Has the Conference Pen Become Obsolete

Has the Conference Pen Become Obsolete - 18/08/2017

There was a time when desk drawers were full of branded biros. Accumulated over years of attending conferences and events, it was a sure fire way for organisations to maintain a presence in their attendees’ lives long after their event had ended. It was the conference staple. As you sat down to listen to the first speaker of the day, a pad of paper and a nattily designed, promotional pen awaited you. But in this modern world of tablets, laptops and Smart phones, is there still a place in the conference world for this relic of the paper age?
Jackson Clark, MD Patch Media – Obsolete
I never turn up to a meeting, conference or networking event without my laptop or Smart phone. These days, who does? I use the notes section almost as much as my email and I have no idea what day of the week it is without my calendar. I like to have everything in one place and there’s no room in my life for any correspondence that isn’t digitally recorded. And I’m not the only one.
These days it’s a rarity to see anyone taking physical notes at a seminar or talk. Venues come equipped with individual power points for delegates to plug in a tap away and for the modern attendee, taking notes on a device is a far more efficient way to record thoughts and questions from a session. Tablets and laptops also allow delegates to access the Internet which means they can get involved with interactive elements of a talk and reference any pre-event documents they might have been sent. So why on earth would any of us need a pen?
Quite simply, it’s a waste of time and money for any organiser to provide a branded biro at their event. But as well as that, I think it seems dated and out of touch. Why not put a bit more budget and creativity into a memorable freebie? How about a branded packet of sunflower seeds? Your delegates can plant them and be reminded of your fabulous event when they bloom in the summer. Admittedly there’s going to be a large number of packets that end up in the bin, but for those who decide to make the effort, the connection with your brand will be deep and long-lived.
Rowan Kitching, Head of Events, The HAC – Still a winner
While it’s true that electronics have made a huge dent in the amount of writing we all do, it’s not as if we never use biros, is it? A Post It! with a message for a colleague, stuck to their screen so it doesn’t get lost amidst a million unimportant emails. A note to the kids telling them what they can eat in the fridge for dinner. Christmas cards, notes to delivery men, important doodles scribbled while on the phone. Pens are still in our lives and aren’t going away any time soon.
There is an undeniable increase in the use of electronics at conferences and perhaps it’s true to say that promotional pens are rarely used during the event itself. But I’d argue that this is irrelevant. Surely for the pen to reach its full potential it needs to play the long game. Isn’t being pocketed to live in someone’s desk or kitchen drawer is the ultimate goal? A delegate confronted with an item they aren’t going to immediately use is more likely to take said freebie home. Back in the day, branded pens might have been viewed as something to use during the event and were actually more likely to be discarded at the end of an event, therefore failing in their mission. The pen is, in fact, a more powerful marketing tool than ever before.
Your next conference at The HAC
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