Ever see them use a pen on TV to save someone's life? While you may never use a pen to create an emergency airway, pens are a great promotional marketing medium … if they are backed up by an effective, creative idea.
First, a word of warning. There is a huge difference between a cheap pen and an inexpensive pen. Remember, even if you desire to simply hand out a pen to every Jill, John and Samantha that walks by your trade show booth, the quality of what you hand out is a reflection of you and your company.
We'll assume here that we're talking about promotional pens in the .30 ¢ to .50 ¢ per unit range and not expensive gift pens. Let's look at the different types.
The cheapest pen you can buy is the cap-off, stick type pen. A step above a pencil, these are, by and large, cheap. You can buy them for as little as 11 ¢ each. I believe they are a waste of money. People lose the cap, mark their clothing then throw the pen away. If a smooth writing pen and your image matter to you, you can do a lot better.
Twist-type pens are a step up from cap off. You can find twist-type that write decently. The downside is, they often require two hands to operate. For many, that's too much trouble, especially if they usually have something in their hand such as an order-taking pad. With a twist type pen in the lower price range, it's also difficult to find a pen that has a smooth twist action.
I believe you're best bet in a promotional pen is a retractable, also known as a click type pen. One-hand operation is the hallmark of this type of pen. You want one that has a strong, responsive click and of course is smooth writing.
Let's assume you desire a retractable pen to promote your business. Next, consider what you want to imprint on the pen. Different pens offer different imprinting options and sizes. You want to make sure that the pen you choose has an imprint area large enough to imprint your logo or other information legibly.
Another consideration is imprint colors. If you absolutely must have a multi color imprint then that will narrow your choices and increase your cost. A one color imprint will broaden your choices and lower your cost.
So you've chosen a pen that is appropriate for your need and your budget. Let's explore some ways to use that pen to promote. While not all of the following may be appropriate for your particular situation, I'm going to paint with a broad brush in an attempt to generate a number of possible ideas for you.
Lumpy Mail. A pen is lightweight yet causes a regular envelope enough distortion that it will usually get opened. If you're sending a letter to prospects and you want to increase the chance your letter will get opened, a pen will do it. Combine this idea with Prize Derby or Design Contest (explained later) and you could have a real promotion on your hands.
Targeted Placement. Where does your target audience hang out? Does your target audience frequent a local coffee shop? Maybe the hair salon is the best place to target your market. I often leave promotional items such as pens and note pads on the counter at the local chamber of commerce where I'm a member? How about your Gym or health club? Where ever your target hangs out or frequents, ask the owner or manager if you can leave a supply of your pens there.
Quick-Draw McGraw . About four times a week I'm somewhere when someone asks, "Who's got a pen?" I am usually the first to hand over my imprinted pen. Key Point : A pen that is received at a time of need is more highly than one that's simply given when no need is present.
Forget Your Pen. Use your pen and leave it every time you sign a credit card receipt. It does not matter if it's at the gas station, a restaurant or retail store. Leave your pen, ya know … as a public service!
Permission Based Usage. Consider making friends with local sit-down restaurant owners who clientele may be your prospects. Then get permission to supply the wait staff with your pen. Encourage them to allow patrons to "swipe" the pen. If you choose the right, low -cost retractable pen, they will want to.
Pen Design Contest . Have your clients and prospects supply you with ideas on a unique design for the imprint of your pen. Post the top designs on your website letting your clients and prospects know through e-mail or snail mail that the designs are up. Let them cast their vote for their favorite. Make sure you get their e-mail and other appropriate contact information as you are now building your database.
The winning design wins 50 of the pens. You can bet they'll show them to everyone they know. This whole tactic is designed to drive people to your website. Of course everyone who votes gets a pen.
Prize Derby . Pay extra, if possible, and have the pens sequentially numbered. Imprint the pens with "Go to www. _______.com." and if the number on this pen matches a number on the prize page you win!
Prizes can range from other promotional items or your product or service such as free samples or special package deals. Every couple of weeks you change the numbers on the web site so people have a reason to hang on to the pen and check back every couple of weeks.
Search, Explore and ASK! Look around. I go to tradeshows where a booth will want people to fill out a sign-up card with plain-Jane pens. Sometimes they let me replace their plain pens with mine. Every now and then the tube canister at the bank drive though does not have a pen. You bet I stuff one in there. Opportunities are everywhere, especially with non -profits. They can always use a few extra pens. Perhaps they're agreeing to send your pen out with their next mailing asking for donations.
Pens can be a powerful promotional marketing medium when supported by an effective, appropriate and creative idea. Opportunities to promote yourself are all around. But if you do not look, you will not see. And if you do not ask, the answer will always be, "no".