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Blogs have become a very successful tool in generating exposure for the companies that use them. If you’re considering starting one, how do you know if it’s right for your business? Staff writer Matthew George talks with Kristine Shreve, director of marketing at EnMart, to see what it takes to become a blogger and to find out what other Internet resources companies may be overlooking. Click here to listen to the podcast.
Cold weather means bundling up in bulky layers, and fewer hours of daylight means dreary winter days that don’t exactly inspire us to be fashionable … or even to be outside.
From Canada Sportswear (asi/43682), this navy blue Men�s Interactive Outershell (L07700) is compatible with other styles for extra warmth.
Outerwear and accessories dominate during the colder months, especially at places like winter resorts. They’re also popular for hockey, corporate and award products. Men can try out something new with an Interactive Outershell jacket from Canada Sportswear (asi/43682). It can be paired with an extra layer of warmth on those extra-cold days. Choose from separately sold jacket, vest or fleece zip-up. Versions of this interactive jacket are also available in youth and ladies sizes. The optional layers will keep you toasty while shoveling the driveway or rooting on your favorite sports team outdoors.
From Canada Sportswear (asi/43682), this black and red Men’s Melton and Leather Jacket (L0027) is a perfect choice for any athletic team.
Speaking of sports, with the football and hockey seasons underway, what’s a better apparel choice for an athlete than Canada Sportswear’s top-selling Melton and Leather Jacket? This classic style is popular with high school and college sports teams. Choose a contrasting black/color combination or a stick with basic black or navy, embroidering your logo of choice.
From FIEL (asi/53509), these plaid scarves (SCVPD) make great gifts for both men and women.
According to a representative for the company, black and navy are the most popular colors for winter jackets at Canada Sportswear. It’s not a long shot to imagine this as a universal trend. With the overwhelming presence of neutral-colored winter jackets, try spicing things up with some patterned accessories. In Scotland, cross-hatched patterns of alternating colors are called tartans. We know it better as plaid, and this year’s runways were filled with it. Men can try out this season’s latest trend of plaid with a FIEL (asi/53509) Tartan Plaid scarf in one of five colors. You’ve got to admire a pattern that can go from schoolgirls to lumberjacks to the haute couture runway. Rich, colorful hues in hats or gloves can also brighten up your style this season.
Selling Tip: Upgrade your buyer’s outerwear program by recommending stylish accessories that match the organization’s colors.
ExclusiveASI Survey on Promotional Products ROI Released
ASI released a comprehensive survey that details the cost-effectiveness of promotional products. The findings were announced for the first time during a presentation at the second annual ASI Power Summit in Palm Beach, FL, earlier this month.
Based on survey data collected, the average cost-per-impression of a promotional product is now $0.004. By comparison, traditional forms of print and broadcast advertising are more expensive per impression.
The survey also showed that 84% of end-users remember the company logo on the advertising specialty items they receive. Of those who receive wearables (jackets, pants, scarves), a full 94% remember the advertising logo and company. Almost half of end-users have a more favorable impression of an advertiser after receiving an item.
According to the survey, nearly one-quarter of end-users would be more likely to do business with an advertiser on a promotional product they receive. Among those who receive recognition items like awards, 75% of end-users have done business with the advertiser.
Survey results found that bags, caps, T-shirts and pens deliver the most significant impressions per month. On average, bags achieve the best results, at more than 1,000 impressions per month. Pens remain the most-owned promotional product; among those surveyed, 20% use pens more than five times per day.
The ASI survey was conducted in June and July by teams of interviewers in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Additional interviews were conducted online.
In the Bag
Another smart way to add color to an ensemble is with a bag. Purple hues are everywhere this season, so check out the chic Lamis Business Tote in plum from Vitronic Promotional Group (asi/93990).
JoAnn Riley Beckman, director of marketing and product development at Vitronic, says that the company typically ventures into a new bag or tote style with industry core colors – black, royal, red and navy. If the style captures interest, they add fashion colors such as orange, lime, pink or purple. “Of course we keep an eye on fashion. After all, that drives our business and inspires our colorful prints and patterns.”
Vitronic offers a wide array of bags available in different colors and patterns that will suit any need. “Users of promotional products select products that they feel best reflect them. Most clients start with one item and very soon add other colors or products from the collection.”
Retail trends with hot hues and fun patterns are driving Vitronic’s product development efforts. “Throughout our 2009 catalog, you’ll see countless ways how stripes, patterns and graphics transform simple, time-honored concepts into contemporary, must-have accessories,” says Beckman.
From Vitronic Promotional Group (asi/93990), style A587, this classic tote is updated with a pop of color.
If polka dots or stripes aren’t your style, take a monochrome bag and jazz it up with a patterned silk chiffon scarf, like those available from Symphony Designs (asi/90452).
There is a range of branding methods for bags, depending on the material. Beckman says, “For a Lamis Collection item, which features our soft, supple litchi material, deep debossing finishes the product presentation with elegance and makes the company brand an integral part of the bag.”
Selling Tip: Determine a buyer’s comfort limit with patterned or brightly-colored accessories and then provide them with a range of options.
Q&A: Ira Neaman, Vantage Apparel (asi/93390)
Q: What’s the history behind Vantage Apparel? Ira Neaman: Vantage started in 1977 with the now-achieved goal of building the preeminent decoration and apparel manufacturing facility and company in the industry. We started with a basic embroidered shirt offering of two styles available in navy and white. Today the company stocks more than 950 styles and colors and offers all major forms of apparel decoration.
Q: What was the first year of business in like? IN: Different. You start out as a staff of one, doing every job. Now we sell in two hours what it took an entire year to sell when we first opened.
Q: How has the company evolved over the years? IN: In the 1980s and through the mid-90s we were a vertical apparel manufacturer and decorator. Today we use that knowledge and systems to globally source product and decorate in our U.S. plant. We operate 1350 embroidery heads, 7 screen presses and 5 digital print systems. Last year we added laser etching and laser appliqué. On the product side, we carry 11 brands including our proprietary labels, Vantage, Vansport, Vantage Green, Velocity and Verve. Non-Vantage brands have expanded to include Adidas, IZOD, Eagle Shirtmakers, Hanes, Gildan and Anvil.
Q: What is Vantage Apparel best known for within the industry? IN: Vantage is known for having high-quality apparel and decoration as well as for being a large-scale operation with fast turnaround and premier customer service.
Q: What are the company’s biggest challenges today? IN: Selling apparel and decoration at approximately the same prices we did in 1977.
Q: What’s new for Vantage Apparel in 2009? What products will distributors be excited about? Who can they sell these products to? Do you have any cool tips for how to decorate them or logo locations? IN: Our new Vansport V-Tech Performance polo is positioned to be a category-leader for the solid 100% polyester performance buy. It has full fashioned detailing and a slightly heavier fabric weight. Laser etching this piece provides an updated logo option. Eco-friendly apparel continues to be an important business and fashion trend. For 2009, we’ve expanded colors in our 100% organic cotton polo and added more organic and recycled tees and accessories. In addition to performance and going-green, the third important apparel trend is towards more sophisticated office dressing. Woven shirts are an excellent suggestion for all front-office staffs or field sales teams. We’re most excited about our new Executive 100% cotton no-iron oxfords.
It is often difficult to sell services, but difficult doesn’t mean impossible. You simply have to be very clear and extremely creative in your marketing packages so your prospects take notice and understand what they’re buying. With the right package, you can have your prospects do business with your company right away. Here are the keys to make your marketing materials unique and ornate:
Decide on the look you want to convey to prospects. Before you can design any marketing piece, you need to be clear on the image you want to portray. If you are unsure, then hire the services of a marketing professional who truly understands your vision and can help you articulate it.
Every business is constantly evolving, so it’s difficult to figure out where your image currently stands. And since most companies are always trying to reinvent themselves, you’ll have to change your marketing pieces every two to three years.
Do your research. Be sure to find a manufacturing or printing partner that is willing to work outside of the box. You might design a creative package but your manufacturer may not be able to create it. If they ask you to compromise material, size or quality, look to find a company that’s willing to take chances.
Also, look to find a marketing piece manufacturer who will educate you on what will and won’t work. Work with them during the design phase and listen carefully to their creative and practical advice. It may depend on the material and the intended use, but you don’t want to find out your idea won’t work after it’s been created.
Spend the money on a prototype. In today’s marketplace, competition is fierce. Many companies offer similar services for similar pricing. If everything else is equal, your prospects will go with the company with the best image. But being creative will generate more sales. When it comes to selling services, a little creativity goes a long way to positively impacting your company’s bottom line.
Listen to ASI Internet Radio [asicentral.com/radio]
A team of ASI editors have launched the first ever ASI Internet Radio show. For a half-hour each Tuesday, we debate the most important topics facing the industry, as well as offer an off-beat look at the market.
If you missed any of our shows, don�t worry. Recordings are available at asicentral.com/radio. And, don�t forget to join us every Tuesday morning 10:30 a.m. Eastern time when we broadcast our radio show live. We�ll be taking calls from the audience, so please call us at (215) 953-4979 to hear your voice on the air.
Sell To: It�s unique in featuring two coordinating designs on the left and right sleeve, and it�s available in multiple colors to allow you to match the color of most teams.
[ NEWS BRIEFS ]
4imprint (asi/197045) awarded a total of $46,000 in in-kind grants to U.S. and Canadian charities in the third quarter of 2008.
Bag Makers Inc. (asi/37940) has introduced additions to its eco-friendly bag collection, including a fashion tote.
Broder Bros. Co. (asi/42099) announced its third quarter 2008 revenue and profit results. Third quarter net sales were $252.3 million (compared to $246.4 million in the third quarter 2007) and income from operations for the third quarter was $7.8 million (compared to a loss of $3.1 million in third quarter 2007). For the nine months ended September 2008, net sales were $706.6 million, an increase of 1.5% from $696.4 million through the first nine months of 2007.
Halo/LeeWayne(asi/356000) announced that it has acquired the ad specialty distributor business of ESKCO Inc. (asi/189390), based in Dayton, OH. ESKCO will retain its vinyl manufacturing business and will now become a supplier in the ad specialty market, while its 13-member sales force will now sell under the Lee Wayne brand.
Optimer, Inc. has announced Lynn Weitzke as president. Weitzke will work with Optimer’s founding Moore family and the staff in growing the Dri-release brand, along with other technologies, at both the business and consumer levels.
Royal Apparel (asi/83731) has hired Mark Kelly as national sales manager.
SWF East Inc. recently released RipPro v. 4.0, a raster image processor software. Features include seamless step and repeat for textile printing, PostScript Level 3.0 support, simultaneous RIP and print, and RIP once and print many.
The Northwest Promotional Marketing Association has announced its 2009 leadership and executive committee. Mark Shinn will serve as president of the board of directors. The following will serve on the NWPMA executive committee: Lori Dollar, president-elect; Jamie Butkowski, vice-president; Dan Singley, secretary/treasurer; Evan Milton, immediate past president.
U.S. Screen Print & Inkjet Technology has released an updated catalog which includes all the new products including the T-Jet AutoTREAT PRO, Hotronix heat presses, new volumes of FastART and a new service called MyArtDr.com
U.S. Screen Print & Inkjet Technology now offers the AutoTREAT Pro. It is intended to allow the user to treat shirts on a production level rather than spraying shirts individually one at a time. Capable of spraying up to three shirts per minute.
Check Out the All-New ASICentral.com
You may have noticed some big changes in the ASICentral.com Web site over the past few months. The site has been redesigned to include enhanced features, such as new interactive tools, easier navigation, an upgraded search function and improved training manuals and customer service. One of the latest additions is a new blog from the ASICentral.com team. You can meet the whole team (including Wearables� publisher, Rich Fairfield) on the team's bio page.
The ASICentral.com team wants to hear from you, so visit the blog today and voice your opinion about the site, or e-mail email@example.com. Plan to check the blog regularly to find out about site upgrades, new awards and events, and everything that goes into making ASICentral.com the site that helps you manage your business.
[ ASK AN EXPERT ]
Question: What happened to all the pigment dyed polo shirts? I have a customer who loves them but only in a pique fabric. The line I was using (Authentic Pigment) changed over to all ringspun and the only other ones (Ultra Club Vintage washed andComfort Colors by Chouinard) I've found are all discontinued! Can you please help me?
Answer: I don’t think anything happened to all the pigment dyed polo shirts! I found a few you can check out. First look at product K420D from SanMar (asi/84863); (800) 426-6399; www.sanmar.com. They offer a pigment dyed pique knit polo shirt in five colors. Also check out product TWS09-001-PD from Textiles Unlimited (asi/91087); (973) 706-6657. They offer a 100% cotton pique polo shirt that is pigment dyed and also comes in a variety of colors. I hope this helps!
Selling Tip: Pigment dyed polo shirts make an exceptional gift to employees or clients and their array of colors allows them to be worn year-round. Or, consider using polo shirts as a prize at a golf outing.
Question: Do you have any idea where I could make a wholesale purchase of quilted bags to embroider? I was told about "Studio Works" for one but can't find a website. I would appreciate any help you may have.
Answer: Quilted bags are a great item for embroidery! I love seeing people on top of fashion trends! Great job! I found a couple of bags that you can work with. Start with product NQTCH from Joann Marie Designs (asi/63381); (714) 996-0550; www.joannmarie.com. They offer a large quilted bag in turquoise, black, and chocolate brown. Next, try product A517 from Vitronic Promotional Group (asi/93990); (800) 666-7117; www.vitronicpromotional.com. They offer a classic quilted polyester tote with accent top stitching and black 18” handles. Finally, look at product TOTE-BAG-B524 from M K Promotions Inc. (asi/68253); (800) 971-5911; www.mkpromo.com. Good luck!
Selling Tip: Distribute quilted bags to your female employees as a quality gift for the holiday season. Or, embroider each employee’s name on the bag as a personal way to show their hard work is appreciated.
[ WEARABLES TERMS ]
Blog Vocabulary- With companies using blogs as a creative tool to generate more exposure, it’s important to be equipped with a comprehensive guide for navigating the blogosphere. Here are a few words to help blog owners and readers become more familiar with some of today’s lingo.
Blog carnival: A blog post linking to other articles, within or outside of the blog, that cover a specific topic. Blog carnivals may be hosted by contributors to the carnival and encourage new posts by those contributors. A blog carnival also can highlight new bloggers who post on the featured topics.
Flame: A hostile comment, often directed personally to another commenter or blogger. A flame is generally not meant to be constructive.
Lurker: A reader of a blog who never comments or indicates his or her presence on the site. When a reader comments for the first time, he or she is de-lurking.