Tips for Selling Ballpoint Pens, a Perfect Promo for Your Clients
Business cards are great for getting your client’s name in front of business contacts, but how often does someone pull out the card and use it? Not often, I bet. Put the business name and logo on a ballpoint pen, however, and it’s a different story. A pen is used again and again, reminding the user of your client each time. When it comes to getting your business name out there, the pen is mightier than the business card—and almost every other branding product too.
As we celebrate National Ballpoint Pen Day on June 10, it’s a good time to reflect on one of the promotional industry’s best sellers.
Here’s why I recommend ballpoint pens for cost-effective, memorable branding and why you should suggest them for your corporate clients.
Years of branding life: Promotional pens are one of the most popular products we sell. Most are designed to write approximately 50,000 words and they can last for years. People remember the brand message on promotional products given to them, especially when it is “in hand.” Remembering the item and the person who gave it to you increases loyalty, which is what your customer wants.
Impressions for Money Spent: It costs a fraction of a penny to imprint a pen with a branded message, giving your client an impressive return on their investment. Writing instruments are the No. 3 seller in our industry, after apparel-related items and drinkware. But that’s based on sales revenue. If you compared the number of each product sold, pens would move up to No. 1 or No. 2 because hundreds of millions of pens are sold. In fact, one of Fully Promoted’s largest clients purchases around a million pens a year alone, but they would not make our top 50 customer list, as the price per pen is low.
Everyone Uses Pens: Even in the post-COVID world, we still write, and our pens change hands multiple times. Imagine having your customer pass around a business card like that! An added bonus is that it's a “one size fits all” promotional item that will always fit the customer’s hands.
Pens are handy promotional giveaways at trade shows or to welcome a new customer at your client’s front desk. We encourage our sales team and franchisees to offer writing instruments as an add-on sale item. You can add pens to almost any order—apparel, drinkware, printing—at a reasonable cost.
You can go with an inexpensive entry-level pen, but if you want a promotion to last, you need to have some kind of “wow factor.” My favorite pen is one that “sneaks up on you” with extra capabilities besides writing. It contains a hidden highlighter or stylus, shows a message, lights up, or transforms into a multi-function pen. These “wow” pens aren’t the cheapest, but people keep them, and the branding message lasts longer, which is what your client wants.
The other thing I like to look for is weight, making sure the customer can feel the difference themselves which can’t be done online. You would be surprised at how many people do not know what their pen does. Educating the people who are giving them away helps keep the pen in the hands of their clients longer. It also keeps them coming back for the next successful promo.
Printing Options & Kits
There are lots of ways to imprint pens: laser engraving, screen printing, pad printing and digital printing, to name a few. We even have pens with printed messages or “click and show” messages. We suggest printing on the pen packaging to add extra value to a commemorative pen. One of our most popular methods today is including pens in a kit of assorted items to add even more value—for example, a 10th anniversary kit with a pen, mug, jacket and other accessories. Most people keep personalized commemorative pens for special events like awards, service milestones and graduations.
One of our vendor directors has pens from high school and their first job. Now that is a lasting impression.
Mike Brugger is president of Fully Promoted, a full-service branded products and marketing services business. With nearly three decades of experience in the promotional products industry, he was recognized in the Power 50 ranking of Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) for his expertise, foresight and compelling results during a time when the industry experienced some of its toughest challenges. Under his leadership, Fully Promoted has ranked among the industry’s largest companies. Fully Promoted is part of the family of brands affiliated with the United Franchise Group, the global leader for entrepreneurs.