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Associate Editor

Mike's Blog

By Michael Cornnell

About Michael

Michael Cornnell is Associate Editor for Promo Marketing Magazine.


Compliance Chat

Jeff Jacobs
Promotional Products: If It Ain’t Broke, Leave It Be
Apr 18, 2014

I wrote recently in this space about swag that went wrong for Goldman Sachs at a conference for women in...

Jeff's Rant

Jeff Solomon, MAS
A "Condemned" Supplier Shares the Truth!
Apr 17, 2014

There clearly are companies who operate in ways that are contrary to the traditional supplier/distributor model we are comfortable with....

Selling Smarter

Rosalie Marcus
Speak Now and Sell More!
Apr 15, 2014

How would you like a powerful marketing strategy that can position you as a leader in your field, put you...

Promotional Fashionista

Colleen McKenna
3 Ways to Style an Imprinted Tee
Apr 15, 2014

Imprinted T-shirts are in with the fashion elite. Here's how they are styling the tees....

Beyond Words

Rebecca Kollmann, MAS+
Adapting Your Style
Apr 14, 2014

Many of us have taken a behavioral style inventory at some point in our careers. While the intent of these...

Guest Blogs

Guest Contributor
The Anatomy of Emotional Marketing
Apr 11, 2014

You've probably heard the old adage: "It's the thought that counts." This could not be any truer, especially in business. When...

Kiwi's Coaching Corner

Paul  Kiewiet
Without People, Brands Have No Meaning
Apr 10, 2014

Brands are built over time but can be destroyed in an instant. This is why is it critically important to...

The Hot Button

Mary Ellen Sokalski, MAS
Even Retirees Are Doing It
Apr 9, 2014

Even older clients who grew up with the "one-size-fits-all" adult T-shirt as their world are choosing to buy FASHION TEES....

Not So Technically Speaking

Dale Denham
Go Mobile or Go Home
Apr 8, 2014

I am, without a doubt, the most mobile CIO in the USA. Name one other CIO that is so committed...

Million Dollar Mindset with Greg Muzzillo

Greg Muzzillo
"Free Crab Tomorrow"
Apr 7, 2014

Joe's Crab Shack offers free crab tomorrow. That's because it's never tomorrow. All we have is today. I've talked to...

Quick Thoughts by Cliff Quicksell, MAS

Cliff Quicksell, MAS
6 Reasons Why Marketing Fails and How to Prevent It
Mar 31, 2014

When it comes to marketing, there are no guarantees. A great marketing idea that is poorly implemented or incorrectly presented...

Be Dazzled

Elise Hacking Carr
Go Green or Go Home
Mar 26, 2014

Earth Day is right around the corner. Need ideas for upcoming promotions? Here are three products that scream "I <3...

Be Bold, Be Different, Be Memorable

Rick Greene, MAS
5 Ways to Use LinkedIn to Land New Business
Feb 26, 2014

LinkedIn is a happening place. It is the unsung hero of social platforms and it can indeed be used to...


Kyle Richardson
New Year, New Site, New Magazine
Jan 31, 2014

This week, we announced the redesign of our home page and magazine. Let us know what you think about the...

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...

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,...

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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