Pens Buying Guide

Posted August 2, 2010

Shop Promotional Pens


Why Buy Promotional Pens?

There’s a reason why personalized pens are consistently the top-selling promotional product category year after year.
At some point in your day, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re going to reach for a pen to jot down a phone number, make a quick note, or sign a check. But don’t just take our word for it. A 2008 Advertising Specialty Institute study of how business people perceive promotional products revealed the following:

  • Promotional writing instruments were the most memorable promotional item, with 54% of respondents stating they owned at least one.
  • 62% of the respondents did business with the advertiser on a promotional product after receiving the item.
  • Of the promotional products end users kept, 81% were kept because they were considered useful.

What could be more useful and visible than a pen? Custom pens are an inexpensive way to put your organization’s name in the hands of clients and prospects—literally. There’s a promotional pen to suit every budget and purpose, so it’s no wonder so many businesses choose them as an integral part of their overall marketing strategy. With an almost limitless number of possibilities, it can be difficult to choose the right personalized pens for your promotion. Our Buying Guide is here to help! We’ll explore different types of promotional pens and the best ways to utilize them effectively.

Where to Use Pens

There are countless ways to use pens in your company marketing and advertising campaigns, but here are some of the most popular ways we have seen our customers employ the pens they have purchased from us.

  • Tradeshows: Offer convention attendees a pen in lieu of your business card inside and watch the leads roll in.
  • Schools and Universities: Whether you’re ordering for the school bookstore or ordering for a specific department, InkHead carries a pen perfect for your school and its values.
  • Events: Give fellow attendees a pen with your business name and logo to start marketing your company in new locations and to new audiences.
  • Banks: Place a cup full of custom pens on your desk and encourage new account sign-ups to take one once they’ve finished opening an account with your institution. Not only will they appreciate the small gift, they will also bring your logo home with them!
  • Offices: Who says you have to give the pens away? Order pens for the office and use non-advertising budget dollars to spread your brand further.

Who Can Use Pens

Because custom pens are so useful, they are among the most diverse promotional items your money can buy. Let’s take a look at some of the most common buyers of pens.

  • Education: Schools love giving out pens to students, their parents, and teachers! Instill school spirit in your student body with one of our many writing instruments.
  • Financial: Banks, accountants, investment firms…we work with companies in all areas of the financial sector.
  • Government: Looking for a way to spend your annual budget? Start with promotional products! We are a certified GSA member
  • Hospitality: Hospitality companies love pens. Place them in rooms or inside check holders to extend your brand to new places.
  • Healthcare: Pens are effective promotional devices for doctors and nurses as well as for pharmaceutical reps.
  • Business of All Sizes: Because they’re so versatile, pens can be used by companies at corporate events, sales calls, or even around the office.

Types of Pens Carried by InkHead

InkHead’s pen category is divided into several sub-categories. Keep reading for a brief description of each type of pen you’ll find in our online catalog. With so many options, it can be overwhelming. Remember that we’re standing by 9 AM to 8 PM ET Monday through Friday to help you find just the right pen for your needs. We also encourage you to request samples of the pens in which you’re interested, so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting beforehand.

  • 360° Imprinted Pens: These are pens that can support a message the covers the entire body of the pen. If you’re looking for a completely custom look, these are a good bet.
  • Ballpoint Pens: The versatile classic. Custom ballpoint pens work are the utility player of promotional items, appropriate for nearly every occasion.
  • Carabiner Clip Pens: Targeting tradeshows? Give out pens with a clip so your pen isn’t stuck in a pen or bag and forgotten.
  • Click Pens: Thanks to their push-button retractable tip, custom click pens are among the most popular pens we sell.
  • Executive Pens: Give the boss a gift he or she will love with one of our executive pens.
  • Fountain Pens:  Great for client gifts, fountain pens make a statement as bold as your brand.
  • Gel Pens: Exploding in popularity in recent years, custom gel pens use gel-based ink. Because the ink is thick and opaque, it shows up more clearly on dark or slick surfaces than the typical inks used in ballpoint or felt tip pens
  • Grip Pens: Concerned about comfort? Grip pens feature a rubberized grip near the tip of the pen so writers can pen even the lengthiest notes with ease.
  • Jumbo Pens: Want to make a bold statement? Opt for a jumbo pen, and your pen will stand out in a crowd.
  • Light Pens: Sometimes, a little light can go a long way. Who knows? The light pen with your logo could help them find their keys, change a tire in the dark, or illuminate a vespertine constitutional.
  • Novelty Pens: Some pens defy categorization. Such are those included in our selection of novelty pens. Whether you’re looking for a pen that look like a syringe or one that has a funny cartoon character capper, you can find it among our novelty pens.
  • Rollerball Pens: A modern favorite. Roller ball pens are pens which use ball point writing mechanisms with water-based liquid or gelled ink, as opposed to the oil-based viscous inks found in ballpoint pens.
  • Rope Pens: Just like the name suggests, these pens include a rope attached to the cap, making them ideal for events, conventions, trade shows, and anywhere else where space comes at a premium.
  • Stick Pens: Your standard issue pen. Includes a cap to keep the writing tip from leaking.
  • Stock Shaped Pens: If your promotion is targeting children, consider a stock-shaped pen. While not as practical as the other pens in the catalog, recipients will love the fun shape of the pen. If you cannot locate a stock design you like, contact us for assistance. We will contact our manufacturing partners to see what other options may be available.
  • Twist Pens: Some people prefer a twist mechanism to expose a pen’s writing tip over stick pens and click pens. If you are included in that group, make sure you peruse our selection of twist pens.
  • Video Message Pens: If you’re looking for a pen to help spread your advertising message, look no further than video message pens!

Promotional Pen Ink Types

  • Ballpoint Pens: The most common promotional pens feature a ballpoint ink cartridge. A small metal ball at the end of the ink cartridge rotates and deposits the oil-based ink from the cartridge as it moves across the paper. They are less likely to leak and are the ideal pen type where a firm pressure is required, such as for carbon copy forms. The most widely available ballpoint ink colors are black, blue, and red. Ballpoint pens are the least expensive to produce, and therefore can usually be purchased at a lower price point.
  • Rollerball PensRollerball pens feature the same basic mechanism as ballpoint pens, but the cartridge is filled with water-based liquid ink. As a result, the ink saturates the paper more thoroughly to give a more distinctive “wet” appearance. Rollerball pens require less writing pressure to be applied, and there are usually a greater range of ink colors available. However, the ink can bleed through thinner papers and sometimes don’t offer the consistency of ink flow that ballpoint pens have.
  • Gel Pens: Gel pens are a type of rollerball filled with a highly viscous gel ink. Gel ink tends to create a bolder line and doesn’t bleed as much as water-based ink. Gel ink also allows for special effects, such as glitter ink. Gel pens use more ink than ballpoint pens and generally need to be replaced more frequently.
  • Fountain PensFountain pens are also available in the promotional product sector, though they are not as common as the other types. Fountain pens feature internal reservoirs that disperse ink through a nib. The reservoir can be refilled over and over again. The resulting ink flow is similar to that of an old-fashioned dip pen.

Promotional Pen Materials

  • Plastic PensA vast majority of promotional pens are made of plastic. There are generally some metal parts, especially in the retracting mechanism. Some styles of plastic pen feature metal clip or tip accents. Recently a number of pens made from biodegradable and recycled plastics have come into the market. These pens are generally made from corn-based plastics and are perfect for eco-friendly promotions. Plastic pens are screen or pad imprinted.
  • Metal PensThere are also a large number of metal promotional pens on the market. They can be plated or solid, and are frequently made from brass. There are also a number of precious metal pens available for high-end promotions or corporate gift-giving. Metal pens can be silk screened, but many people prefer to laser engrave their imprint on this type of pen.
  • Wood PensWood pens have a very distinctive look and are frequently given as gifts. They are generally made from Rosewood and have a rich red-brown tone. Bamboo pens are relatively new to the promotional product marketplace, and are a great option for eco-friendly promotions. Both are usually laser engraved to emphasize the warmth of the wood.

Things to Consider When Buying Pens

At Team InkHead, we’re proud of our selection of stadium cups. Here are some key aspects of buying custom pens that you should keep in mind as you shop.

  • Intended Use: A crucial item to consider is how your recipients will be using the pen. Are they going to be on a show floor? Are you sending the item as part of a client gift? How you anticipate your recipients will use your pens will dictate which pen you should buy.
  • Samples: Because there are so many pen options in the InkHead catalog, we encourage you to request a sample before making your purchase. That way, you can test the pen you’re considering to determine whether it will meet your needs.
  • Accessories: Some of our pens serve multiple purposes and include accessories to complement this additional functionality. For example, we carry several pens that include a rope or lanyard to go around the next as well as an increasing number of custom stylus pens.
  • Imprint Options: Most pens can only support one-color imprints; however, we do carry some full-color custom pens.
  • Mechanism: Promotional pens are available with a variety of mechanisms to suit your needs. There are two types of retractable mechanisms: twist and click. Twist pens retract the point with a twist of the cap or barrel. Click pens or plunger-style pens rely on pressure to a button or plunger at the top of the barrel to operate the point. Most imprinted pens are twist or click action pens. Cap-off style pens feature a cap that covers the tip. The cap must be removed in order to write, and the cap is frequently styled to fit at the other end of the barrel while the pen is in use (though be sure to ask about a particular pen if this feature is important to you, as some cap-off pens are not designed in this way). The cap-off mechanism style is most frequently seen in executive and fountain pens.
  • Ink Color: For doctors’ offices, real estate companies, and other businesses where ink color is an important consideration, we carry a number of blue and red ink pens as well. Let your salesperson know if you need a specific ink color, or use the Ink Color product filter to view only those pens with blue, black, or red ink.
  • Ink Point: Medium, fine, or very fine? If you have a specific need for your writing point, please let us know, and we will help find the perfect pen for your needs.
  • Ink Type: As covered above, there are multiple types of ink types available: ballpoint, rollerball, gel, and fountain.
  • Refills: Several of our manufacturing partners offer refill services for their mid- and upper-tier pens. Inquire with your salesperson for more information on how to obtain refills for your pens.
  • Brands: Looking for a specific brand? InkHead carries many popular retail brands including Cross, Sanford, PaperMate, Sharpie, Scripto, and more.
  • Gift Boxes: Gift boxing is a service available for many of our executive pens. Be sure to check the product description or with your account manager to find out whether gift boxes are available for the item you’re purchasing.
  • Material: As we’ve already discussed, we carry pens in a range of materials. Opt for a metal pen if you’re looking for an item with a higher perceived value than standard plastic pens.
  • Production Time: Most pens can be made within 3-5 business days. If you’re in a time crunch, start your search by looking at our free 24 hr production pens.
  • Quantity: Minimum quantity for pens can vary widely, but most require quantities between 72 and 100 pieces.
  • Country of Manufacture: Concerned about ordering items made overseas? InkHead has several made in the USA pens to choose from, too.

Other Resources

Ready to order? Have a question about this product? Please contact us. We can take your order over the phone or answer any questions you may have.

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InkHead Promotional Products
We make quality custom promotional products designed by you.
138 Park Ave STE 300
Winder, GA 30680 United States
P: (800) 554-0127 | F: (800) 734-2179
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