Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

My grandfather’s best friend and business partner is a little person. He doesn’t suffer from dwarfism; he’s just remarkably short and very slight. Even with the lifts and cowboy boots he always wears, Marty is 4’11” and doesn’t weigh more than a buck. He’s 94 years old now and although he’s retired from the marketing game, he is still an inspiration. He was a great marketing man in his day and I think a big part of the reason for his success was his short stature. He had to work harder than most to sell himself– to potential employers, clients, business partners and women. As a testament to his selling skills, his wife was a full seven inches taller and outweighed him by forty pounds but she always said he made her feel like a delicate flower. Anyone who has ever given or received jewelry as gift knows the saying, “good things come in small packages.” That was Marty. He not only had a way with words, he understood that you didn’t have to be tall to stand out in a crowd; you just had to outthink the other guy.

Marty taught me that one way to capture attention is to go against the grain. The phrase “opposites attract” applies to romantic relationships but also works very well in business. If everyone is shouting, try whispering. If everyone in your business is competing to be big: the next big thing, having the big idea or hitting the big time, do the opposite and go small.

A great way to convey a big message in a small way is the Micro Rubik’s Cube Key Holder. Everyone has keys and most people have plenty of time to fiddle with them while they wait in line—at the post office, bank or to buy lotto tickets. A classic mind game with your company’s imprint keeps boredom at bay while delivering your company’s message in a fun, creative way. Sometimes in business, as in life, it really is the little things.

I’ll never forget Marty’s advice to me on my wedding day, “Never try to guess your wife’s size. Just buy her anything marked `petite’ and hold on to the receipt.” Yep, old Marty always had a way with words.