Stress Ball Power: The Light is On.

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

Stress…it’s the weight of the world on our shoulders…and we all carry it. Question is, what can we do about it? Well, it is with all modesty that I tell you my great, great grandfather Clayton Lee created the first “Jesse James” stress ball in 1868. Okay, so it was made out of a sawdust, asbestos and mercury compound that led to finger loss, but just the same, he was ahead of his time.

Completely safe today, the stress ball has become one of the business world’s more popular promotional items, with plenty of choices to suit any taste. There are globes, golf balls, dice, cows, computers, baseballs, basketballs, hockey pucks, and even the popular Ben Franklin Stress Ball, who, if he could talk, would probably remind us to “never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.” Of course, he never had Rush Imprint in his corner like you do.

But, even with all those great choices, my favorite stress reliever, the one I use at 2:00 a.m. when my wife is yelling at me to quit memorizing the website and come to bed…is the Light Bulb Stress Reliever. It is not your everyday “nervous tension, relief mechanism,” but the very symbol of the bright idea. But, don’t stop with the bulb…go ahead and put an inspirational quote on it and inspire your people to squeeze not only the tension out of their day, but creative magic into their lives. I guarantee it’ll keep them talking…and squeezing. It’s an idea that would make great, great grandfather Clayton Lee proud…if not a little envious.

Now, I’m off to study the positive effects of logo branded mouse pads on productivity among data processors. So, until next time, remember…“stress is when you wake up screaming and you realize you haven’t fallen asleep yet.”

What’s in a Name?

Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

I was a promotional products prodigy. My dad gave me my first sippy cup when I was eleven months old. It was imprinted with the words, “The minute you get the idea you’re indispensable, you aren’t.” Of course, it had the Morton Meat Packing logo on it, but it was such a heartfelt gift that I still drink coffee out of it today…1.5 ounces at a time.

So, who am I? Well, I’m Virgil Winston…Marketing Guru. I’m a fourth generation Marketing Man who eats, sleeps and breathes logos, slogans and beautifully stunning Gemini Pen & Pencil Sets. I spend my days, and most nights, monitoring, analyzing, deconstructing and generally commentating on promotional products. Which is why, as we approach that prime branding opportunity I like to call Summer, I can’t help but think of the wisdom passed down from my great, great grandfather Clayton Lee, starting with the mantra—”put your name on everything,” which works great on a paperweight, but not so ideal on your wife’s wedding gown. But, that’s another story.

For you…your name is your lifeblood. It’s your calling card, identity and future. Just ask Apple Computer, Oprah or KISS. You are only as powerful as your name. It’s what Tanya Harding calls—the “skate in the shin.” Use it right and it will get you the attention you want. Use it wrong and you’ll end up in a boxing ring with Tootie from Facts of Life. So, let’s you and I make a pact right now, from this moment forward….your name goes on everything. I’ll show you how, where and what…and, in fact, we can start with the Golf Ball & Tool Gift Set, the perfect Summer Promotion. Imprinted with your logo or message, this kit includes three super-balls, 5 quality tees, a pair of ball markers and a repair tool for divots. That’s 18 holes…and your name will be at the top of every swing. That’s what I call driving you to success.

Well, I’m off to a Scandinavian Tractor Pull Trade Show. Until next time…remember the words my Uncle Marty once stole…“it’s fine to stand out from the crowd, but not when they’re shooting at you.”

More creative printing.

Another creative printing idea I liked. As far as I understand, the guy in the picture just bought a book of detective stories by one of the most famous crime writers in Belgium.

With the help of a simple plastic bag, just like this one we have here, and a creative idea of what to print, these guys have reached more goals than one would expect from a simple promotional item. They got the whole city speaking about them, they got an increase in sales and last but not least they got websites and blogs all over the Internet praising them for how clever and creative they are are. Really nice one.

Hi-Tech People On The Move Strike Back

Today we had a case pretty close to the one I wrote about over a month ago. Once again the people who are supposed to receive the promotional gift are hi-tech professionals, and once again they do not just work with one computer in one office. In case you’ve been reading this blog, a month ago you might remember we decided on a nice USB memory stick, but this time the situation was a bit different, the budget of this campaign would not allow anything that costs more than $10 per item.

Metropolitan CD CaseBut, the client liked the original idea of making it something to carry the data around. Of course, we all prefer flash memory or things like iPods to carry around the files, but for some occasions you still have to use CD-Rs and DVD-Rs. Hence we decided on giving a CD case. I’m not really sure why we chose this model, they all look fine, but here we go with an item that can help you to carry around up to 204 GB of data (if you use double-sided DVDs and use all the 24 pockets of this case). I have not seen a flash drive that big yet, have you?

The best gifts use no batteries.

Gadgets are nice, everybody loves them. Anything electronic will definitely wake up the kid in every man. But when it comes to anything on battery power, it will sooner or later run out of batteries. It’s no problem with things used frequently, but if it’s something used from time to time, like a flashlight for example, looking for the new batteries is so annoying. The problem becomes even more acute with cheap things. There is always a temptation to just get a new item rather than search for the batteries for it. I can see it in how my neighbor’s kids are changing their watches: since it does not seem easy to them to replace a battery in a watch and since there are so many kinds of watch batteries to make finding the right one not a trivial task, they would have a new electronic watch every year or even sooner. When I ask them what happened to the old watch, it’s always: “Oh, I liked it, but then the battery died, and getting a replacement is such a chore!”


That’s why there are always some technology items being developed on human power. I’ve heard about mobile phones and even laptops you can crank to give them power. And we have several things of the kind in our catalog: here comes a wind-up torch, for example. And this wind-up feature not only makes the life-span longer, it also makes it interesting. It brings back the joy of having something unusual and high-tech, something you would not really expect from a flashlight.

What to print?

In my previous posts before I was trying to give you advice on what your logo should be imprinted on, but I just realized that I have absolutely overlooked the question of what exactly should be printed. Of course, for most occasions a simple logo will do. Or logo plus phone number or web site address if just a logo is not enough. But sometimes some creative idea could not only make the impact of your message bigger, but also get your message further than any simple promotional product would get.

Look at this picture. It’s supposed to be promoting some plastic surgery clinic in Canada, but over the past few weeks I’ve seen it in many places, starting from sites that write about advertising in different languages and are read by people from Brazil to Russia and ending with personal blogs of people who found this idea to be creative.

A pen for pen pals

Today I received a call from a worried client who wanted to put his logo on pens and send them to many different locations. What worried him was that he heard somewhere that some pens are rejected by the post office because they break through envelopes when mail sorting equipment bends them or get broken when they stamp the envelopes at the post office. TRIM CLICK PENI’ve never heard about anything similar happening to any of the pens that we sent to clients, but to calm down this client and to make sure we play it safe with his pens, we chose a pen to which anything like that would never happen.

This trim click pen is extra thin which makes it the best choice for sending by mail. You can clip your special message to the person who receives it straight to the pen. And no worries; it will come out of the envelope exactly the same as we put it there.

Paper? PDA? It does not matter.

Some might prefer writing on paper to keyboards or PDA styluses. Well, there are many reasons for that, and we wrote about them already. Others would already hardly remember how to use a ballpoint pen and are tapping all the information to the screen of their PDA. And I just realized that we have a gift that would nicely fit into the pockets of both types of people.

4-IN-1 LIGHT PEN WITH STYLUSThis pen combines a traditional ballpoint pen (in fact, 2 of them, a red one and a black one) and a PDA stylus. And has a light as an extra function.

It is also more comfortable to use than an original stylus: most styluses are designed too thin to make using them for long periods of time comfortable. For many PDA users there is always a temptation to grab a common pen and tap with it’s point, not with stylus, which is of course not good for the fragile PDA screens. So, give this pen for a PDA owner and he will be happy. And if you give this pen to someone who hates PDAs – well, he gets a pen with a light, and might not even notice the stylus function.

Effective Use of Promotional Products 101

There have been many successful marketing campaigns that have used our products. I have also seen campaigns that could have been even more successful. When choosing promotional products there are a few keys to consider:

1) A product might work because it is useful. Or at least it stays where it is easily seen and attracts some attention. Even a mouse in your hand might carry your logo.

2) Another way to make your promotional gift work is to choose something unusual, or funny, or weird. Or a product that does something unexpected. Even if this gift will not be used, it still will be remembered. Or may be even shown to everyone around to share the fun. What about a calculator that you can roll up, for example?

3) The product that you choose might also be important just as a sign of attention to the person who receives it. Add some emotion when you give it (or make it more expensive than the common set of mug, t-shirt and pen) and the person who receives it will feel distinguished. You can work this out with almost every gift except the cheapest ones. There are too many to even start giving examples.

Once you have figured out how the promotional gift you chose fits in any of the above mentioned categories, you are on the right track. Good luck!

Sometimes figures speak better than words

If you are here to choose the next fine product to put your logo on, then I guess I gave you some additional ideas during the last few days. But maybe you are not, and other tabs of your browser are open looking for some other ways to reach your target audience? Well, who am I to persuade you, and yes, a good marketing campaign would use several different forms of media. The question is how to distribute the marketing money. So, here come some figures on how most Americans spend it. And some figures that explain why.