When the English novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer Lytton first penned those now infamous words, I am quite certain he did not have promotional sales in mind. What he was talking about however, is no less meaningful to any and all players that dare to take their enterprising and business acumen onto the wide open battlefield that is the free market. Whether you are selling a tangible product or a tertiary service, you will have many opponents that are also battling for the same expansion of name and brand that you are reaching for. Like any good warrior, we dare not enter the fray without the appropriate weapons. So to the soldier, his sword, and to the salesman, his pen.
I love a pen as a promotional marketing tool because it is the sort of thing that everyone needs and yet no one wants to buy. Think about it. I am willing to bet that the last time you purchased a pen was when your over-zealous English teacher added it to your supply list in anticipation of staining the pages of your writing with crimson ink, marking all of the places you had grammatically failed her, failed yourself, and failed the world for not providing read-worthy material. To add insult to injury, you had to buy her the tool of her ostracism (I’m looking at you Mrs. Hemingway!) But I digress. Back to marketing.
As a marketing tool, pens are a very cost effective way to get your name out to the public. Take one of my favorites for example: The Bic Clic Stic. For around $500, you can purchase 700 of these pens that are fully customizable with your imprinted logo, and your choice of colors for the barrel and the clip. If your business logo is chartreuse and salmon (I don’t judge) then you can order these pens to match. This creates continuity, thereby leading to brand recognition. They were my tool of choice when spearheading a branding campaign for a real estate company that was just getting started in the cutthroat real estate market of 2005. The client ordered 2000 of these pens and then we took them to the local restaurants to “donate” them to the servers. Why you may ask? The answer is simple.
I had observed that every time I picked up a pen that my server had given me and attempted to sign my name on the credit card receipt , I was being watched like a mother hawk watches with a protective (and sometimes aggressive) eye on her nest. It had happened way too many times and by way too many different servers to blame it on any one person’s possessive pen idiosyncrasy! One day I got my answer when, by accident, I almost put a black gel ink pen in my purse. I was halted with super human efficiency and told “Wait! That’s the last pen I have and I started with 12 today! Everyone keeps stealing my pens!” A lightbulb went off in my head. I had found the perfect portal for funneling advertisement (otherwise known as pens) to masses of people without them ever walking through the door of a business. The servers were so grateful to have an endless supply of free pens, my client was so grateful to get his name spread far and wide for little effort on his part, and I was so grateful for the gratis boat of Alfredo with my breadsticks that was always waiting for me when I walked through Olive Garden’s door!
I know I risk sounding a little weird with the enthusiasm I have for pens, but the truth is, there is a wide gamut to be considered when searching for promotional items. So when I find one that appeals to mass demographics, has an incredibly affordable per piece cost, and comes in every caliber from goose quill to gold plated, then as a Sales and Marketing Coordinator, I rejoice! And that is why I can say with 100% confidence that when you need to promote your business and trumpet your name, the pen is indeed mightier than the sword!
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