Writing instruments have been around for ages. Fountain pens date back to the early-1700s, but ink spills were prevalent then. A ruined life-insurance contract due to an ink leak motivated New York salesman Lewis Waterman to improve the design and eliminate leaks. He is credited with succeeding in 1884. About 50 years later Hungarian journalist László Bíró received a patent for the ballpoint pen utilizing the fast-drying ink used for newspapers. Many strides and upgrades have continued to occur as the pen matured. With so many options in 2014, what do end-users want from their pens?
REMEMBER THE PEN'S MAIN PURPOSE
Pen users still want the simple, original characteristic of a pen: that it writes. Laura High, senior marketing manager for BIC Graphic, Clearwater, Fla., mentioned that the company's surveys found the No. 1 desire for a pen is a smooth write-out. "Our standard ballpoint inks are already very smooth, but the Easy Glide takes it to a next level," she said. "With those survey results, and hearing that [a smooth write-out] was truly what people felt was the most important attribute in a writing instrument, that's why we have introduced it in 2014 at no additional charge," she added.
In addition to ink quality, Brian Padian, vice president of sales for Logomark, Tustin, Calif., noted that refills (which Logomark offers via www.freerefills.com) lengthen the longevity of a promotional pen. "Some people say, 'Oh, that's just a marketing scheme,' but the reality is when a pen doesn't write, typically, it goes in a drawer, but people don't throw pens away," he said. "However, if you go online and get refills mailed to your office, you're much more likely to refill your pen, and you don't just get one refill, you get five."
FIND A PEN WITH A USEFUL FEATURE FOR A SPECIFIC CLIENT
Harris Cohen, MAS, president and CEO of All-In-One, San Diego, advised distributors to think outside the box. While antimicrobial pens may be more popular in the health-care field, that's because those individuals are more aware of the benefits. However, an antimicrobial pen will work to minimize the spread of germs anywhere there is a sign-in sheet.