Do the Left Thing

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

I’ve gotten a few letters recently from my left-handed readers. It seems we have not been offering enough left handed products. I have been not so subtly reminded that there are 30 million left hand people in this world that are under appreciated, and that many of our most famous Americans have been left handed, including John F. Kennedy, Mark Twain, Helen Keller, Henry Ford and Albert Schweitzer, not to mention current left handers like Carol Burnett, Goldie Hawn and Bart Simpson. All I can say, as another leftie once said, “I feel your pain.”

Truth is, I have been left handed most of my life, which is why I would like to feature today the Highway Companion Safety Kit, or as I like to call it, the Left Handed Highway Companion Safety Kit. While, it’s certainly good for right handers, I think that because the drivers seat is on the left side of the car, driving is a left handed affair, which makes this product a touch more suited for the left handed driver. I hope that helps.

Anyway, this twelve piece “left handed” Highway Companion Safety Kit includes: Case, jumper cables, warning triangle, siphon, mylar blanket, two bungee cords, two glow sticks, gloves, flashlight, and 50 psi tire gauge—everything you need to be safe on the road. The interior case pockets secure all components, while the jumper cables are 300 amp. This is a gift that genuinely shows how much you care, sending a message to employees and clients alike…that you’re always with them.

I better go. I’m off to the Iowa Fortune Cookie Convention, where they’ll be celebrating the 90th anniversary of the day George Jung, a left-handed noodle maker, invented the fortune cookie. Until next time, remember, “If the right half of the brain controls the left half of the body, this means that only left handed people are in their right mind.”

Take Note of Life

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

I am an informational and observational junkie who collects everything—facts, tips, trivia, recipes, directions, books, websites, songs, lyrics, blog ideas, names for pets, dreams I’ve had, movies I need to see. You name it and I’ll collect it, which is why I can never be without my memo pad and why I’m so happy to be talking about today’s featured item: the Icon Press Up Memo/Tap Flag Dispenser. First off, let me tell you that this pop-up pad is geared for the memo-hungry professional. It includes an accordion-style mini notepad and tape flags in five colors and, of course, it pops open with the press of a button, which makes it compact and ideal for business travel. And all the while, it draws attention to your logo or message.

Now, the best thing about a memo is it makes you sit up and take note of the world around you, forcing you to observe the many oddities of life. In fact, here are a few of the tidbits I’ve found in just the last week:

4,000 people each year are hurt by teapots
Benjamin Franklin invented the rocking chair.
Coca Cola was originally green
My Barber’s phone number is 755-2346
The plain Buddy Holly died on was called “The American Pie”
Most toilets flush in E-Flat
In space, astronauts can’t cry because there is no gravity, so the tears won’t flow
Bears +15 against the Colts is a lock

My advice to you: take notice of the world around you. And when something interesting pops up, be ready…ready with the Icon Press Up Memo/Tap Flag Dispenser.

In fact, I’m so excited that I’m giving a few of these away for trick or treaters tomorrow. I can already imagine the line at the door when the word gets out. Until next time, take notice of life and life will take notice of you.

If You Build It They Will Come

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

My Uncle Rex has always said there was nothing more boring in life than watching a Kevin Costner film. And this is the same man who owns The English Patient. What’s more, he didn’t care how many Academy Awards he won for Dancing With Wolves, it was as bad as Waterworld, a movie he said would have been much better had it taken place on land. Yes, he feels strongly about the subject, which is why I will never let it be known that one of my favorite all time movies is Field of Dreams. It’s not just a baseball fanatic’s fantasy, it’s a promotional marketer’s fantasy as well.

It starts with the famous line, “If you build it, they will come.” This is the driving force of the movie and the reason Costner builds his improbable baseball field on top of his Iowa farm. Of course, “if you build it, they will come” is also the marketer’s mantra as well. Build what you ask? It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s better, cooler and more interesting than what was previously offered.

Well, Rush Imprint has built it…and I’ll bet you’ll be coming for it. It’s the USB Liqui-Hub. That’s right. A hub. An “anti-Kevin Costner” hub if you will. Now, this isn’t your everyday, run of the mill USB Port. This one has a miniature globe that floats in a blue sea. In other words, it’s a conversation piece, a desk ornament and a functional piece of equipment. It has four ports and a blue base with a 72″ attached USB cable. There are also two wells on top for pen holders. What more could you ask for? And, as always, Rush Imprint will deliver in a flash.

Well, I better go. I’m taking the whole family out to dinner and, surprisingly, everyone can make it, proving I suppose, that “if my wife doesn’t cook, they will come.”

Good Things Come In Small Packages

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

As Yogi Berra once said, “a nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore,” or as that Burger King lady put it years ago, “where’s the beef?” And, of course, there is my grandfather, who loves to tell you that “it costs more to buy a new car today in the United States than it cost Christopher Columbus to equip and undertake 3 voyages to and from the new world.” Now, you can try to tell him that was over 540 years ago, but he’ll just shrug at you like you don’t understand the Math. “Do you know how expensive boats are, boy?”

Still, he makes his point. Inflation is inflation and you can’t argue with how expensive things are. It’s hard to get value anymore. Up until now, that is. Today, we offer a simple, inexpensive little item that will offer the whole world to you in a heartbeat. It’s our Retractable Ethernet Cable. Connect it and you can take your clients anywhere.

This category 5 Ethernet cable comes with a push button cable retraction, extends to 8 feet and is ideal for desktop or travel use. One snap in your computer and your connected. And if there’s one thing we all want to do…it’s stay connected. If we can’t be on our cell phones, we better be able to “get on-line.” Well, this item takes care of it for you…and at a price we can all afford And, remember, every time you get one of your customers connected, they’ll look at your imprint and smile. Now, that’s what I call value.

Well, I’m off to spend a little quality time with my wife—we’re going antiquing on Ebay. Until next time, remember what Oscar Wilde said, “A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

# 174465

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

I’d like to talk to you about U.S. Patent # 174465, also known as the phone, our country’s most prized possession and/or obsession. At any one time, there are 100 million phone conversations taking place in our country, five of which are happening in my house alone, and all of which are on a cell phone that happens to be no more than five feet away from a corded phone. My family—like yours—loves their cell phones. They don’t just flip open and click, they do music, photos, text messaging, videos and Internet. About the only thing they don’t do is put you to bed at night, but then, I guess, that’s what lullaby ring tones are for.

Of course, it’s not just our kids; it’s all of us. We’re all addicted to the cell phone. Be honest…what’s the first thing you do when you get in the car…it’s not turning on the ignition…it’s dialing someone on the phone, right? Now, I’ll spare you my rant on driving with cell phones, but I will offer this one piece of advice: if you’re pulling out of parking spot in the middle of a crowded lot, with a Big Mac in your hand—that is probably not the time to dial your aunt in Slovakia—and my wife knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Sure, we could offer a helping hand to these troubled folks—a twelve-step program to help detox off the cell…or we could be the “friendly pusher” who enables those individuals with the products that will keep them happy…and our company’s name on the top of their minds. I suppose I don’t have to tell you what I’m choosing.

Of course, we’ll have to give them a product they don’t have…and let me tell you, cell phone addicts have everything. Except one. It’s called the Wind-Up Flashlight /Cell Phone Charger. This thing is cool. With three white LED lights and rechargeable batteries inside, this is the cell phone charger you go to in an emergency. And what bigger emergency can you imagine in life than being without your cell phone. It has five cell phone adapters included: Samsung, Nokia, Motorola, Ericcson & LG. It has a push button on/off switch and rubber grips on the side. And one more thing, it has a wind up flashlight to boot, so you can find that lost cell phone in the dark, stopping those inevitable shakes of panic. Like I always say, one country’s obsession is another person’s marketing solution.

Speaking of obsession, I’m off to the couch with my own little addiction called the remote control. Until next time, think about this, “if we love our cell phones so much, how come we hate everyone else’s.”

Where’s the Spam?

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

My father used to pace around the house in his “thinking underwear” yelling, “Where’s the spam…Where’s the spam?” It’s not that he liked spam. In fact, he hated it. It was the idea of spam he loved, or more accurately, the fact that a can of spam is opened every four seconds. The statistic gave him goosebumps. It still does. “Every four seconds,” he would whisper softly. “That’s all we can ask for.” You see, as a marketer of promotional products, all he wanted to do was find the “thing” everyone wanted, then deliver it. It was that simple to him.

Well, guess what? I found the spam. I know what we all want and need, especially if you live in my house. It’s called money. Like an ATM machine, I reach into my wallet five times before breakfast…and my kids know all my secret passwords. Of course, the spam isn’t really the money; it’s the wallet. We might not reach for it every four seconds, but we reach for it often enough…that when we do…we should be reaching for a wallet with your company’s name or logo on it.

Well, meet the Cutter & Buck Money Clip Card Case. Its magnetic money clip secures loose bills, while its convenient pocket holds credit cards and notes. And, of course, it’s packaged in a 2-piece Cutter & Buck gift box. And before you start saying it’s too small, let me say right here—fat wallets are out. With apologies to my grandpa and his own fat wallet—complete with 20 expired credit cards and a stack of 1945 receipts tied inside a rubber band—sleek and streamlined is now in. Truth is, all we really need to get by is a license, a few cards and a wad of cash for our greedy offspring.

Where’s the spam…right there in your pocket.

Speaking of which, I’m off to the bank to reload my ATM machine. Until next time, remember what Woody Allen says, “Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.”

Stix and Stonz May Break Your Bones

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

Walk into my fathers office and you can pretty much guarantee two things: one, he is asleep when you get there and two, there is some sort of odd sculpture sitting on his desk. Right now, he has this paper clip-fortune cookie attached to some “green slime” he picked up from a Nickelodeon Convention.

Outside of keeping your brand on the forefront of your customer’s awareness, my father always said there were two main objectives in every promotional product giveaway: get someone to pick it up and then get someone to say “what is it?” Nine out of ten times, someone would pick up his latest creation and do just that. As for the tenth time, well, let’s just say Mom has had quite enough of his “clever creations,” especially when they always seem to end up in her hands on Valentines’ Day.

And every time someone asked my father what it was they were holding, he would smile and say the same thing, “That my friend is the power of promotion.”

And, for that matter, so is our Icon Stix & Stonz Deluxe. This promotional toy includes 8 steel “stonz” and 12 magnetic “stix” that are packed in a re-usable gift tin. It’s a conversation piece. It’s a desk ornament. It’s a gift that draws you to pick it up and say what is it. More than that, it’s a gift that invites your client to start building—to doodle, play, free your mind and create. That’s a product my father would be proud to put on his desk.

Well, I’m off for a few days. I’m going to the Tuscon Scrabble Tournament—no sesquipedalophoiacs allowed, meaning those who fear long words. Until next time, remember what Heraclitus said, “Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.”

The Sporting Life

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

In the Belgian province of Antwerp, there is a small town called Duffel, population 16,019. It is here where the simple bag of cloth was born many years ago. The makers of this bag—in their infinite wisdom—called it the Duffel Bag. Today, it is a staple of American Life. Originally used by soldiers, it is now widely accepted as an essential bag for anyone traveling outdoors, or needing to carry sports equipment.

Our Boundry Duffel is the latest in a long line of sturdy duffel products, complete with both a zippered shoe pocket and a large end pocket for accessories, not to mention an exterior collapsible water bottle pocket, along with a detachable, adjustable shoulder strap. Personally, I think this is an ideal promotional gift. It’s universal. We all play sports, and if we don’t, our spouses do, or at least our kids. It’s advertisement that’s always on the go.

Come on, I dare you to find someone who doesn’t have something to carry in this beautiful bag—volleyballs, baseballs, bats, helmets and badminton rackets? How about yoga mats and incense or boxing gloves and extra teeth. Hockey pucks and jock straps. Skateboards, swimming suits, goggles, basketballs, tennis shoes, footballs, scuba gear, fishing gear, golf balls and javelins. It’s as limitless as your ability to get out into the world and start exercising.

In fact, my family and I are out of here right now. Being the athletic family we are, we’ve got the duffel bag loaded up with Monopoly, a few towels and a pile of Kit Kats. Until next time, “enjoy the outdoors.”

A Cautionary Tale

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

To come perfectly clean: I have just spent the last eight hours watching a “24” marathon on TV. To make matters worse, it’s Tuesday, in the middle of the day and I’m not sick, tired or out of work. Oh, and I have Tivo.

My day started normal enough. I got dressed for work, grabbed my coffee and headed out of the kitchen for the fifteen-step commute to my office in the back of the house. But, I should have never gone the through the living room. Because there it was—the remote control—right there in plain sight. Okay, it was under the couch, but just the same, it was calling to me, begging me to click the shiny red button in the top corner. Next thing I know, my kids are home from school, pulling pizza crumbs off my shirt. I asked them if they learned anything, than slithered away to my office in shame.

My name is Virgil Winston…and I am a television addict.

And I take no comfort in the knowledge that I am not alone. I am fully aware that there are more television sets in the United States than there are people in Japan. Six of them are in my house alone. I suppose I can take comfort that not one of them is in the bathroom. My point: it’s time to start reading. It’s time to join the good folks in Iceland, who read more books per capita than any other people in the world. Now, whether this has anything to do with their TV reception is beside the point. What matters is this: we can’t allow ourselves to become spuds at the cost of our minds.

There are a lot of books out there. In fact, one new book is published every 16 seconds. For those folks who are reading them: good job. For those that aren’t: well, chances are you’re not even reading this. But, just in case you are: give reading a chance. As they say on one of my favorite commercials, “the more you know, the more you grow.”

Rush Imprint wants to help you find your way. They’re doing it with their ultra cool Book Markers. These are handsome and nicely weighted metal Book Markers, which can be clipped securely to books, ledgers and note pads. More than that, they are the ideal way to get your custom imprint read time and again, page after page.

So, what are you waiting for—I hope it’s not the commercial. Start reading today. Make the world a smarter place. Starting with yourself.

As for me, I’m going to go curl up in bed with a good book. I’ll tell my wife to keep the TV on low. Until next time, remember the words of P.J. O’Rourke, “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”

One In A Billion

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

I still remember my ninth birthday. The whole beautiful thing—friends, family, presents, games, cake, candles and, of course, Uncle Isadro, who at the end of my party, put his teeth back in his mouth, raised his scotch to me and said, “Kid, ten million people share your birthday…you’re not that special.”

Now, Isadro was a bitter old man who obviously never had kids, let alone a wife or, for that matter, friends, but I was an impressionable young kid and his words had a profound affect on me. I felt anonymous and uninteresting—not the best gift for a nine year old. I made a wish and then blew out the candles, convinced that with all the other wishes that day, I didn’t stand a chance. And, sure enough, Julie Andrews and I never married.

Now, had it not been for the word “lieutenant” who knows how long I might have stayed in that gloomy state of depression. That was the word that won me first place at the annual spelling bee at the Jim Morrison Elementary School. To this day, I can still remember the feeling I had when I picked up that trophy. It weighed no more than a few ounces, but it had my name on it. First Prize. Best Speller. I felt out of all the billions of people in this world, there was no one who could claim what I had just won. I felt special…and what with Uncle Isadro back in rehab, no one was going to take that away from me.

Truth is, we all need to feel special. We all need to stand out once in awhile. This is why we need to reward others…and when we do, we need to make it count. We need to present awards that reflect how we genuinely feel about those we honor. The Extra Terrestrial Medium is the answer. This award is not just bold and unique, but it’s futuristic, giving the distinct impression that you were “looking at things to come.” That’s a message we should all send. Each piece is a unique work of art with differing color and size—the perfect award to recognize achievements that are out of this world.

Well, I got to run. It’s tango night at the Y—proof positive that no one in the world can dance as bad as me. Until next time, “If you want to stand out, don’t be different; be outstanding.”