Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

My father is a fantastic marketer, wonderful husband and great father—he is also an infamous punster and is known for dropping lame one liners into everyday conversation. When a waiter asks him how his meal was, he is fond of gesturing to his empty plate and saying, “I didn’t care for it.” He also loves the old water cooler chestnuts, “Do you come here often?” and “We have to stop meeting like this.” The point is, Dad is not exactly slick and, as a kid, I would cringe at his attempts to be witty with waiters, bellhops and front desk clerks. As most of us of a certain age know, life has a way of coming full circle and I recently found myself guilty of dropping a bad line to a flight attendant. I ordered one of the delightful cheese trays available for purchase on my flight to Miami and realized that my credit card was in the overhead bin. The flight attendant kindly said she would get it later and I replied, “Great. You know where to find me!” I hoped that my lame attempt at light airplane humor was not as bad as I thought, but the fake smile and forced laugh told me otherwise.

The point is, most of us have dropped a line that we wish we could take back, and that’s okay. The important thing is to limit the lame one liners that make it into print, because those embarrassing missives have a way of coming back to haunt us. That is why I recommend you exercise caution when adding a line of text to your promotional products. While I believe that a pithy message in addition to your logo can greatly improve your brand image, it is important that your words make the right statement. I once knew a dentist who gave away T-shirts with the slogan, “A Little Gas Makes a Big Difference.” It did not matter that he meant laughing gas; most people misinterpreted the message and were laughing at him, rather than with him. So spend a little time thinking about your message before putting it in writing and imprinting it on hundreds of T-shirts, ball point pens or Premium Lip Balm.

Until next time, remember, “A picture may be worth 1000 words, but an imprinted promotional item is worth its weight in gold.”