The bobble head has quite a story around it, but I’ll keep this to the abbreviated version.
When I was working at Dantz Development aka. EMC Insignia, I would go on trips to my accounts and do promotions and trainings on the software. There is a specific demographic of sales people that worked at my accounts. Most were 19-30 years old, sat in a cube farm and made dozens of cold calls each day on top of managing a select group of accounts they had developed business with.
Technology companies did everything they could to capture this audience and keep “mind share” for growth. They had financial rewards to selling there warez (SPIFs) and gave away gifts with the corporate logo on it. These were usually pens or something clever like a desktop cell phone holder. One stood out among the clutter and it was a doll with the face of the regional sales person for a hard drive company that sat on the desks of the sales people. Not everyone had one but you couldn’t walk more than 20 feet without seeing one on a desk or ledge. Some of the dolls were ‘modified’ in a creative way with new clothes that were thrown together by fabric scraps or added to with Mr. Potato Head pieces. I was drawn to them just because they were everywhere and the sales people had a face and the contact information a regional sales person. Much better than a plastic ballpoint pen and a business card that eventually was lost.
To my surprise after asking around, I found out that the regional sales person displayed had not worked for the hard drive company for the past few years, but everyone kept the doll and still captured mind share for the company.
Now we can jump ahead to my position at Phoenix Technologies. Erin Daly the Director of Field Marketing was working with me to develop a plan for my accounts to be educated and promoting our applications and we needed a way to capture mind share of the 1,500 sales people I would be working with. Because she had also been to these accounts during her career and must have thought that the bobble head was a wonderful concept, it was natural to start looking into getting a Koka Sexton Phoenix bobble head made and distributed.
There was some push back from Phoenix with the CEO at the time not seeing ANY value in making these things and when people in the office heard talk of a bobble head being considered, we’ll just say most were skeptical. Especially with the fact we were going to be ordering about 1000 of them.
It took a couple months for the prototype to be created and signed off on, but it was finished and the first shipment of bobble heads was delivered. Once they came in people in the office wanted to take a look at them. I gave a few to the people I worked with initially and the next thing I knew, I had to lock them up because I would come into work in the morning and see another box opened and a couple missing each day. Now I can walk into just about every department in the office and see a ceramic cast of my face on a bookshelf or desk. Not exactly my target demographic, but I was happy to see that people accepted them and had fun wobbling my head.
Going on road shows, I would find out how many people were attending and bring enough for 75% of the people. At first I thought this was a large number since many people would probably opt out from another object sitting on their desk, but I never had enough. This worked out for me since as soon as I ran out, I was collecting more business cards and getting calls from sales people wanting to conference me on with a customer and they would ask ‘if we close this deal, can I have a bobble head?’. Other vendors at the events would come by and ask for one or question me on how I got them made. Some of them would ask to trade a desk clock with their company logo on it for one of the bobble heads. I usually gave them one and declined their clocks and pens. I didn’t need one of these any more than the sales people were I was working with. How is that for mind share. Well, I had to stay on top of my game, the influx of calls and business deals was difficult to manage for a while, but I worked my tail off and made everyone happy. Happy sales people sell more.
Now I have about 700+ bobble heads spread around the US and Canada sitting on sales peoples desks and even though I no longer work for Phoenix, I still get calls from people letting me know they still have it.