You’ve just enjoyed a delicious meal at the restaurant and your server has brought you the check. Typically the check is in a folder with the restaurant’s name on it. Then you open the folder and what do you find? A pen with an imprinted message for any place but the restaurant at which you are currently dining.
As someone who eats out at restaurants about 50 percent of the time due to my workstyle and lifestyle–and because I’m a horrific cook!–I’ve had ample opportunity to observe this marketing blunder. Here’s a sampling of the pens I have encountered while paying for my dining check: hospitals and doctors (Not good tie-ins with restaurants!), local colleges, mechanics (Where was that pen used last?), banks, mortgage companies, churches, generic pens with chewed ends (Eeewww!), child care, and so much more. However, the worst example is the pen from a competing restaurant. Ouch! What a hit to any restaurant’s branding.
Plus, when servers use pens for businesses other than the restaurant, the other businesses are getting advertising to the restaurant’s customer base for free. Again, ouch!
Why does this happen? Restaurants often don’t provide imprinted pens to servers for use by guests because they feel that the servers will swipe the pens for use at home. So they make their servers provide pens for guests. Of course, the servers are not going to invest in promoting the restaurant and use whatever pens they can get their hands on for free from other local businesses.
Or maybe there’s a concern about the environment and using too many plastic pens that may just get thrown in the trash. Then a biodegradable pen made from corn would be a great choice. A pen made from an edible crop… sounds like a great tie-in for a restaurant.
Granted, when a restaurant buys imprinted promotional pens it is an expense. But when compared to the marketing damage done through the use of pens that have negative connotations or promote competitors, it is marketing money well spent.
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