Motivational Push

'The Biggest Loser' Stars Inspires In Long Beach

Jillian MichaelsFitness trainer and TV star Jillian Michaels headlined an inspiring few days at the ASI Show in Long Beach. Plus, a full slate of education sessions and new-product offerings were on display.

Jillian Michaels grew up an overweight, depressed kid. She was bullied in school, and she had to overcome the challenges that many adolescents do. None of that, though, has stood in her way of becoming an internationally known fitness trainer after starring on television’s The Biggest Loser.

Now the head of a healthy-living empire with books, DVDs and regular appearances on TV, Michaels shared her inspirational story during her keynote session at The ASI Show Long Beach in March. Ultimately, her motivational speech offered advice for attendees to lead happier lives and succeed in business.

The native of Los Angeles says her life changed at 13 when she discovered martial arts, thanks to her mother. The love of her mother and the close bond she formed with her martial arts coach propelled her to eventually earn her black belt and totally change the outlook of her life. “Having a few people who support, care and believe in you is critical for your journey in life,” she said.

Michaels started work as a trainer in her early 20s, and after a detour into a “real job” that she wasn’t happy with, she returned to fitness and was able to open her own gym at the age of 29. She told attendees they can succeed by following their passions, but advised them to educate themselves before taking a leap.

“The more security you seek in life, the less you will have,” she said. “The more risks you take, the more wealth and abundance you will find.”

For people making a change in their lives, Michaels says the catalyst is inspiration, but that continued success is found through motivation. She identified it as “the Why” – a goal that pushes you to stay the course. “If we don’t have that purpose to carry us through,” Michaels said, “you will be depressed and exhausted. You have to have that ‘why.’”

Be a Consultative Seller
While Michaels provided the motivation for attendees at ASI Long Beach, Education Day speakers offered the strategies needed to succeed in business today. One clear sales tip: Sell ideas, not products.

“Here’s a bunch of stuff. If you see something you like, give me a call.” Have you ever used this phrase while dropping off samples to a new prospect? If so, you’ve committed “promotional malpractice,” David Blaise told attendees during a session on how to be a consultative seller. To really be successful in the ad specialty industry, Blaise said, distributors must take a diagnostic approach in meetings with clients and sell solutions rather than products.

To position yourself as a promotional consultant, he said, here are three questions to ask potential clients that will help you uncover their promotional needs:

  • What is the biggest challenge you face in promoting your business right now?
  • Where do you need to see some quick improvements in your business?
  • What’s the most effective promotion you’ve ever done?

Once you uncover this type of information, Blaise said, you can “connect the dots between what they want and what you sell.”

Another tip: If a client calls you and asks for, say, 1,000 key tags, Blaise said, ask some questions before pitching a specific product. “Ask them what they’re hoping to accomplish by using your products,” he said.

As an example, a car dealership might say they’re planning to send the key tags out as part of a mailing to 1,000 consumers who live in their targeted area. “If that’s the case,” he said, “you might suggest instead that they attach a key to each key tag, and invite prospects to come in and try the key out on a trunk in the middle of your dealership. The key that fits the trunk wins a prize. All of a sudden the dealership has more foot traffic. When you recommend a specific promotion like this, rather than just a simple giveaway, clients begin to see your real value.”

Yes, Social Media Can Help Grow Your Business
Of course, much of the selling and customer interaction that people in the ad specialty market are having these days is online. The problem that many companies run into with their social media efforts? Time gets spread too thin, according to ASI Long Beach Education Day speaker Bobby Lehew. To be more effective and save time, don’t be afraid to determine which social media is more effective for your business – and to kill the rest.

“Really narrow down your social media and get very selective,” said Lehew, chief branding officer of Robyn Promotions (@robynpromo), during the “Taming the Social Media Monster” class.

And, start thinking of yourself and your service differently. Instead of saying you sell promotional products, think of yourself as someone who creates memorable moments or, say, makes branded products simpler or creates brand champions. “Suppliers sell products,” said Lehew, in suggesting the types of content that distributors should push out on social media. “Distributors sell purpose. Ralph Lauren is famous for saying he’s in the storytelling business. You don’t sell mugs. You don’t sell pens. You create calls to action.”

To quickly improve story-telling, focus on good product photos and invest in cameras with wi-fi cards so anyone at your company can shoot and post anything, anytime. And, consider more online contests and giveaways. “You’re in a fun business,” he said. “And people love to get free stuff.”

In addition, Lehew suggests distributors:

  • Better capitalize on the end-user experience, by providing case studies and showing how people are actually using promotional products every day.
  • Use Hootsuite to better manage social media, and subscribe to their emails and read their blogs.
  • Consider SlideShare, which is “SEO gold,” he said.

Finally, he cautioned the audience to be true to their company and their business goals. “Don’t walk out of here and copy what we did, because we’re in different markets,” he said. “If you want to tame the social media monster, just get started doing it in your own way.”

Succeed with Email Marketing
Email marketing is often considered as bad as the dreaded spam, according to Natalie Henley, vice president of marketing for Volume Nine, of Denver. But instead of shunning it, companies should make email marketing a valued piece of their marketing tool kit, said Henley (@marketing_Nat), who offered marketing tips and trends during the Get Noticed track on Education Day at the ASI Show Long Beach.

“The first mass email was sent to about 400 people in 1978,” she told her class. “The return? About $13 million. And email marketing still drives the best ROI. For every dollar spent the average return is $44.25.”

Even better, email marketing remains cost effective. Companies can use simple, inexpensive programs like MailChimp and Constant Contact to get started immediately. “Email marketing is the glue that holds your overall marketing strategy together,” she said. “Done correctly, email marketing is not spam. And the best part? It brings people to your website.”

Here’s how Henley believes distributor firms should approach their email marketing efforts:

  • Build an email list instead of buying one. Include current customers, networking contacts and sales prospects.
  • Design an email campaign that’s mobile-friendly. Keep the look basic and simple with minimal text and avoid pics and graphics that take too long to download on a phone, which is where 50% of people read emails these days.
  • Keep it short, at about 200 words or less, and include a call to action.

When it comes to blogs, Henley said, “The Golden Rule is that it’s all about content. Start with the informative content people can use and follow with an email to promote it.”

Good content includes useful information, exclusive sales or deals or a video with a “play” button for easy viewing. Bad content usually consists of overt selling tactics or self-promotions and canned material. For subject lines, avoid all caps. Track your metrics and open rates and send emails in the middle of the week, in the middle of the day.

“The best tip I’ve ever gotten is to write an email like you’re writing to a person – not to a list,” she said. “Your authenticity and tone will come across.”

Craft a Quick Pitch
A good elevator pitch is an important tool to turn prospects into clients, marketing expert Bobby Lehew told ASI Long Beach attendees during his show-floor education session, “Energize Your Elevator Pitch.”

The key to a good pitch? For starters, keep it to 45 seconds or less, Lehew said. Start off by spending the first 10 seconds or so by sharing your unique value proposition. Examples of how you differentiate yourself from competitors might be something like, “We create calls to action,” or “We create brand champions,” Lehew suggested.

Then, use the remaining 35 seconds by relating a short and interesting success story about how you recently did just that for a client. “Give them the best story you have,” he said. “People relate much more to colorful stories than sales pitches.”

Beyond using storytelling in an elevator pitch, Lehew said, distributors should use their company’s website and social media efforts to “tell behind-the-scenes tales” of all of their recent successful promotions.

As an example, Lehew said, his company recently created a company store for a firm’s anniversary celebration whereby 2,500 employees could go to order their customized anniversary T-shirt. On Lehew’s corporate website, the program, including pictures, are detailed for prospective clients. Lehew recommends that distributors take photos and videos of all of their client promotions and publicize them on their websites (with the clients’ blessing, of course.)

“If you show how you’ve actually created memorable moments for clients, rather than just talk about the products you’ve sold, you’re going to be a lot more successful,” Lehew said.

Fun Finds

Click here to see 8 products straight from the ASI Show Long Beach!