Instead, Bachenheimer says, keep the marginal clients – you never know when a small order or difficult customer might pay off handsomely down the road – but make them turn their drain on your company into a potential profit center.

For example, Bachenheimer says, when electronics retailer Best Buy noticed certain types of shoppers would buy a TV to watch the Super Bowl and return it the next day, the money it cost to service the returns and restock those items was a drain on its profits. So it started charging a restocking fee to discourage customers who had no intention of keeping the products they bought. Distributors might consider imposing fees, for example, for clients that repeatedly demand multiple samples, art proofs, shipping returns and other profit-reducing services.

Step 4: Stop Competing on Price
Cutting prices sets “a lousy precedent,” says Scivetti, and forces distributors to “race to zero margins.” He adds that running a distributorship on 2% margins as some do isn’t sustainable. Instead, he says, Synergen competes by providing more service than its competitors.

When a recent client’s business-card order was printed with the wrong finish, for example, Synergen not only paid for replacement cards, but doubled the client’s order at no cost. By not reducing the price along the way, the profits allowed Scivetti to cover that kind of mistake. “When you run a business on 2% margins, you can’t do that,” he says.

From Education Adviser, vol. 33

Power Summit 2010 Wrap

Filed under: General, Research

Power Summit 2010If you were unable to attend this week’s ASI Power Summit 2010 from Aventura, Fl., don’t worry … ASI Team Blog has you covered! Here’s a recap of everything that went on at the Power Summit, along with news stories, videos, photos and much more. Enjoy!

Sunday, Nov. 7

After registration, a commemorative photo, which will appear in Counselor magazine, was shot from the grounds of the beautiful Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club. See the pic here.

After the photo, ASI ran a speed networking event that allowed all the guests to interact with each other in three-minute increments. See photos of the speedworking event here, and watch a video of the event with Counselor Editor Andy Cohen here.

Finally, dinner and a keynote speech from Sean Snaith, Ph.D., Director of the Institute for Economic Competitiveness, College of Business Administration, University of Central Florida. Watch Counselor Editor Andy Cohen interview Snaith following his keynote speech here.

Monday, Nov. 8

Monday began with the unveiling of the Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study, which proves that promotional products beat all other forms of advertising mediums in cost-effectiveness. This study, which follows 2008’s landmark study, covers a broader audience as it spans cities such as London, Toronto, Montreal and Sydney. Read all about this study here. And for a quick video summary of the study, don’t miss this video!

After the Impressions Study, guests engaged in lively panel sessions including product safety, supplier and distributor roundtable, and more. Watch a Counselor Editor Andy Cohen interview some of the panelists here. And for images from the panel sessions, click here.

The afternoon ended with guests having the opportunity to relax and either play golf or tennis. See pics of the the activities here.

And the day culminated in the announcement of the vaunted Power 50 list for 2010. See the list here. And watch a video interview with some of the Power 50 here.

Tuesday, Nov. 9

Panel sessions continued on Tuesday, with guests engaging in sessions about building buzz. Watch as Counselor Editor Andy Cohen interviews panelists after the sessions here.

For complete coverage of the ASI Power Summit 2010, click on the link below:

And if you’re interested in registering for next year’s Power Summit, click here.

ASI Radio Special Guest – Laura Bush

Filed under: asi radio show

Laura BushThis just in!

On Nov. 30, 2010, former First Lady Laura Bush will be a special guest on ASI Radio. Mrs. Bush — who will deliver the keynote speech next year at the ASI Show Dallas — has been involved in many advocacy efforts for human rights, healthcare and education. The ASI Radio hosts will interview Mrs. Bush for approximately 15 minutes beginning at 10:30 a.m. EST.

This is the second major ASI Show 2011 keynote speaker that ASI Radio will be interviewing. Last month the hosts interviewed actor, author and activist Michael J. Fox on everything from overcoming adversity to his favorite acting roles. Listen to the archived Michael J. Fox radio show here.

So mark your calendars and don’t miss this special event!


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