Writing off the Cheap Talk
"Brand should really stand above all else in writing instruments," said Schnier. "There are literally thousands of pen choices in our industry, but only a select few with brands that are recognized worldwide. 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," she explained. "Pairing an end-user logo or message with a strong consumer branded product can add significant value to the entire project."
3) Know Your Product
Joe Fleming, general manager for Hub Pen Company, Braintree, Mass., explained that one of the reasons price wars start is when end-buyers lack an understanding of what actually goes into making a product. "When buyers can't discern the differences in potential product selections, then the only possible factor that they can compare is price," he said. "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," suggested Fleming. 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.
4) Get Samples for Yourself
First-hand experience with a product can be a helpful tool in selling quality over price. "Distributors benefit buyers in terms of their experience with the product," said Fleming. "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. A distributor's personal recommendation and guarantee means a lot to buyers and can make the difference in getting the sale."