Banks & Chained Pens … Please encourage your clients to take the pens.

Yesterday afternoon I walked into my bank a branch somewhere in Nyali Mombasa. This is a young small trendy bank compared to where I have always banked . I decided to try a smaller bank while maintaining my relationship with my old bank. The ATM outside was out of order and I walked into the small banking hall. I was received by very charming warm friendly professional associates. I was even served a nice cup of coffee.

They quickly facilitated a withdrawal and when I wanted to sign the slip I noticed a branded “plastic “ pen which was as usual chained so that the pen is not taken away. I asked the three associates present why they chain the pain ? All had their answers but the main one was ” You see we will loose many pens and we are also trying to cut our costs bla bla bla “. I then posed a question , how much does the chained pen cost ? They were all hesitant to give me an answer but I encouraged them to try . One said Ksh100 while the lowest said Ksh 60.


As a hotelier we give pens at all the meeting rooms and even in the rooms. The cost when you buy in bulk is anything between Ksh 9 to Ksh 12 for non-branded pens while you can pay up to Ksh 17 for a branded pen and a good quality for that matter. So first things first the staff did not even know the cost of what they were trying to “protect “. Suppose they encouraged their clients to pick a pen and take It home or to the office or even keep it in the car , when I use it a discussion may easily come up and in the process I may end up recommending that bank to someone else. Others may end up using that bank simply because they saw me with that pen.

Let us now do some maths and see how much banks are busy chaining and the lost marketing opportunities. Suppose a small branch like my bank was to give 50 pens a day , trust me that is a huge number of pens. We are talking of a mere Ksh 850 per day which will be in the hands of serious people who have entrusted you with their money. In a month 26 days we are looking at Ksh 22,100 and In one year Ksh 265,200. The same bank will have billboards across the city trying to catch some new customers while a real one who easily be marketing you with a free pen cannot pick one because you chained It . One billboard in a month will cost you anything above Ksh 140,000 ++ printing cost etc while a colored ad In the dailies will take you back Ksh 750,000 + Vat and next day “ina funga mahamri ama nyama” .

Just because the big players do it please don’t copy them , they are wrong. Your customers are not there to steal from you . Encourage them to pick a pen and who knows that could be bring you a referral . Anytime I see a bank chain a pen , I see lost opportunities for free marketing in the right hands .Hotels give slippers during your stay .When you wear them at home a discussion may come up and who knows your sister or brother or a work colleague looking for a place to go on holiday may actually end up choosing my hotel because of that slippers we provided during your stay . How much does that slippers cost Ksh140 branded and for how long will you use it ? Maybe 2 months. Can you imagine free advertising at someone’s home for 60 days wow wow !!! And my hotel becomes talking point every once in a while .

Would you allow me to place a banner in your living room ? Of course not. Hotels that give such collaterals do not get anywhere close to what banks make in profits . Can you imagine how much more banks they could make if they chose to unchain their minds and pens? Your guess is as good as mine. Please give out the pens, with a sign “ If you liked how I write please take me home”.

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