There are only a few promotional items that can claim endorsement by the leader of the free world but, that’s an accolade that the promotional custom pen has earned.
It was back at the beginning of this century but US President George W Bush, the 43rd President, was unashamed about making a bulk order of traditional ballpoint pens from AT Cross in his favorite dark blue color.
The President’s choice should not be a surprise as promotional aficionados are aware that custom pens have been favorite tools in marketing for a long time. They are not only cost-effective but also functional and can be used across a vast range of markets.
For even more concrete proof of the popularity of pens, then Mintel reports on promotional gifts have found that pens among other desk accessories regularly top the list of promotional gifts handed out to staff, clients and contacts.
Indeed, Mintel has found that 82% of companies use pens as a part of promotional campaigns. Any client perceptions of pens as tired and dated as promotional tools seem to be quickly debunked, not least by pen manufacturers themselves.
As one Parker Pen marketer says his colleagues in other companies consistently find there are few products that work harder in terms of brand exposure.
Bic product managers agree that all the evidence points to pens being effective because they are tactile, and can enhance any brand profile.
The popularity has developed a flip side, however, because marketers have begun to demand more innovation. They are seeking a USP that will give promotional activities an increased impact. In the case of custom pens, this manifests itself as a demand for more variety.
One thing that does not appear to be restrained though is budget. Pen companies are finding that buyers are increasingly able and willing to spend more, especially when it allows them to buy pens with interesting features.
The way suppliers are responding to is by launching new ranges almost continually. Parker Pen, for example, has introduced many new ranges over recent years.
Fashion is now almost as influential to a new design in the world of pens as it has always been in the fields of promotional clothing or sectors like luxury and electrical goods.
There are other factors too. For example, conference organizers are increasingly requesting non-clicky pens because they can be very irritating for speakers.
What takes over from fashion is cutting edge design. AT Cross has found that clients, which include Jaguar, Saab, and IBM, are demanding new high-tech ranges. Indeed, in sales terms, they are catching up with favorites like the Century.
It has to be said though that the most important thing when it comes to custom pens is that a client’s brand name is given effective exposure on the pen. Parker, for example, has found that clients are going for far more elaborate designs.
Indeed they have had orders from clients like Cadbury and Heinz for strong, colorful designs, that reflect each of the brands’ marketing positions.
Bic is finding that customization of entire pens rather than simply placing a name and logo on the barrel, is combating market fatigue.
Mintel reports advising that it’s incumbent on the pen buyers to assess novelty or quality if they don’t want their custom pens to be seen as ‘just another business gift.’
There have been instances where a client has ordered two different pen styles so they can target men and women differently. In this day and age, choosing to market your business with promotional pens would represent a mere fragment of advertising costs but is bound to bring in more buy-in than they’re worth.
Even though we now have the entire digital world at our disposal, the physical still matters.
People love tactile marketing because it represents a break from all those ads that scream at us almost wherever we look. When we’re on Facebook, the videos are interrupted by ads. Between all your friends’ posts advertisements appear for all manner of businesses.
When we browse the internet, ads pop out all over the place. When we get the chance to walk down a city street, flyers and billboards seem to be everywhere. When we open any publication, there seem to be more ads than there is readable content. People are simply sick and tired of these conventional ads.
This is where promotional products come into their own. Not every business gives away pens to clients, customers, or partners, so those that do are perceived as different. They don’t bother the senses but take a different road and give people something that can actually be used in everyday life.
Not only that though, but custom pens also have significant branding benefits. They increase brand recognition. Indeed, research has indicated that people who receive a branded promotional product is likely to remember the brand for as many as two years. Furthermore, at times when something from your niche is needed, that custom pen could make your business the first one checked out.
The fact is that custom pens have been proven to deliver amazing returns on investment.