Author Archives: nationalpen

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!

DoritosLocos-500x229

Picture Provided by Crown Marketers (http://crownmarketers.com/)

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

Image provided by npo.io

Image provided by npo.io

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.

8 Tips on How to Take the Perfect Selfie with Selfie Sticks

With the current trending product called the selfie stick, the art of taking a selfie has become even easier. Say goodbye to those half-faced, blurry selfies you never post on Instagram, and hello to your clear, beautiful face as you learn to how to take the perfect selfie.

The selfie stick is great for snapping the perfect shot of you wherever you are. Need a group or family photo, but can’t find anyone to take it? Have no fear, the selfie stick is here! Just stick that arm out, push the button, and watch your photo dreams come to life. No more awkward encounters and handing your phone over to strangers.

All of us struggle with taking a great selfie. Some come out fuzzy and others, just downright ugly! But don’t worry, you aren’t alone. We can get through this together!

Ready to Selfie? Follow these “How To” Tips

1) Selfie not Arm-sie: Hold the phone closer to your face to eliminate the appearance of the “long arm.” There is nothing worse than a perfectly good selfie being ruined because your arm takes up half of the photo.

2) Harness the Power of  the Light: Natural and indirect lighting is most certainly your friend.   Brighten your face to prevent unflattering shadows. If the lighting in your home (or wherever you are) is not ideal, try standing next to a window!

3) Glow Like You Were Meant To: If you are taking a selfie outdoors, make sure the sun is directly behind your head. This will cause a halo-like effect and leave you glowing!

4) Work the Angles: Tilt your head at an angle that works for you. Don’t be afraid to try a few different ones until you find the right one. Take a few test shots, testing out your angle and lighting.

5) Be Bold: If you’re a woman, swipe on your favorite bold lipstick color! This will give a bright focal point to the selfie. Plus, it will highlight your smile.

6) Stage your Selfie! Make sure you have a good, clean background. We have all seen nightmare selfies with a dirty bedroom or even a bathroom in the background. You can also add something interesting to your selfie. It could be your super cool friends, a great outdoor view, or exceptionally delicious food. Get your family involved! Your kids, grandkids or parents will totally think you’re hip!

7) Avoid mirror selfies: You can often see the phone you’re using and overall they just don’t look that great.  Unless you want to showcase the smudges on your bathroom mirror, it is just not a good idea. Selfie sticks typically eliminate the need for mirror selfies.

8) Finally, a real smile is the best smile! Whether you want to throw a funny face, smirk, or smile into the mix, loosen up and have fun with it!

Now that you have 8 new tips on how to take the perfect selfie. Get on your selfie game and try them out with selfie sticks!

If you wish to purchase custom selfie sticks for you and your friends from National Pen, use coupon code SELFIESTICK at checkout for free shipping and free setup.

National Ballpoint Pen Day is “Write” Around the Corner!

June 10th marks a special day for ballpoint pen aficionados, as it has come to represent one of America’s more obscure holidays – National Ballpoint Pen Day!

ballpoint pen

Who would have guessed that European Patent #2390636 would end up protecting the world’s most popular modern writing instrument? Certainly, the inventors of the ballpoint pen knew they were on to something, but the fact that these pens have been produced by the billions shows just how right they were. Today, we honor them with National Ballpoint Pen Day.

History of National Ballpoint Pen Day

On June 10th of 1943, Hungarian brothers Laszlo and Gyorgy Biro walked into a European patent office to declare ownership of their new writing pen design. From this day on, countless ballpoint pens have been enjoyed by writers around the world, and this date has grown into the holiday National Ballpoint Pen Day to celebrate the achievements of these ingenious brothers.

While the British government quickly swooped in and bought the rights to the newly-patented pens, today’s ballpoint pens are used the world over and continue to represent an affordable and reliable means for writing on any standard surface.

Fun Facts about Ballpoint Pens

In honor of the Biro brothers and National Ballpoint Pen Day, we’d like to share some interesting facts about this incredibly popular pen type:

  • * Each second of every day, more than 125 ballpoint pens are sold
  • * An average ballpoint pen will write approximately 50,000 words – or about 100 pages of text
  • * 4.3 pens are used, on average, by each person in the United States each year
  • * Ballpoint pens range from about 7-cents each, to over $730,000 for the Mont Blanc ballpoint
  • * Before acquiring the rights to the ballpoint pen, RAF flyers used feather pens in the cockpit
  • * The first ballpoint pens sold in New York (1945) cost $12 each – or about a day’s wages
  • * 3.4 billion ballpoint pens are imported into the USA each year
  • * 56% of individuals own a logoed or customized ballpoint pen
  • * 95% of the time, when a person receives a new pen, the first word they write is their name

National Ballpoint Pen Day will arrive on June 10th of this year, and represents a fun and whimsical way to pay our collective respects to the ingenuity and creativity of the Biro brothers.

This simple and practical product can be found in homes, offices, classrooms and more, and it’s easy to see why this invention has not only survived, but thrived, over the last 73 years. From business to pleasure, the ballpoint pen holds a special place in our hearts.

Ballpoint Pens for Business

Bring ballpoint pens into the office, and appreciate the versatility and ingenuity of the Biro invention even further. If you’re looking for a way to grow your business or spotlight the benefits of your organization, consider providing your clients or prospects with a batch of high-quality, affordable, and fully customizable ballpoint pens.

A popular option is the BIC Clic Stic pen, available in your choice of custom colors and sized to handle about 150 characters of personalized text. Or, consider the RiteLine Frisco Ballpoint Pen with a colored barrel. This affordable option comes in several unique and vibrant base colors and can also accommodate your choice of several lines of custom text.

Regardless of which pen you choose to help celebrate National Ballpoint Pen day, or which option you elect to grow and promote your business, you’ll find that the trusty ballpoint pen will soldier on as one of the most effective promotional gifts you can employ.

One thing is certain – using a ballpoint pen delivers a more personal experience than simply typing on a keyboard. The power of the written word is undeniable. To learn more, click here for a glimpse at an exciting new infographic entitled, The Benefits of Handwriting vs. Typing.

Grab a pen this June 10th, find some paper, and pay homage to the Biro brothers by celebrating National Ballpoint Pen Day!

Choosing the “Write” Pen Types

Handwriting Tools of the Trade - National Pen

Handwriting Tools of the Trade – National Pen

With so many different pen types and labels, choosing the right pen is actually a lot harder than it seems. It’s more than just randomly choosing something to write with. In addition to the pen itself, you also have to decide on the point size, type of ink, and color options. These characteristics can help enhance your overall writing experience with a particular pen. If you’re looking for a new go-to pen that fits your personal writing style and needs, here are a couple pen types to consider.

Ballpoint Pens

Ballpoint pens are one of the most common and well-known pen types. The ink used in ballpoint pens is oil based and dries faster than other types of ink. This means less smudging when you’re writing. Since the ink is thick, ballpoint pens use less ink as you write, lasting longer than other pen types. Another point to consider: thick ink is more prone to clumping, so you have to apply more writing pressure. As a result, these pens aren’t the best choice for long writing. But, if you’re just looking for a simple pen for everyday use, ballpoint pens are an easy and reliable option.

Rollerball Pens

Rollerball pens use the same design as ballpoint pens but with water-based ink. Water-based ink flows faster and soaks into the paper more than ballpoint pen ink. The ease of flow requires less pressure and creates a smooth, comfortable writing experience. And, because the ink flows so smoothly, rollerball pens are ideal for writing text with dark and fine lines. They also come in a wider range of colors because they use water-soluble dyes. If you need to write for a long period of time, use a rollerball, but make sure to refill the ink often since they use more ink than other pen types.

Gel Pens

Gel pens combine characteristics from ballpoint and rollerball pens. They use water-based gel ink that has a consistency between both types of ink. This makes the ink less likely to smudge but still flows freely enough for smooth writing. As a result, gel pens offer the comfort of rollerball pens, with the performance of ballpoint pens. And, since they use pigments instead of regular dyes, gel pens are also available in a variety of colors. If you want to make a bold statement but still expect reliability, gel pens are a great choice.

Marker Pens

Marker pens come in four types of ink: pigment, water, oil and alcohol-based. Pigment and water-based inks are for traditional paper. On the other hand, oil and alcohol-based inks are for non-paper media (e.g. plastic, metal, or glass). These pens include permanent markers, non-permanent markers (e.g. dry erase markers), highlighters, and porous point (or felt tip) pens. With such a wide variety of point sizes, colors, and types, marker pens work great for both writers and artists alike. If you’re looking to add a splash of color to any of your projects, marker pens are the right choice for you.

Custom Selfie Stick: The New Face of Promotions

LTV Selfie StickNowadays, you can’t go anywhere without seeing at least one person taking a selfie on their smartphone. Selfies are the most popular type of photos taken on phones, thanks to social media. But, anyone who’s ever taken a group selfie knows how difficult it is to fit everyone into the picture. That is, unless you have a selfie stick! Many people use selfie sticks to help them capture the perfect selfie. If your business is looking for a promotional product that your customers will actually want to use, a custom selfie stick is the way to go.

When you’re thinking about creating promotional products, it’s important to consider what kinds of products will provide long-term value and usage to potential customers. Selfie sticks are great for promoting your business because they’re functional and relevant to customers’ lifestyles. Many people already use selfie sticks, so creating custom selfie sticks with your logo or slogan is a creative promotional tactic.

Their visibility is also another reason why selfie sticks are appealing as a promotional product. When someone uses a custom selfie stick, it immediately catches your attention, which is perfect for getting people to notice your business logo or slogan. Best of all, selfie sticks are easily portable, so your business gets continual free advertising wherever people take their selfie sticks.

Your business can use custom selfie sticks in a variety of ways. Selfie sticks are good giveaways at tradeshows and conferences because attendees can use them right away. For the entire event, people can take photos with their selfie sticks that have your logo on them. This is helpful for establishing both brand awareness and association for your business.

Aside from traditional events, there are lot of creative ways you can use selfie sticks for promotions. For instance, after you give away these custom selfie sticks, you can host photo contests on social media. Customers can submit their best selfies using the selfie stick for a chance to win prizes. These interactive contests are a great way to encourage people to use the promotional product and interact with your brand. By using customized selfie sticks as part of the contest, it showcases your business in a fun and interesting manner.

You can also buy custom selfie sticks for personal use! Available with low minimums, you can order custom selfie sticks for fun favors at weddings, parties, family reunions and more!

The LTV custom selfie stick is one of the most popular ones at National Pen. The selfie stick is 42” extendable and available in four versatile colors: black, green, blue, and red. Each selfie stick is made of aluminum alloy to ensure performance and long term durability, while the silicone handle provides all-day comfort. The selfie sticks are fully customizable to meet all your business needs. You’ll be able to personalize them with up to five lines of text and a maximum of 26 characters per line.

There are a variety of options for what you can include on these selfie sticks, such as a custom marketing message, seasonal advertisement, business contact information, stylish logo or other information. Regardless of how you choose to design your custom selfie stick, we’re confident that your customers or friends will absolutely love using them for all their selfies!

5 Best-Selling Colorama Pens

Promotional marCLRFamily_FBBannerketing gifts run the gamut from drinking tumblers to desk organizers, home and kitchen accessories to automotive gadgets and tools. There are countless options available today. But those who have spent a significant amount of time working or managing a tradeshow, conference, business networking event, or large scale marketing campaign, know that the classic writing pen is an undeniably effective promotional tool.

At National Pen, we feel the same way, and we’d like to highlight our five best-selling Colorama Pens that have proven to be relentlessly effective at winning new business, reinforcing existing relationships, and highlighting virtually any business or organization.

Our five best sellers are:

THE CLASSIC: While some promotional marketing gifts rely on gadgets and flair to attract attention, the classic colorama pens rely on rugged simplicity, long-term durability, and a value-oriented price point to create real value. These pens feature a click-action mechanism for total reliability, a plastic barrel that is sized to accept up to five lines of custom text, and a background design that can be sourced from our extensive catalog of design choices. Classic is cool, classic is reliable, and in the case of the colorama series, classic is effective.

THE COLOR GRIP: This incredible pen comes with the legendary SmoothWrite ink cartridge that guarantees a fantastic writing experience. The colorama deluxe pen is upgraded with a colorful gripping surface that is attractive and comfortable to hold, while the pocket clip and rugged click-action mechanism combine to instill this pen with a real sense of purpose. Chrome accents add a nice, subtle touch, while the low price point makes these colorama deluxe pens with color grip ideally suited for high-volume marketing activities.

NEON ACCENTS: This best-selling pen is also one of the newest to be released in the colorama line, and it has made an immediate and lasting impact with clients across all industries. This neon colorama pen delivers stunning good looks and a unique neon color theme that adds a touch of intrigue to these click-action writing pens. Neon trim and pocket clip and plenty of room for up to five lines of customized text create an unbeatable value for a tradeshow handout or mailing gift.

STYLUS TIP: The colorama series of pens are incredible effective as promotional marketing gifts, but add a stylus tip and they become even more potent! A stylus tip makes interfacing with a smartphone, touchscreen, or tablet super easy, while keeping fingerprints and smudges off of the screen for a neater, cleaner operation. Add a soft rubber gripping surface and reliable click-action mechanism and you’re bound to make friends when you distribute these colorama deluxe pens with color grip and stylus.

HOLOGRAPHIC COLORS: The basic colorama pen is made that much more appealing when we add a holographic color scheme to the pen barrel. SmoothWrite ink delivers incredible writing performance, while a generously-sized barrel permits plenty of space for your choice of custom imprint. Six holographic colors are available for our colorama sparkler pen with subtle black trim accents to draw serious attention to your brand.

These best-selling colorama pens from National Pen represent tremendous value in a promotional marketing pen. Order a batch of each and get ready to make serious gains with your clients and prospects.

The History of Writing Valentine’s Day Cards

valentines dayThe idea of celebrating love on the 14th of February spawned from a popular account concerning St. Valentine of Rome. It was reported that he performed weddings for Roman soldiers who were, at the time, forbidden to marry. Valentine was later imprisoned for these actions, but made a connection with his jailer by allegedly healing his ailing daughter. Before Valentine’s scheduled execution he wrote the jailer’s daughter a letter and signed the paper “your Valentine” – hence, the first Valentine’s Day card and early history of Valentine’s Day.

From the History of Valentine’s Day to Modern Day

In our modern era, Valentine’s Day is characterized by red-tinged gift boxes, bouquets of roses, shiny gifts, romantic dinners, and other gestures of love. Jewelry stores look at the month of February as their big “holiday season,” while florists work around the clock – prepping for what is certainly the busiest sales week of the year.

Millions of festive individuals, spanning ages from three to a hundred and three, put pen to paper and scribe Valentine’s Day cards for loved ones and lovers alike. It is this last activity that encapsulates the modern spirit of Valentine’s Day – the profession of love and admiration through the written word.

But how and when exactly did the action of writing Valentine’s Day cards and exchanging gifts become commonplace?

From Chaucer to Chocolates – In mid-eighteenth century England, it became quite common for admiring individuals to exchange flowers, confectioneries, and send greeting cards on Valentine’s Day. During this time, individuals may have also sent “Saint Valentine’s keys” to one another, with the message being – “unlock your loving heart.” These keys were also used to ward off epilepsy, which was then known as Saint Valentine’s malady. Modern jewelry stores frequently offer similar trinkets – though few recipients today are likely to don a Saint Valentine’s key to minimize medical concerns.

Today, the act of giving gifts is wide-reaching, but few individuals know that the first connection of Valentine’s Day with romantic love was in the work entitled Parlement of Foules (1382), by Geoffrey Chaucer. This poem was written to recognize the first anniversary of the engagement of Anne of Bohemia to King Richard II of England.

Valentine’s Day Cards by the Millions – The phenomenon of mechanical automation ushered in a new era of Valentine’s card creation in the 18th century. The book entitled, The Young Man’s Valentine Writer (1797), gave ideas to young men who were unable to come up with creative messages for Valentine’s Day. But early 19th-century England saw high-volume production of preformatted Valentine’s Day cards that were available with a variety of romantic messages.

More than 60,000 Valentine’s Day cards were sent in 1835 in Britain, while today more than 150 million cards are sent each Valentine’s Day – just in America! Today, Valentine’s Day is the second most popular holiday for sending cards after the Christmas holiday.

Options are virtually limitless – Hallmark alone offers more than 1,400 varieties of Valentine’s Day greeting cards each year, and many of these are left blank on the inside to allow the love-struck writer to create a moving and personal verse. While according to CNN.com, 29% of individuals today will send a romantic text message on Valentine’s Day, the majority will put pen to paper.

Now that you know the history of Valentine’s Day, embrace the power of the handwritten word and create a touching and heartfelt message for your beloved!

Is Your Desk in Need of a Makeover? Try These Seven Personalized Office Items

NTAYou likely spend a lot of time at your desk, so consider today whether your workspace is in need of a serious makeover – if so, take a look at these personalized office items.

Think about the last time that somebody walked by your desk and said “wow that is a really neat…anything!” Chances are that your personal workspace is a utilitarian zone that is in need of a serious makeover – maybe it needs a touch of color or a host of new office items to increase the fun factor and make your life easier. Either way, consider the following seven personalized office items to add a touch of class, color, and usefulness to your workspace:

Custom desk calendar: if your old, marked up, and uninspiring desk calendar takes center stage on your work desk, you might want to consider replacing it with a new, full-color design. Custom calendars are available today with beautiful natural scenes, automotive themes, or virtually any type of graphics or images you are looking for.

Personalized notepad: take notes in style, increase your ability to stay organized, and maybe even add a touch of color to your desk by including a stack of custom notepads in your personal work area. You’ll find that taking notes or jotting down memos is made easier and more enjoyable when you have a top-quality notepad to work with.

Colorful magnets: you can use personalized magnets to help increase your organizational effectiveness, while at the same time adding a touch of color and style to your desk. From simple magnets with one or two word messages to full-color magnets that sport a custom image or relaxing design, personalized magnets are ideally suited for file cabinets, hutches, and other magnetic areas within your workstation.

Customized planners: keep organized and stay on top of your business by using a customized planner today. You are much more likely to actually complete calendar entries, take notes, and stay organized by having a personalized planner at your disposal. And, a top-quality planner will look right at home in a business meeting or a client get together – not just sitting on your desk.

Custom candy: add some fun to your desktop by including a bowl of customized candies that will provide a sweet retreat from the stresses of the day. Add a variety of custom candies and reward yourself for a job well done with a quick bite throughout the day.

Personalized phone speakers: since most of us have a smartphone sitting on our desk on any given day, take advantage of your built-in MP3 player by including a top-quality phone speaker to your workstation. Many of these are quite compact and will fit in seamlessly with your other desktop equipment.

Custom pens: one way to add a sense of uniformity and neatness to your desk is to include a batch of customized pens to your desk organizer. You will have something to write with that will bring a smile to your face with each stroke of the pen, and you’ll have the option of adding a splash of color to your desktop.

Dress-up your work area and organize your desktop today by including any of these personalized office items above. For more ideas visit http://www.pens.com/office.