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.”

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.