Business and Promotional Pens: They may be Throwaway Items, but…

Fredric Rudell’s post about disposable pens on WeHateToWaste has made me think. She maintains she is not a collector of pens. Yet she somehow ended up with 141 of these easy-to-acquire items in her house. As an avowed and inveterate collector of scribble sticks, I dread to think how many of them I have squirrelled away at home.

Promotional pens may be throwaway items, but they’re useful to someone.

  • I rustled up a dozen for a friend in dire need from my own office pen pot just last week. I had found several in my recent tidyings up, which I had stuck into the pen pot so they wouldn’t get lost again and could be donated to the needy. He couldn’t find any and asked me if I could help.
  • Local health services and schools may be grateful for the donation. Patients and pupils are both notorious for forgetting or not having pens when they’re needed.

Ms Rudell, who is noted for her frugality and refusal of modern throwaway items, somehow notched up 141 pens. So what does that say about the rest of us who aren’t especially frugal?

Promotional pens may be throwaway items, but they’re useful nevertheless.

  • Shopping lists have to be made.
  • Telephone messages need to be taken.
  • Meeting minutes require construction.
  • To-do lists have to be crossed off.
  • Official forms must be filled in.
  • Parcels need to be signed for (and your signature on an electronic pad looks better with a pen than your finger).

Promotional pens may be throwaway items, but they are also essential items.

  • Cursive handwriting is no longer taught in some American schools, yet those with payment cards are still expected to sign for their goods when they are over a certain value.
  • If you’re travelling in the USA, and use a foreign credit card, chances are you will be asked to sign for your transaction rather than using the chip-and-pin system.
  • How can you take a phone message if you don’t have a pen to write down the details and you’re not sitting in front of a computer at the time?
  • Signing printouts of mobile phone contracts, car finance or similar official paperwork is made easier when you have your own pen to hand. It doesn’t really matter if it’s an expensive ink pen or a free promotional biro, but from personal experience, the free biros are easier to carry than rollerballs or gel pens and less likely to leak everywhere too.

Promotional pens may be throwaway items but they are also useful promotional tools.

  • Ask your staff to offer one to any visitor upon arrival. This means it is easier for them to sign into the building.
  • Have one to hand when you are likely to be asking a new employee or client to sign a contract.
  • Have several around near the phone, together with a scratch pad for messages.
    • Make sure your administrator or secretary has a few, so they can hand out pens to those who need them.

Promotional pens may be throwaway items but they are also useful marketing tools.

  • When you attend trade fairs or recruitment events, give every potential client or employee a promotional pen at the very least.
  • If you are planning a major mailing campaign, follow the example of charities and include a pen with the questionnaire, so that potential respondents will have a pen to hand if they choose to complete the survey. At the very least, they’ll remember you gave them a free pen.
  • Every tourist attraction has a range of promotional pens and a good few charity shops stock them too, so that supporters and visitors can show their support by purchasing a pen with the appropriate logo on.

Promotional pens may be throwaway items but they are useful charity donations.

  • After my last clear out, I was able to donate a boxful of unwanted pens, pencils and markers to a charity appealing for writing materials for schoolchildren in Africa. So somewhere there is now a class of school children using promotional pens from UK, US and European firms to write their notes. As long as the pens are being used, I’m happy.
  • My local hospital has a fair number of those I’ve found too, as although it’s not the same as a major bequest, furnishing just one department with spare pens helps the budget that little bit.
  • If you are looking to raise the profile of your company within the local community, you could consider a somewhat larger donation. Promotional pens are available from 14p a pen for order of 5,000 or more, which is easily enough to keep a hospital in pens for a while.

Promotional pens may be throwaway items but some of them are refillable. If you choose your pen type wisely, there are refillable promotional pens available these days. Alternatively, you could always contact your stationery supplier and see whether they offer refills for the type of pen you’re looking to purchase.

Promotional pens may be throwaway items but they are always useful to someone. Whether your angle is marketing, easy use, brand or business promotion or simple philanthropy, promotional pens have a part to play.


Sectors: Business Services
Countries: United Kingdom and United States
Topics: Advertising and Promotion
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