Is corporate America made up of curmudgeons and stodgy people?
It is a question occurring to me coming off of Christmas 2020. My business produces Acclaim Christmas and holiday cards. This past summer we put together a collection of cards recognizing the condition we are in as related to Covid-19. The dozen cards we offered had illustrations such as reindeer in surgical masks, snowmen in masks and people at a Zoom meeting with masks. The verses we offered on the inside were sincere and promoted good health in 2021. Did we sell them? Yes, very, very well. However, while we did not get death threats, we did get criticism both from our distributors and from end buyers.
I need to preface this story acknowledging the terrible loss of life from this virus; it is no laughing matter but there is always some light under the darkest of clouds. Within an hour of my first email, a distributor responded... “you’ve got to be kidding” with a frown emoji. Now, I know there is nothing in life that you do that does not have critics and skeptics but, over my career, I have always put out products with a sense of humor. I can go back to my days as VP of sales for a major award and trophy company. I looked at the stock trophies I had, put a line together called “Statusfied” and had fun. I used the trophy holding a bridge hand and called it the “Not Playing With a Full Deck Award”. I took a horse trophy and called it the Horse’s Ass Award. Having been a sales manager and specializing in sarcasm, I brought my “humor” public. While it did not become a runaway success, it did sell well and brought a lot of attention to our company. I have many more illustrations such as my American Streakers Society (ASS) medallions from 1973 but, I come back to the present.
Recently, in our industry Facebook group, I saw my friend, Dan Townes (Shelbyville Pencil), cited for a sample pencil with a sense of humor. It involved a coffin and death. Not funny? Wrong! Not only was it funny brought went a bit viral and brought eyes to Shelbyville Pencil. That is the brilliance of Dan Townes, the Director of Promotional Products Wit.
Making people smile is priceless. It releases endorphins, helps address stress and can refocus their mindset. I may go as far as to say it may leave a longer lasting impression and favorable impression of a brand. In this social media world, one emoji expresses attitude. So, think twice about the frown. Oh boy … do we need the power of positive thinking and morale building in 2021. We can hear about the daily death count and endure the daily stress without comic relief. We need to spread happiness, confidence, and renewal. This will be among the biggest years for thank you gifts, greeting cards and special communications. This will be a big year to work on motivation and inspiration. Rather than sit back and wait for business to come to you, perhaps pulling business with your own “happy days are here again” campaign can bring biz. Perhaps using humor along with optimism will draw attention to you while helping clients get back to the new normal.
This link takes us to the fun side of personal Christmas cards this year. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/2020-christmas-cards_n_5fdc35c9c5b6f24ae35ef212
Joel D. Schaffer, MAS is CEO and Founder of Soundline, LLC, the pioneering supplier to the promotional products industry of audio products. Joel has 48 years of promotional product industry experience and proudly heralds “I was a distributor.” He has been on the advisory panel of the business and marketing department of St. John’s University in New York and is a frequent speaker at Rutgers Graduate School of Business. He is an industry Advocate and has appeared before the American Bankers Association, American Marketing Association, National Premium Sales Executives, American Booksellers Association and several other major groups. He has been a management consultant to organizations such as The College Board and helped many suppliers enter this industry. He is a frequent contributor to PPB and Counselor magazines. He has facilitated over 200 classes sharing his industry knowledge nationwide. He is known for his cutting humor and enthusiasm in presenting provocative and motivating programs. He is the only person to have received both the Marvin Spike Industry Lifetime Achievement Award (2002) and PPAI’s Distinguished Service Award (2011). He is a past director of PPAI and has chaired several PPAI committees and task forces. He is a past Chair of the SAAGNY Foundation, Past President of SAAGNY and a SAAGNY Hall of Fame member. He was cited by ASI as one of the 50 most influential people in the industry.