Why Promotional Pens Are the Best Business Gifts – Top 10 Reasons

With so many promotional gifts to choose from, it is usually a consumer’s nightmare in choosing an appropriate medium to display their advertising message. Having worked within the promotional merchandise business for the last thirty years, manufacturing and printing mousemats, coasters, keyrings, magnetics, stickers etc. I can honestly say that nothing approaches the value-for-money and advertising power that printed promotional pens can offer. Of course I am biased, but after all this time, I am still passionate about this humblest of promotional products and these are my top-ten reasons.

  1. Price. Giveaways can be a good investment if they work but as it is not always very easy to quantify the viability or effectiveness of an advertising campaign it is prudent to set yourself a conservative budget. This is one of the main strengths of promotional pens because their relatively low price, compared to other forms of promotional merchandise means your outlay, and consequently your risk, will be minimal.
  2. Acceptability. Promotional pens are acceptable in equal-measure to men, women and children of nearly all ages. In other words they appeal to almost everyone. This level of acceptability is not mirrored by any other promotional product in its price range.
  3. Functionality: Sometimes we forget that even the cheapest printed pen is a functional writing instrument that is intended for use day after day. As such, it is unique amongst promotional gifts, where the norm is one-off or at best, very occasional use.
  4. Exposure: The inherent functionality of promotional pens ensures its popularity amongst recipients and as a consequence maximum exposure for your corporate message is guaranteed throughout its working life. Contrast this with the exposure that most of the other promotional items can achieve and it is clear that it holds a unique position within the promotional merchandise industry.
  5. Visibility: No other promotional product is intended to be used at a more personal level than your promotional pen. It is an arms-length companion wherever the recipient wishes to takes it.
  6. Diversity: Not only do promotional pens carry your powerful printed advertisement for all to see every day but by careful selection of the materials they are made from you can also convey a more subliminal message to the intended recipient. By choosing any one of the biodegradable, recycled, or FSC certified wooden promotional pens you are also demonstrating your stance on the environment. Choose from the BiofreeTM range with it pathogen neutralising additives and you will be seen to not only be promoting your company’s brand but you will also demonstrate your approach to healthy living. No other promotional product is available in this range of unique materials – at any price.
  7. Universality: Whether you want promotional giveaways for paying guests in hotel rooms or a fine writing instrument for those prestige awards the choice is limitless. There is a promotional pen with a perceived prestige value available at all levels – you just have to think of the application, the impression you want to create and then make your selection from the vast range available in the market.
  8. Finishes: What other promotional gift is made in such a variety of materials and finishes? Wood, metal, plastic, stone, ivory, corn starch to name but a few. Combine this with the range of finishes available such as frosted, electroplated, enamelled, leatherette, polished and wood grain and you have an almost limitless amount of permutations to suit your application.
  9. Print: Virtually all the standard methods for decoration can be used on promotional pens. High volume screen printing for plastic pens, pad printing on compound shapes, full colour 360 degree wrap around and engraving on those prestige metal or wooden pens. The choice is yours to suit the budget and the image you wish to create.
  10. Presentation: From bulk packed to individually wrapped and boxed there is a level of presentation available that is suitable for every application or impression that you wish to create.

I believe that no other category of promotional gift provides the level of choice that promotional pens can offer. They are not only incredibly diverse, they are also timeless and without equal. Thank you for reading this article, I hope you have enjoyed its content and are as inspired as I am about the marketing potential of promotional pens.

Fly Fishing Tackle Review: Snobee Prestige 8′ 4-Piece Rod

I’m the type of fisherman who prefers fly fishing in small, relatively quite streams. For that reason, I tend to tailor my fly fishing tackle to that sort of environment. I prefer high-tech carbon-fibre rod technology, yet also like the old-fashioned cork grips. My idiosyncratic taste sometimes makes it difficult to find the right sort of gear. Well, recently I’ve discovered and acquired a terrific fly rod from Snobee, the Prestige 8′ 4-piece. Here’s a brief review of this quality product.

Key Features of the Snobee Prestige 8′ 4-Piece Fly Rod

At first glance, this is quite a good-looking rod that comes in an anodised brown tube with a classic brass fitting and screw cap on one end. Also supplied is a sturdy cotton drill bag. Cotton drill, by the way, is a coarse and durable fabric that gets its name from the fact that the British army has used it extensively in tropical climates. The rod itself has plenty of quality features, including a nickel-silver winding check on the handle. It’s colour is a pleasant maroon with bronze overtones. The rod weighs about 72 grams. Expect to pay between £159 to £199 for the Prestige rod, depending on model.

More About the Prestige Rod

The rod has twin lined stripping guides with high-rise snakes. The whippings for the guides are trimmed in gold, which highlights the entire rod’s elegant, understated colour scheme. The reel seat is made from aluminium, which helps to keep the rod’s weight to a minimum. It also has a hard anodised finish that gives the rod high durability and a simple, yet functional look. The handle has good quality cork. A detail I particularly like is the burl maple reel seat insert. First impression? Superior design and build quality. The Prestige rod has a progressive, but forgiving action that makes it quite nice to cast. It has plenty of reserve power to call on when needed, yet it’s easy to cast short distances. Playing a fish on this rod, even with light tippets, is a pleasure This Snobee rod uses an ultra-lightweight blank using the company’s proven tri-modulus rod blank technology that’s been rigorously tested to ensure maximum power, strength and durability without compromising sensitivity. This is achieved with a careful blend of several types of carbon. The result? Precise action throughout the length of the rod. The guarantee, which applies to the original owner only, is non-transferable.

Final Thoughts on the Snobee Prestige Fly Rod

Fly fishing tackle is Snobee’s core business. The design team and product developers are avid fly fishermen themselves, so you can be sure of both the quality and performance of the company’s products. In particular, I’ve found that the Snobee Prestige 8′ 4-piece fly rod is an absolute pleasure to cast and to fish with, mainly because of the progressive action. It’s a rod you’ll be proud to add to your collection of fly fishing tackle. I’m happy to rate it at 4.5 out of a possible 5 stars.

The Digital IQ of Prestige Brands in China

An exclusive report from L2 and Labbrand

The massive potential for retail businesses in China is no surprise to anyone-least of all prestige brands. After years of annual double-digit growth, China’s booming economy has left tens of millions of consumers seeking new ways to spend their disposable income. In 2009, China became the world’s second largest luxury market behind Japan, surpassing the United States.

Even though these trends were recognizable at least 20 years ago, many prestige brands are still playing catch-up in this diverse and rapidly changing marketplace. With 384 million internet users-more than the U.S. and Japan combined-much of the competition for customers and brand loyalty will play out online. The investment prestige brands make in their own digital competence could be a deciding factor in their ability to survive and thrive in China, and is likely to become increasingly important as the market matures.

What is Digital IQ and How is it Measured?

In July of 2010, L2, a think tank for prestige brands, partnered with Labbrand to measure and rank the digital competence of one hundred prestige brands in China[1]. The measurement methodology, “Digital IQ,” gives each brand a combined score based on website translation, functionality and content, search engine optimization (SEO), social media performance, and digital marketing efforts

Digital IQ Ranking: China

A Closer Look at the Numbers

These rankings reveal several interesting trends and correlations with other available metrics. For example, the eight fashion brands measured show a strong positive correlation (0.72) between Digital IQ and brand value as reported in BusinessWeek’s annual 100 Best Global Brands report[2]. For the six automotive brands measured in both studies, the correlation is also strongly positive, at 0.61. These correlations do not necessarily mean that increasing Digital IQ guarantees an enhanced brand value. Nevertheless, the strength of these correlations suggests that the relationship between brand value and Digital IQ is not arbitrary. It is possible that valuable brands are more likely to have higher brand awareness, and therefore enjoy higher returns on the same or smaller investments in digital. Alternatively, valuable brands may be more likely to have higher marketing budgets and invest more heavily in digital media.

Prestige brands with the highest Digital IQ scores are breaking away from the pack. In mature markets, measurements of digital competence show prestige brands tightly bunched together-

leaders do not achieve significant separation from brands with average Digital IQ scores. But in China, digital Geniuses are not just in the lead-they’re winning big. For example, the five brands in the Genius category boast a mean Digital IQ more than 25 points higher than that of the next five brands. In comparison, brands ranked six through ten show a mean difference of only 13.2 points compared to those ranked eleven through fifteen. Digital leaders start “breaking away” at an inflection point around Digital IQ 120. Brands at the bottom end of the ranking demonstrate a similar but opposite effect-they lag significantly behind brands with average Digital IQ scores.

Fifty-nine percent of the luxury brands in the study of Digital IQ in China were also measured in a separate study of the Digital IQ of luxury brands in the U.S., dated September 2009. Brands measured in both indices demonstrated a correlation of 0.58 between their Chinese Digital IQ and their U.S. Digital IQ, suggesting that digital competence in one market can be leveraged in another. Beauty brands Lancme, Clarins, and Este Lauder show the greatest positive disparity between Chinese and U.S. Digital IQ. This suggests their recognition of the opportunity to build brands in China through digital media. Meanwhile, champagne brands Veuve Clicquot, Mot & Chandon, and Dom Prignon demonstrate the largest negative disparity-none of them support a Chinese language version of their brand site. Negative disparities may speak to inability or carelessness when translating digital competence from West to East.

Missed Opportunities and Winning Strategies

Most prestige brands earning high Digital IQ scores in China share at least two attributes: local relevance and availability across a broad range of media.

Local relevance stems partly from familiarity with Chinese sites like Baidu, Kaixin, and Youku, which can be loosely compared to Google, Facebook, and YouTube, respectively. But brands doing business in China must recognize that for Western sites and their Chinese counterparts, different strategies are required; simply translating site content is often ineffective.

While homegrown search engine Baidu boasts 62 percent market share in China[3], only 39 percent of measured prestige brands come up first in its organic results when searching by English brand name. Meanwhile, 94 percent of brand sites came up first on Google.cn (prior to its departure from China) when using English names. When searching with Chinese names, approximately 30 percent of brand sites are not among the top three search results on either search engine. This indicates the difficulty of brand name translation for many multinational brands. These numbers suggest that many brands approach search visibility with a Google-centric mentality that fails to recognize the Baidu algorithm and other local nuances.

One way brands can enhance SEO is by creating more opportunities for consumer interaction through a combination of social network sites (SNS), microsites, bulletin-board systems (BBS) and e-commerce and mobile websites.

Although many prestige brands are eliciting thousands of user-generated comments, video uploads, blog posts, and photos on popular SNS like RenRen, Qzone, Kaixin001, and YouKu, very few are interacting directly with consumers on these sites. As consumers are increasingly expecting brand communications to be interactive, rather than one-way broadcasts, digitally savvy brands that are beginning to engage directly with users on SNS platforms stand to gain an edge. Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW host contests on RenRen, while Dior has a page on Qzone. Digital Genius Lancme boasts an official group on Kaixin001 with more than 250,000 members. Johnnie Walker also hosts a group on the platform.

Four of the brands in the study have invested in branded online communities. Digital Genius Lancme launched an online community called Rose Beauty in 2006 and has four million subscribers. Este Lauder and Clarins also host branded beauty communities. BMW has created a community for the estimated 150,000 BMW drivers in China through its MyBMWClub.cn site. Meanwhile, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche have created simple-interface BBS to help facilitate discussions with avid fans. Although the appropriateness of microsites as a means of online consumer interaction is debatable, efforts from these brands demonstrate a heightened commitment to the Chinese marketplace.

On average, brands that embrace e-commerce boast Digital IQ scores 50 points higher than brands that do not sell online. The size of the e-commerce market in China may have quadrupled from 2006 to 2009[4], but only ten of the 100 prestige brands in the study offer online transactions. The Beauty & Skincare category leads with six of 13 brands selling online. Many prestige brands opt against e-commerce for fear it will reflect poorly on the brand’s premium status and diminish control over the sales experience. However, as fashion brand and China first-mover Ports 1961 is the only foreign brand outside of the Beauty category to sell online, making e-commerce available would be a clear point of differentiation within many prestige categories.

In addition to website enhancements, SEO, and SNS, it is imperative for luxury brands to develop a mobile strategy. There are an estimated 745 million mobile phone subscribers in China[5], and more than one quarter of mobile users access the internet through their phones[6]. China has considerably lower in-home internet penetration than most developed nations, and many Chinese consumers move directly from no internet to mobile internet. Yet, only 42 percent of the measured brands have mobile-enabled sites. Hong Kong brand Shanghai Tang is one of the first luxury brands to incorporate a Chinese language iPhone application.

Conclusion

While at least rudimentary digital competence is essential for prestige brands operating in China, specific digital strategies should be customized based on a brand’s vision and personality, opportunities and positioning, rather than a “check box” approach. As with other brand communication and media, digital strategy should be informed by comprehensive and up-to-date market research, strengthened by sound analysis and concrete brand positioning, and executed with distinctive and compelling creative work. Ultimately, brands with a deeper understanding of their Chinese customers, local competition, and familiarity with their own reputation and strengths will fare better, both online and off.

[1]”L2 Digital IQ Index: China”. Scott Galloway &, Doug Guthrie, June 16, 2009.

[2]”100 Best Global Brands”, BusinessWeek, September 2009

[3]”China Online”, eMarketer, December 2010

[4]iResearch, February 2009

[5]Ministry of the Information Industry, People’s Republic of China, August 2009

[6]”Global Device Insight Report”, Nielsen, October 2009