You Read My What?

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

My great, great grandfather Clayton Winston was very much like William Shakespeare. Not that he could write, but that he died on the same day he was born. He lived a long and productive life, so I suppose it was poetic that he met his maker during his own birthday party, during which he was tragically mistaken for a Pancho Villa piñata, by no less than his own six year old grandson…my father.

Of course, I wouldn’t have known any of this if Uncle Lou hadn’t read the journal out loud at my father’s birthday party. Yes, Uncle Lou had been drinking too many Pineapple Daiquiri’s and, yes, he had no business reading it in the first place, let alone calling my father a “killer,” but, just the same—talk about your bombshells!

Truth is, I never knew about the “piñata accident,” let alone the nun from Kansas or my fathers’ fear of marbles…and it totally explains his near obsessive avoidance of parks on weekends, and, of course, the way he breaks down sobbing during the Sound of Music.

If I didn’t think we should all keep a journal before…I do now. Journals are more than a few careless thoughts written down, they are a record of the lives we live and the experiences we share. Journals are our history. And the more we encourage them, the better off we’ll be…my father being the exception.

And, yes, I have the perfect journal for you. It’s called the Sedona Suede Journal. It includes a 100-page refillable spiral journal with genuine suede cover. It also has a pocket for business cards, with a covered vinyl pen loop and a 1-piece gift box. It’s not just the perfect promotional gift for customers and employees alike, but a legacy to pass down from generation to generation. And, don’t forget, it’s refillable…because life is refillable.

Well, I’m off to take some food over to Uncle Lou, who is now in a self-imposed witness protection program, unbeknownst to him…that his wife has sent out change of address cards. Until next time, remember, “You can’t change the past, but you can ruin the present by worrying about the future.”

The Odd And The Beautiful

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

Every St. Patrick’s Day, my friend Eduardo Jose-Luis Dominguez puts on his lime green suit and celebrates the heritage he knows nothing about. And every year, he inevitably gets asked the same question: where did you get that suit?

I suppose it’s human nature. If we like something someone else has, we want to know where they got it. It’s how every fad from the Pez Dispenser to Pet Rocks to Mood Rings began, the last one of which my mother-in-law invented, only without the ring.

We love the odd, quirky and unusual, which leads us right to the Staple-Less Stapler. That’s right…it’s the staple-less paper fastening system…surprisingly handy in a busy office…with no jamming on faxes and copiers. The PL-80 cuts through papers and creates a loop-and-tuck binding, able to fasten up to 5 pages of standard paper. You’ll never use staples again. It’s the perfect desk accessory—fun, functional…and, best of all, most people don’t already have one.

Of course, I have one, making me the envy of the entire office…or since I work at home…the entire neighborhood. Just the same, everyone wants to keep up with the Winston’s now. And do you know what? For a good price, I’d be glad to let them.

Now, I’m off to the pound to get ourselves a puppy, which, I believe is not coincidentally happening on the day before my kids go back to school. Until next time, remember the words of the late Hunter S. Thompson, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

A Tip of the Hat

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

Let me tell you something about my side of the family…we’re not especially handsome people. And you wouldn’t be out of line if you said we were downright homely. I mean we certainly have our moments, given the right lighting and the proper stretch pants, but let’s face it, we’re ordinary at best, and it’s just a darn good thing my kids got their looks from their mother’s side, with the exception of the youngest one of course.

To make a long story short, we’re the perfect candidates for hats, and I have every cap my wife ever gave me to prove it. Truth is, hats are for everybody from Johnny Depp to Ron Howard. In fact, hats are truly the ultimate marketers dream. They are a universal gift, offering truly top of mind, brand awareness. What’s the first thing someone looks at it when you walk up? It’s not you, but your hat…and the logo/message you’ve put on it. And, perhaps, the best thing about hats is this…people save, collect and rotate them. It is the promotion that keeps giving, or better yet, advertising.

Here’s a tip about hats, though. You have to get a cool one…a fashionable one…one your customers or employees want to put on. And for my money, the Brushed Canvas Hat is your solution. It has a comfortable soft canvas, with a finish that looks brushed or washed, along with cotton buckram lining on the front panels. It comes in over 21 color variations, with a crown that offers a relaxed casual fit for maximum comfort, all with a very stylish cloth back strap and brass buckle.

Well, I’m off to school. It’s career day at my son’s school and I’m talking about the art of promotion in a narcissistic, post-modern society. Until next time, remember, sometimes the only way to learn to climb a wall is to throw your cap over it.

Note to Self

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

My wife is a sticky note addict. They are all over the house. On the toilet seat—close it. In the shower—squeegee it. On the TV—turn it off. On the kitchen trash—take it out. On the dishes—wash them. On the dog—feed it. I am scared to think how much she has spent on the “sticky note” in the course of her life. It wouldn’t surprise me to believe she is now up to a $2.00 a day habit. We have confronted her, even bought her Palm Pilots and eraser boards, but nothing has worked. So, we have accepted it, knowing that without her we’d all be lost.

Of course, I suspect my wife is not alone. We are a nation obsessed with lists, notes and reminders; something which forgetful baby boomers suddenly understand is more valuable than ever. Since 1970 the sticky note has become a staple of American life, a part of our everyday existence and, most importantly, a fixture on desks from California to Maine. As someone who wants to get his name out in the public, you want to be a part of that frenzy, which is why we proudly feature the Pop-Up Sticky-Note Dispenser.

This pop-up sticky-note dispenser is the perfect tradeshow gift. It mounts anywhere with the supplied self-adhesive tape. You can be sure your name will stick around when you give these out. This dispenser is available in your pick of three translucent colors and includes a standard 3 by 3 inch pop-up note pad. Take it from me…they’re addictive.

Speaking of notes, I’m off to the cleaners. Until next time, remember what Henry Ford
once said, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Life is a Puzzle

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

When it comes to the Rubik’s Cube…there is only 1 correct answer and 43 quintillion wrong ones. Quintillion…as in 43,252,003,274,489,856,000. And I thought Scrabble was humbling. Of course, my Uncle Marty says he’s successfully solved the algorithm four times, but then he was always alone, so we believe him about as much as we believe he was married to Shirley MacLaine for six weeks…as if the grainy black & white photo of him and Shirley in front of a taxi is proof. I can guarantee you…if he said more than four words to her, it was in another life.

In any case, one eighth of the world’s population has laid their hands on “The Cube,” which makes it not only the most popular puzzle in history, but the world’s ninth most cruel and unusual punishment. Don’t you think it’s about time your company join the fun? You can start with the Micro Rubik’s Cube Key Holder. It’s not just a chain holder, but a fully functioning miniature Rubik’s cube, with your custom imprinted message right there for all to fumble with. And with a quintillion different color positions, just imagine how long they’ll be fumbling.

It’s good fun…good torture…and great advertising.

But, don’t thank me…thank Erno Rubik, the Hungarian little fellow who came up with the colorful brainchild. So, what are you waiting for…go ahead and get a few…the possibilities are almost never ending.

Well, speaking of games, I’m off to the U.S.A.R.P.S. tournament…known to those of us who play the game…not only as the USA Rock Paper Scissors tournament, but the worlds greatest hand sport. Until next time, remember what Erno Rubik said, “The problems of puzzles are very near the problems of life.”

The Art of Nothing

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

In 1957, my Uncle Marty invented the beer cap suction cup so his friend Wayne could enjoy his daily twelve-pack, while he recuperated from the two broken arms he incurred while falling off the high beam. Of course, as family history would tell it, Uncle Marty’s invention was later bootlegged by his own brother Rex, who, with an investment from the Schlitz Brewing Company, perfected the beer bong that is so popular in colleges today.

Now, 49 years later, taking your rest and relaxation on the road has been turned into an art form…one that has been perfected even further by the Deluxe Cooler Chair. Made from a durable metal frame, with a deluxe padded seat, this sporty chair has two can/bottle holders and is collapsible for easy storage. It also comes with a front zippered pocket, heat sealed liner and adjustable padded shoulder strap. About all it doesn’t do, is pour your favorite beverage for you, but then isn’t that what children are for.

Well, I’m off to the Celebrity Impersonators Convention in Atlantic City, where my father will once again attempt to honor the late Jerry Garcia. Until next time, remember the words of Calvin & Hobbes, “There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.”

To Die…or to Speak

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

We all know that the number one fear in America is not death, heights, going to the dentist or even spending an hour with Joan Rivers. It’s speaking in public. I’ve tried myself to overcome the fear—breathing exercises, yoga, hypnotherapy and even a brief foray into Colonics, which is just a quaint way of saying they give you a lot of enemas.

And, of course, everybody says, “just picture your audience in their underwear,” which might have worked if my 88 year old Aunt Esther hadn’t once dropped her napkin in my presence, her purple thong wistfully peeking its way out of her Juicy Couture sweats…a train wreck made even worse when her husband, Hal, caught me looking and winked.

No, I needed more help than that. So, I enrolled at the Dale Carnegie Institute for Public Speaking, studying under some of the most gifted orators of our generation. It is here I overcame my fear, learning a lesson I’d like to pass on to you now. The most important thing about public speaking is not what you say or how you say it. It’s not eye contact, posture, projection or poise. The key to public speaking success is having a really good pointer in your hand…something that distracts the audience from your stumbling words.

I’m not talking about just any pointer, but the ultimate Presentation Laser Pointer, which is the perfect gift for those executives who have everything…and even those who have nothing, including wit, charisma or passion. Trust me, this thing is cool. You control your Power Point presentations remotely using this compact system. What’s more, its base unit connects to your computer, picking up signals from the wand to switch slides, allowing the laser pointer to direct your audiences’ attention to areas on the screen…and, more importantly, away from you. Now, how’s that for a cure.

Well, I’m off to the Tucson Society of Philographist’s (autograph collectors), where if I’m lucky, I will finally get my coveted Yo Yo Ma signature. Until next time, remember the words of Jerry Seinfeld, who never thought it was right that death would be the number two fear, saying, “That means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Onions, Garlic & Stress

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

Let me just come right out and say it. Clark Gable had breath that could kill a yak. I’m talking breath that was so horrible Vivien Leigh could barely kiss him in Gone With the Wind. Truth be told, Scarlett was the one who didn’t give a damn—she just wanted to get off the set. Now, I realize Clark drank a good deal of whiskey and, what with his false teeth and all, there were valid reasons for the breath he had. Just the same, he clearly points out the fact that even the rich and famous get halitosis. For that matter, so do 74 million other Americans. We are without a doubt, a country in need of a mint.

But, don’t worry, Rush Imprint has you covered…and not just for their timeliness and speed. These guys know something about bad breath… just ask the guys in shipping. In fact, they have all the mints you need, including the Custom Wrapped Jumbo Cinnamon Mint, a certain conversation piece…the Flat Top Tins-Super Mints, with the cool tin and large imprint area…or one of my favorites, the Credit Card Mint Dispenser. Put your logo on any one of these trendy wrappers, boxes or tins and then watch as your clients or staff line up for more—their marriages and careers saved.

Well, speaking of bad breath, I’m off to the Harrison Ford Achievement Awards. Until next time, remember the words of Uncle Dan, our family’s most gamy offender, who said, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” Uncle Dan knows what he’s talking about.

It’s a Small World

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

My brother Jack was born on the same day that Fidel Castro became Prime Minister of Cuba, who also shares the same birthday as John McEnroe, who once screamed obscenities at an impressionable young ball boy for not bringing him his towel fast enough…an act that soured that boy on the world of professional tennis forever.

Of course, for those of you have read my biography, you know that boy was me. Do I regret giving up a promising tennis career? Not at all. In fact, I’m grateful for McEnroe’s temper. While he may have gone on to one unsuccessful talk show after another, I am celebrating my 25th year in the marketing world, fortunate enough to be sharing the promotional products that will reach out and touch the lives of generations to come, continuing today with…drum roll, please…the 3-In-One Note Jotter.

The 3-in-1 Note Jotter is a small, simple and extremely affordable leave behind reminder of who you are. The case comes with a patriotic blue pen, red pen and a pair of 100-sheet sticky pads…and is available in a cool translucent blue with your message imprinted. Pick up a few of these today…and spread the love.

Now, I’m off to my youngest son’s birthday party. I got 500 Anderson Plumbing balloons for the kids…each one attached to a beautiful Hank’s Liquor Store Click-Switch Pocket Light. And my wife says I don’t know how to plan a party. Until next time, remember the words of Oscar Wilde, “Hear no evil, speak no evil—and you’ll never be invited to a party.”

Branding and the Art of the Tattoo

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

Esquire Magazine estimated that 1 in 8 Americans was tattooed, 14% of which were Republicans. Now, I love a good tattoo…just not on me. I’m afraid of needles and, probably more accurately, the way my sagging flesh might someday distort the artwork.

Truth is, the tattoo is the ultimate advertising, a walking logo for girlfriends, mothers, roses, Chinese symbols, death chants, snakes, hearts and, of course, attitude and lifestyle. Eminem has several tattoos, including one on his wrist that says, “Slit here,” which is almost as telling as Charlie Sheen’s chest tattoo that says, “Back in 15 minutes,” both of which are much more understandable than Mike Tyson putting a picture of Mao Tse-tung on his right arm. I can only believe he thought it was a bottle of imported beer or maybe he asked for a nice picture of a “cow tongue” and it got lost somewhere in the translation.

In any case, there are rules when it comes to tattooing and branding…and we’d be wise to learn what we can from this long lost art. In fact, there are three simple rules:

1. Be careful what you put on your product, because it will be there forever…and you only have to look at Johnny Depp to believe me. After breaking up with his lifelong soul mate, he was forced to turn his “Winona Forever” into “Wino Forever.” Have the right dates, the right sentiment, the right spelling…and you won’t regret it.

2. Don’t over brand. Don’t over tattoo. Yes, you can have too many tattoos. Put too many words on your product and you’ll end up looking like one giant ink spot. Just ask Tommy Lee. Nobody reads his body anymore—there’s just too many. Don’t let this happen to you or your company. Cut down on words. Make your point quickly, then stop.

3. Don’t be afraid of a message that only a few will understand. Including a message that only your team or company will understand, adds a little mystique, making your product all the more desirable. Read Angelina Jolie’s stomach and you’ll know what I mean. It says, “Quod Me Nutrit Me Destruit,” which if you studied Latin, you would know means…“That Which Nourishes Me Also Destroys Me,” a reference I’m sure to her Billy Bob Thorton days.

Okay, that’s it. It was a long post, but I felt we needed to talk about it. I’m off to the American Society of Dermatologists Convention, who says that 50% of the millions of Americans who get a tattoo eventually want it removed. Until next time, remember what my mother* always said, “The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who have tattoos, and those who are afraid of people with tattoos.”

* Norwegian Mermaid on her right ankle