Monday, December 22, 2008

The Fate of Promotional Pens

Melanie Richards of Prisms Promotions is considering starting a "How do YOU use promotional pens?" contest. Let's see if we can start her off on t he right foot here....

If you hate when someone hands you a business card like someone handing out a leaflet outside a gentleman's club, then you probably have an equal dislike for rinkydink promotional products that are worth virtually nothing and have no meaning behind them. Like a pen.

Oh, we all need pens. The idea behind a promotional product pen is wonderful -- pens are things everyone carries around, get annoyed when you can't find one, and some people actually do something important with them, like actually write something with meaning. Then again, those of us who are writers probably have a favorite type of pen. When it comes to paper & pens, suddenly we're as obsessive-compulsive as Felix Unger. For us OCD writers, only our favorite pen will do. I won't be caught without a pen, and if I don't have pen & paper on me at ALL times, it's like the Muses take it as a personal affront. I always keep pen & paper on or near my person -- it's like a charm to make sure that I won't have ideas, inspirations, song lyrics, or poems suddenly overtake me. I take on a FAVORITE type of pen. Right now it's Pilot G-2 5mm. I took a brief sojourn with the Uniball Signo RT Gel .38 because a really super fine line gets me every time -- but the ink doesn't last long enough, and I can't find refills. So it lost and I'm back on the Pilot G-2 5mm even though the ink doesn't dry fast enough for my moleskines.

Oh, back on topic -- you can see I'm a real pen-obsessed person. I love my pens. Guess what? I don't love YOUR pens. I don't love them when I get 3-4 per event I go to, and I don't love them when you try to give me them again at the next meeting. And I don't love them when I'm doing the artwork to fit into their 1.5" wide by .25" high imprint area. You want to fit your business name, name, tag line and phone number -- plus logo -- into WHAT? I'll try, but I need a shoehorn & a magnifying glass. But hey, you're the customer, so you're always right.

Pens. Why did it have to be pens? Sure they're one of the least expensive promotional products you can get -- but you get what you pay for. Please save your $.30/piece. Figure out your budget then get a real consultation on how to best spend your promotional item funny money with Melanie rather than just buying some more pens.

So what do I do with all those pens when I get back to my office (read: Home)?

Well, in my house I have a special place for those pens. It's a pen jar in my office, as far from my desk as possible. It sits there and it's convenient to point to when my son needs to do his homework. If the pen jar were in his room, he'd empty it under his bed. He "borrows" a pen and "brings it back" later -- well, it works that way sometimes -- but since you still give me more pens, the jar ends up with more & more pens in the long run anyway. Since I'm so anal about my pens, you can bet he's not touching my pens. If he loses YOUR pen, what do I care? You have 500 more where that one came from and I'll get another one next week, right?

I have to say, I make an exception for a few exceptional pens. Jellybean: I like the purple pen. I won't use it, but as a designer, I have to say it's awesome to have a pen that writes in your logo color. I have some admiration for your other ink pen, too. Nice choices. They're in the pen jar for my son, but I do admire them.

Carol Garcia, Carole & Company -- LOVE the light-up pens. Hours of amusement for my son. One stays at my bed for writing dreams or notes to myself in the middle of the night. You took "promo pen" to a new level for me. Thank you! Thank you! A pen I actually use -- myself! I write in journals at my bedside with your pen, too.

The rest, I could take or leave -- no actually I'd rather leave them, because I'm an environmentalist. But if I have to take them, at least my son puts them to good use -- or loses them, chews on them, breaks them, tries to sharpen them in the pencil sharpener....better your pen than mine though!

Do you have any funny tales about what you do with promotional pens? Please feel free to comment, send the information to Melanie at Prisms Promotion or send them to me.

Last word: Do you really want your company associated with writing out checks to pay the bills, signing tax forms, or best yet, an item that's eminently disposable? Does your company run out of juice just like the pen? Be careful what products you tie your name & image to.

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