A Schwag Look Back at Obama’s First Year

Today marks the end of Barack Obama’s first year in the U.S. Presidency. He came in with a promise of change and focus on many issues plaguing Americans. According to a recent Gallup poll, only 50% of American approved Obama’s job performance, which is down 18% from the day he took office. You can debate if he is on the path of accomplishing what he has said that he would do or not Barack Obama did something unique that had not been done by any other President candidate. During his campaign, he used social media and a variety of promotional products that he labeled “Brand Obama.”

There was a variety of promotional products to choose from

Obama didn’t use the usual political types of promotional products that other Presidents have used (e.g. buttons, posters, t-shirts). “Brand Obama” could be found on any kind of promotional product that you could think of. You saw people with posters, bumper stickers, mugs, apparel, and many other types of schwag with the Obama label on it. Additionally, they had an artistic touch that made them feel more like art than a regular promotional product. There is even a replica of the pen Barack Obama uses to sign documents being sold online. Even for his health care initiative, Obama created a logo to go alongside it. There was a huge controversy that occurred due to Obama’s health care logo, but it still helped the American public distinguish between Obama’s health care plan from someone else’s.

Artists contributed their vision of Obama

Obama Hope StickerMany artists, famous or undiscovered, created promotional products for Obama. During his inauguration, Obama had Aretha Franklin, Beyonce, Jay-Z, as well as many others performing at the inauguration balls. Many rap artists created songs about the first African-American President. There was also a group of artists who formed “Artists for Obama” group that provide their artistic viewpoint on Brand Obama. One of the most famous art piece to come out of that was by Shepard Fairey who created the “Hope” art portraits, which was acquired by the National Art Gallery on January 7, 2009. Just like there were pro-Obama art being produced, there was even anti-Obama art as well. The most famous one derived from Fairey’s “Hope” art piece. It portrayed Obama as the Joker, and it was made by Firas Alkhateeb. Even though the anti-Obama art was negative, it still helped establish Obama as a brand.

Obama created a distinctive image that was free to interpretation

Obama_Logo_CutoutObama didn’t ban the use of his image or logo to be used by anyone. If someone wanted to create a promotional product using his likeness, there were no restrictions in doing so. For instance, Obama created a distinct logo that is a simple ‘O’ with the American colors running through it. There is a site, Logobama, that allows visitors to create their own version of the Obama logo. Obama also used simple words – Hope and Change – that would be easy for anyone to remember. Eventually, people started thinking of Brand Obama when these two words were used. These words were also used to create many promotional products and art that symbolized Obama.

Final thoughts

Barack Obama has been the U.S. President for a year now. Whether you are for or against him, one thing that you can agree on is that Obama was very smart in the way that he used social media and promotional products. He did it in a way that was very unique from any President before. You can walk down the street and see someone sporting Obama apparel, a bumper sticker, or listening to a song referring to him. Obama definitely changed the way U.S. Presidents and presidential candidates use schwag.

5 Ways to Say Thanks on Customer Service Day

It is always good to stop and thank your clients for their business, and your employees who work so diligently together. Therefore, on January 17th, there is a special day that helps honor your clients and employee and thank them for all that they do – Customer Service Day. This is a great day to send a special gift to your clients, and award your employees for all that they do. Without them, your business wouldn’t have the success that is has.

Customer service is the relationship between your company and your clients. If you lack great communication with clients, then your business will fail. Word-of-mouth marketing is an essential part of client retention and getting new clients. If your existing clients aren’t happy, then there will be nothing but negative feedback about your company. Customer service is usually handled by your employees. If you aren’t giving them the proper training and/or treating them right, then it will also negatively affect your business.

Customer Service Day is a great way to ensure that your clients and employees know how much you appreciate them and all that they do. Here  are some ways to thank your clients and employees for their loyalty to your company:

Send Thank-You Cards

A thank-you card is a small gesture that can brighten anyone’s day. Send thank-you cards to your clients thanking them for their business, and to your employees thanking them for all of their hard work. Alternative: Use e-cards as a way to say thank you in an economical and environmentally-friendly way.

Make a Phone Call

How can I help you?Pick up the phone and thank your clients and employees for everything that they do. Let them know that you know how valuable they are to your business, and that you will continue to strive to make them happy and feel like they are part of the team. Alternative: Create a thank-you video and send it around.

Send a Special Keepsake to Clients

Thank-You Clock

Send clients a thank-you gift with your company’s name and logo on it. The best gift to send is one that they can place on their desk and will use often, so there is a constant reminder of your business and everything that you do. A clock or a calendar would be a great way to do this.  Alternative: Send them a food gift, such as coffee or gumballs.

Award Your Employees

Thank EmployeesProvide a way to recognize your employees for all of their hard work. The best way to do this is establishing an employee recognition process. The most essential rule is that all your employees should be eligible to be recognized. One way to do this is to have any employee, regardless his/her position, have the ability to recognize the hard work of his/her peer. You can have gifts range from laptop bags to pens and mugs with the employee’s name. Alternative: You can also have gift cards to local restaurants or stores.

Donate on Their Behalf

Find a charity to donate on behalf of your clients and employees. Send them a thank-you card telling them about your donation and a little information about the charity group. This is a great way to show how much you care in more ways than one. Alternative: Join a charity walk or marathon, and invite your clients and employees to do it with you.

Final Words

Mark Customer Service Day on your calendar and thank all of the people who make your business memorable and successful. Remember that saying thanks is not only reserved for your clients, but also to your employees. Without your clients and employees, you wouldn’t have a business.

It’s Not Too Late to Make New Years Resolutions That Stick

If you were just too busy to make resolutions on January 1st, don’t despair—it’s never too late to start anew. Let’s face it, the holidays whizzed by in a blur… once the family finally went home, decorations were put away and the last holiday cupcake was eaten, it was already time to go back to work and the resolutions you meant to make got left behind. But you don’t have to wait until next year to make fresh start. We’ve gathered nine of the most popular resolutions (because ten is too obvious) and a few ways to make sure they stick.If you were just too busy to make resolutions on January 1st, don’t despair — it’s never too late to start anew. Let’s face it, the holidays whizzed by in a blur…once the family finally went home, decorations were put away and the last holiday cupcake was eaten, it was already time to go back to work and the resolutions you meant to make got left behind. But you don’t have to wait until next year to make fresh start. We’ve gathered nine of the most popular resolutions (because ten is too obvious) and a few ways to make sure they stick.

Spend More Time with Family

Most people spend more time with their co-workers than they do with their kids so this is a big one. After all, isn’t it more important to enjoy a picnic with your family than it is to finish the quarterly reports on time? You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun with your family—get out the board games, or go for a walk, head to the beach, the park or the mountains. Don’t think too hard about it—just get up and go. If you are still stuck, check out http://fun.familyeducation.com/ for kid-friendly ideas.

Stress Less

Everyone knows that stress is bad for you, so stop it already. There are many ways to help alleviate tension like massage, yoga or meditation. For a quick fix, squeeze your stress away with a stress ball… they are great for relieving road rage and work anxiety. We think it’s much better to crush a rubber ball than risk blowing up at your boss.

Fit in Fitness

While you may want to exercise more, it’s sometimes difficult to find time to make it to the gym or schedule a spin class. Make it easier on yourself to stick to your fitness goals by walking more. It’s easy, free and can be done almost anywhere. If you are snowbound this winter, take a jaunt to your local mall or look for an indoor track. Even if you only walk for 15 minutes a day, by the end of the year you will have logged in enough miles to make a difference. The important thing is taking the first step.

Quit Smoking

The beginning of a new year (and new decade) is an ideal time to put down the butts, once and for all. Instead of grabbing a cigarette, reach for some gum, light a candle or take ten deep breaths when a craving hits. You don’t have to go it alone—there are lots of online resources for managing cravings and kicking the habit… for good.

Enjoy Life More

Workaholism is out and having fun is in—find ways to squeeze more fun out of your day to day. Whether that means taking a five-minute golf break in the office or stopping to smell the flowers on your daily walk, it’s important to take time out to enjoy yourself. Schedule in at least 15 minutes of fun (or more) every day…it will do you good.

Spend Less, Save More

I think we can all agree that the days of spend, spend, spend are behind us and that’s a good thing. It’s time to start taking saving seriously—set up a direct deposit savings account so your savings is automatic, save your change (dimes and quarters add up to dollars faster than you think) and use coupons when shopping for groceries. Spend less by entertaining at home, leaving your credit cards in your desk drawer and giving creative, thoughtful gifts, rather than pricey ones.

Learn Something New

You don’t have to be a full time student to keep learning new things. If you have always wanted to learn to play guitar, knit or cook like a pro, there are no shortage of teachers who can help you unleash your inner rock star or nurture your culinary skills. If you are more the bookish type, check out your local community college for in person or online classes on everything from French to Physics. If you have an artistic bent, try your hand at writing poetry, photography or jump into an Improv class. Not only will you expand your horizons, you’ll probably have a lot of fun too.

Help Others

Helping others is a great way to contribute to your community and it feels good too. Check out http://www.charitynavigator.org/ to help you choose a worthy charity to donate your dollars to, or log on to http://www.volunteermatch.org/ to find volunteer opportunities in your area. One of our New Years resolutions at Rush Imprint is to step up our charitable giving so we are putting our money where our mouth is. Stay tuned for news and photos highlighting our new charitable venture.

Get Organized

How many times have you vowed to get organized once and for all? Whether you want to reorganize your sock drawer, clean out your closet or simply manage your “to do” list, it can be difficult to get started. You don’t have to do it all in one day, or even in one week. Commit to just 15 minutes a day, and before you know it, your drawers, closets and desk will be ship shape.

A Final Word

Hopefully you have found a resolution or two that will help you have a more meaningful, less stressful, more active, fun-filled, healthier, more enjoyable, thriftier, educational, giving and clutter-free 2010. The point of resolutions is to make your life better, so have fun with it and choose a change that you can manage. It’s better to pick one resolution and stick with it than to make a dozen that you’re never going to keep.

The Customer Comes First!

rushIMPRINT was founded with a simple goal — to offer great products at lightning fast speed while delivering a superior customer experience. Unlike most promotional products companies, our designers are in house which means we can respond in real time to customer requests and come up with awesome designs super fast. We are a web based business, so we also employ a team of IT experts to ensure our website is up to date and easy to use. We use technology to better our business and I think that is part of what makes us successful. We are always looking for ways to do what we do a little bit better, from making our website easier to navigate to researching which promotional products are hot right now.

The bottom line for us has always been, “The customer comes first” and that’s a philosophy we live by — companywide. As CEO, I take responsibility for making sure we are delivering what we promise—and I’m aggressive about it because getting the job done no matter what the deadline is our commitment. Our whole staff embraces that “get it done” mentality; it’s not just the customer service reps, it’s the sales reps, the designers and the folks in accounting all the way up to COO, my brother Mike Broudy.

We care about servicing our customers but we try to maintain a sense of community too—that’s why we are stepping up our charitable giving in 2010. rushIMPRINT has implemented a program to sponsor a different Non Profit Organization every month, because we believe that making the world a better place is even more important then doing a good job.

Nobody cares more about our customer’s experience than I do because I understand that your experience is everything. So if you have an idea about how we can do things better, I’d like to hear it. My goal in writing this blog is not only to share my ideas, but to start a conversation about what matters to you. I look forward to hearing from you—and don’t be surprised if you see the suggestions you make being implemented at rushIMPRINT because, to us, your opinion is the one that matters most.

Dan Broudy, CEO


How to Have a Healthy New Year

The economy is still recovering from its slump, you just received a cell phone bill for $400, and your boss is driving you nuts—but at least you have your health. Right? Well, do you? For many people, the number one New Year’s resolution is to lose weight and/or get fit. I know it’s on the top of my list. Like you, I struggle to keep the resolutions I make each year and come February, I often shrug my shoulders and think, “There’s always next year.” Well, enough is enough. This year can be different…if you want it to be. So, if you are ready to begin 2010 with a healthy new attitude…read on.

Advice from the Experts

The reasons for adopting a healthier lifestyle are obvious, but actually doing it isn’t always so easy. That’s why I spoke to several diet and fitness experts, guru to guru, and came up with a list of 10 tips for turning the average couch potato into a hard body. Try them all or just pick one and get started!

  • Create a goal: My Nana always said, “You’re nothing without a dream.” A goal is simply a dream that you are committed to accomplishing. Decide on a goal, write it down and give yourself a realistic deadline as well as the action steps you plan to take in order to achieve your objective.
  • Share your goal: Tell your spouse, Mom, kids and best friend and ask for their support. It’s harder to quit when you have a cheering section.
  • Walk it off: Go for a walk around the block, the neighborhood or the mall. Walking is easy, fun and free; start by walking 30 minutes every day.
  • Use the buddy system: Join forces with a friend, colleague or neighbor and plan to exercise together a few times a week. If you have the resources, hire a trainer or sign up for an exercise class. It’s more fun to sweat in a group.
  • Do what you enjoy: Figure out what you like to do, rather than what you think you should do, and you are more likely to stick to it. I enjoy yoga and my wife never misses a Pilates class… there are lots of options, from salsa dancing to in-line skating. Explore them all.
  • Get everyone involved: Instead of watching TV or going to the movies with your family, schedule fun, physical activities like skating, touch football, urban hikes or Frisbee matches.
  • Trick yourself: Portion control is one of the keys to losing and maintaining a healthy weight. Trick yourself into eating less by:
    • Using smaller plates: even if you fill up your plate, you are still eating less.
    • When dining out, eat half of what’s on your plate and take the rest home for lunch the next day…or split an entrée with your dining partner. You’ll eat less and save money.
  • Treat yourself: Losing weight doesn’t mean you can’t have a treat every once in a while Instead of depriving yourself of your favorite desserts altogether, limit yourself to a sweet bite once a week. Try eating healthful treats like a couple of squares of dark chocolate or half a cup of low fat frozen yogurt with fruit or a tablespoon of chocolate sauce or non-dairy whipped topping. If you indulge a little, you are less likely to go overboard and wolf down an entire box of cookies.
  • Change a little, save a lot: Save calories by drinking sparkling water instead of sugary sodas and diet drinks, eating fruit instead of drinking fruit juice, and cutting back on or eliminating alcohol.
  • Forgive but don’t forget: Lastly, if you splurge on French-fries or blow off exercising one day, don’t give up. Just recognize that you are human, forgive yourself and get back on track.

As we bring in the 2010 (twenty-ten!) year, health is on our minds and we hope it is on yours, too.  As you’re a critical part of the rushIMPRINT family, we want to live with you and grow old with you too.  We’d love to hear how your health-conscious New Year’s Resolutions progress over the year!

Customer Care

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

The wife and I were out shopping today and meandered into a wonderful little shop called “Bar Keeper” which was, not surprisingly, a store dedicated to the perfectly appointed home bar. The proprietor stocked all kinds of bar equipment—from fancy glassware to toothpick holders and everything in between. As I perused the antique martini glasses, I longed for the days where a man would come home from the office, hat in hand and his wife would greet him at the door with a perfectly made martini. Or perhaps I have been watching too much “Mad Men.” Since Mrs. Winston and I aren’t big drinkers, we don’t really require items such as flasks and shot glasses but we did spy an item we just had to have…or so we thought.

We love to drink spicy water, my son’s name for sparkling water, so we have talked about purchasing a soda maker that would allow us to make our own carbonated water at home. With some enthusiasm, my wife picked up a carbonated soda maker and exclaimed, “Look Virgil—we need this!” Much to my surprise the proprietor, Joe Keeper, sidled over and said, “No you don’t.” He then went on to explain that owning your own soda maker was not as cost effective as it seemed, since in order to carbonate the water, you also needed to purchase chargers which you can only use one time, necessitating buying many chargers again and again. He then ran the numbers and indeed, the whole operation was actually cost prohibitive. I was stunned. Joe talked us out of a one hundred dollar purchase. I felt so guilty that I bought a bottle of grapefruit bitters (excellent with spicy water) and Mrs. Winston picked up some smart cocktail napkins. Our small purchases certainly didn’t make up for the $100 he lost but that didn’t seem to bother Joe in the least. We left the store feeling cared for and I made a mental note to come back and pick up some special water glasses my wife had her eye on.

Joe did more than make a sale today—he created two customers and made this curmudgeonly marketer smile…something only a very good salesperson can do. I hope the marketing lesson is clear: Care for shoppers and they will soon become customers. It’s not about making that one time sale; it’s about building trust and creating a long-term relationship with people who will come to rely on your expertise and advice. So, in honor of Joe, today’s offering is the Vina Tall Wine Glass—it’s the perfect way to promote your company at the office holiday party and makes a charming keepsake for all the wine drinkers on your list.

Until next time, remember what Joe Keeper knows and my good friend Robert Half always says, “When the customer comes first, the customer will last.”

“Tis The Season

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

It’s cold and flu season again and that means the Winston household is on full germ alert. Mrs. Winston is a virus vigilante and prides herself on keeping the family fit as a fiddle throughout the season. The moment anyone crosses our garland festooned threshold, they are greeted with a cheery, “Don’t forget to wash your hands” before being offered a beverage or freshly baked holiday cookie. The refrigerator is stocked with orange juice and no one is allowed to eat breakfast until they’ve popped a multi-vitamin washed down with a glass of Emergen-C infused water. Our cupboards are stocked with every homeopathic remedy known to man and she has placed a family wide ban on handshakes and hugs with anyone who even looks like they may have sneezed in the last week. We have all had our flu shots but that does not mean my wife will let her guard down for an instant. She won’t relax until we are well into spring, or what I like to call, “allergy season.”

Since we go through almost as much hand sanitizer as a mid-sized hospital, I have decided to turn my wife’s anti-germ obsession into a marketing opportunity, so the hand sanitizer we use everyday is imprinted with my logo and a pithy message about cleanliness. Thanks to Mrs. Winston’s germ phobia and my promotional marketing acumen, my brand is spreading faster than you can say, “rhinovirus.” The marketing lesson here is simple—when choosing a promotional item, go with the flow. If everyone is sniffling and sneezing, give them a health related promotional gift and they will thank you with every “achoo.”

I’ve got to take the car in for a check-up—Mrs. Winston has put the kibosh on air travel so I am driving 600 miles to my next speaking engagement. Until next time, I leave you with Erma Bombeck’s rule of Medicine, “Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.”

Word Nerd

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

Did you know that the word queue is the only word in the English language that is still pronounced the same way when the last four letters are removed? Of course “q” is not a word but that doesn’t change the fact that I spend way too much time reading the dictionary. My wife jokes that the dictionary is my bible and as a card carrying “word nerd,” I’d be hard pressed to disagree. I play Scrabble daily and read my Thesaurus like it’s pulp fiction. I recently joined an online word-lovers community so I can commune with like-minded folks on a regular basis. After twenty years of marriage, Mrs. Winston is finally over my word games so I had to branch out…for the sake of our marriage. Nobody wants to divorce over a game of “Synonym or Homonym?”

There are not many things I enjoy more than word play so it should come as no surprise that I think The Power of Words Calendar is the perfect pre-holiday gift for everyone on your list. Inspirational quotes speak for themselves on this unique motivational calendar. It attracts attention all year long and is especially well suited for advertisers in the insurance or education markets, but anyone who believes in the power of words to inform, change and incite action will love it.

One of the best ways to market your company is by inspiring others, which is why I like to give gifts with a message. Everyone, including your clients, could use a little pick me up once in a while and it may as well come from you. That way, your gift keeps right on giving…in a meaningful way. Don’t forget to add your logo so the recipient will know whom to thank for their daily dose of encouragement.

I’ve got to go prepare for my monthly “Thesaurus Club” meeting—I’m hosting. Until next time, I leave you with a quote from the inimitably quotable, Winston Churchill, “In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.

Portrait of Procrastination

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

I know I’m not the only one who peruses Facebook for hours on end looking up old college chums and commenting on my former babysitter’s photos of adorable kittens wearing Halloween costumes even though I am on a deadline. And surely I am not the one person who decides that he simply cannot do another lick of work until he has changed every light bulb in the house, watched a rerun of Law & Order and organized the bookshelf in the den. Admit it; you procrastinate as often as the next person. As much as I would like to believe that my blog is required reading, you are probably reading it right now in order to avoid your inbox. But I’m not one to judge. How can I judge you when I actually cleaned out the garage in order to avoid writing this very blog? Let’s face it; we all do just about anything to avoid doing what we should be doing—especially if what we should be doing feels like a chore. Don’t get me wrong; I love my work. Nothing gives me more pleasure than offering words of marketing wisdom to my legions of followers but I am only human and therefore, I procrastinate. And so do you.

In fact, I’d be willing to bet you have put off ordering personalized holiday cards to send to your top clients, haven’t you? Fortunately for me, Mrs. Winston is in charge of greeting cards so there are currently two hundred and twenty seven (we have a large family) stamped envelopes sitting on the table by the door waiting to be dropped off at the post office by yours truly. Fortunately for you, Rush Imprint understands that most people practice the fine art of procrastination when it comes to sending holiday cards so it’s still not too late for you to order custom greetings. All you have to do is upload your logo and message and you are good to go. But don’t put it off for too long…otherwise you’ll have to resort to sending customized National Bird Day (January 5th) cards.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must play a word in my online Scrabble game, dust my “Speaker of the Year” trophy and rearrange my paperclips before I return my editor’s call. Until next time, I leave you with the words of Edward Young, whose procrastinating days are long over, “Procrastination is the thief of time.” Now get back to work!

Letter Writing Day

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

December 7th is Letter Writing Day, a day meant to inspire communication the old fashioned way…by putting pen to paper and sending someone a hand written letter. Letter writing is almost a lost art, since most correspondence today takes place via email, instant message or text. When was the last time you actually sat down with a piece of paper and a pen and wrote a letter to someone? If you are like me, you probably can’t remember that far back. Thank you notes and birthday card don’t count. The really sad thing is, our kids will probably never know the joy of passing hand written notes in class, or writing a long love letter to the cute guy or gal who sits behind them in Chemistry; they’ll just send a text or poke them on Facebook and be done with it. I cannot bear to let that happen however and have vowed to keep letter writing alive for my children. That is why I have declared the 7th day of every month Letter Writing Day in the Winston household. Won’t you join us?

Appropriately, today’s offering is an elegant Silver Plated Star Letter Opener, perfect for opening letters, love notes, birthday cards and even bills. It’s a throwback gift that lets your clients know you are an old fashioned business—the kind that cares about its customers and delivers on its promises. I am giving one to each of my children to encourage them on their letter-writing journey. I just hope nobody pokes an eye out.
Well, I’ve got to go meet my trainer—I overindulged a bit on Thanksgiving and I’m determined to stay fit so I can do it again on Christmas. Until we meet again, I leave you with a few lines from W.H. Auden. “And none will hear the postman’s knock
 without a quickening of the heart. For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?”