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Associate Editor

Mike's Blog

By Michael Cornnell

About Michael

Michael Cornnell is Associate Editor for Promo Marketing Magazine.


Million Dollar Mindset with Greg Muzzillo

Greg Muzzillo
'Can't' Is a Four-letter Word
Oct 5, 2015

Most of us learned the four-letter words we shouldn’t say when we were in school. We heard the words in...

Ask the Accountant

Harriet Gatter
Do I Have to Collect Sales Tax for Out-of-state Sales?
Oct 2, 2015

Question: Do I have to collect sales tax for out-of-state sales? It depends, and it's complicated. State governments would like...

Jeff's Rant

Jeff Solomon, MAS
What Can We Learn from The Artist Formerly Known as Prince?
Oct 1, 2015

Since I recently wrote a commentary titled 'Are You Too Old To Rock,' I thought I would share another thought from the...

Kiwi's Coaching Corner

Paul  Kiewiet
So What's Holding You Back?
Sep 24, 2015

Are you afraid to fail? Or are you afraid to get started because you might fail? The late TV preacher...

Lights, Camera, Promotion!

Brittany Hahn
The Mayor of Funkytown
Sep 23, 2015

Each Power Box has its own personality. Power Box 1 is really into dubstep music. He raves hard all weekend long. On...

Not So Technically Speaking

Dale Denham
Think About What You Just Did
Sep 22, 2015

My son did something wrong, and I want him to learn so he doesn't repeat the same mistake. I hear...

Guest Blogs

Guest Contributor
Ask the Accountant
Jul 24, 2015

Question: I am starting out as an ad specialty distributor. Is it better to set up my books on a...

Selling Smarter

Rosalie Marcus
Gotta Love These Supplier Best Practices
Sep 1, 2015

I’ve been in the promotional products industry for more than 25 years, both selling products and programs, and coaching and...

Be Bold, Be Different, Be Memorable

Rick Greene, MAS
A Cycle Of Engagement
Jun 10, 2015

In 2015, the journey of the promotional products professional in shifting prospects to clients is more challenging than ever. With...

Beyond Words

Rebecca Kollmann, MAS+
Swing All the Way Through
Apr 20, 2015

From time to time, I’ve written about a situation involving one of my kids, and after observing something recently, it’s...

Compliance Chat

Jeff Jacobs
The Exact Cause Was Never Determined
Apr 3, 2015

If you read what normally is in this space, you've seen a lot about the protocol it takes to manufacture...

Quick Thoughts by Cliff Quicksell, MAS

Cliff Quicksell, MAS
Measure the ROI at Trade Shows (Using the Right Mix of Creative and Promotional Products)
Dec 30, 2014

Every year more and more products are being introduced into the market, and after a while it all looks the...

Editor's Notes

Nichole Stella
The Perfect Match
Mar 5, 2013

The Super Bowl has also become the Ad Bowl, where brands duke it out to see who has the funniest,...


Kyle Richardson
The Best Laid Plans
Jul 11, 2014

Why it's always smart to keep a planner with your schedule and important documents, and why it's never smart to...

Promotional Fashionista

Colleen McKenna
5 Soccer Promotions for After the World Cup
Jul 1, 2014

Studies show that Americans prefer soccer to NASCAR. Here are five items to sell to soccer fans....

The Hot Button

Mary Ellen Sokalski, MAS
"How It's Made" Can Make You More
Jun 11, 2014

The show "How Its Made" is celebrating its 22nd season on television. How can we be a hit, season after season,...

Be Dazzled

Elise Hacking Carr
Got Control Issues?
May 14, 2014

Does chaos define you? How you respond to certain situations says a lot about your character. Here are five quotes...

Big Picture Promo

Matt Kaspari, CAS
Meeting Clients Where They Are
Oct 24, 2013

Promotional marketing is at its best when it empowers a client’s brand, meets his or her objectives and fits within...

My Two Cents

Rick Brenner
For Promotional Product Sales, Protect Your Client's Brand
Jun 3, 2013

Whether you are selling to a global brand like Nike or to your local YMCA, no single asset is more...

Friday Sales-thought of the Week!

Dale Limes, MAS
Reverse Engineer Your Sales Success
Mar 18, 2013

Steven Covey reminds us that when setting goals ... "Start with the end in mind." That is to visualize the...

The Sales Challenge

Bill Farquharson
Think and Succeed
May 29, 2012

What would happen if you woke up in the morning and your first thought was, "I am never going to...

Creating More Purposeful Sales Conversations

Lisa Leitch, CSP, MAS
Under 100 Days to Achieve 2011 Goals
Oct 20, 2011

It's hard to believe, but there are fewer than 100 days left to achieve 2011 goals! Are you on track...

8 More Pen-selling Tips You Might Have Missed

On the back of last week's hugely popular article, "On the Ballpoint: 6 facts that help sell pens," here are eight more tips on selling pens published in our magazine that you might have missed.

  1. Consider Direct Mail. Because pens are lightweight and available in different sizes and shapes, using them in direct mail promotions is always an option. (via Scott Pearson, vice president of merchandising for Sweda Company LLC, City of Industry, Calif., from the article "Befriending the Bank: Pitches, products and plans to make the sale with banks and other financial businesses.")
  2. Try Anti-fraud Inks. Some suppliers offer pens loaded with special inks that prevent check fraud dependent on ink washing or manipulation. For banking, financial or similar security-themed promotions, these types of features can be a major selling point. (via Kristie Schnier, national director of sales and marketing for Sanford Business-to-Business, Oak Brook, Ill., from the article "Befriending the Bank: Pitches, products and plans to make the sale with banks and other financial businesses.")
  3. Lose the Pen Book. "Try to avoid the old pen book that overwhelms clients with a presentation that 'throws everything against the wall and hope something sticks,'" said Bill Mahre, president of ADG Promotional Products, Lino Lakes, Minn. Mahre recommended instead figuring out what a client is looking for in a pen in terms of price and marketing purpose, then offering a small selection of fitting choices. "There are many options, so if you clearly understand a client's needs you can create a very specific plan of action which makes it easy for them to say 'yes.'" (from the article, "Official Business: 5 ways to stand out and succeed with office products.")
  4. Personalize Them. "When you add a personalized pen to a stationery piece, or even piece of drinkware, the pen is no longer just an item someone may use for work," said Pete Catone, business development representative for Polyconcept North America, New Kensington, Pa. "It becomes an appreciated gift." (from the article, "Official Business: 5 ways to stand out and succeed with office products.")
  5. Bundle Creatively (and With Cost in Mind). A small an affordable item, pens can sometimes be tacked onto other orders as a minor upsell. Try to bundle creatively when possible, going beyond "You're buying notepads? How about something to write on them with?" by using a clever or off-kilter hook (pens and chocolates for writing a love letter to clients, etc.). Keep in mind however, that even at a base, uncreative level, bundling items can reduce the overall cost of an order for a buyer, making it an appealing purchase if say they were going to buy pens from another source anyway, such as an office supply store. (via Jason Fularz, business development representative for Polyconcept North America, New Kensington, Pa., from the article "Official Business: 5 ways to stand out and succeed with office products.")
  6. Sell the Experience. To get clients to see pens as more than just a commodity item, sell them as part of a marketing effort rather than as a basic tool. "[Sell] an integrated solution rather than just the product itself," said Schnier. "Service and the 'value proposition' are very important, and when the distributor focuses on the entire experience, it becomes difficult or impossible for the end-user to bid on price alone." (from the article, "Writing off the Cheap Talk: Seven tips on rising above price wars with writing instruments.")
  7. Use the Value of Name Brands. A sad (or maybe great) truth of sales is that sometimes a recognizable name-brand can be vital in earning a buyer's trust. "The expectation of quality with brands like Sharpie, Paper Mate, uni-ball, Parker, Quill and Waterman is greatly elevated due to widespread exposure in retail channels," Schnier explained. "Pairing an end-user logo or message with a strong consumer-branded product can add significant value to the entire project." (from the article, "Writing off the Cheap Talk: Seven tips on rising above price wars with writing instruments.")
  8. Know the Product. "When buyers can't discern the differences in potential product selections, then the only possible factor that they can compare is price," said Joe Fleming, general manager for Hub Pen Company, Braintree, Mass. "Thus, the price war begins."

    "Distributors can win this war if they arm themselves with the knowledge of how quality pens are constructed and turn this knowledge into a competitive advantage," he suggested. To do so, he strongly recommended going beyond the catalog page and talking with your supplier to learn as much as possible about the product. Fleming stated that there is a vast amount of qualitative information, like plastic strength or ink quality, that simply isn't printed due to space restrictions. There are plenty of details worth knowing about pen construction, but Fleming specifically singled out product safety and socially compliant manufacturing as areas to investigate. He also stressed the value of getting a sample before the sale and familiarizing yourself with how the pen writes.

    "By obtaining samples of products they're interested in selling and using them prior to offering them to customers, distributors can verify that the quality of workmanship stands up to their expectations," he said. "A distributor's personal recommendation and guarantee means a lot to buyers and can make the difference in getting the sale." (From the article, "Writing off the Cheap Talk: Seven tips on rising above price wars with writing instruments.")

That's it for this week! Thanks for reading everyone, and see you all next Monday!

Like my blog? Why not follow PM on Twitter or Facebook (or just me on RSS or LinkedIn) so you never miss a post? Thanks!

MONDAY MIKE FACT: I picked up a new hippie-dippie shaving cream this weekend and it's preposterously luxurious. My face feels like a smooth, relaxed heaven right now.

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