Author Archives: nationalpen

5 Reasons Promo Calendars are Good Marketing Gifts

Promo calendars represent the perfect gift to help you increase visibility for your brand

Marketing managers across the nation will tell you promotional marketing gifts truly do work to enhance the visibility and prominence of a brand within a specific industry. Whether these promo items are used at a tradeshow as a handout for customers and prospects, or they’re sent out to clients or prospective customers during a high-volume mailing campaign, promotional gifts work. And there are few promo gifts that are as effective as top quality promo calendars. Continue reading


Small Business Saturday is less than a month away. Are you ready?

It’s been several years now since American Express first promoted their newly-created Small Business Saturday (SBS), and it has now grown into a lucrative promotional opportunity for small business owners everywhere.

Sandwiched comfortably between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this relatively new “holiday” has made a lasting and sizeable impact on the number of individuals who choose to shop at small businesses instead of large retailers over this key shopping weekend.

In fact, according to CNBC, more than $14 billion has been spent each year, for the past few years, at local retailers on Small Business Saturday. To continue our series on preparing for Small Business Saturday, keep the following promotional tips in mind as the holiday nears:

SBS Tip 1: Get Started

It’s possible you haven’t done much yet to prepare for SBS. If not, that’s ok – just hit the ground running right now. Get the word out, talk to customers about the upcoming holiday, and begin talking to other businesses in the area to lock down cross-promotion opportunities. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t followed the preparation steps up to this point, just make sure you stay focused on making your business as visible as possible leading up to the holiday. You still have time to create promotional flyers and other local advertisements. You can also order gifts now and still have them in time for some small business marketing materials.

SBS Tip 2: Website Maintenance

Even though the holiday focuses on small businesses, you should still expect customers to view your website and make buying decisions before ever stepping foot in your retail storefront. Ensure your site is up-to-date and provide easy access to the products that will be prominently displayed in your store. Your website will help steer your success this Small Business Saturday, but make sure you have your specials well displayed by signage throughout the store.

SBS Tip 3: Hammer Social Media

Nearly 65% of adults are active on social media, with some age demographics spending several hours per day engaged with one or more social media sites. Ensure that your Facebook page and Instagram profile are up-to-date and there is active dialogue surrounding Small Business Saturday. You could offer a Facebook- or Instagram-only promotion that ties into the day, or simply use your pages to feel out consumer interest. Ask your followers what they’d like to see in the store and what is most important to them this holiday season.

SBS Tip 4: Join the Fun

Just because SBS is tucked between two major shopping days doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, too. Take advantage of the fervor surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday by creating your own Small Business Saturday marketing promotions that start on Friday and run through Monday night. There is no reason why Saturday should be the only day to focus on – instead, create a 4-day extravaganza with in-store giveaways or refreshments that will draw in customers throughout the long weekend.

Small Business Saturday is right around the corner with only 30 days left to go. As you plan your Small Business Saturday promotions, give people a reason to shop locally at your store and see the business results over the big holiday weekend.

5 Best Trade Show Swag Items for Your Brand

5 Best Trade Show Swag Items

If you’ve ever attended a trade show or other large, industry-level event, you know that those little plastic bags the attendees are toting around probably contain more than just pamphlets and flyers. They’re often full of promotional giveaway products and trade show swag items that are handed out by exhibitors in order to provide a memorable link between the tradeshow, the exhibitor, and the attendee.

Consider the following gifts as some of the best trade show swag items to hand out to prospects and clients alike:

Trade Show Swag Item 1: Power Banks

power-bankTalk about effective swag. Power banks are coveted promo items because they can be used by virtually anyone in your industry. Long days on the trade show floor require an easy access solution to keep gadgets fully charged.

Try to keep your branding as minimal as possible, as no one wants a product that overtly shouts the company’s brand message and feels like an advertisement. Keep it simple and classy, and your clients will have a trade show swag item they will appreciate and use daily.

Trade Show Swag Item 2: Promotional Pens

promo-pensThough there is no shortage of pens in the world, you’d be amazed at how effectively you can market your business when you employ a batch of top-quality promo pens.

The trick here is to emphasize quality over quantity. Cheap pens often find their way to the back of the desk drawer or the trash can in no time. You’ll want your company to be synonymous with quality; not with a pen that easily falls apart.

A pen that writes smooth, fits comfortable in the hand and has a nice, sleek design will bring positive value to associate with your brand.  Make sure you check out the Paragon Pen & Stylus Tip, great for writing purchase orders and navigating your tablet as you present your product or service line.

Trade Show Swag Item 3: Lip Balm

lip-balmWhether you live in a cold weather area or a bright, sunny part of the nation, promotional lip balm is a thoughtful and useful gift that is universally applicable to virtually any client.

Go for unique patterns and imprints, but shy away from scents or flavors that are too strong, as they might be off-putting to some. Try simple flavors that appeal to the masses, like mint, lemon, vanilla, and raspberry.

Trade Show Swag Item 4: Reusable Water Bottles

water-bottleLogo water bottles are highly effective as trade show swag, as they are inherently useful and promote a sense of responsibility. Your customers will love minimizing their environmental footprint, while also enjoying a convenient way to stay hydrated at all times. You can brand your agency’s name on the side of each bottle, where it will dutifully advertise your business with each sip.

Trade Show Swag Item 5: LED Flashlights

lakFlashlights offer plenty of power and terrific battery life, and are quite inexpensive, especially when purchased in high volume quantities. Consider some of the flatter variants on the market today that takes up little room and delivers super bright light. In particular, keychain flashlights are hot trade show swag items.

The ever popular LED Flashlight Key Chain contains a shiny metal barrel with laser engraved finish.  Bring high value and functionality to your promotional items ensuring your customers will use these promotional items daily.

The five promotional items listed above are highly effective and can make your swag bag as appealing as possible during an upcoming trade show or marketing campaign. When looking for the best trade show swag for your next event, consider the value of the gifts you’re providing, no matter how big or small!

5 Top Pink Promotional Products for October Breast Cancer Awareness Month

october-breast-cancer-bannerOctober is known for more than just Pumpkin Spice Coffee, Halloween, and sweet treats. For many, October is best known as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) and many small businesses do an excellent job to help raise awareness for this great cause. With National Pen, we offer a large supply of promotional products that fit well into this category but deciding can sometimes be overwhelming with so many options to choose from.

Don’t worry, National Pen has you covered! View 5 top selling pink promotional items that can easily help you align your marketing goals with this great cause in October or for your year-round marketing plan.

1.  Domestic Ribbon Tote Bag

Domestic Ribbon Tote Bag

Domestic Ribbon Tote Bag – National Pen

From the moment you set your eyes on this tote bag, you can see very easily why this makes for a great Pink Promotional Product giveaway. This cute tote bag is offered in Black or White with a Pink Ribbon handle for excellent brand awareness. The Tote Bag measures 15″ W x 12″ H x 5”D, plenty big enough to take to the grocery store, weekend sporting events or as a great bag to go Trick or Treating for Halloween.

2.  Awareness Ribbon Stress Reliever

Awareness Ribbon Stress Reliever - National Pen

Awareness Ribbon Stress Reliever – National Pen

Squeeze. Relax. Squeeze. Relax. Fun products that are useful and raise awareness keep customers engaged. Nothing rings truer than a stress reliever your customers will keep with them in the office or at home. They’ll associate your business with a relaxing, easy to work with the company that puts the “fun” in “functionality.”  Made durable and comes in attractive Pink Ribbon designs to maximize the promotion of your brand message!

3.  Classic Squiggle Pen

Pink Ribbon Squiggle Pen - National Pen

Pink Ribbon Squiggle Pen – National Pen

The classics never go out of style!  There’s a reason why this pen has been a shining beacon in National Pen’s lineup of top full-color promotional items.  The Squiggle Pen is highly customizable with full-color decorating ability. Choose a custom image, all Pink barrels or the Pink Ribbon design found in the custom design section. Pens are the ideal promotional item for every new business. It’s often stated a pen will pass through 7 people before it’s discarded. Match the power of the pink ribbon and your business imprint.

4. 11oz. Ceramic Coffee Mug

Breast Cancer Awareness Themed Coffee Mug - National Pen

Breast Cancer Awareness Themed Coffee Mug – National Pen


Speaking of full-color designs, nothing brings positive branding than a cup of “hot Joe” paired with your brand.  Drop a full-color pink design featuring the pink ribbon and you’ll be spreading awareness for this great cause every morning for your customers. Our 11oz. ceramic coffee mug can currently even be found in our “Buy 1, Get some Free” category.  Not only do these make for great promotional items, but mugs work just as great as thank you gifts your most valued customers will use over and over again.

5. Soft Touch Paragon Pen in Fun Pink Color

pink-paragonOur best-selling Paragon pen just got a whole lot brighter. Now offered in fun bright colors, with a rubber painted aluminum finish, this pen will quickly become your customer’s favorite. Take your brand and logo to the highest quality with a laser engraved finish and stand out from the rest. With two lines of custom engraving possible, make sure you imprint your brand and save one line for this special cause.

With so many options to choose from this October, make sure you head over to National Pen’s Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Pens & Merchandise page for our full line-up of customizable promotional products in pink, pink ribbon and breast cancer awareness designs.

4 Top Promotional Products for Insurance Agents

4 Top Promotional Products for Insurance Agents

In the world of influencer marketing, social media campaigns, and other tech-driven promotional ideas, it’s easy to overlook more traditional marketing activities that continue to prove effective. One longstanding tactic is the distribution of marketing gifts. Promotional products for insurance agents range from simple to elaborate, but they all have one thing in common: They are designed to provide real value to clients and to remind them of the importance of your mutual business relationship.

Here is a list of the top promotional products for insurance agents and ideas to help boost your business:

1. Promotional Pens

It doesn’t get any simpler than a pen. Yet, they are incredibly effective and often priced far below most other giveaway items. Here’s the best part: even if your customer somehow loses your promo pen, you’ve just doubled your advertising exposure when the next person picks it up. Strike the perfect balance between quality and quantity, and you’ll discover an insurance promotional item that is effective and affordable at the same time.

Tip: Since pens are so lightweight and compact, they’re perfectly suited for high-volume marketing activities like mailing campaigns or tradeshow networking.

2. Custom Calendars

National Pen Custom Promotional Calanders

National Pen Custom Promotional Calendars

Imagine delivering a promotional gift to your insurance company’s client or prospective customer that is designed to provide at least 12 months of use. Calendars top the list of insurance promotional ideas since they can be customized with your choice of personalized imprint to help deliver your marketing message, business contact information, company logo, and more. The constant reminder of your insurance company and/or agent name will imprint on the minds of the lucky recipients. This enhances your odds at securing new business in the future.

Tip: Order early to ensure your customers get a full year of use out of your promotional calendar. Then, tailor the calendar’s design and imprint style to your target market.

3. Business Card Magnets

Custom Business Card Holders

Custom Business Card Magnet

Take a look at any office or home refrigerator, and you’ll notice one commonality among them. They all have magnets stuck on the front or sides. Not only are business card magnets incredibly economical to purchase, but they are designed to last for years and can provide a high level of marketing impact for pennies on the dollar. If you specialize in home insurance, consider ordering house-shaped magnets. Car insurance guru? Opt for car-shaped magnets instead.

Tip: Provide two magnets to each prospect via your desired marketing channel, then suggest they keep one on their home fridge and one at the office. Let them know that in the event of an emergency you’ll be there for them, whether at work or at home.

4. Reusable Shopping Bags

Promotional Tote Bag

Promotional Tote Bag

Over the years, traditional plastic shopping bags at the grocery store will eventually be replaced by more environmentally-friendly and economical recyclable/reusable bags. Provide your clients with value-priced promotional tote bags, and they’ll thank you for starting them down the road of shopping more responsibly, all while acting as a mobile billboard for your business.

Tip: Give two bags to your insured clients and then ask them to drop by the office anytime they want more. This will increase the number of touchpoints, and allow you to discuss policy upgrades or simply check on your client.

Plan out your calendar of events and open houses in advance, and order products that will bring the most value for each group.

Ordering promotional products for insurance agents is quick, easy, and affordable when you order these value-priced gifts and use them effectively.

Employee Spotlight in Honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month 2016 at National Pen

National Pen prides itself on obtaining and developing top level talent to help grow our company, compete in the promotional products industry and most of all, serve you, the customer the best way we can. 

It starts with investing in people who are not only smart but embrace overcoming obstacles and solving problems.  And with an ever-evolving customer base of diverse backgrounds, it’s important that National Pen’s employees reflects and meets their customer’s diverse backgrounds to better serve the marketplace.  According to, “each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.” National Pen would like to highlight some of the superstar employees we have of Hispanic and Latino descent.

This month, our spotlight shines brightly on Ricardo Villalobos and Estela Haney.

Both Estela and Ricardo have a wealth of knowledge and sharing with anyone who shows an interest in what they do, is an example of how pleasant they are to work with. Ricardo enjoys the challenges of finding engineering solutions while Estela prides herself on finding winning products. But both truly embrace the opportunity to impact the super competitive promotional products industry for our customers!

First up, Ricardo! Who are you and what do you do?

ricardo-villalobosMy name is Ricardo Villalobos and I’ve been with National Pen for 12 years. Currently, I hold the title of Product Engineering and Quality Assurance Manager. I started back in 2004 after graduating from college at Tecnologico de Los Mochis, where I started as an “Assistant Engineer.” After 7 months, I became an “Engineer” and in 2007 I became “Quality Assurance Supervisor.” In 2008, I accepted a position in National Pen’s San Diego office as “Product Engineer” and since 2015 I’ve held dual titles and responsibilities as “Product Engineer and Quality Assurance Manager.”

Wow, Ricardo! Needless to say, you’ve climbed the ranks. Who would you say was your greatest influence for your career?

Both my Father and Mother. They taught me to always be honest, humble, a man of honor and always be committed to helping others. They led by example and showed me some very important life lessons I hold with me every day.

In your position, you’ve been able to come up with some creative and effective ways to save National Pen money in an effort to pass the savings onto customers needing affordable promotional products for their small businesses. What are some of your proudest professional accomplishments?

There were two projects I helped implement that I’m most proud of. Switching from bubble wrap to plastic trays for mailing samples saved the company an estimated $250,000 in the first year. I also helped initiate a more efficient New Product Introduction process. This process allowed National Pen to increase the amount of new products launched from 100 to 400 with the same resources, ensuring customers had access to the newest products in the market.

Those are some great things you’ve done. What about personal accomplishments you are proud of?

Marrying my wife, after having 3 kids together was one of the best days of my life. At our wedding in 2011, all 600 people from my hometown showed up to support us. In addition, I volunteer in the community and church as part of the music and choir group, leading Catholic retreats and Bible study classes.

I can tell you’re a man of strong character and big goals. What are your professional goals?

I envision myself in a position of leadership and work every day to align myself with those goals. There’s plenty left for me to learn from my team and the people I work with. When the time is right, I aim to prove myself just as strong of a leader from the ones who took a chance and taught me.

When asking Ricardo what he might say to other young Latino professionals who are looking for advice. His reply…

“Believe in yourself, your strengths and don’t be afraid to shine.”  Well, we believe in you Ricardo and we’re happy you are here to share your talent.

Next up is the wonderful Estela Haney.  Who are you and what do you do?


Estela’s radiates positive energy!

My Name is Estela Haney and I’m the Product Merchandising Manager for National Pen. I source and develop new products globally for National Pen. I’ve been with the company since 2008 helping to grow all product categories National Pen offers, and I now focus on sourcing our core products of writing instruments.

And how did you get your start in this Industry?

Well, I graduated from San Diego State University with my International BA degree in 2000 but you can definitely say sourcing is in my blood. I learned the ropes from my Father and his company in the textile industry where I started traveling globally at the young age of 19. After about 10 years there, I left his company and went to gain more diverse experience sourcing hardline accessories for another global manufacturer.

Sounds like you had a great mentor to guide you. Would you say your Father was your greatest influence?

Yes, definitely! He was a genius and truly amazing. I saw that especially when I got to work for him those 10 years and how his employees respected him. He is my hero and gave me his gift of being loyal to people, trusting in team goals and treating the people I work with like a family business and I truly cherish those gifts.

What are some of your proudest achievements at National Pen?

When I started in 2008, I was eager to help prove myself to my team. While exploring for a new product that would impact the company, my manager and I came across the LAK – LED Flashlight Key Chain. It fit everything on the technical side of what we were looking for while also providing uniqueness. The true test would be how our customers would respond to it. They loved it and it became a great example of winning products we supplied to the promotional products industry. It continues to perform well and I always enjoy reading reviews about how it helps small business owners successfully promote their business.

That’s awesome. And when you’re not at work, what would we find Estela doing?

My husband and I absolutely love taking our son Evan to Balboa Park. It’s just a wonderful place to enjoy some family time and show our son new and interesting things. It helps with my perspective and allows me to balance the analytical requirements of my position with my creative side.

You’re clearly respected by your peers and have some really rich experiences. What do you envision for yourself?

As much as I know, I still believe I come to work understanding I still have more to learn. My manager, Gregg Kornfeld SVP of Merchandising, has a ton of knowledge and I’m just trying to do my best to absorb as much as I can. I focus every day on finding the next winning product for my customers. I’m really open to a lot of different avenues. I would love to reach a level of Director where I could build a team focused on certain channels and the bigger picture of sourcing promotional products. And I even would like to run my own company that would provide solutions to companies needing assistance in global sourcing. The possibilities are endless and I’m glad I’m surrounded by a great team to help me grow.

I asked Estela that same question I always end with. Based off your personal and professional experience, what would you say to a young professional starting off in the industry? She answered with the same grace she brings with her to National Pen every day.

“Don’t stop training yourself, whether it’s taking professional courses, classes or while working with others. Don’t think you know it all because the truth is, we don’t.  Be a sponge and learn from the people around you. It’s amazing how much you can grow when you give people a chance to teach and listen.”

60 Days For Small Business Saturday Marketing

If you’ve already worked through the initial planning stages for a successful Small Business Saturday, here’s what you’ll want to accomplish over the next 60 days leading up to the event!

Small Business Saturday (SBS) is one of the most important marketing events for you to leverage over the next few months. After all, you likely already have marketing plans in place for the fall season, winter holidays, and into the new year, but by taking advantage of this retail-driven holiday, you can bring awareness to your brand that simply may not have been there before. More and more people are in the mindset to shop local, so make sure your business is ready with a successful Small Business Saturday marketing plan.

Create Memorable Touchpoints

With any marketing event comes an opportunity for you to flex your creative muscles and engage with your clients in a meaningful and memorable way. If you operate a physical location or retail storefront, create countdown calendars that can be hung in the store and deliver a new message each day. Include small discounts, promotions, or giveaways tied to the countdown. Anything you can do to keep the SBS holiday and your related promotional offerings in mind will pay off down the road. A simple solution is to add some brand swag – a pen, button, or personalized candy wrappers – to their checkout bag.

Use Direct Mail Marketing

To generate buzz and excitement for the upcoming Small Business Saturday holiday, consider creating a direct mail campaign that will target either those in your geographic area and/or those who have a high likelihood to buy. Add a sales incentive to the mailers, create high-quality images that deliver a professional tone, and include coupons or discounts good for SBS. Use whatever asset you design as a flyer, as well, to hang in your window and where allowed on community bulletin boards.

Leverage Social Media

One way to shine a light on the upcoming holiday is by linking SBS to your social media profile and related posts. Start by creating new blogs that tout the value of Small Business Saturday or demonstrate the importance of small businesses to the economy. Twitter and Facebook can also be used to effectively market your business, and you can embed links that will route back to your landing page or promotional site.

Add Value with Cross-Promotion

Now is the time to focus on the cross-promotion part of the equation. Whether that means you’re driving foot traffic into a location near you, or you’re directing clients to a partner’s website or store front, the tighter the networking web the better off you’ll be. A fun idea is to design themed bags with your company’s logo, tagline, or affiliation with what it means to “shop local.” Also, consider hosting an in-store SBS party with other vendors/businesses offering customers home-baked treats and favors for stopping by.

Get Excited

This is your time to shine, so plan events, activities, and promotions that will draw others to your business. Show how excited you are, and don’t be bashful when explaining how your small business helps the local community. You’d be amazed at how much goodwill you can generate when you put a local spin on something. For example, by simply designating 5% of the profits from SBS to a local school or worthy cause, you may drive in significantly greater numbers of shoppers than you ever thought possible. Not to mention getting into the holiday spirit of giving back to the community.

November 26, 2016 represents an incredible opportunity to grow your business and increase awareness of the importance of small business in America. Get creative in your Small Business Saturday marketing approach, leverage social media and traditional media options, offer customized promotional marketing gifts to reward client interest and loyalty, partner with others, and put a plan in place today that you will benefit from later.

5 Referral Marketing Ideas | Best Way to Get Referrals

Proactively generating sales is made that much easier when you know how to drive referral traffic to your front door.

Here’s the simple message: referrals are important. This notion has been a cornerstone philosophy in the sales world for decades. So why does asking for and getting referrals seem difficult? Does it feel intrusive? Too time-consuming? Are you out of referral marketing ideas?

The referral is one key foundational element to any good sales strategy, and learning how to get referrals is incredibly important. Start with these five referral marketing ideas to get you started if you’re feeling stuck:

1. Ensure Your Client Knows the “Real You”Personal

Many clients won’t refer you to others because they aren’t 100% sure about you, your business, what you offer, and what you don’t. You’ll want to connect with these clients and provide them with some insights into your brand and business. They should leave thinking “I have the perfect client for these guys…”

One way to keep your business at the forefront with clients is to leave behind customized promotional products that are useful, exchange hands easily, and will remind those in your industry of the importance of creating a mutually beneficial relationship with your organization.

2. Create a Referral Program

refer a friendTake the guesswork out of the process by structuring a referral program that will entice your clients to drive traffic toward your business. A referral program can also help minimize most of the jitters salespeople feel when asking for referrals, as a company-sponsored program tends to legitimize the idea of asking for referrals in the first place.

3. Create a Client-Partnership

handshakeWhen you begin treating referring clients as partners, you’ll likely receive an increased boost in referrals. These clients should feel like strategic partners working alongside your business to foster mutually beneficial results and shared success. Once they see that their business can improve when they refer to you, they’ll want to maintain close ties to your organization.

4. Be a Content Source in the IndustryContent Source

The best way to get referrals isn’t by merely asking and trying to be a good partner. You’ll also want to create information and shareable resources that can increase awareness of your brand.

Invite others to a seminar or webinar that addresses current industry topics. Then, show how your business can be a good strategic partner for these invited guests.

Make sure to include links or buttons on your social pages that encourage clients to visit pages like Yelp or Google to learn more about your brand. Who knows, you might even boost the number of positive reviews on these sites by doing so!

5. Ask for Referrals

Ask for referralSimply asking for referrals seems so obvious – yet a failure to do so is one of the biggest hindrances to building a successful referral program. Your sales or marketing team will have to position your company in a way where referrals are beneficial, either for them or the person they refer. Just ask and you’ll often receive – as long as you’ve created a value proposition that makes sense for the client.

Referrals represent one of the best ways to generate leads and land new business, yet so many today struggle to create consistent practices that can drive sales growth. Follow the referral marketing ideas above on how to increase referrals, and see just how easy it is to solicit new business when you’re on the receiving end of a quality referral.

National Women’s Equality Day | Recognizing 4 Amazing Women of National Pen

Today, the Country honors the anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting Women the “Right to Vote” on August 26, 1920.  

Here at National Pen, we would like to celebrate 4 amazing Women who influence and grow our company in various positive ways.  Each and every one has achieved some exciting accomplishments in their career and have been very gracious to share some insight on how their career has developed from the beginning and a piece of advice for the new generation of Women Leaders.

Melissa NaravalMelissa Naraval – V.P., Ecommerce

5.5 Years with National Pen 
General Responsibilities: Manages National Pen’s Web Marketing Efforts

Is there a woman who influenced you throughout your life and career?  My Mom!  From a very young age I saw how hard she worked and it set a great example for me.  It’s something I still hold onto  today.

Your 1st 3 jobs ever?  “I was a Hostess at a restaurant, then a Retail associate at Dress Barn and third was Office Intern at an Investment Firm.”

What is the most important lesson you learned from that time you still use today? “Definitely, interaction skills.  Especially when I was a hostess, working with people in various departments and how to communicate with them is something I still utilize today.”

What’s a message you would say to young women starting out today?  “I tell my daughter all the time, to work hard.  The World today offers numerous opportunities and possibilities, SEIZE them!”

Sandy Costanzo.jpgSandy Costanzo – Director Human Resources

8 Years with National Pen 
General Responsibilities: Oversee Human Resources support for North America.

Is there a woman who influenced you throughout your life and career?  “I would say there were a few mentor(s) at the start of my current career.  I was offered a great opportunity to start a new career in human resources and the women I worked with taught me so much about the profession I feel have instilled the foundation of what I am today.”

Your 1st 3 jobs ever?  Specialized Toys Retail Sales, then Administrative Assistant and third, a Corporate Accountant.

What is the most important lesson you learned from that time you still use today?  “Work hard and be a good listener!”

What’s a message you would say to young women starting out today?   “Be the one to make a change, only you can make a difference.”


kellie jonasKellie Jonas – Director of Customer Retention – North America

21 Years with National Pen 
General Responsibilities: Growing National Pens customer base through direct mail and e-mail strategy

Is there a woman who influenced you throughout your life and career?  “Amazingly enough, Bonnie Shimrat!  When I walked through the doors here, I saw she was V.P. of Retail at the time.  I knew then, there would be an opportunity for growth here so I tried to model myself after her based on her strong work ethic, positive energy, and daily professionalism.”

Your 1st 3 jobs ever?  “I joke I’ve been doing direct mailing my whole career but yes, kind of.  I delivered flyers for Sunny Crest Dairy in Orange County as a kid while on my roller skates.  After that, I worked at a Fast Food restaurant called 3 brothers and third as a Gas Station attendant at Texico.”

Any lessons learned from that time you still use today?  “Show up no matter what and integrity matters.”

What’s a message you would say to young women starting out today?  “Don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve.”


Bonnie ShimratBonnie Shimrat – Executive V.P. – Retail

35 Years with National Pen 
General Responsibilities: Responsible for Retail Sales Growth and Development

Is there a woman who influenced you throughout your life and career?  Actually, it was both my parents.  My Mom was ‘one of a kind’ for her generation as she was a private pilot in the 60’s.  She really showed me how to grab life by the horns every day.  After she passed away, my Dad continued to encourage me that I could do anything.  It gave me the ability to never see gender as an obstacle I couldn’t overcome.

Your 1st 3 jobs ever?  I started early at the age of 13 when I became a waitress at a fish fry restaurant.  I eventually moved on to waitress, and be a helping hand, at the Local Swim Club.  After, I always loved to cheer and became a cheer instructor at the local YMCA helping the community’s youth.

Any lessons learned from that time you still use today?  “When I became a cheer instructor, it was the first time I experienced an ‘Entrepreneurship lifestyle’. Getting people to sign up, encouraging retention and making it a positive experience for everyone, from the kid’s participating, to the YMCA that let me teach there. I definitely learned the basic fundamentals of Sales and cultivating relationships to create “win-win” opportunities for key stakeholders.”

What’s a message you would say to young women starting out today?  “Get clarity of your goals so you can know what you want.  After that, work hard towards your goals every day.  And finally, understand that there will be times you will need help, so surround yourself with a strong team and know how to work with them in order for everyone to ‘Win with You.”

National Pen continues to celebrate the successes and hard work of all the women who continue to promote our core values, every day at every level in our company globally.

90 Days Until Small Business Saturday – Get Marketing!

This small business-focused holiday can be just the thing to kick-start your company’s sales – what marketing do you have planned?

Whether you’re a fan of Visa, MasterCard, or American Express, small business owners everywhere should tip their collective hats to the latter card issuer, as AMEX created a “holiday” six years ago strictly focused on boosting awareness and engagement with small businesses across the nation. Today, small businesses can now utilize Small Business Saturday marketing to boost foot traffic and sales.

Small Business Saturday (SBS) takes place between Black Friday and Cyber Monday each year, and the goal is simple – let the big box retailers have the Friday after Thanksgiving, and the online sites have the Monday after Turkey Day, but then persuade shoppers to choose local small businesses for their Saturday-after-Thanksgiving shopping needs.

If you own or operate a small business, consider this day as a holiday devoted just to you. To maximize it, you’ll want to keep the following key marketing concepts in mind when November 26th rolls around this year:

1.  Plan Your Small Business Saturday Marketing

Don't Get Caught Without a Plan - Start Today!

Don’t Get Caught Without a Plan – Start Today!

With 90 days to prepare for the holiday, decide how you want to promote your business in conjunction with the holiday. It is important to realize that not all people know about Small Business Saturday, so use the time leading up to the day as an opportunity to fill them in.

Remind your customers of the day by creating flyers and handing out Small Business Saturday promotional items such as pens that can be handed out quickly and easily. A custom batch of postcards, for instance, can (inexpensively) serve this purpose and will remind the customer of your business far beyond November 26th.

Now is the time to start seeing which promotional products you want to use and order in advance for Small Business Saturday.

2.  Cross Promote Your Business

This buzzy-sounding phrase is actually perfectly suited for your Small Business Saturday marketing plan. Find complementary businesses in your area and find a way to boost awareness of both companies by promoting each other!


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For example, if you run an automotive repair business, consider partnering with the car wash down the street to offer discounted washes with each oil change at your shop. You’ll both benefit, and the customers will have an opportunity to learn about both of your businesses.

3.  Prepare Your Social Marketing

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Image provided by

Clients today are as smart as ever – especially when it comes to using social media tools to add value to their shopping experience. Well in advance of the Small Business Saturday holiday, create Facebook posts or Tweets that encourage others to share information about this special day.

Keep in mind that the Small Business Saturday Facebook page alone has more than 3 million followers. Linking to this site or using hashtags like #SmallBusinessSaturday or #SmallBizSaturday is a great idea to boost your marketing efforts.

4.  Build upon Small Business Saturday

If you’ve already participated in Small Business Saturday in previous years, make sure you promote it this year to create a snowball effect of new business. Or, if you’re already a vocal supporter of small businesses in your area, use this time to communicate the importance of shopping locally-owned companies by showing the correlation between these businesses and the local economy. Use the holiday as a means to continually remind your local area why “grass roots” is the way to go.

Small Business Saturday is 90 days away, and now is the perfect time to gear up your Small Business Saturday marketing, plan accordingly, and start creating awareness of the importance of shopping locally.