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ASI Promocar at the Cadillac Ranch

Filed under: Fun

Guest blogger Dawn Marie is ASI’s PR manager and creator and driver of the ASI Promocar, part of a year-long PR campaign to drive attention to the promo products industry.

Life sure is full of incredible coincidences, especially on a 2700 mile road trip in the ASI Promocar.

Spent the night at the Contemporary Mining Camp House in Flagstaff, AZ with Kari and Jeff, who are part of the AirBnB community. They spent nearly four years building their house, set amid ponderosa pines on ancient buffalo fields, and made partially of reclaimed material like old railroad tracks. Recently returned from a 9-month world tour with their two kids in tow, we were sharing tales from the road when  Jeff asked about the products on the Mazda now parked in their driveway.

“They’re all promotional products,” I replied, preparing to launch into an explanation of the industry when he said, astonished, “I was in that industry! Maurer and Associates.” The company, started by his dad, was centered around apparel, specializing in golf tournaments. “I bet I can even remember my ASI number,” he said, rattling it off. “We always looked for items that weren’t being carried. There were so many to choose from.”

Tell me about it!

The next day, the Promocar made it to an automobile mecca: the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX, which features 10 classic Caddys buried nose first in a field off Interstate 40, all now covered in spray paint from tagging tourists.

As we approached, a couple asked us to take their photo. Of all things, what’s the man carrying? A promotional mug from Santa Fe.

Returning to the #ASIpromocar we find a Chinese man enthusiastically filming every inch. “He’s CK,” his American tour guide explained. “He’s famous in China. Very big star. With China Auto Sports Club. He loves your car.”

Then, CK gave me a gift — his very own promotional product — a sticker from the CASC, which he’s handing out to everyone he meets on his own cross-country tour of America, in the time-honored freebie fashion.

Before we parted, they both signed the car, joining the legions who’ve already left their mark on the Promocar. So far, in addition to sigs from numerous US residents, we’ve collected autographs from Honduras, Mexico and New Zeland.

Small world indeed.

–Dawn Marie

ASI Promocar – Desert Days

Filed under: Fun

Guest blogger Dawn Marie is ASI’s PR manager and creator and driver of the ASI Promocar, part of a year-long PR campaign to drive attention to the promo products industry.

The ASI Promocar is nothing if not a conversation starter. Pull into any gas station, trading post or coffee shop along Interstate 40 in a zippy little Mazda covered inside and out in a wild assortment of logoed items and people will gather ‘round like moths to a flame. Out come the cameras – and the questions.

“Why’d you do that to your car?”
“Where you folks going?”
“Don’t they fly off?”

Feeling a little like a Walmart pitchman selling ginsu knives, I spring into action, ready with answers, freebies and questions of my own:

“Tell me this – how many promo products like the ones you see on this car do you own?”
“And which company gave you that pen/T-shirt/cap/coffee mug?”
“Let me ask you –How often do you use that can cooler/USB/battery charger?”

It’s a light bulb moment – and it goes off every single time, during every single roadside spiel.

“Yup,” I tell the Long Island family of four traveling to Phoenix for their daughter’s wedding, “This is a $21.5 billion industry – for good reason. Promotional products are an affordable, high-impact item any smart business can use to put their company name, slogan or event front and center in a user’s mind.”

“What’s the last TV commercial you remember?” I ask. “Can’t think of it, eh? But you sure remembered the name of the bank that gave you that great pen you use all the time, didn’t you?”

ASI could send out a hundred press releases touting promo products’ terrific recall and ROI without ever scoring the kind of one-on-one, face-to-face affirmation I’m experiencing every day on the road about products people use, enjoy and, above all, remember.

And in this day and age, when so many of our shared experiences are electronic, it’s downright refreshing to look people in the eye, shake their hands and laugh over something silly like the zombie stress ball glued to the Promocar’s driver’s side door.

For a week, the #ASIpromocar gets to be a mobile roadside attraction, in the spirit of Arizona’s Wigwam Motel and the giant golf ball in California’s Mojave Desert. It’s good old American fun, which I’m betting we can all use a dose of now and again.


–Dawn Marie

Newflash! Aliens Abscond With ASI Promocar

Filed under: Fun

Roadside extra-terrestrial overcomes driver, drives off in company art car on its 2,700 mile journey across the U.S.

April Fool’s! The ASI Promocar is safe and already in New Mexico, bound today for Arkansas on its cross-country promotional tour. The car has been very popular with everyone who sees it. You can follow it, along with rightful driver Dawn Marie, on ASI Central, ASI Central’s Facebook, Tim’s Blog and Instagram.

–Dawn Marie

ASI Promocar – Cruisin’ California

Filed under: Uncategorized

Guest blogger Dawn Marie is ASI’s PR manager and creator and driver of the ASI Promocar, part of a year-long PR campaign to drive attention to the promo products industry.

If anything, California is a study in contrasts. Its poverty rate is 23.5%, highest of any state in the country. Homeless are everywhere. And then you drive through Malibu, where oceanfront bungalows that look an awful lot like gussied up storage containers sell for a cool $22 mill.

Cruising Pacific Coast Highway – past the American Apparel store – we pull into a surfer’s lot next to an ancient van painted in camouflage, where an old woman in a housedress rests in the passenger seat.  Spying the #ASIpromocar, her shirtless son pops over for a chat.

“Us artists, we gotta stick together,” he says, proudly showing me his home-made promo hat, which he fashioned out of straw and plastic in honor of his beloved LA. “I bring my mom here every day. She’s got a brain tumor and I take care of her now.”

Within 15 minutes, we’ve given away three “Driving Serious Fun” T-shirts (the slogan for the year-long PR campaign the Promocar was designed around to drive attention to the promo products industry), a couple of logoed footballs and a handful of clackers, which little kids love.

“It’s free?” everyone asks. “You bet,” I get to answer.

To me, that’s the very heart of this $21.5 billion industry – the simple, powerful idea that everybody loves free stuff. Especially when it’s useful. Or just plain fun.

–Dawn Marie

ASI Promocar – A Night In Los Angeles

Filed under: Uncategorized

Guest blogger Dawn Marie is ASI’s PR manager and creator and driver of the ASI Promocar, part of a year-long PR campaign to drive attention to the promo products industry.

Driving a car covered in a riot of multi-colored promo products is tricky enough. Driving it on the infamous LA freeways, which are littered with metal carcasses from vehicular mishaps (along with the occasional flattened coyote) is a whole different experience. Every time someone beeps at me, my first instinct is to respond like the NYC driver I once was and flash the finger. Then I remember I’m driving a company car and people are beeping to say “Fun!” At least that’s what I tell myself.

Once I survived Interstate 5 and U.S. 101, the next hurdle for the ASI Promocar (#ASIpromocar) was winding, twisting Laurel Canyon Boulevard to Lookout Mountain and my eventual destination: a hilltop AirBnB rental high above LA with a view of the Pacific Ocean. Once I started climbing up, up, up I understood why every Californian at the ASI Long beach trade show where the Promocar was on display last week — as part of a year-long PR campaign to “drive” attention to the $21.5 billion #promoproducts industry — shook their heads when I told them it was a 5-speed and said, “You poor thing.”

But the 2002 Mazda Protégé performed like a champ, quivering slinkys and all. Following my stern GPS lady, now nicknamed Milly, I was doing fine, when I could stop gawking at the incredible houses, where I imagined Madonna behind every door. Then, Milly insisted “right on Sunset Plaza Dr.” — which was marked with numerous large signs warning me against entering because “street withdrawn from public use.” I pictured armed guards with earpieces and Uzis rushing the Promocar and yelling “Halt! This is a swag-free zone!”

Thankfully, a beautiful blonde surfer dude came to my rescue, explaining the hoi polloi erected the signs to prevent teenagers from congregating there to enjoy the views and neck. “Are you going to an event at one of the big houses?,” he said, eying the Promocar and I’m sure imagining what kind of wild LA bash would require stress balls and little foam figures. “Just looking for my night’s lodging,” I replied.

Then, he did something I didn’t expect in a million years. Gave me directions and his card and told me if I had any trouble finding the house, or if I needed you anything at all, to call him. “I love your car,” he said. “I’m from San Francisco and we have art cars everywhere. It’s great to see one here.”

I love LA.

–Dawn Marie

ASI Promocar Stops At The Laurel Canyon Country Store

Filed under: Fun

Guest blogger Dawn Marie is ASI’s PR manager and creator and driver of the ASI Promocar, part of a year-long PR campaign to drive attention to the promo products industry.

The century-old Laurel Canyon Country Store is a storied landmark where everyone from Joni Mitchell to Mama Cass and Jim Morrison has guzzled coffee and shopped for groceries. It is the epitome of California cool. Naturally, I drove the #ASIpromocar there to check out their promo products – and ogle celebs. Turns out, it’s like a museum for ad specialties: A Kennedy bumper sticker and Fred Astaire dance flyer under glass on the counter. Recyclable bags. And of course, T-shirts.

I got a cappuccino and a bag and took a ton of photos. Oddly, not one person asked for my autograph.

–Dawn Marie

ASI Promocar – Promotional Products Everywhere!

Filed under: Fun

Guest blogger Dawn Marie is ASI’s PR manager and creator and driver of the ASI Promocar, part of a year-long PR campaign to drive attention to the promo products industry.

Looking for promotional products when you’re on the road is like looking for Waldo. At first, you might have trouble seeing them. Then, you see them everywhere:

The toiletries at the Hyatt Regency in Long Beach, CA, where the ASI Promocar (#ASIpromocar) was on display before setting off on its cross-country PR tour. The snazzy red sunglasses worn by a woman lunching at Argentine Grill in North Hollywood, who said she got them from her school, University of Redlands, and loved them so much she wore them every day (watch video).

The big bowl of giveaway matches at Boa restaurant in Santa Monica. The coffee mug at the Laurel Canyon house where I’m staying. Even the big bold “Cali” T-shirt sported by the MC of the hip hop group entertaining the crowd at Santa Monica Pier.

I still haven’t seen Waldo, but I sure am seeing strong evidence supporting Advantages magazine’s recent research report that sales of promotional products in California grew 7% from 2013 to 2014, for a total of $1.7 billion.

Swag on, dude.

–Dawn Marie

ASIPromocar Makes A Pitstop In Cerritos, CA – A Blessing In Disguise

Filed under: Fun

Guest blogger Dawn Marie is ASI’s PR manager and creator and driver of the ASI Promocar, part of a year-long PR campaign to drive attention to the promo products industry.

Sometimes, unexpected detours turn out to be blessings in disguise. After the #ASIpromocar left the Long Beach, CA show, bound for a 2,700 mile cross-country trip back to ASI’s Philadelphia HQ, I decided to do due diligence and check all the fluids. In the darkened hotel parking garage. At 11 pm. After a 14-hour work day. Thinking I was topping off the washer fluid, I mistakenly filled the coolant overflow. Oops.

Luckily, the crew at Browning Mazda in Cerritos, CA were delighted to help, getting me quickly back on the road after a coolant flush. I did have a little fun with them first, saying with a straight face when I pulled in,  “Who do I see about an even trade,  the Promocar for, say, an MX-5? (a $28,000 sports car, as compared to my $3,500 used Protege).

Promo PucksOnce over the shock, serviceman John Cemore waxed enthusiastic (Watch Video) about #promoproducts, testifying to their undisputed value to auto dealers everywhere. Proudly, he showed off 2 logoed hockey pucks he got years ago, which remain front and center on his desk to this day.

As I prepared to leave, the entire crew gathered round for photos, saying  “This is good stuff. Wow. Gotta show this to the grandkids. It’s certainly different. Love this.”

The best part? Their reassurance that despite its 190,000 miles, the #ASIpromocar is ready to rock the open road. Stay tuned…

–Dawn Marie

Twitter Hashtag Tips – How to Do it Right

Filed under: Social Media

Hashtagging Tips

By Vincent Driscoll, ASI

Too often I’ve seen tweets in my feed that are less utilitarian in nature and seem more like a spammy pound-sign party.

Example: #Tips on how to #Help #Clients increase #Social #Media following.

If you’re guilty of composing tweets likes this, haphazardly hashtagging every other word without any clue why, then I have just one thing to say to you: Stop, you’re doing it wrong!

By definition, tweets lend themselves to a single thought, which is why the character limit is 140. That’s very little room to work with, especially when you consider you also need room for spaces, hashtags, account tags (@) and links. So you have to be precise in your messaging and succinct in your execution.

Hashtagging – which involves adding the pound sign (#) directly in front of a word (or multiple words without spaces) – is a clever way to turn words or phrase into searchable links. This basically allows you to organize content and track discussion topics based on those words and phrases, and should be done only to supplement your message.

For instance, if I’m tweeting out a video that showcases new promotional products for the tech industry, this is how it might look:

Check out some great new #promoproducts for the tech industry. #TechGadgets

My message is clear: I’ve got a video I want you to watch that showcases the latest and greatest in promotional items geared toward the technology industry.

And my execution of the message is supplemented with two hashtags that could further assist my followers: the first one (#promoproducts) takes you to discussions and links about promotional products; the second one might help you locate discussions and links about tech gadgets.

So if you’re a distributor who sells to tech, my tweet might very well be a three-pronged launching pad to find some great new techie products.

On the opposite end of the helpful spectrum is the example tweet I posted earlier. If I were interested in learning more about social media and I read this tweet, then  clicked on one of the hashtags – let’s say #Tips – it would take me to any and all content hashtagged #Tips, not just tips about social media. Finding tips about how to change my oil is about as helpful here as tips about how to swing on a vine. It’s too broad a hashtag and probably won’t get clicked on.

With a little thought, I could re-write this tweet to maximize the impact of the hashtags:

#SocialMediaTips on how to help clients #IncreaseFollowing. [LINK]

#Tips has now been turned into #SocialMediaTips and narrows your search. #IncreaseFollowing is a common phrase in the social media realm and is specific to your topic. Including the link, your tweet now has three solid pieces of content that can help followers track down information regarding your message.

Here are a few other tips on how to hashtag in twitter:

  • Keep hashtags to a minimum in tweets – no more than 2-3 max
  • Hashtags should be easy to remember
  • Hashtags should not be too long
  • The more unique your hashtag, the better

Thanks for reading! And as always, please let me know your thoughts by posting a comment below.

Why Facebook Page’s Like Totals Dropped And How You Can Find Out How Many

Filed under: Uncategorized

By Vincent Driscoll, ASI

If you’re like me and manage a Facebook business page, you might’ve noticed a “small dip” in your overall Page Likes recently. According to Facebook, the drop in Likes is due to the removal of memorialized (deceased) and voluntarily deactivated accounts from your page. The vanishing Likes aren’t legit anyway, says the social media giant, and will result in better consistency and business results going forward.

Ok, but how do Page Admins calculate this loss?

My business page — Advertising Specialty Institute — which has been active since 2009 and has over 7,000 Likes, lost 165 Likes or just around 2%. How do I know this? I found out the total number by downloading an Excel spreadsheet from the Insights tab of my Facebook Page, like so:

  • Go to your Facebook Business Page
  • Click on the Insights tab above your cover photo
  • In the upper-right, you’ll see an “Export” menu item – click that
  • Select “Page Data” for the month of March; File Format should be Excel, then click Export Data
  • Open Excel spreadsheets from your downloads and look at the tab called “Key Metrics”
  • In Column B you’ll see “Lifetime Total Likes” – this is where you should see some inexplicable Like drops (see image above) that cannot be accounted for in Column D’s “Daily Unlikes” (not shown)
  • Subtract the two, minus any Daily Unlikes for that day, and the difference will be your drop in Page Likes (I had 1 Daily Unlike during this time)

For my Page, the drop in Likes happened between March 6 and March 7 even though Facebook claims the drops will be after March 12. I’m sure it’s just a general date when you’re dealing with millions of Business Pages, so it might be different depending on your page.

However, the amount, though small, is not accounted for in the analytics. So what does that mean? It means that if you track Page Likes for your company, like me, you will now have to factor the loss into your future stats. Two percent may not seem like a lot, but if you’re tracking to a goal it could mean the difference between success and failure.

And for those of you who have yet to see a drop, it might not even have happened yet … so keep your eyes open!

PS – If you’ve noticed any discrepancies in your Page Likes, let us know how many by posting below!

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