For the first time in recorded history, the Winston’s are going to celebrate Thanksgiving away from home. I was recently invited to take part in the official 2008 Lighting Ceremony of the Pilgrim Monument at the Provincetown Museum. It promises to be an exciting day and, as it is touted as “Cape Cod’s most beautiful tradition celebrating the Pilgrim’s First Landing in America at Provincetown,” the whole family is looking forward to the trip.
Even though I am a proud American, I must admit that, before being asked to participate, I didn’t know a whole lot about The Pilgrim Monument. The 252-foot tall campanile is the tallest all-granite structure in the United States and was built between 1907 and 1910 to commemorate the first landfall of the Pilgrims in 1620 and the signing in Provincetown Harbor of the Mayflower Compact. As you probably remember from history class, the Pilgrims spent five weeks exploring Cape Cod before they sailed to Plymouth, MA. After spending weeks at sea, the pilgrims would not set foot on land until writing and signing the Mayflower Compact, the first instance of a democratic society in the New World. In 1907 the cornerstone was laid by President Roosevelt, and so began the building of the 252-foot all granite tower. The Monument was designed by Willard T. Sears and inspired by the Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy designed by Arguolo and Agostino in 1309.
Learning about the origins of the Pilgrim Monument made me realize that there is quite a lot about America that I don’t know, so I decided to extend our adventure and make the trip out east a road trip to remember. The kids are going to take a few days off school (they have to turn in a report on our journey to make up for the missed days), Mrs. Winston is going to skip the annual Turkey day bake sale and we are going to hit the road, Winston style.
Of course, I expect the children to take copious notes during the journey but there is bound to be some down time. That’s why I’m bringing the Case Logic Rear Seat Entertainment Center. It promises to keep the kids entertained even on the longest of road trips. There is a flip-down 3-in-1 game board (checkers, chess and tic-tac-toe) with Velcro game pieces, a viewing platform and security harness for a portable DVD player, three storage pockets and six CD/DVD sleeves. It looks so entertaining, I may let my daughter drive while I teach my youngest the finer points of chess.
Well, I’ve got some planning to do—I wonder where the world’s largest ball of string is located? Remember, as my good friend W. T. Purkiser always said “Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”
I took my last swig of diet soda and was about to toss the empty in the trash when I was treated to an ecology lesson from my oldest daughter. She starts college next year, so I guess she is practicing spreading her wings and feels she can finally teach the teacher—as they say. “Dad!” she admonished shrilly, “Don’t throw that in the trash—it’s recyclable!” I had to smile as I pulled the offending can out of the garbage and prepared to toss it in the recycling bin we keep in the garage when she stopped me again. “Rinse it out first. Gawd! Don’t you know anything about how to recycle the right way?” I was loath to admit that apparently, I did not. Being schooled by a seventeen year old is a humbling experience so I decided to do a little research on the subject and I discovered a new holiday—America Recycles Day (ARD).
I love holidays, especially those that are a bit unusual and overlooked by the rest of society, so I decided to atone for my recycling sin by letting all my readers in on the secret. ARD takes place on November 15th and is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to encouraging Americans to recycle and buy recycled products. Celebrating its 11th year, it has grown to include millions of Americans pledging to increase their recycling habits at home and work and to buy products made with recycled materials. On this day each year, millions of people become better informed about the importance of daily recycling and buying recycled products. After all, as stewards of the environment, we are responsible for preserving and protecting our resources for ourselves and for future generations. I think that’s why my daughter is such a stickler for recycling and doing it right—she knows that her generation will be left holding the bag if we don’t step up now.
The good news is, the nation’s composting and recycling rate It’s currently up to around 33% and last year the amount of energy saved from recycling aluminum and steel cans, plastic PET and glass containers, newsprint and corrugated packaging was equivalent to:
• The amount of electricity consumed by 17.8 million Americans in one year.
• 29% of nuclear electricity generation in the U.S. in one year.
• 7.9% of electricity generation from fossil fuels in the U.S. in one year.
• 11% of the energy produced by coal-fired power plants in the U.S.
• The energy supplied from 2.7% of imported barrels of crude oil into the U.S.
• The amount of gasoline used in almost 11 million passenger automobiles in one year.
As you may know, there are three parts to the recycling process; each essential to making the system work: collection, manufacturing and buying. In fact, the three chasing arrows that make up the recycling logo each stand for one of the three components. I just love a logo with a deeper meaning! Being a die-hard marketer, I choose to emphasize the importance of buying. In order to make recycling economically viable, there must be a market for recycled products. If people buy them, companies will be encouraged to make them, and the whole system works.
Naturally, Rush Imprint is doing its part by offering a plethora of recycled products that are ready to be imprinted with your logo and sent out into the world to promote your company in an eco-friendly way. One of my favorites is the Recycled Cardboard Jotter because it’s small enough to fit in my shirt pocket and features an innovative scored cardboard pen port stitched onto the front cover so I can use my lucky pen to jot down important thoughts. Plus, it’s as eco-responsible as you can get—the cover is made from 100% recycled cardboard and each jotter contains 100 sheets of unlined recycled paper with recycling symbol printed on each page. November 15th is right on our heels, but Rush Imprint is nothing if not speedy—sometimes it is all in the name—so place your order now and you’ll still have time to celebrate.
Well, I’ve got to go help my son make a paper-mache turkey, with recycled newspapers of course! Until next time, heed the words of my old Auntie Mae: “I love recycling! Why, just this week, I had dinner with my ex-husband, my ex-boyfriend and my ex-roommate.”
Last night I dreamt that my wife and I went to the movies…and with three kids, going to a movie alone really is a dream. To get there, we had to walk through a crowd of country singers, break dancers, girl scouts and geriatric pogo stickers—only to end up in the middle of a cat circus. I started sneezing uncontrollably and we were transported by a particularly powerful “achoo” to the theatre’s box office. I was ready to purchase our tickets when I noticed a rather suspicious looking gentleman with more tattoos than Kat Von D lurking just inside. Upon closer inspection, I also saw a group of ne’er-do-wells having a popcorn fight and what appeared to be a biker gang barbequing a pig on a spit right under the sign for “High school Musical III.” I was literally gripped by fear (he has very strong hands) as I imagined the horrors that must await me inside the theatre. Visions of thugs throwing slurpees at the screen and helpless movie watchers, parentless children running up and down the aisles carrying scissors and matches and rowdy clowns making balloon animals that come to life swirled in my head. As sweat started to bead on my forehead, I grabbed my wife’s hand and was about to high tail it out of there when I spotted veteran comedic actress Catherine O’Hara exiting the theatre looking relaxed and calm. Suddenly the theatre didn’t seem quite so threatening. If a B-list actress whose work I enjoy very much could not only survive, but enjoy her visit to this shady theatre, then so could I.
What actually did await me, I will never know because I woke up just before I opened the theatre door. In remembering my rather odd dream, I marveled at my own shallowness. Did I really decide to enter a place that I judged unsavory simply because an actress walked out? Was I really so malleable that my mind could be changed by the mere presence of a celebrity? I have some serious self-examination to attend to. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know what the marketing lesson is, but I do know that everybody has keys and most people like stars. So, next time you launch a promotion, add your logo to the Maraca Star Key Chain and give your company a little star power. It’s a cute, fun keychain that lets you shake, shake, shake and insures that your company name will be seen and heard.
Well, I’ve got to go see my therapist so I can get to the bottom of my celebrity obsession. Until next time, ponder the wise words of Anderson Cooper, I know I will. “The whole celebrity culture thing – I’m fascinated by, and repelled by, and yet I end up knowing about it.”
Mrs. Winston came barreling in to my office this morning to announce that her diet was working—she had lost two pounds in two days and was going to have a piece of French toast to celebrate her success. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that, due to gravitational effects, you weigh slightly less when the moon is directly overhead. The truth is, my wife looks great no matter what her weight so I kept my mouth shut and joined her for French toast. It was delicious and reminded me of when we were first married. Mrs. Winston used to make me breakfast every morning—usually it was eggs, but Sundays were French toast days. We’d sleep in late, read the paper in bed and then she’d get up and make breakfast while I finished the crossword puzzle. There were no kids to feed, dress or yell at and we were free to do anything we pleased. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids and we have a great family life, but I sometimes long for the good old days when it was just the two of us. I told her as much over breakfast and we decided it would be fun to play hooky for a day or two.
So next weekend, my in-laws are coming to pick up the kids and my wife and I are going to enjoy a little stay-cation in our own home. We can’t wait to not clean the house, mow the lawn, cook for three picky eaters or fight for the remote. It will be just the two of us, lying in bed, doing the crossword and eating a late, leisurely breakfast. My wife has already informed me that this time I will be the one cooking—which is fine by me. After breakfast we are going to “take a nap” or two (a man can dream) and then go out for dinner to a place that does not have a children’s menu. We may even get crazy and go to a movie or pop in somewhere for a nightcap. I am very much looking forward to the weekend…especially since Mrs. Winston came home with a Victoria’s Secret shopping bag.
The point is, it’s important to remember how you got to the place you are now and bring some of the romance back into your relationship. We didn’t start out with three kids, a house, two cars, a cat, two birds and four goldfish—it used to be just the two of us. The same principle applies to your business. Take a moment and ask your self how you got to where you are now. Chances are it started with a great product or service and a willingness to work hard to gain a client base. So, when you are thinking about your promotional marketing campaign, go back to the basics and give your customers something they can really use…like a little of your time. The At Clock is a whimsical timepiece and a guaranteed attention grabber. The clock’s sleek design gives it a modern flair while the @-shaped face will remind your clients that you are just an e-mail away. This portable analog clock makes an attractive gift for anyone doing business in the virtual world.
I’m off to the flower shop to order a bouquet of roses to kick off the big weekend. Until next time, remember, “ Marriage is forever but you’ll be happier if you act like it’s just for today.”
With all the hoohah about Election Day, it seems that Americans have forgotten that there are other days in November that are worth honoring. I don’t mean to diminish the importance of voting, patriotism or Election Day, but I think there are a few other days that we, as good Americans, should acknowledge. For example, did you know that the day before Election Day is National Sandwich Day? I have never been able to turn down a perfectly grilled cheese or gooey PB&J. Although many people enjoy sandwiches, some of us on a daily basis, few realize that the luncheon staple enjoyed by millions of Americans was invented in 1762 by John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, when he created the sandwich by putting meat between two pieces of bread. Even fewer know that the Earl, a renowned gambler, did this in order to sit at the gambling tables for long periods of time. Okay, so maybe his motives were questionable, but because of him, I am able to enjoy my daily Panini. Sandwich day should be properly celebrated by gobbling down America’s favorite lunchtime entrée. If you work in an office, head off food poachers by packing your sammie in a Lunch Caddy and keeping it at your desk.
Another red-letter day in November, which coincidentally pairs very nicely with sandwiches, is Book Lovers Day. Readers everywhere celebrate this day on both August 9th and the first Saturday of November—a past time so important, we honor it twice! While it’s unclear who created the day, there is no doubt that reading is a great hobby; one that is not only educational and informative, but a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. For those who have more mundane daytime activities to attend to, the Limelite Book Light will let you get your read on at night—without disturbing your non-literary spouse.
Button Day falls on November 16th and is a fun day to collect, use, and just enjoy buttons. The origins of this day are unknown. So, we can’t be certain to the real meaning of this day. Button Day is Button come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors and designs At last count, I have over 372 different promotional buttons in a myriad of shapes and sizes. My largest button is two feet in diameter—I get a lot of comments (and a backache) when I wear that one! Politicos aren’t the only ones who can use buttons to promote their cause, create a custom button with your logo and a clever saying to give your business a little face time.
Fun and unusual “holidays” are a marketers dream. Capitalize on oddball occasions and use them to promote your business. Give branded gifts to potential clients to celebrate holidays that are off the beaten path—you will score points for creativity and are sure to stand out from the crowd. Until next time, remember what my eccentric Auntie Flossie used to say, “Don’t be afraid to celebrate the unusual—wear purple, put a flower in your hair, stand up and be counted.”
Everybody knows there are a few topics that are verboten during polite discourse—politics, religion and my mother-in-law’s peculiar proclivities. For the last several months, however, politics has been a tough topic to avoid. It’s seems that the newscasters, pundits, bloggers and even my Aunt Mabel can’t seem discuss anything else but the upcoming elections. And why not? This year’s presidential race is historic—no matter who wins, the outcome will be unprecedented. Even with the economic turmoil, campaign mudslinging and general uncertainty, there is no doubt that it is an exciting time. On November 4th, either the first African American President will be elected, or we will have elected a woman to the second highest office in the land…which ever way it turns out, history will be made. And that, I believe, is the point.
As a responsible marketer, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the election is the perfect time to show your true blue colors when it comes to marketing your business. Use this as an opportunity to highlight your patriotism (without tipping your partisan hand), by choosing promotional items that say, “I love America,” without offending either side of the political aisle. You can encourage people to vote, while simultaneously reminding them of the great service you provide by gifting loyal customers and potential clients with the Patriot pen; or pack up customer purchases in a red, white and blue Flag Bag. Both have plenty of room for your company logo, so no matter which way the vote swings—you win.
The lesson today is simple, Fourth of July is not the only time to get your stars and stripes on, November 4th is an ideal time of year to purchase patriotic promotional products to productively promote your profession. Also, alliteration is fun…but I digress. Until next time, remember what a pretty good writer once said. “Those who stay away from the election think that one vote will do no good: ‘Tis but one step more to think one vote will do no harm.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Fellow vocabulary aficionados know that October 16th was Dictionary Day—a sacred holiday that should be celebrated with reverence and gratitude for the late, great Noah Webster. And in the Winston household, it was. For those of you who are ill acquainted with my favorite holiday and have not yet realized why it should be enthusiastically celebrated, Mr. Webster was born on the sixteenth day of October in the year 1758 and is widely considered to be the Father of the American Dictionary. He began writing his dictionary at the age of 43 and it took him 27 years to complete. Now that’s a man who understood the value of patience. The objective of this revered day is to emphasize the importance of dictionary skills and to encourage good vocabulary.
I started the day by reading a couple dozen pages from my well-worn dictionary and memorizing at least three new words, which I worked into every conversation, email correspondence and IM I had that day. After breakfast, I played Scrabble online for a few hours to get my word juices flowing and prepared me very well to play a few live games with the kids when they got home from school. While I waited for the school bus to arrive, I worked two and a half crosswords—and not the easy ones—the NY Times Sunday crosswords are my favorite. When they finally arrived, we played Scrabble—tournament style—and then, at dinner, everyone chose a “favorite” word to expound upon. Whoever’s word is deemed ”the best” wins a special prize. This year, I had a special Organic Cotton Washed Twill Cap imprinted with “Lord of the Words.” I can’t wait to wear it to my next crossword contest!
I hope all of my readers had as much fun celebrating Dictionary Day as we did, and if you missed it this year, then mark you calendars for next October 16th. Until next time remember, “An apple a day will keep the doctor away, but a word a day will keep stupidity at bay.”
If you have never had the good fortune to travel by private jet, and aside from rock stars and presidents—few of us have, I can tell you, not from personal experience, that it is the ultimate luxury. And it ought to be luxurious—a private flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas runs about eight grand (that’s $133.00 a minute), so even big time celebs usually reserve those trips for when the “company” is paying. I recently moderated a car dealer meeting for a major auto manufacturer that hired some A-list talent to perform after the business meeting. Judging by my paycheck and hotel accommodations, I know I was “C” or “D” list at best, so I was picked up by a town car at the airport and driven to the venue, while my rock star counterparts jetted in on private planes, were whisked into Escalades waiting on the tarmac and chauffeured to the backstage entrance. All I could think, as security ordered me to stand back, was that it must be nice to live the rock star life.
Experience tells me that I am not alone—most people would jump at the chance to live like a star, if only for a moment. While most of us can’t actually live a rock & roll life, we can travel in style. Why not offer your clients a little bit of luxury by gifting them with something that makes business travel more of a pleasure? The Comfort Travel Set contains everything they’ll need to make traveling commercial feel a little more relaxing. The wrap case includes an inflatable neck pillow, eye mask, earplugs and travel alarm clock, and of course has plenty of room for your company logo. Your customers will appreciate your thoughtfulness and remember you every time they insert the earplugs that mercifully drown out their seatmate’s dissertation on why whole life insurance is superior. Believe me, they will thank you for it!
Well, I’m off to the bike store—I’ve decided to go green, save some gas and get some exercise, so I’m switching to two wheels. Remember, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you might just find, you get what you need.”
I woke up this morning to the sound of my wife yelping in pain. Fearing the worst, I leapt out of bed and prepared to defend my beloved from the masked intruder that must have circumvented the alarm system and broken in to our bedroom. Once I was alert and out of bed, the yelping stopped and I discovered that we were alone in the room. No one had broken in to steal my wife’s jewels or my lanyard collection. I breathed a sign of relief and fell back into bed only to be shaken awake by my perturbed wife. Apparently, the yelping was induced by my talons (her word) scraping against her delicate legs. Okay, so maybe I had let my toenails get a bit out of control but I think her reaction was a tad overblown. I tried to tell her that she was overreacting but she refused to listen and promptly made an appointment for me at her favorite nail salon.
Two hours later I found myself sitting in a vibrating chair, feet soaking in a vibrating tub of warm water with an angry sounding Asian woman leaning over my feet and shaking her head. As she examined my toes, she yelled something I didn’t understand to the woman next to her and the two broke into a fit of giggles. I was fairly certain they were making fun of me and I was about to leave in a huff but she started massaging my pups with scented lotion and I fell back into the chair. For the next twenty minutes, she clipped, filed, trimmed, scrubbed and scraped my feet into submission, and I have to admit, my feet have never looked better—and they felt fantastic—soft as a baby’s cheek.
I realize that not all men are as open minded as I am and the thought of getting a professional pedicure is about as far fetched as getting a facial or taking a Pilates class—and that’s fine. The nail salon is not for everyone, but the Illusion Series Manicure Set is something everybody can use. The set includes: stainless steel tweezers, knife/cuticle shaper, nail clippers, nail file, scissors, and a cuticle trimmer. It’s a great, unexpected give away for customers, friends and employees that ensures you will be remembered while the recipient is taking care of business.
Well, I’m late for Pilates so I’ll leave you with a little wisdom from my dear old Dad, “Marriage is like pie, eat the whole thing, and you’ll end up with a stomach ache.”
As my Nana Winston used to say, “Keep it simple, Stupid!” The old gal was not a charming conversationalist, but she did know how to get her point across. Come to think of it, she wasn’t the soft hearted Nana a lot of folks were fortunate to grow up with—for example, she was fond of using the word, “Dummy!” when referring to one of us kids doing something, well, dumb. She never let me win me at Scrabble, made me help with the dishes and her idea of a bedtime story was reading my brother and I excerpts from the true crime novels she loved so much. But, I digress. The point is, she was a smart lady and, when it came to getting things done the right way, she knew what she was doing. Nana realized that overly fussy throw pillows and fancy doilies were a waste and believed that apple pie was a better dessert than a pomegranate soufflé.
The same applies to your promotional marketing plan. I’m not one to call names, so I’ll just say that sometimes simplicity is the smartest thing you can do for your company. Don’t over think your promotional plan; sometimes the best course of action is right there in front of you. We are smack dab in the middle of football season, so why not develop a promotion around America’s favorite sport? There are many things you can do to capitalize on the spirit of the season—sponsor a local peewee football team and parents and fans right in your neighborhood will see your name every game day. Or, you can plan a fun give-away around football. Show clients, employees and prospective customers that you can play with the big boys by gifting them with a game of Football Paddleball. If you have a storefront, consider creating a game day promotion for customers who enter your store . You can give away Colossal Football Twist Pens imprinted with your company logo to the first 100 people through the door. Offering an incentive will bring clients in, and offering a great take-away that includes your company’s logo will ensure that your name will go out into the world when they leave.
Tom Brady may be out for the season but you have plenty of opportunities to score for your company. So, get out there and play to win. I’ve got to go help my son with his Columbus Day school project—we’re creating buttons imprinted with Christopher’s picture to hand out to the class. Remember, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me—at least not for very long.”