July 24, 2009
I’m just back from the ASI Chicago Show, which was awesome on a multitude of levels. It was fabulous seeing old industry friends (Windbrella’s Bob Hechler, JournalBooks’ Tim O’Boyle & Jamie Raynor and R.S. Owens’ Scott Siegel, I’m looking at you… ; ) ) and meeting some amazing new ones like industry veteran Lisa Bennett.
That Lisa and I have never met is perplexing. Lisa, who lives in Chicago, is a multiline rep who handles companies like Counselor Top 40 supplier Ash City, my friend Leigh’s company, Say Thank You with Coffee, and some others. She is sassy, hilariously wry and we share many of the same friends. She also has the distinction of being the person to convince me to stop being such an old-school whiner and join the Twitter flock. (Though I still maintain, as I routinely tell SnugZ’s Charley Johnson, it will be easier to raise the dead than to get me on Facebook … that so isn’t happening.) Stay tuned for next week’s blog which will have my Twitter info.
The show itself was well-attended and steadily crowded, and participation in ASI’s educational offerings was up nearly 10% from last year. I myself moderated two panels, which turned out well – mainly because I am so lucky to be friends with such talented people. On my panel for suppliers, which offered the chance to gain insights into how to win a distributor’s business and loyalty, I had Deluxe Corp.’s Sheila Johnshoy, Touchstone’s Tad Webster, Brown & Bigelow’s Cindy Jorgenson and WorkflowOne’s Mike Riddle. On my ”Secrets to Wildly Successful Self-Promotions” panel, I had industry speaker and veteran Cliff Quicksell, OnTime Promotions’ Sharon Biernat and PromoShop’s Kris Robinson. I’d like to thank all my panelists for being so gracious and giving with their time and expertise.
Lastly, my favorite event of the Chicago Show is always the Counselor awards banquet, where we recognize the Person of the Year, as well as the Top 40 suppliers and distributors (for a list of winners, click here). It was an exciting night for me because my girl Bonni Shevin-Sandy, executive vice president of Counselor Top 40 supplier Dard, won the very well-deserved International Person of the Year award. I adore Bonni, and when it comes to doing business in a global marketplace, my girl has skills!!!
The funniest line of the evening came from Chuck Fandos (“Chuckles,” as I call him), who took one look at the group of hooting and hollering rowdy rummies – PromoShop’s Kris Robinson and Memo & Sabrina Kahan, Chuck’s business partner Conrad Franey, Sweda’s Jim Hagan and Scott Pearson, BIC’s Dave Saracino, in addition to myself and ASI’s publisher Rich Fairfield – at our very prominently placed (dead center in the front of the room) table and looked at me with dread. ”What the hell are you doing putting us up so far in the front, Michele??? Look at us – we’re back-of-the-bus kind of people!!!” But hey, that’s my way – I love surrounding myself with excessive rock stars and charismatic wackos. ; )
Enjoy some photos below from the show and look for more next week!
July 12, 2009
I hope you’re all having a fun summer and finding ways to chill (literally and figuratively) and enjoy yourselves.
We’ve been busy in ASI’s editorial department, closing our special annual Counselor “State of the Industry” issue (due out later this month), in addition to our other magazines and preparing for the upcoming ASI Chicago Show.
It is for these reasons that I’ve been more than a little stressed — which, for those of you who know me, makes me so much more of a delight than I usually am. Let’s just say that some of my eccentricities really start to shine under certain circumstances. For example, I have a tendency when I’m in a mood like this and want something, to write it in verse — usually rhyme, sometimes iambic pentameter – because it sounds sweet and whimsical, and makes me seem (I think) less like the demanding diva I can be.
Recently, I wanted my BFF Jeremy Young (one of ASI’s tech geeks) to bring me some chicken salad (one of my favorite things!) that his mother, a fabulous cook who knows her way around a skillet*, had made. To avoid sounding petulant and Veruca Salt-ish (“I want, I want, I want…!!!”), this is what I sent Jeremy to convey my request:
Ode to Chicken Salad
Though not a fan of salad,
There is another on which I’m keen,
Often described as “finger-lickin’ “
It’s the kind made of chicken!
I think it’s because this was the last thing I wrote before going to sleep that night, and because I had work on my mind and took two Tylenol PM capsules**, I had a trippy (on a multitude of levels) dream that would have had Freud scratching his head and reaching for a tumbler of scotch.
In it, Tim Andrews, ASI’s president & CEO, announced to the company that Ben Bernanke — the Chairman of the Fed — was coming to ASI and that I would be the one to make a presentation to him on the company’s behalf***. Walking through ASI on my way to address the Chairman, Joe Haley — my tortured managing editor and the star of The Joe Show – followed me with a little red wagon, handing out seashells to every ASI staffer we passed****. As we got to the auditorium, I took the stage, turned to the Chairman of the Fed, 500 ASI employees, Tim Andrews and the Cohn Family and did the entire presentation in haiku. The last thing I remember before waking in a cold sweat was the look of shocked horror on Tim’s face.
The next day I mentioned my dream to Tim, who frankly waved it off as me being a weapons-grade weirdo. Fast forward to about a week later when Tim walked in to my office and told me he had just come from a visit to his home state of Indiana, where he stayed at a place called Hotel Indigo. At this boutique hotel, the menus, room advertisements, key card, “Do Not Disturb” door hanger, bar coasters and napkins — everything — had fun little messages that were written in, you guessed it, haiku.
Tim shook his head in disbelief. “I swear to you,” he told me, “before staying at this hotel and your wacko dream it had been years since I heard the word ‘haiku’ used in any form. You have to admit — it’s not something that comes up in everyday conversation.”
How clever is this hotel, though, to tie in the concept of the haiku with all their collateral promotional materials? And how fabulous would it be if they offered some equally cool and inspiring ad specialties to guests as a welcome or in-room gift, or something sent to loyal customers? (Savvy distributors reading out there, I’m talking to you… ; ) ). I love this hotel’s attention to detail and creative ingenuity in employing the under-utilized (though clearly very hip) haiku as a form of communication!
Speaking of communicating, next time I blog it will be from the ASI Chicago Show, starting Tuesday, 7/21 and running ’til Thursday, 7/23. If you’re exhibiting, please be my guest at a free luncheon and panel discussion just for suppliers (held on Tuesday, 7/21 from 12-1:30 p.m. right on the show floor). I’ll be moderating a panel of four top-selling distributors who will share with you what it takes to win their business and their loyalty. If you’re a distributor, join me on Wednesday, 7/22, from 2:45-3:45 p.m. (right behind the Advantages’ New Products pavilion) for a panel discussion on super-successful self-promotion campaigns, featuring some award-winning promos that garnered double- and triple-digit response rates and tens of thousands of dollars in sales for the distributors who created them.
Cheers, and more next week from Chicago!
* I myself cannot cook at all, and once had to ask Jeremy — with a furrowed brow and confused expression, “What the hell is a skillet?”
** I’m also mystified that I, certainly no clean slate when it comes to pharmaceuticals, was sent reeling by two little Tylenol PM capsules. It’s like Keith Richards being leveled by a Flintstones vitamin.
*** As the majority of my working knowledge of the stock market comes from the movie Trading Places, it should be noted that I’d be the last person at ASI — and that includes the nice high school boy who mows our lawns — Tim Andrews would ask to address the Chairman of the Fed.
**** Joe Haley would like you all to know that despite his guest role in my dream, he is neither my lackey nor my bitch in real life. ; )