Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

Growing up I had a hopeless crush on Miss Pittsburgh, 1953, also known as Shirley Jones of the Partridge Family. I followed her life like a rabid dog, collecting her autograph photographs, piano playing cards and “I Think I Love You” key chains. Of course, my prized possession was the Partridge Family Lunch Box, which my mother cheapened with the sardine sandwiches she stuffed inside, convinced they would give me the brainpower I needed to compete with what she called the “smarter kids.”

Anyway, to make a long story short…I still have that lunch box. It’s that rare commodity we call in the business…a collectible…that something you won’t throw away because it has financial or sentimental value. In other words, it’s a marketers dream.

This is an important lesson for us all. We need to give away products our customers or employees will want to keep. Of course, nobody is suggesting that Round Golf Pencils will achieve the same cult status as the 1968 Klingon Action Figure, but we can certainly make our products more memorable. We can…and we must…make our products something our customers and employees will want to keep.

How do we do this? We begin by asking what is the significance of the gift we are giving. Sure, sometimes you’re just filling a bag with stuff, but other times it’s a lot more. Maybe it’s the first day on the job, or the ten-thousandth customer or, perhaps, you’ve reached sales quota for the first time in a long while. Whatever it is, we need to mark our achievements and milestones with not only the right product, but with the right message. Include dates, inscriptions, words of praise and gratitude…and you’ll make your give away a product they’ll want to keep.

Now, I’m off to the beach for a family picnic. Say hello if you see us. We’ll be the ones with the black socks and sandals. Until next time, remember what Mrs. Partridge always told Laurie when she was feeling especially moody, “I’m always here for you, honey.”