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

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.”