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Tip of the Day – Build a Better Website

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Getting potential customers to click on your website will be for naught if you have a shoddy site that fails to communicate reliability, expertise and trustworthiness, says Josh Summerhays, head of conversion optimization at SEO.com. He says effective sites:

  1. Immediately convey a message that will be relevant to ideal customers
  2. Establish credibility by, for example, emphasizing that the site is secure and that user information will be protected
  3. Demonstrate by case studies, testimonials or other means that a company is unique and most capable of meeting an ideal client’s needs.

From Wearables’ April-May 2011 issue.

Tip of the Day – Rid Your Workplace of the 8 Most Common Behaviors that Sap Motivation

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Great stuff from Jon Gordon this month in Counselor magazine. Just thought I’d share …

As the economy turns and businesses in the U.S. look forward to a productive and growth-filled year in 2011, the last thing any workplace needs is an unmotivated workforce. Motivation matters right now, maybe more than ever. And, no workplace can afford to employ people who drain other people’s energy.

It’s incumbent upon the manager of any business to identify these draining behaviors and make sure you rid your organization of them – before they end up hurting the bottom line.

Here are eight draining behaviors (presented in Do and Don’t format to direct managers), as well as tips for how you can solve the problem.

1. The Energy-Vampire Attack

DON’T: Let negativity become your go-to response. There’s nothing more draining than a boss or coworker who is constantly negative. I call these folks “energy vampires.” They are never happy, rarely supportive and constantly nay-saying any and all ideas and suggestions that aren’t their own. According to them, you might as well give up before you start.

DO: Respond constructively when someone offers up an idea. Even if you know more about a particular project, hear them out. Let employees and coworkers know that when they come to you with their ideas, they’ll be heard with an open mind and received with respect.

2. The Out-of-Control Complain Train

DON’T: Give in to the temptation to whine. It’s a well-known phenomenon that can have catastrophic consequences: One person’s complaint resonates with someone else, who then proceeds to add grievances to the pile, which prompts yet another individual to throw in her two cents … and so on.

DO: Push for solutions. The next time a water-cooler conversation threatens to barrel out of control into Complaint Central, step in and ask the complainers how they would make things better. Better yet, ban complaints altogether. It’s tough love for sure, but it will also create and sustain a positive culture.

3. The Vicious Voicemail (or E-mail)

DON’T: Leave critical messages by voicemail or e-mail. Nine times out of 10, these critiques seem much more vehement than they actually are. Plus, any communication you send via electronic methods can potentially last forever. Not only could your words come back to haunt you, they’ll also be a constant reminder to your coworker or employee of his or her supposed shortcomings.

DO: Conduct the tough talks in person. If you need to have a stern talk with someone, or if you need to talk through a problem, do it in person. You’ll be able to ensure that your words and tone aren’t misinterpreted, and you’ll be able to immediately have a constructive dialogue with the other person. 

4.  The Busy-Bee Bamboozle

DON’T: Confuse activity with progress. You know the person. He’s always so busy but doesn’t ever seem to meet deadlines or get anything done. He’s living proof of the fact that just because his day is full of things to do, doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s getting them done.

DO: Set goals and hold employees accountable for results. These results should be ones that matter and that are visible and valuable to your team. It can be helpful to transition over to a day-to-day plan that will help everyone stay on the right track. Most importantly, don’t put your team in situations where the lines are blurred. If the goals are crystal clear, they’ll be easier to accomplish.

5.  The Low-Performer Look-Away

DON’T: Let subpar work slide. Simply put, low performers drag the rest of the team down. They are like a cancer inside your organization, creating resentment and generating more work for everyone else. And if you allow them to linger and thrive for too long, your best employees will move on to a more productive environment.

DO: Institute a zero-tolerance policy for low performers. Hold your entire team accountable for meeting their goals and adhering to the same performance standards. If one person consistently misses the bar, then you need to take swift action. Let your employees know that you value their hard work and that you will not allow others to do less and get away with it. In support of this initiative, strive for complete transparency. When your team knows exactly what’s expected, they’ll know where they stand.

6. The Disorganization Drag-Down

DON’T: Allow disorganization to impede productivity. If you’re managing or leading a company, it’s likely you’ve lost an e-mail, important paper or pie chart in your day. You’re busy, and that’s understandable. But constant disorganization can drain your employees and coworkers if they always have to cover your tracks.

DO: Make a concerted effort to keep up with your tasks. And if you can’t immediately put your hands on something you need, don’t automatically ask others for help. Take a few minutes to try and find what you need on your own. And, remember that there’s no substitute for communication when you do drop the ball. If you are honest about it, they’ll be more likely to jump in and help you keep things organized.

7. The Chronic Deadline Dodge

DON’T: Allow unmet deadlines to throw everything off-track. When people chronically miss deadlines, it’s a sure sign of a cultural issue. Either people aren’t giving it their all or they’re truly overburdened.

DO: Set reasonable, clear deadlines. Once something gets off-track, nobody is willing to own it. Make sure you set reasonable deadlines that you and your teammates can meet in order to avoid setting folks up for failure. Even if it takes some extra elbow grease from time to time, make a conscious effort to meet every deadline every time.

8. The Blame Game

DON’T: Point fingers at others in order to take the heat off of yourself. A mistake is made, the boss is mad, a deadline is missed. If all eyes are on your team and you start pointing fingers, you could be making a huge mistake. If your employees or your coworkers don’t think you shoulder your share of the blame or are unapproachable when it comes to constructive criticism, they’ll start to shut down toward you.

DO: Accept responsibility for your actions. Nobody likes to be the one at fault. But owning up to your mistakes and learning from them are big parts of working together and being successful.

From Counselor’s April 2011 issue.

Counselor Best Places to Work 2011

Filed under: Survey

Best Places to WorkListen up, ad specialty folks.

Do you get up in the morning excited to go to work? Do you high-five your co-workers as you pass them in the hall? Does your company’s work environment foster positive energy? Then it’s time for you to nominate them for the Counselor Best Places to Work in the ad specialty industry!

The survey is simple, brief and must be filled out before April 29, 2011.

Click here to learn more and to nominate your company now!

State of the Industry Surveys

Filed under: Survey

Industry people, we need your feedback!

Our fine Research Department is currently investigating the overall health of the industry for our annual Counselor State of the Industry report. Take a few minutes to fill out our survey and you could win some great prizes, including:

  • Distributors: 1 of 3 prizes totaling $1,500, which includes the grand prize of a $1,000 gift card
  • Suppliers: free ad in an ASI magazine

 Distributors, click here for the survey.

Supplier State of the Industry Survey 

Suppliers, click here for the survey.
Distributor State of the Industry Survey

So what are you waiting for!? Take our survey now!

Vote Now For The Best-Designed Products

Filed under: Awards

Counselor Product Design Awards 2011Each year, Counselor magazine chooses finalists in a multitude of promotional product categories and asks distributor members to vote on the best designs. From desk accessories and apparel to writing instruments and housewares, this year’s finalists offer everything from innovation and function to pure fun!

And now it’s your turn to pick the winners.

Simply go to www.asicentral.com/productdesign (you must be a distributor member) and check out images and descriptions from all 14 categories (see below). Once you see the product design you like best, vote for it and move on to the next category. It’s that simple!

  • Apparel & Caps
  • Awards & Recognition
  • Bags
  • Calendars
  • Computer Accessories
  • Desk Accessories
  • Drinkware
  • Electronics
  • Housewares
  • Meeting Products
  • Packaging
  • Sporting Goods
  • Watches & Jewelry
  • Writing Instruments

Thanks for voting!

Tip of the Day – Eight Steps to Generate More Visitors to Your Website

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Web TrafficHere are eight building blocks to consider for your new Web traffic strategy.

  • Step 1 Focus On Your Existing Traffic First
  • Step 2 Start From Scratch
  • Step 3 Think Locally
  • Step 4 Play To Your Strengths
  • Step 5 Keep It Fresh Through Blogging
  • Step 6 Get To The Point And Don’t Overwhelm
  • Step 7 Accrue Links On Other Sites
  • Step 8 Include Social Media Efforts

For more, go to Counselor’s Blueprint newsletter.

Tip of the Day – 20 Common Promotional Errors (and How to Avoid Them)

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Don’t rely on good luck this St. Patrick’s Day for the best promotional results. Avoid making these common campaign errors and you’ll set your clients up for success all year round.

  1. The promotional product does not match the image of the brand it represents.
  2. The demographics of the audience was not considered when choosing the promotional product. 
  3. Simple proofreading errors torpedo campaigns. 
  4. Proportion of logo to product isn’t flattering. 
  5. A logo is too “in your face.” 
  6. Sizing is too generic. 
  7. The message is lost in translation. 
  8. A joke goes wrong. 
  9. The advertiser under-spends. 
  10. The advertiser chooses to invest in other media instead of ad specialties. 
  11. A promotional product campaign doesn’t have a response mechanism or trackable outcome. 
  12. Lack of objectives decreases a campaign’s success. 
  13. Artwork fails to yield a correct and quality imprint. 
  14. Product-safety issues are overlooked. 
  15. The product solution isn’t backed by an appropriate distribution plan. 
  16. The promotional gift chosen doesn’t offer enough “utility” value. 
  17. The promotional product isn’t presented in an attractive or thoughtful manner. 
  18. The audience was not properly targeted. 
  19. Follow-up doesn’t happen.
  20. The product is a one-shot solution.

From Advantages University, March 2011.

Tip of the Day – Write A Good E-Mail Subject Line

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Email Subject LineMost distributors today are doing some kind of e-mail marketing, either through direct promotions or e-mail newsletters. But they often don’t spend enough time on the one thing that just about every e-mail recipient sees: the subject line.

The key is to make people open your e-mail marketing efforts. Here are four tips to make sure that your subject line stops them from just hitting delete.

  • Write the subject line last. “It makes more sense to come back to the subject line after you finish writing the content,” says John Arnold, author of E-mail Marketing for Dummies and Web Marketing for Dummies. “Look for the most compelling topic to highlight in your subject line.”
  • Give a hint. “A vague subject line is a waste of space,” says Arnold. For example, consider a monthly newsletter with the subject line of, “Bob’s Bistro Newsletter: March, 2011.” According to Arnold, “This fails to tell the recipients anything about what they will find when they open the e-mail and offers very little reason to do so. A better approach for a newsletter is, ‘Bob’s Bistro: Our favorite recipes shared.’”
  • Keep it short and simple. In just three seconds or less, recipients will either open or delete your e-mail, says Arnold. And, “With only 30 to 50 characters, including spaces, to create a winning subject line, you must convey your most powerful statement into those few words.”
  • Feature a benefit. Compel people to open the e-mail by providing one clear benefit that is found in the e-mail. But, stay away from words like “free” or “guaranteed” because those often get caught by spam filters.

From Counselor magazine’s March 2011 issue.

It’s a Dirty Job, But …

Filed under: Wearables

What is it about dirty jobs that makes them so revolting, yet so interesting at the same time?

Of course, unless you’re Mike Rowe and you work for the Discovery Channel’s aptly named “Dirty Jobs” TV show, nobody really *wants* a dirty job. The allure, I suppose, is the same as passing a car wreck – you just can’t turn away. Or, maybe, it helps one feel good about the boring-yet-squeaky-clean desk job they do for 40 hours a week.

Whatever the case, dirty jobs are so cool these days that Wearables magazine did a feature story this month on a handful of tough men and women who get good and grimy every day — and the apparel they wear during their working hours.

Introducing Dirty Jobs: Uniforms Edition!

In this article, Wearables spends the day at the following dirty jobs and learns a few things about the apparel worn to combat all kinds of nastiness:

  • Zookeeper – who flung poo?!
  • Mechanic – where body fluids flow! (auto bodies, that is)
  • Chef – great green gobs of greasy grimy … well, you get the idea
  • Crime Scene Clean-Up – use your imagination on this one

Ugh, now I have an urge to take a shower!

— DirtyD

Tip of the Day – Fun Things to Do for Your Presentation

Filed under: Tip of the Day

PresentationEveryone loves samples, so take a minute to come up with some creative giveaways for your presentations. Not only will your prospects hear what you have to say, but they’ll also have a tangible item to help them remember you. Here are eight great ideas.

  1. Bring donuts and coffee – in a donut box imprinted with your information, of course! Take it a step further and give each team member you’re presenting to an imprinted mug.
  2. Give each person you present to a pen and notepad imprinted with your contact info, so they can take notes during your meeting. 
  3. Award a $25 gift card to the first person who correctly answers a question about something you mentioned during the presentation. 
  4. Start with a funny or engaging video about promotional products. 
  5. If you’re pitching to a client that is out of state, bring an imprinted food item that is famous in your city. 
  6. Showcase your success – bring a relevant item from a previous sale and describe how you hit the home run. 
  7. When you’re presenting a promotion about specific apparel items, wear them! 
  8. Have the prospect’s company information imprinted on something small – tapping into your own bottom line creates goodwill.

From Advantagesmag.com March 2011 issue.


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