The Pen Is Truly Mighty10-16-13-business-to-busines.gif

The results of a global study of promotional product user habits and effectiveness were recently published (See ASI Global Ad Impressions Study 2012) and three facts jump right out: promotional products are far more effective (at 86 percent name retention) than television (50 percent name retention). That’s a huge advantage for the oft dismissed promotional product; writing instruments were found to be the most commonly remembered category among the ten or so studied; and the average cost of marketing with writing instruments averages less than 1/10th of a cent per view. That’s 1,000 views per dollar.

Since promo items in general have an 86 percent name retention rate (meaning the rate at which product users recall the name of the company on the item) and can be purchased at pennies per item, businesses can create a marketing strategy that begins at a much lower cost than almost any other medium. A minimal television campaign running just a few ads per day for just a few weeks can cost many thousands of dollars. A newspaper ad running weekly costs several thousand. For example, 1,000 basic Bic Clic Stic pens cost a few hundred dollars and leave 860 people remembering the name of your company. Moreover, those 1,000 pens (with Bic’s 1.2 miles of ink per pen) generate a total of more than 500,000 views of your logo. That’s power.

The quality and cost of pens vary widely but the math mentioned above applies at all levels. A 30-cent stick pen used for a few days carries the same 1/10th of a cent cost per view as a gold-plated Parker that is used for several years. The only question for you is, at what price point to effectively use pens in your branding campaign. Should you disseminate thousands of inexpensive pens at crowd events or go with a few dozen of those gold Parkers handed as gifts to a pre-selected target audience? Or, as I recommend (and follow for my own company), do both.

One hurdle to overcome when using an item as common as a pen is how to make yours stand out from the many your target audience already has. According to the global study, usefulness is the main differentiator among promotional products. In what ways do pens vary in usefulness? As I mentioned above, the better ones have more ink and generally write more smoothly. Once users learn that particular brands suit their preference they begin coveting pens from that manufacturer. Bic, Papermate, Parker and Quill have that kind of following. Pens can be multi-functional with secondary tools like smart-screen styluses, LED lights, laser pointers or highlighters added to one end. The added function making them doubly used and coveted.

Lastly, make sure that you choose a pen that attractively carries your logo and message. Make sure that the printable area will fit both. Print should be large on the less expensive pens and smaller (preferably engraved) on the nicer keepsake-quality ones. Use a pen color that enhances and contrasts with your logo color(s). Looking good is often half the battle and it doesn’t necessarily cost more to make a pretty pen.

At 1,000 views per dollar; 86 percent name retention; limitless options and price points, the pen is truly mighty but only when used wisely.

Photo: A recent study found that promotional pens have an 86 percent name-retention rate.

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