Promotional Idea Showcase
Green Leaf- The
2E - with bundles of thanks to Kelly Beamon
If writing instruments strike you as too run-of-the-mill, you
should know that cutting-edge styles and designs
that appeal to a huge number of markets are constantly being introduced.
So don't write off using them before asking your counselor to
show you what's new.
Whenever you started your career - or your company - no doubt
writing instruments were already a staple promotional product.
And they remain a tried-and-true seller, second in popularity
only to wearables. But while the lasting appeal of writing tools
might seem obvious, just how often and easily you can use them
in promotions may not be as apparent.
Let's look at the numbers: Last year, manufacturers of writing
instruments shipped over 8 billion total units, according to the
Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association in Marlton, NJ. Of
course, that's retail as well as promotional. Meanwhile, imprinted
pen sales have been growing by leaps and bounds as well. Demand
is definitely strong and showing no signs of slowing. The firms
using them as promotional tools must be onto something.
A word from some promotional consultants on the matter:
business more than doubled in the past three years," says
pen sales have been going up 30% per year," adds Peter Herz.
just finished our biggest year ever," says Jodi Fishman, "with
a 40% increase in sales for the period ending June 30. Pens
are one of the top sales categories for us."
What does this mean for you? It likely means counselors just like
yours are filling more writing instrument orders than ever - many
of them for your competitors. And with good reason; writing instruments
are not only surprisingly affordable, they provide a huge amount
of exposure for a relatively small price - what's known in promotional
circles as "cost-per-impression."
"What you're buying is advertising," says promotional
consultant Dennis Sherman. "While a firm with an advertising budget
of, say, $10,000, could buy a couple of ads in the local newspaper
for $5,000 apiece or a billboard for $10,000, it could also buy
10,000 pens for $1 apiece to leave at sales calls. Taking the
same money and buying writing instruments gives you more economic
value. A study we did showed the average pen has about eight owners.
People misplace them and they get passed along." Reichmann agrees:
"I have 20 pens sitting on my desk right now, which aren't even
my own company's!"
Of course, we're not just talking about pens. Recipients
value all manner of writing tools, from pencils to markers to
rollerballs to fountain pens, in addition to the omnipresent ballpoint.
And they're available with all sorts of price points and all sorts
of looks. They come in plastic, metal, wood, or combinations of
these materials. They can be fat or thin, long or short, compact
or full-sized, brightly colored or more sedate. They can be fun
or serious, light or weighty, single- or multi-functioned, modern
or traditional, silk-screened or engraved.
Best of all, there are many that look and feel far more expensive
than they really are. "Inexpensive pens started making
inroads in the '80s," says Herz, explaining that about
that time cheaper imitators of high-end European pen designs suddenly
flooded the market. Now pens ride high on perceived value, even
when they don't cost that much.
Often, the appeal lies in functionality. There are wider, imprint-friendly
surfaces and mailable lightweights around than ever before. Some
writing instruments seem "on-the-go," much like
the mobile phone-toting executives who use them. Shorter-than-average
pocket-sized models travel well. Other writing instruments, by
virtue of materials, can flaunt advertisers' political agendas
- how about an eco-friendly, biodegradable marker or a recycled
cardboard ballpoint - the
Green Leaf !
Of course, amid all the high-tech and practical packaging, the
popularity of writing instruments still hinges largely on a single
truism: People will probably always have some need or occasion
to write and record by hand. "With respect to the so-called paperless
office, people are always going to write stuff down even in a
mostly electronic environment," says promotional consultant Dan
Here's something to keep in mind if you want a writing instrument
with your firm's name or logo on it to project an image of quality:
Just because a pen (or pencil) looks upscale doesn't necessarily
mean it is.
Quality goes beyond finish. It's also about the inner workings
- ink cartridges, refills, spring/twist mechanisms, ease of refilling/reloading,
how each half fits together, and so on. There can be vast differences,
so each pen, pencil or marker should be "field-tested" on an individual
basis. A certain 85-cent pen might unscrew with less hassle than
a $16 one, but perhaps only in that instance. Conversely, a 50-cent
pencil could easily outdistance a 20-cent model. Again, take the
time to ask and inspect each choice.
After all, this is really the critical differentiator, says promotional
consultant Joel Peterson: "It's a pen's usefulness - the quality
of the mechanism and refill - that matter most," he says. No argument
there; a $100 pen with a refill that skips quickly becomes an
expensive piece of desk-drawer ballast.
The point is, it's hard to go wrong with writing instruments
from a promotional perspective. They can be used with
just about any other logo-ed merchandise, can be tailored to any
budget, and have universal appeal and utility.
With elements that basic, maybe it's time you considered making
the write choice.