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Branded Merchandise #2 – Touchpoints

A few weeks back, I wrote a celebratory post on my new line of branded swag pens. Quite surprisingly, I got quite a few retweets and follows from that, largely it appears from people who sell branded merchandise.


In this follow up post, I’m going to go over some of the criteria I used to select which merchandise to get. I’ll also interlineate some of the feedback I’ve gotten from clients who have received pens from me. If you even try to look for branded merchandise like pens, you’ll discover that the selection is vast. I’m also a big fan of cars and a lesson from my love of cars helped me choose what pen to actually get.

Criteria #1: Touchpoints:
It’s part of human nature to want nice things, or — at a minimum — to not be reminded that something is wrong. When you drive a car, you use your senses to interact with it directly in numerous ways. For example, you’ll feel the seat and the steering wheel and you’ll hear the tone of the exhaust or the howl of the wind through the windows or the road through the floor. If any of these interactions are poor — for instance, the seat is really uncomfortable or the road noise really excessive — it will be a constant reminder that you’re driving a lousy car.

The takeaway lesson, then, is to spend money on things where your client or customer is going to have a sensory-based interaction. This same lesson applies to all sorts of products and, with slight variation, most services as well. I can think of at least one company that derived much of their success ffrom this one lesson.

Applying this lesson to selecting pens leads to this: For items like pens that you use with your hand, a heavier and more substantial item feels classier and more expensive. As a result, I spent the extra money to buy a pen made of aluminum instead of a cheaper pen made of plastic. If my client is going to be using my pen all the time (and hopefully, they do and are), this benefits me in three ways:

  1. Each time they use my pen, they’ll notice the premium feel to it. Clients who’ve received my pen have told me that they’ve noticed the weight of it.
  2. When they notice the premium feel of my pen, they’re more likely to keep my pen around and use it. In contrast, a cheaper plastic pen is more likely to be seen as disposable and swag doesn’t work if it’s thrown away. The husband of one past client liked my pen so much that he took it. The past client — in a rather embarrassed tone — called me up one day and asked me if she could have another one.
  3. When they notice the premium feel of my pen, they’ll notice the less-than premium feel of a plastic pen that someone else may have thought to save a few dollars of their marketing budget with.

Criteria #2: Demonstrating foresight
Other than Touchpoints, my pen selection criteria also included foresight. Most people don’t care about what color the ink in a pen is. Most pens have black ink and in most everyday use, most people are fine with black.

In some instances, however, black ink doesn’t work. Being a lawyer, the one I encounter most is signing legal documents. Documents are often copied which means an original signed in black looks an awful lot like a copy of that same document. A lot of courts, for example, will only accept originals of documents which means being able to tell a copy apart from an original is important. I think many financial documents also need to be distinguished in this way as well.

For that reason, instead of saving a few dollars and going with the more common black ink, I paid a little more and got pens with blue ink.

Telling clients the reason behind blue vs. black ink also gives them the chance to learn something new and nearly all educated and intelligent people will usually remember how and from whom they learned a new piece of trivia.

And isn’t remembering the point with swag?

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Andy Chen

Andy I. Chen is a lawyer licensed to practice law in California and New York. Andy maintains offices in Los Altos, California and Modesto, California. Under the New York Court of Appeals' 2015 decision in Schoenefeld v. State of New York, Andy does not accept cases from those in New York state. He does, however, know many lawyers in New York state and would be happy to make a referral.