Open Letter to Gov. Jerry Brown

28 02 2011

Dear Governor Brown,

Last week, in an attempt to ease California’s budget deficit, you ordered state agencies to stop using promotional products to as a means to market their programs and services.  I was born in California and lived there for 25 years – I certainly understand the mess the state is in.  What I don’t understand is why you chose to ban one form of marketing but not others.  I don’t understand why you specifically went after promotional products:

“Not a cent of taxpayer money should be spent on flashlights, ashtrays or other unnecessary items, most of which likely end up in landfills.”

Pardon my tone, but are you really qualified to determine what kind of marketing is effective?  Speaking of things ending up in landfills, did you know that 99% of all direct mail is thrown away?  Why didn’t you ban direct mail?  I know why – because that mail is delivered by government employees.  Why didn’t you ban TV ads?  Well, we all know that it’s not smart for politicians to upset folks in entertainment.  And why not get rid of billboard advertising?  Oh that’s right, billboard company CBS Outdoor donates money to your art school charity – not to public schools, but to your hand-chosen art schools – so you better not upset the billboard guys.

And what about the products you are banning?  The “plastic gewgaws” as you call them.  Things like buttons, mugs, bags, bumper stickers, and t-shirts.

If using logoed merchandise is not a good way to promote your message, then why did you use so much of it in your election campaign?  You remember the election, the one where you and Meg Whitman fought tooth and nail to see who could spend the most money?

Governor Brown, I have no problem with you cutting spending – it must be done.  But why are you picking on promotional products instead of all forms of marketing?  Clearly you believe this is an effective form of marketing or you would not have used it.  If you want to cut marketing spending then cut it all – TV, radio, mail, billboards – ban all of it, or LEGALIZE PROMO!!!

I welcome your comment.

Follow updates on Facebook:  Legalize Promo





How To Waste 3 Million Dollars

4 02 2011

Advertisers love the Super Bowl – and why wouldn’t they?  It’s like the Oscars of advertising.  They have the opportunity to play on the biggest stage, to be in direct competition for popularity and supremacy against their rivals, the chance to be the one that everybody talks about on Monday – and of course, they bank a ton of dough.

I can imagine the pitches they might give:

  • The statistics – “20 Bajillion Viewers!!!”
  • The clichés – “Maximum Brand Exposure”
  • The competitor leverage – “Well, Budweiser’s doing it”
  • The blatant lies – “This is how you build Customer Loyalty”

I like the theatrics and the entertainment value of Super Bowl ads.  I appreciate that someone paid $3 million to give me a 30-second exhibition for me to discuss with my co-workers on Monday, I really do.  But I have never once in my life actually purchased a product because of their Super Bowl ad – ever.  Funny talking babies do not make me want to invest my hard-earned money with your company.  Horses playing football are neat, but they don’t make me want to drink your crappy beer.

For small and mid-size businesses, how can you market your brand without wasting an obscene amount of money?  Here are the 3 best ways to gain exposure for companies who have modest marketing budgets:

Give consumers something for Free. Logoed merchandise is inexpensive and can be useful and fun for your audience.  A Frisbee, a t-shirt, a mug, or a bottle opener with your logo on it will be used for a long  time.  The item becomes part of someone’s life, and is a constant reminder of your brand.  If you don’t know where to get this stuff, contact me – I have a whole network of professionals that can help.

Glacier Outdoor blog

Write a Blog. Expose your audience to consistent messaging that shows your culture and thought process.  Blogs are free, and as newspapers and magazines go the way of the dinosaur, they are a good source of entertainment and education for potential clients.

Make a Video. Consumers like advertising that is honest, tells a story, and shows why something is cool.  Marketers like advertising that shows results and can easily be shared.  A nice digital video camera costs about $250.  That’s $2,999,750 cheaper than a Super Bowl ad.  Wilson Football provides a great example of how to use video.

Enjoy the game on Sunday.  You’ll have fun watching the ads, but not nearly as much as the ad agencies.  When you’re ears are ringing Monday morning, it’s because you drank too much – for them it sounds more like a cash register.





Great Idea

3 09 2010

I’m writing this thread from 30,000 feet on a flight to St. Louis.  I was inspired by SkyMall Magazine, which is my favorite part of flying.  They’ve got some crazy and awesome stuff in there.  So many cool, useful, and strange ideas.  And I wonder – why didn’t I think of the Digital Camera Swim Mask?  Couldn’t I have come up with the Bigfoot Tree Statue?  Actually, I’m sure that the Peaceful Progression Wake-Up Clock was my idea, but someone beat me to it.  And Lawn Aerating Sandals???  I could have built those in my garage!

You’ve had an idea.  You’ve thought of some invention.  We’ve all had them.  So why are we not all rich inventor types?  Because a great idea is not enough – not by a long shot.  You need product development, marketing, sales, customer service, artwork, meetings, clients, catalogs, employees, websites, strategies, people, associations, trade shows, flights – do I have to keep going?  The idea is only the beginning.

Browsing through the various SkyMall treasures, it made me think of the the great idea that is the reason I am on this plane – and on so many other planes before it.  Made me think of all the things I have seen and learned over the years – how many people I’ve met and how many places I’ve visited.  And this time I’m flying out to win an award, but none of it would have happened without one man and a great idea.

My boss Alan Davis invented something called the CompressT.  It’s a printed t-shirt shaped to look like something – a star, a guitar, a house, a pint of beer, or about 1,000 other things.  Companies, clubs, and groups, use t-shirts to promote their message at events, giveways, concerts, etc.  And shaping them as we do emphasizes the message.  But aside from the product, how did Alan get this idea off the ground?

As a smart entrepreneur, Alan knew that he couldn’t accomplish his goals on his own.  I’ve been in sales and marketing for a long time and that is one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned.

  • Admit that you don’t know everything
  • Find people to help you
  • Let them use their talents to propel your vision

That’s not just how you develop a product, that’s how you build a culture.

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Speaking of great ideas – how great is this?






Risky Bizness

30 07 2010

Can we all agree that you must make changes in your life if you want to improve it?  So why do people fight change so much?  Change is hard – it forces you to question yourself, break habits, admit your flaws, expose your inefficiencies and avoid the safety of your routine.  Change requires you to disrupt the status quo and not do what is expected – change requires risk.  Risk-takers open themselves to scrutiny, judgment, and ridicule from peers.

My attempt to brand myself through this blog provides an example of an uncomfortable change in the right direction.  I know that by revealing my thoughts I risk inviting negative opinions.  I know that for every person who enjoys reading what I have to say, there is another that scoffs at me.  However, writing this blog has increased visibility in my industry, expanded my network, and has directly led to business.

Here’s what I have learned:  If you worry too much about what other people think then you will never do anything.  Let me say that again – if you worry too much about what other people think then you will NEVER do ANYTHING.

I was recently chosen as a “Rising Star” in the Promotional Products industry.  It is a real honor and I am very grateful.  And now my picture is on the cover of a magazine, and my mom is proud – and I want to share with my clients and colleagues.  But I have been hesitant to publicize it because I am afraid people would consider me arrogant.  To hell with that!  That rationale will keep me comfortable, but will never propel me in my career, in my life.

So today, on “T-shirt Friday” when I normally show a picture of myself or my friends and family in a t-shirt, I will buck the trend and display my more serious side, my collared shirt side.  Some people will hate me and some will think it’s great.

If I am going to improve myself then I must remember:

  • When I am filled with doubt, I should try to believe.
  • When I want to rebel, I should try to learn.
  • When I resent, I should try to embrace.
  • When I look for comfort, I must take risks.

What’s the phrase about anything worth doing is difficult?  Insert that here.

Enjoy the results!

My friend Ken sent me this video – thanks man.  And good job to Derek Sivers.








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