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The Right Stuff

When presented with flair, a pen and portfolio to match is an ideal giveaway for practically any business situation. Here are some great combos for employee anniversaries, sales contests, executive powwows and more.

Few items in the promotional world are held onto for as long as pens and portfolios. The granddaddies of promotional products, they’re respected tools that can be used effectively as presentation items for almost any business situation. The key to success is to choose items that mirror the business situation and to present them in a way that reinforces the meaning of the presentation.

Turn the page to see five great looks that will help your team members look professional – and will help your company convey the right message. To get you started, we’ve illustrated nine business situations, ranging from employee anniversaries to executive board meetings, and matched pens and portfolio choices for each occasion. We also offer some great advice on how to present them. So get out your pens and pads and take notes.

Sales Incentives

To borrow from an old saying, when it comes to rewarding salespeople, the pen should be as mighty as the award. One way to insure this is to make the pen in the shape of the award. For example an award for highest sales volume can be illustrated via a pen shaped like a prize ribbon or an award for the successful introduction of a new product can be exemplified with a pen fashioned into the shape of the product. Look for multi-use portfolios that include lots of gadget pockets and anything that will help on-the-go reps stay organized. Salespeople are ego driven, and that makes effective award presentations all-important. Onsite presentations are great, but jazz things up a bit with balloons and banners, employee cheering sections and congratulatory speeches from company execs.

The Perfect Portfolio – You won’t go wrong with this leather-look portfolio with a removable presentation binder that can be used as a sales presentation easel. Other features include flap-over card pocket, media storage, PDA or cellphone sleeves and retractable handles. Available from asi/40895

The Perfect Pen – You can bend this malleable pen into any sales award shape you like, including the prize ribbon shape shown here. Made with transparent ultra-highgloss tubing. Available from asi/39850

Training Sessions Training sessions can be long and taxing but there are ways to make them easier on participants. Start by selecting a dynamic presenter, and choose audio and visual aids that inspire. Next, pick pens that make it comfortable and easy to take notes, and provide portfolios roomy enough to hold all training session materials. Another good idea: Pre-load the training materials in the portfolios so that you won’t have to provide handouts later. Make sure the portfolio contains a handy pen, and attendees are ready to take notes in style. Have both items in the meeting room, on the table in front of each attendee?s spot at the table, and they’ll know you mean business.

The Perfect Portfolio ? Legal size makes this portfolio perfect for oversized training session materials. It comes with organizer pockets, retractable handles, and an outer sleeve for current materials. Available from asi/55549

The Perfect Pen ? This pen has an eyelet on the end so it can attach to a lanyard or chain. The latex-free rubber grip makes it comfortable to hold. Available from asi/77240

Employee Anniversaries The average employee tenure at most corporations is around five years, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor. So why wait for 10 or 20 years to present a valued employee with a watch or a piece of crystal? Instead, celebrate the one- or two-mark by giving out a nice pen and portfolio to show a newer employee how much they’re valued? Start by giving a pen that says “thank you” instead of one that lists years worked. Cap off your presentation with a logoed portfolio monogrammed with the company’s logo and the person’s name. Then, organize an offsite event, such as a breakfast or luncheon of key co-workers. When it’s time to present the pen and portfolio, it’s okay to mention the number of years worked, but make sure to emphasize how well the person is doing, and how important she is to the organization.

The Perfect Portfolio – This royal blue vertical leatherette portfolio comes with a sophisticated look and feel that will dress up your anniversary presentation and make it a truly special event. Available from asi/74255

The Perfect Pen – The elegant gold trim and stylish barrel make this antique roller ball pen perfect for employee thank yous. Available from asi/80220

Executive Board Meetings
The one thing you don’t want to do at executive board meetings is waste time. You can help by choosing portfolios that help attendees stay organized. This is where ensemble portfolios come in handy; portfolios that leave room for business plans and decision papers and include meeting folders with itineraries all mapped out. You can also add value to your portfolio ensembles by including money-clip wallets that can be used for purchases during breaks or field trips. Choose an elegant fountain pen to cap off the gift. And remember, executives are too busy to mess around putting papers and other items together: Have your fully stuffed portfolios and pens waiting at the reception desk for them when they arrive.

The Perfect Portfolio – This multi-use portfolio/brief ensemble comes in stylish decorative nylon with a handsome leather meeting folder and a tasteful money-clip wallet. Available from asi/43766

The Perfect Pen – The Cross brand says boardroom quality, and this pen emphasizes it via a bright, polished barrel accented with 23 carat gold-plated appointments. Available from asi/53423

Trade Shows Borrow a trick from the fishing world, and use flashing-light pens to lure prospects to your trade booth. You can do this by mounting sample pens on a display board and turning on the flashers. Once you’ve got show-goers hooked, treat the best prospects with a first-class portfolio bag with comfortable shoulder strap and a zippered compartment in which you’ve pre-loaded company information so it won’t get lost in the trade show rush. Add a distinctive logo, and watch your portfolios flash across the convention floor.

The Perfect Portfolio – This 600 denier polyester super bag comes with a zippered compartment and an adjustable, detachable shoulder strap that will win kudos from tired trade show participants. Available from asi/90253

The Perfect Pen – Turn on the red or blue flashing LED light on this bright, metal-barreled, chrome-trimmed, liquid-filled pen and you’ve got trade show magic. Available from asi/61013

Recruiting Meetings If you?re recruiting recent college graduates or other members of the Gen Y set, remember: This is a well-connected group. Gen Yers are tech savvy and do more of their work in virtual mode. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have use for a pen or padfolio. The answer is to pick items that capitalize on their love for all things high-tech. Start by choosing pens that perform useful electronic functions in addition to writing. Next, select portfolios that hold as much Gen Y electronic gear as possible. Pack the portfolios with inexpensive USB flash drives that include embedded info on your firm, and you’ve connected.

The Perfect Portfolio ? This nylon oxford computer portfolio comes with smooth PVC accents, a multi-function organizer, PDA pocket, padded computer compartment and electronic accessory pockets. Available from asi/56070

The Perfect Pen ? Gen Y recruits will go nuts over this unique two-in-one product that combines a pen with a Wi-Fi finder that detects wireless signal strength. Made of high-impact plastic and aluminum. Available from asi/88209

Retirement GiftsThese days rising health care costs and higher living expenses contribute to making after-retirement work a necessity for many, and for others, retirement can lead to mental anguish or depression. Part-time work?s the antidote for financial woes, and active sports and business or leisure travel to out-of-the-way places and exotic destinations can help dispel the retirement blues. Active sports and extreme travel call for rugged pen sets that will do more than just write. Portfolios for retirees should also be versatile, with room for documents and pockets for travel items. When presenting rugged pen sets and explorer portfolios, spice it up with travel posters featuring exotic locales and photos of mountain climbing, sailing, biking and hiking. Add additional flair by stuffing your portfolios with survival gear.

The Perfect Portfolio – Versatile is the word for this Urban Explorer portfolio that includes plenty of document space, a zip-closed shirt compartment and a ventilated outside shoe pocket. Available from asi/88782

The Perfect Pen – This Swiss Army pen set features a rugged stainless steel-tipped ballpoint pen with a chromium-plated clip and tungsten carbide ball. The set also includes a useful multi-tool with blade file, screwdriver, scissors, tweezers and more. Available from asi/90414

Incentive Awards Gifts of exotic travel and checks with lots of zeros make great incentive awards, but don’t forget the thousand-dollar pen. Chances are, no one else has one, and that makes it unique.Incentive award trips are soon forgotten, but thousand-dollar pens continue to create office buzz long after they’re presented. Of course you won’t want to upstage a thousand-dollar pen with a thousand-dollar portfolio, but keep things classy by choosing something classy and distinctive. As in sales presentations, onsite?s good, but be sure to make it a celebration with lots of hoopla and congrats from chief execs. And don’t forget to emphasize the significance of the thousand-dollar pen.

The Perfect Portfolio – Full-grain cowhide and an ultra-sleek look make this flap-lock portfolio an excellent choice for incentive awards. Available from asi/42420

The Perfect Pen – “Grand” is the only way to describe this Arte-Italiana hand-made Omas fountain pen, which retails for right around $1,000 and is crafted in Italy via a 100-day process unchanged since the 1930s. Available from asi/64222

Presentations To Children When sponsoring corporate events that include employee children, you?ll want to make the kids feel really special, so why not start by awarding them their own personalized pens and portfolios? This is where translucent portfolios come in handy, complete with photos of kiddie recipients tacked inside so they show through the cover. To make the presentation even more child-friendly-stuff the portfolio with worksheets and games that illustrate the event you?re representing. When it comes to pens, think silly. To be effective, the built-in pen humor should be up-front goofy so as to provoke an immediate humorous response. Funny face pens are a good choice here, because they’re simple and direct.

The Perfect Portfolio – This polypropylene briefcase is translucent to display kid photos, and it’s expandable to hold games and worksheets. Available from asi/37590

The Perfect Pen – A funny head needs funny hair to make kids laugh, and this pen has both, along with a handy suction cup cap. Available from asi/78825

By Denis Jensen. Reprinted with permission of Successful Promotions, copyright 2006

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