Marketing by labeling |

Marketing by labeling

Dave Frank
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Peter Fishburn helps businesses market their products or services better with the help of promotional items like this miniature dartboard.

He gives away hand-shaped organizers that advertise his “handiness” and oversized pens that pitch his “big ideas.”

Peter Fishburn, one of the people who will be at the 2007 Northern Nevada Regional Business and Tech Expo, said businesses that sell promotional products for expos, like the one Friday, and advertising campaigns sometimes forget how to market themselves.

“(I say) hey people, we sell promotional items. Use promotional items.”

The expo takes place Friday at the Nevada Appeal building, 580 Mallory Way. The expo showcases industries including technology, manufacturing, hospitality, financial, retail, health services and clean energy by Northern Nevada companies.

When Fishburn started as a representative with the company Brown & Bigelow 10 years ago, he was planning on doing it only until he could find a job as an advertising director.

He liked selling the products and setting his own hours, though, and realized he could make money doing it full time.

People are influenced by the advertising, he said, citing a promotional items association survey a few years ago that confirmed this.

“People would say ‘I’ve been carrying this for six months, nine months,’ and they can tell you what it is. They can tell you who it came from and they can tell you why they got it … it’s working.”

Sometimes, businesses just want to order a few pens or shirts, but Fishburn tries to get them to work their message into a larger campaign.

One of his favorite ideas was for a courier company. He wanted to use a tissue box, because those are things that secretaries might keep for a long time. He wanted to put wheels – because it was a courier company – on the boxes.

There would also be a contest advertised on the boxes so the business could see how effective the marketing was.

Fishburn said he thought it was a great idea, but the company didn’t do it.

Still, he said he’ll do whatever the business wants to do. If a business wants to get its name out, he might recommend passing out pens as an inexpensive way to do that.

“On the other hand,” he said. “If I’m talking to a president of a company, I’m not going to give that person an 89-cent pen.”

Anne Hansen, director of information and marketing for Western Nevada College, said she likes working with Fishburn because he’s a local representative who gets “really jazzed” about his products.

“We’ll want, say, a banner,” she said. “And say we want this banner that goes across this particular room where we have large events. However we might also want to use it in a parade sometime. He (Fishburn) has got to say, ‘OK, well, we need to build in a little holder for the pole and we need to have a bar in front to weight it down in the wind.'”

Fishburn said he tries to provide good service to the small and medium-sized groups he works with so he can establish long-term repeat business.

He’s ordered notes, shirts and golf towels for the Northern Nevada Development Authority, for instance, but will give them quotes on promotional pieces without making them promise to buy anything.

It’s “courteous and professional,” said Judi Bishop, a representative with the organization.

“Most of the time,” Fishburn said, “(businesses) feel they want a pen or a mug, and what I come back with is, ‘here’s three different types of pens, which ones do you want?’ Give them more choices than they thought were possible.”

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at or 881-1212.

2007 Northern Nevada Regional Business & Tech Expo

When: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday

Where: The Nevada Appeal building, 580 Mallory Way, Carson City

Information: Judi Bishop 883-4413 or

Peter Fishburn, a regional representative with Brown & Bigelow

4389 Ponderosa Drive