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ASI Employee Anticipates Her First Trade Show

Filed under: Fun, General, Profile


The ASI Show New York is right around the corner and for new ASI employees, like Emily Gilberg, that means a trip to their first trade show.

Q: What is your title and job description?
EG: I am an Advertising Coordinator, which is a part of the production and advertising operations department. I am responsible for collecting materials from advertisers and then making sure the advertising happens. This can be completed once the sales representatives have sold the advertising space.

Q: How did you get the opportunity to attend the ASI Show New York?
EG: ASI offers new employees the opportunity to attend the ASI Show New York. I have been working with ASI for about six months and I have never been to a trade show before, so this is a great opportunity.

Q: Why is it important for people who work at ASI to attend a show?
EG: I work with suppliers and distributors on a daily basis and trade shows are a really big part of the industry. Having the opportunity to go to this trade show is a great way to get a better understanding of what my clients are going through. This will help me better serve them in the long run.

Q: What do you hope to see and do at the show?
EG:  Everyone that attends the show is asked to participate in some way. Most people are responsible for either seating people for the keynote speaker, scanning badges or helping with registration.  I am listed “as needed,” so I will be helping with whatever comes up. When we are not helping out we do have the opportunity to walk around the show floor and explore. I hope to have the chance to go to a few seminars and see the keynote. I also want to walk around the floor and meet some of the people I work with every day. I think it would be great to introduce myself to suppliers and distributors that I work with on a daily basis, to put a face to the name.

Q: What are you hoping to get out of this experience?
EG: Trade shows play a very important role in this industry and I think by attending the show I will gain a better understanding of the industry as a whole. They are a huge part of the day-to-day business of the clients I work with so I think by seeing how a show works and what goes on behind the scenes will be a great learning experience.


Tip of the Day – 7 Ways to be Indispensable

Filed under: Tip of the Day

7 Ways to be IndispensableWhen it comes to work, everyone likes to think they’re indispensable, but are you really? (Things that make you go hmmmmm ….)

This month’s Advantages magazine went in search of ways industry distributors can really set themselves apart from the competition and ensure their clients won’t be looking anywhere else. In the article titled “7 ways to be Indispensable,” Advantages lays down some important strategies for sales reps to follow. Want to keep your clients around a long time? Then follow these 7 strategies:

  1. Give Them a New Idea
  2. Share Interests
  3. Be a Friend
  4. Dig Deeper
  5. Offer Additional Services
  6. Offer Industry Insight
  7. Be There in a Pinch

For the complete breakdown of all 7 strategies, click here.

Vote Now! Best-Designed Promotional Products

Filed under: Awards

PensDistributors, a special notice from Counselor magazine:

The results are in: Counselor magazine has selected the finalists for its annual Product Design Awards. Here’s where you come in. Please click here to vote for the products that YOU think are the best designed, considering both aesthetic appeal and functionality. You can select up to three products in each of the 14 featured categories. It only takes a few minutes, and your input is very important to us!

The winners will appear in the May 2012 issue of Counselor. Thanks very much for your help.

So what are you waiting for? Exercise your rights and get votin’!

Top 10 States for Nonprofit Organizations

Filed under: Tip of the Day

NonprofitsJust because “non-profit” organizations sound like they have no money, doesn’t mean it’s true.

This month’s Advantages magazine has a feature titled “Sweet Charity” that gives distributor sales reps the inside scoop on how to strike up profitable relationships with non-profit organizations. Full of tips and expert analysis from those who’ve had success in this market, this article is a must-read for distributors looking to branch out during tough times.

Check this article out now! And here’s a list of the top 10 states that feature the most registered nonprofit organizations (August 1995-July 2011):

  1. California (161,833 registered organizations as of July 2011)
  2. New York (103,654)
  3. Texas (99,192)
  4. Florida (77,288)
  5. Pennsylvania (72,847)
  6. Ohio (67,533)
  7. Illinois (66,192)
  8. Michigan (48,819)
  9. New Jersey (45,314)
  10. North Carolina (44,394)

Source: National Center for Charitable Statistics

Small-Business Tax Advice

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Tax Tips for Small BusinessesApril 15th is right around the corner – have you done your taxes yet?!

If not, this month’s Marketwise section of Counselor magazine has a few pointers that small-business owners will want to keep in mind to ensure they are getting all the tax savings they deserve this year. Check out the story now. And while I have your attention, here are just a few of the pointers:

  • Small Business Health Care Tax Credit – covers up to 35% of the premiums a company pays for its employees’ health insurance
  • The HIRE Act – puts two tax incentives into place that distributors may want to consider.
  • Equipment Purchases between September 9, 2010 through the end of 2011 can also write off its full cost, due to the increase to bonus depreciation enacted as part of the 2009 stimulus.

Hope this helps!

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

Tip of the Day – 4 Ways to Overcome Eco Objections

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Jennifer Chiu, product manager for Ash City (asi/37127), offers some smart talking points for distributors looking to sell their clients on green. “Clients need to understand the true essence of green products and also, from a business point of view, the marketing value of it,” she says.

Here are four talking points and details Chiu recommends sharing with clients to overcome objections:

  1. Remind clients that green is growing. “Industry leaders are committing to greener operations by purchasing most or all their energy needs via alternative energy sources and building facilities that are green,” she says.
  2. Explain that green is rapidly becoming a business standard. “Green is not a niche anymore,” she says. “It’s become a term to describe a brand’s or company’s philosophies. It has become a marketing tool and soon it will become the standard.”
  3. Highlight the importance of green to the average consumer. “We live in a world where green is part of our vocabulary,” she says. “For example, high fuel prices are constant reminders for green alternatives.” Leverage this common vocabulary and awareness with your client.
  4. Show examples and utilize market research to your advantage. “Retail brands are expecting to expand their product lines in organic cotton products by 33% in 2010, creating an estimated $5.3 billion market,” she says. Sharing this type of information is persuasive and establishes you as the expert, which is key to overcoming objections.

From WearableStyle, vol. 132

Tip of the Day – Make Money By Working for Free

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Make MoneyBev Middaugh does a lot of business with nonprofit organizations – but she got her foot in the door by working for free. “We donate to their events, and I encourage my people to volunteer,” says the CEO of Bright Ideas in Broad Ripple (asi/146060) in Indianapolis.

Middaugh put this into practice with a nonprofit called Indiana Women In Need (IWIN), which provides grants to women while they undergo breast cancer treatment. “They have a flower sale every year, so one year I offered my parking lot to them for the pickup of flowers,” she says. “On a Saturday, cars would come in, and my people would be there to load the flowers, so we actually physically helped them to raise money that day. That was the beginning of our relationship.”

Middaugh also volunteered her staff to raise money for the organization twice a year at no cost. This gave her an in with IWIN. “They sell T-shirts for their fundraisers, so they naturally came to us and asked if we can make their T-shirts,” she says.

So many companies focus on building revenue that they often lose sight of how giving back to the community by building an awareness campaign or donating to a cause can be a means of revenue. “When making business decisions of how to thrive in a down or stalled economy, be sure to focus on giving back to the community and creating awareness of how your company supports causes,” says D.J. Heckes, CEO of EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts (asi/191105).

One thing that EXHIB-IT! has done locally is an annual business-to-business networking event, which started with the grand opening of its new location in June 2008. It included 400 attendees, such as members of the local chambers and organizations, plus political officials and business owners in the community. At the event, EXHIB-IT! gave away a free exhibit display valued at $1,200 to a selected nonprofit organization. These kinds of events demonstrate to local citizens and business owners that your company is really connected to the community, Heckes says. “This not only shows a true commitment, but it also demonstrates sustainability and that you can grow your business network,” she adds.

A key to winning business with nonprofits is to be a part of their events and follow up with them, Middaugh says. “What does do you good is to have some of your staff there asking if they can call on them, and getting back to them afterwards,” she says. “That’s how you get these things to pay off in a big way.”

Middaugh also has the advantage of having an employee that was a part of a nonprofit organization called Noble of Indiana, which serves Indianans with disabilities. “This gentleman worked 17 years with Noble,” she says. “He’s a part of our regular staff – he works in the warehouse and chips in whenever something needs to be done, including volunteering in events. So, when they buy thank-you gifts from their donors, they come to us.”

To Middaugh, this kind of volunteer work is essential – not only to her business, but to her community. “I feel like we have to support the people who are already supporting us,” she says.

Shane Dale is a contributing writer for Wearables.

From Wearables June 2010 issue.

Tip of the Day – Where Demographics Matter

Filed under: Tip of the Day, Uncategorized

Here are 4 occasions where demographics matter:

  1. Incentives programs only work well when the reward is something an employee or customer desires. Understand the audience’s circumstances in life and their desires/needs. Then you can motivate them.
  2. Experiential promotions require face-to-face interaction with brand ambassadors. People connect to those with whom they identify. You must know who your audience will be before you can choose appropriate brand representatives.
  3. Apparel giveaways succeed when the selected garment fits the stylistic preferences, gender, age and environment of the recipients. Young female fashionistas living in Miami wouldn’t wear a fleece vest. Try a clingy baby tee instead.
  4. Cultural events frequently draw ethnic or community-centric crowds. It’s simply good manners to know the likes, dislikes, values and traditions of the cultural or ethnic group to which you’re marketing.

From May 2010 Advantages University.

Win Cash and Prizes Just for Taking Our Surveys

Filed under: Research, Uncategorized

Each year, Counselor magazine goes to great lengths to research and report on the health of the advertising specialty industry. Through its annual State of the Industry issue, Counselor reports on everything from profits and sales volumes to top markets and products.

But this research would not be possible without the data, which is why it’s so important that any and all ad specialty professionals should be taking the time to fill out our surveys — we want as many submissions as possible so that we know the research is accurate.

Of course, filling out surveys can be time consuming and we know time is money. That’s why Counselor is offering an added incentive to both distributors and suppliers to take the surveys. Here are the details.

  • Distributors: Click here and fill out this survey and you will automatically be entered to win $1,000 cash or one of two $250 American Express Gift Cards.
  • Suppliers: Click here and fill out this survey and your name will be entered in a drawing to win one of three thank-you gifts: A free one-page ad in Advantages, Counselor, Successful Promotions, Wearables or Stitches.

Please take the survey that applies to you today and help Counselor produce the most important research report done in the ad specialty industry each year.



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