Keep Calm and Write On
Writing instruments have come a long way from cavemen chiseling into stone to communicate. We can choose from pens, styluses, highlighters—the list goes on. Promo Marketing spoke to two leading writing instrument suppliers to help explain that the business of promotional pens makes sense in the digital world.
Selling in a Technology-based World
Sales have proven that electronic devices have not replaced pens. "As we all know, the world is definitely going digital," Andy Arruda, MAS, national sales manager for Hub Pen Company in Braintree, Mass, said. "Ironically, our [pen] sales continue to climb at double-digit rates. The writing instrument is such a utilitarian product. That is what gives it staying power."
A rise in technology means a market for different types of writing instruments—many with dual purposes. "We have added many new pens with stylus functionality," Arruda said. "They have been a huge success. The customer gets the best of both worlds. Whether they are using their iPad or hand writing a note, they can achieve both with one instrument."
Gwen Brey, marketing coordinator for New Ulm, Minnesota-based Beacon Promotions. "Combining writing instruments with digital items [such as a stylus, a laser pointer or a screen cleaner] is working very well for Beacon Promotions. Pens are used five to 10 times a day, even with the digital items available to us."
She noted that more companies are buying instruments that combine a pen with another feature, such as flashlights, screen cleaners and highlighters.
Classic and Timeless
There's a reason writing instruments are one of the most popular promotional products out there. They work for different types of businesses. Brey explained that pens, often being "inexpensive, small and easy to give out" adds to the popularity. "Everyone uses them and personalization on metal pens is very popular," she said.
"It costs an advertiser less than one-tenth of a penny per advertising impression to have their logo seen," added Arruda. "On top of that, pens are used by everyone and have applications for most any promotional program."
A Little Goes a Long Way
Pens and other writing instruments don't have a lot of room for decoration, but that doesn't mean they won't get the job done. "Small subliminal ads get the message across," Brey said. "Recipients can remember who they got their pen from. They will search out a particular pen if they like the product."
She also pointed out how often writing instruments are needed. "Pens are great because people use them all day long, every day. Every time a recipient reaches for the pen or digs through their bag or purse to find it, they will recall the advertiser. It is used frequently, so it drives home the advertiser's name in the recipient's head."
Arruda explained that since there is less space on a pen, it's important not to overdo it with content. "Many times, less is more," he said. "A bold, clean imprint will get the consumer's attention."
Deciding which information to put on the pen and which to leave off varies case by case. "It is also important to determine the goal of the program," Arruda said. "It may be a re-branding, in which case the new logo needs to be large and bold. Other times, it may be a new toll-free hotline where the phone number and purpose of the hotline needs to pop. If you try to put too much info [on the pen], it may look too busy."