Salt & Pepper - The ASI Infomercial



Welcome to Salt & Pepper! Salt & Pepper is basically the PromoKitchen equivalent of debate team. The purpose of this monthly article is to open up discussion and conversation on different challenges facing the Promotional Products Industry.  This month we tackle the subject of ASI airing infomercials to recruit people to join ASI. This initiative that has been met with mixed feedback. In this inaugural edition of Salt and Pepper,  PromoKitchen chef Kirby Hasseman and industry veteran Bill Petrie have flipped a coin to see who is pro and who is con.  Their respective arguments are below.  What are your thoughts on the subject?  We welcome your comments! 

NOTE: Salt & Pepper is intended to foster intelligent dialogue between professionals. This is not a dagger throwing contest.  Be honest and authentic, but please also be kind and keep it classy. 


Salt:  Bill Petrie

Before we all get up in arms about the infomercial, let’s all remember that ASI is a FOR PROFIT organization – something they have always freely admitted. In simple terms, ASI is funded by three things: The ASI Shows, distributor monthly dues, and distributor sales of ASI products and services.  With the number of ASI Shows, industry suppliers have had to make difficult financial choices on which shows to attend, which would lead one to believe that ASI has seen a dent in this revenue stream.

With that hit on the supplier side of the revenue stream, ASI has to continue to increase distributor membership to survive. The usual arguments against this are:

ASI has lowered the barrier to entry – On the surface this is true, but if you think about it, there hasn’t been a barrier to entry to be an ASI distributor for a very long time. The fact is ASI hasn’t required any credentials (past orders, supplier recommendations, etc.) for years. In other words, while the vehicle for delivery of the message is different, the message is the same, "Come one, come all."

ASI is using my dues to find new competition – The likelihood of someone viewing an infomercial to join the industry and threaten your relationships and business is not very high. The fact is that most people who join ASI as a distributor due to the infomercial will not have your level of training and none of them will have your level of expertise or supplier relationships. Bottom line: This group of people is not a threat to your livelihood.

As mentioned above, ASI is a for profit business and it’s their job to increase top line revenue and bottom line profitability. We don’t blame sharks for biting swimmers.


Pepper: Kirby Hasseman

As a long time distributor in the Promotional Products industry, it’s hard not to be frustrated when I hear that ASI is spending money to recruit people into the industry.  More frustrating, to me, is the way the infomercials are positioned.  When we spend this much energy and resource to recruit new blood into the industry, I would hope we would not focus on those wanting to “make a little more money.”

Here are my basic thoughts on why this is the wrong tactic:

More Competition:  As a member of ASI, I understand that they are a for profit agency.  I get that, but they also position themselves as an organization designed to help me (as a company) succeed.  It doesn’t help me to spend money to recruit more competition.

Wrong Market:  I understand that we need to continually look for new blood for the industry, but  don’t we want the best and brightest?  Why are we focusing this effort on those wanting to make a few extra bucks?  We need more companies in the industry that are professionals.  We need people who are all in.  This doesn’t seem to recruit either type.



What say ye PK?  How do you feel about ASI airing recruitment commercials?  Should distributors be concerned about the influx of additional competition entering the marketplace? Suppliers, what benefits and/or challenges do you see this type of recruitment bringing to the industry?