Trade Show Guru

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Trade Show Guru

Do Trade Show Giveaway Pens Work?

February 16th, 2009 · 37 Comments · Trade Show Marketing

One of the most popular trade show giveaways is custom-imprinted pens. Pens are actually probably one of the most popular freebie giveaways in general. I’m going to guess that there are billions of custom-imprinted pens produced every year. Probably if you stacked all of the trade show giveaway pens and other custom-imprinted pens produced every year, I’d guess that end on end, they’d reach to the moon and back. You can find custom-imprinted pens at banks, restaurants, doctors offices, dentists offices, tax accountants offices, pizza parlors, and car washes. They are everywhere! With all the free pens floating around out there, I’m not sure why anyone would ever pay money and buy a pen. Looking at the mess in front of me hiding the top surface of my desk, I see many pens (plus an empty cup of coffee that needs to be refilled). I’ve got one from Marriott, one from Wyndham Hotels & Restaurants, one from Dr. Ruby (our kids’ dentist), another one from Marriott, plus a regular Bic pen, a Bic highlighter, and a Sharpie fine point black permanent marker. I guess the last three pens aren’t custom-imprinted with a company name, but the first four are. I almost took a pen last night at the Indian restaurant that we went to for Valentines Day, which would have made it five, but still my custom-imprinted pens outnumber my regular pens by 4 to 3.

Anyway, as the trade show guru, I guess I’m supposed to tell you whether or not trade show giveaway pens work. I don’t know. But I recommend using them for trade show giveaways and handouts. It should not be a trade show secret that proper trade show planning means avoiding the mistake of not have some kind of incentive for attendees to visit your trade show booth. When it comes to selecting a trade show giveaway, custom-printed pens are relatively cheap, and they’re useful and people hold on to them. I’m not sure if I’d recommend going with the more expensive fancy versions though. I think I’d stick with the basic ballpoint-style pen, with a company name, a simple line saying what one does, and a website and phone number. I know there are lots of companies that supply these custom-imprinted trade show giveaway pens, but I can’t recommend any one specific company. Just make sure that when you order your trade show giveaway pens that you order plenty, as pens tend to be popular with the trade show zombies.

But back the the question in the title of this post – do trade show giveaway pens actually work? (update – I don’t mean does the ink in them work so that you can write with them, I mean does anyone every buy anything from or do business with the company listed on the outside of the pen!) I’ve never bought anything because I saw a company name on a pen. Never. I’ve stayed at a Marriott, but not because I have their pen. We take our kids to Dr. Ruby, but again, not because we have his pen. We go there because he is an awesome, extremely competent pediatric dentist (and we pay for it). We also recommend him to all of our friends. He is a good example of a business that probably benefits from providing excellent service and having plenty of free word-of-mouth advertising.

But enough about our dentist… back to the question again. Do trade show giveaway pens work? Again, I don’t know. From my own personal experience, I don’t think so. But then again, could you land your biggest account or sale of the year because somebody saw your company name on a giveway pen that cost you fifty cents? Maybe… So I ask you, my loyal readers. Have you every bought a product or service because you saw a company name on a pen?

And if you answer this question, please also mention if you have a custom-imprinted pen handy and what company or business name is on it.


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