Posted by: brandextenders | January 19, 2010

If you’ve seen one pen…

Quickly, tell me how many companies out there make pens or, as we call them in my industry, writing instruments? Don’t have a clue? Well neither do I, but I can tell you there are a bazillion. Of course a bazillion is a made up number, but it stands for a whole heck-of-a-lot of companies that make pens and, in my business, imprint them with a company’s brand. Depending on the quantity of pens you need you’ll find them priced anywhere from .15 cents to hundreds of dollars per pen which of course includes “your name here”.

Writing instruments, which includes pens, pencils, crayons and any other implement of ink you use to write, is the second biggest seller in the promotional products industry. This category accounts for approximately 10% of total industry sales trailing behind apparel which garners over 30% of the industry spend. Calendars are third at 8% of sales and bags (tote, duffel, eco-friendly, garment, sport, etc.) come in fourth with 7%. Overall, companies spend just over $18 billion on branded merchandise each year which is anything from boxers with a logo on them to technology products, drinkware, buttons, magnets, socks, awards and decals. In all there are said to be over 750,000 products you can imprint a logo on although honestly, I wouldn’t recommend 740,000 of those products to my clients since they aren’t worth the ink used to imprint them with. And I haven’t even gone into the issues of compliance with new regulations put in place by the FDA and other governmental agencies to eliminate lead and other toxic materials in products. Over regulation some might say!

Why do you need to know all of this? Given the number of items out there that can be branded, the differences in quality, the various methods used to decorate them and the strengths and weaknesses of the manufacturers of these products, it can be a minefield for the uninitiated. It takes years to become knowledgeable in this field of all the methods of decorating, key manufacturers, the types of products available, compliance issues and more. How does a company put together an effective safety program, employee recognition program, trade show strategy, direct mail campaign or customer appreciation/loyalty initiative? Will buying the lowest priced coffee mug on the Internet give you the ROI needed in these trying economic times or are you better off working with a promotional consultant to help you tie together your marketing efforts into a cohesive campaign?

As one who has worked with clients for nearly a quarter-century to enhance their brand I would suggest “buying on the cheap” will not, in the long run, give you either the ROI or brand recognition your company deserves. If all someone wants to do is sell you “stuff” then don’t blame them when that stuff fails to advance your branding efforts or ends up in living in the closet because no one wants that cheap pen that looked so good in the catalog, but wouldn’t write for more than a sentence or two.

I can help evaluate your efforts to extend your brand through the use of promotional products, rewards and incentives. But if not me, I highly recommend the use of an experienced promotional consultant; one who continues to educate themselves on brand extension and is looking out for you and your brand, not on how much profit they can stuff in their pockets at your expense.

Looking for the cheapest pen available? I’m probably not your guy. Looking for an idea that your clients will turn to several times a day, 365 days of the year? Let’s talk…!

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