Where did you get that?

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

Besides humans, the only animal that can stand on its head is the elephant. And what does this have to do with your next marketing promotion? Absolutely nothing, except that it makes me wonder just how many animals did they have to go through to find one who could do the trick? While odd, it’s not as strange as the scientist who conclusively proved that if you were to pass gas continuously for 6 years and 9 months, enough wind would be produced to equal the energy of an atomic bomb.

Bottom line, our society loves the odd, the weird and the ridiculous, which leads us right to the Liqui-Stapler. This is a whimsical gift that is sure to start conversations, beginning with those five all-important words…“where did you get that,” which not coincidentally are the same words my grandfather wants put on his tombstone. This novelty stapler not only works, it uses standard staples and has a liquid filled see-through chamber with a stock globe-floating icon. Who thinks of these things?

Well, I’m off to the Roanoke Miniature Golf Finals, where my cousin hopes to become the youngest back-to-back winner in Virginia history. That’s right, Virginia’s not just for lovers anymore. Until next time, remember, millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the first one who asked why.

When in Rome…

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

My grandfather has always been a history buff, so it’s not surprising he’s always thanking the Romans, not for introducing democratic principles, but for inventing the whole idea of kissing on the lips. You see, in ancient times, a husband returning from work would kiss his wife to see if she’d been drinking during the day…and, now, 600 or so years later, my grandfather wakes up each morning, thanks the Romans, then turns to his wife of 61 years and puckers…leaving my grandma secretly vowing never to visit Italy.

Lips…they’re the focal point of our face, the pathway for our words and our affections. And, guess what, we better take care of them, unless we want to see the demise of another civilization. All of which brings us to our featured product of the day—Flavored Lip Balm, aka KISS, or Keep It Simple Stupid, which is not meant to be derogatory, but to serve as a simple reminder that the best gifts in life are not only simple, but take care of others.

Tie your Lip Balm into any event that includes the sun and you’ll offer the protection that will make your customers and employees remember you with every kiss.

Now, I’m off to the Gilroy Garlic Festival, where I’ve just taken an order for 20,000 Credit Card Mint Dispensers. Until next time, remember the words grandpa stole from Bob Hope, “People who throw kisses are hopelessly lazy.”

Mrs. Shirley-Partridge Winston

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

Growing up I had a hopeless crush on Miss Pittsburgh, 1953, also known as Shirley Jones of the Partridge Family. I followed her life like a rabid dog, collecting her autograph photographs, piano playing cards and “I Think I Love You” key chains. Of course, my prized possession was the Partridge Family Lunch Box, which my mother cheapened with the sardine sandwiches she stuffed inside, convinced they would give me the brainpower I needed to compete with what she called the “smarter kids.”

Anyway, to make a long story short…I still have that lunch box. It’s that rare commodity we call in the business…a collectible…that something you won’t throw away because it has financial or sentimental value. In other words, it’s a marketers dream.

This is an important lesson for us all. We need to give away products our customers or employees will want to keep. Of course, nobody is suggesting that Round Golf Pencils will achieve the same cult status as the 1968 Klingon Action Figure, but we can certainly make our products more memorable. We can…and we must…make our products something our customers and employees will want to keep.

How do we do this? We begin by asking what is the significance of the gift we are giving. Sure, sometimes you’re just filling a bag with stuff, but other times it’s a lot more. Maybe it’s the first day on the job, or the ten-thousandth customer or, perhaps, you’ve reached sales quota for the first time in a long while. Whatever it is, we need to mark our achievements and milestones with not only the right product, but with the right message. Include dates, inscriptions, words of praise and gratitude…and you’ll make your give away a product they’ll want to keep.

Now, I’m off to the beach for a family picnic. Say hello if you see us. We’ll be the ones with the black socks and sandals. Until next time, remember what Mrs. Partridge always told Laurie when she was feeling especially moody, “I’m always here for you, honey.”

Truth In Advertising

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

There’s a lot of false advertising in this world. French Fries originated in Belgium not France, Great Danes come from Germany not Denmark and a ten gallon hat holds only six pints of water. And for that matter, Madonna was born in Michigan not Liverpool.

And because of these everyday deceptions, it’s life affirming when you come across a product that does exactly what its name implies. Of course, I’m talking about the Shorty Pen-on-A-Rope. It’s short. It’s a pen. It comes on a rope. Yes, it’s good to believe again.

Beyond its unique shape and opening mechanism, this new age pen comes packed with versatility. Wear it as a convenience or a fashion statement. It’s almost as bold as the emerald green Versace dress Jennifer Lopez wore at the Grammy’s on March 7, 2000, not that I noticed all that much. Anyway, I digress. The translucent blue pen features an unusual open-close system—simply pull the cap up to extend the point, and push it back down to retract. It’s more than a pen on a rope. It’s your company’s name on a rope.

Next time you’re in a rush, don’t even think about it…just get this one…you’ll be glad you did.

Now, I’m off to the Michigan Anesthesiologist Conference, where I have it on good authority that there’s not a speaker in the house who won’t put you to sleep. Until next time, remember the words of my Uncle Rex. “Honesty pays, but it doesn’t pay enough to suit most people.”

2+2 Still Equals Four

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

My Uncle Lou is a numerologist who lives and breathes numbers and seeing as how he’s doing fourteen months in a minimum-security prison for a few minor accounting errors, he has a lot of free time to spend on his hobby. I bet you didn’t know an average drop of Heinz tomato ketchup leaves the bottle at a speed of 25 miles per hour or that the probability of getting hit by a meteor is 1 in 200 million, which are probably the same odds that Uncle Lou has of finding a wife once he gets out of the big house.

Now, while most of us aren’t as obsessed as my uncle, numbers are an inescapable fact of life. Unfortunately, most of us are mathematically challenged and we need all the help we get. In short, we need calculators, making them the perfect promotional give-away, guaranteed with 2-1 accuracy that they will be used every day, all day.

And the Jumbo Desk Calculator is your solution. It’s not just a nice looking desk accessory with stylish lines, but a full function calculator with large soft-touch keys and an angled LCD for easy viewing. Your logo—or prison cell number depending on your circumstances—will be imprinted in a prominent place on this dual powered calculator, which works off light and still works in the dark, ideal for when the warden yells “lights out.

Now, I’m off to balance my checkbook with my prized 1974 vintage TAB soft drink calculator. Until next time, remember what Uncle Lou always says, “there are 293 ways to make change for a dollar,” and every one of those ways will keep you out of jail.

In Praise of the Clip

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

If you’re anything like me, you probably can’t help but feel empowered when you lift a paper clip from the magnetic pull of its holder, almost as much as you feel oddly safe when you gingerly return the clip back to its home.

Now, I know that may sound Norman Bates to some, and perhaps it’s one of the reasons my wife has started to ask for separate vacations, but I can’t hide the fact that…yes, I love the paperclip. I believe it is one of the greatest inventions of our time. And with apologies to penicillin, the light bulb and even the IPod, I would like to set aside today to honor the paperclip. We can begin with a nod to the great Johan Vaaler, that spry Norwegian inventor who in 1899 took a piece of wire, bent it to a rectangular hoop, then brilliantly allowed the end parts to lie side by side in contrary, but beautifully symmetrical directions. It makes you glad to be an American, even if he is from Europe.

It is in his honor, that we feature the Paper Clip Buddy, offered in translucent blue with rainbow clips or a yellow version with black clips. Of course, it also includes a 12-piece clip in a patented magnetized clip well, that will draw even the most discerning of clip aficionado’s and, yes, there are aficionado’s…mostly in hiding, though.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m off to the garden to spend a few quiet moments in gratitude for the simple conveniences of life. Until next time, remember what Confucius liked to tell his kids, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

Dare To Be Bold

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

Okay, I’m a flip-flopper. I know it’s the opposite of what I said last week, but if there is one rule in marketing, it’s that there are no rules. And I say this not just because my Uncle Marty was Richard Nixon’s button man in his ‘68 campaign, but because in our line of work there is only one thing that matters…results. And that means mixing it up and dazzling the customers, which also means we can’t, once in awhile, dismiss giving the big, bold and beautiful gift.

Now, before you say it’s inappropriate or out of budget, consider this optional tact. Instead of offering your give-away swag to everybody who walks through your doors, you might give it to every 20 customers, or the first 200 to walk through your doors or maybe do a raffle to create even more buzz. After all, sometimes the promise and anticipation of winning makes your company’s name stand out all the more.

And, of course, when it comes to memorable, I can’t think of anything more impressive or unforgettable than the Cutter & Buck American Classic 20 Leather Duffel. This all leather duffel is the perfect Travel Bag. It has a large main zippered compartment, front easy-access pocket with magnetic closure, with a bottom board and metal feet for added protection…and, of course, the signature Cutter & Buck lining, with a detachable, adjustable shoulder strap.

With your company’s logo imprinted right on the bag, it’s the gift to give to the man or woman who has everything, which is why I sent one to Angelina and Brad. I thought it would be perfect for diapers and extra rattles.

Well, I’m off to the Pet Rock Reunion. They’re honoring my grandfather with a lifetime achievement award. Until next time, remember, it does not take a very brave dog to bark at the bones of a lion.

Dare To Be Boring

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

Let me just say, I’m all for bold, colorful, in your face, flashiness and I have the leopard skin disco suit to prove it. I’m also all for the hip, sleek and high tech gadgets that make me feel like James Bond…and I have the neighborhood’s only Bluetooth toilet paper dispenser to prove that as well. I mean, you have to stand out and be noticed, right? Isn’t that what marketing 101 is all about? And, while we’re waxing philosophical, isn’t it true that no two snowflakes are alike and we’re all different, unique…and, well, blah, blah, blah.

Yes, it’s true. But, not entirely true. Allow me to let you in on my Uncle Aldo’s great secret: Uniqueness is overrated. And for that matter, so is being different, exciting and good looking. Now, he doesn’t just say that because his wife likes to remind him of those facts every day of his life…he truly believes it.

Truth is, in the world of promotional marketing, being practical is a good thing. So, is being boring and utilitarian. In fact, these are the things I like to give the most. The more boring the better. Think about it. What do the key chain, paperclip and sticky notes have in common? Yes, they’re boring. But, they’re also reached for everyday. And this is the ultimate goal of promotional marketing…you want to give away something that will be reached for everyday, keeping you and your company on top of the mind.

The lesson for today is short and simple: In your quest to get noticed, do not over estimate the power of those simple, boring and yet incredibly useful products. The Bottle Opener Key Chain, the Paper Clip Buddy or 3″x3″ Notepads just may be the exact products your clients will reach for everyday.

And speaking of boring, my wife is making me watch Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves tonight. So, until next time, remember the words Henry David Thoreau once told my great grandfather Rex, “There is no value in life except what you choose to place upon it.”

The Art of Procrastinating

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

Go ahead, lie down on the couch, take a deep breath and say the following words slowly….”I am a Procrastinator. I wait until the last minute for everything.”

I hope you feel better. Acceptance is always the first step to recovery. But, remember, you are not alone. According to a 1969 survey by the American Association of Unfinished Business, there are over 1.8 million certified procrastinators in California and Utah…statistics they hope to update as soon as time permits.

Truth is, we all wait until the last minute, secretly believing we are going to change our ways…once we get around to it. In the meantime, we take naps, Google celebrities, E-mail jokes to our friends and, if we feel unusually motivated, maybe even do the jobs we were hired to do. Bottom line, we’re all procrastinators, for which Rush Imprint would sincerely like to say…thank you. And, at the risk of enabling your procrastination, we’d like you to know we’re here to help you get through your next “last minute” crisis.

And we can begin with our featured product of the day – the Frequently Called Numbers Magnet. With your company name, logo, address and phone number at the bottom, you will always be on the frequently called numbers list. Low cost makes this a great item any time of year. Best of all, you can keep one for yourself…and put Rush Imprint at the top of your “Emergency! I’ve waited to the last minute” procrastination list. Put it right behind the pizza guy. It’s the perfect antidote for Acute Delayed Response Syndrome.*

Now, I’m off to the South Dakota Plumbing Convention, where I’m unveiling my new Plumber’s Crack Promotional Tattoo. Until next time, remember the words my Great Aunt Esther once stole from Will Rogers, “Even if you’re on the right track…you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

*Warning: May be habit forming, causing euphoric sensations of well-being and happiness, along with increased night time darkness.

Magnets: May the Force Be With You

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

As the great Yogi Berra of the Yankees used to say, “a nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore,” which I suppose was his own convoluted way of saying we need a little more bang for the buck in this world, or what my father liked to call, ROI-P…“return on the imprinted pencil.”

Well, guess what? Your solution is no further than the much overlooked magnet. Yes, I said it, the magnet…commercially invented in 1740 by Gowen Knight, leading to Michael Faraday’s important discoveries with Electromagnetic Induction in 1855, which I probably don’t need to tell you was bootlegged off Seebeck’s earlier work with thermoelectricity. But, I digress.

What’s the most important appliance in the home, outside the TV and the Belgian Waffle Maker? (if you met my wife you’d know what I mean.) The answer is simple…the refrigerator…focal point for the appetites of every house across America. Make your way to the fridge and you have 24/7 access to the nation. Now, there are many wonderful types of magnets—circle, squared and rectangle, phone magnets and frequently called number magnets and each have their own merit. But, today, I want to talk about the Picture Frame Message Magnet—the perfect way to guarantee your magnet makes it to the fridge.

It’s both practical and popular—a magnetic frame that can be customized with a message or your company info, and is sure to brighten up any office or home area.

May the electrical force be with you. As for me, I’m off to gift wrap the new imprinted 6 Function Tool Kit Wrench I got my wife for our anniversary. Tell me that won’t melt her heart. So, until next time…remember the words of that famous electrician, Thomas Alva Edison, who said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”