I admit it: I love pens. I just left the doctor (long story) and while I was there I picked up 4 different pharma rep pens. I write a lot and so I am always looking for the perfect instrument. Pharma reps spend the most on their pens so I enjoy picking some up at the pharmacy or from my doctor. I figure this is a legitimate business effort, too, as I often get requests from clients to recommend premium items they can give to clients and prospects. The problem is that I almost never recommend a pen.
When selecting the appropriate premium item for your business you should always pick something that either relates to your business or has staying power — and by that I mean something your customer or prospect will keep around and actually use. I guess for pharma reps in an era where everything comes capsule-sized that there are few needs for spoons or medicine droppers so they go with pens for the staying power.
I know pharma reps also go with pens because the doctors and pharmacists use them, but do they actually ever read them? Today my doctor’s receptionist had 8 different pens on her desk plus a drawerful of extras that she generously shared with me. Do you think those pens are making him prescribed more, or me request more of their product? Absolutely not. One of my favorites was a metal, silver diamond, refillable Viagra pen, a product which will obviously be useless to me (but the pen is readily available on Ebay if you can’t find one at your Publix Pharmacy).
This week I’m helping a home improvement client select a thank you gift for his clients. We’re evaluating using private-branded window cleaner to leave for customers who have just received new windows. This practical gift has more staying power AND is a much more innovative idea than another bic or papermate.