It may be an odd way to answer “10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Ordering Custom Pins” but starting with an example helps people visualize the process better. So here goes.
You’re a corporate marketing manager for a mid to large public company and you just came out of an annual planning meeting. You’ve been tasked to gather information on the cost and timing of producing custom pins for the entire company, including trade show pins, years of service pins, branding and promotion pins, executive level pins and give-away pins. This might seem a daunting task, and it could be, but if you break it down into manageable pieces it really will be quite simple. Ordering custom pins should never be complicated particularly if you understand exactly what you need.
The first step is to identify how many different categories of pins you need. Keeping them separate helps you clearly define each pin and not get them jumbled all together.
Based on the example above you would have 5 different categories as listed below.
The next step is to answer the following 10 questions for each category. Many of the answers will be the same but it is helpful to consider each separately. You many be a small company or an individual and only have one category – that’s ok, the process is the same just simpler.
In theory you have mostly answered this question by breaking out the pins into categories. However, there is more to the purpose than a broad use. The more specific you can get the easier the other questions will be answered. For example, a custom pin may be used to thank donors, or promote awareness, or distinguish people. Just with these 3 simple examples you begin to see how the purpose helps to define all the other specifics of the pin such as the message, the budget, the quality, the quantity, the size and the timing of the pin. If it is a give-away pin then there is no need to invest in the most expensive pin because you will distribute thousands, but the message you want conveyed may be very important.
Surprisingly, this is one of the harder questions for people to answer, but it should be one of the easier questions to answer as it boils down to simple math.
If you are a little league baseball team traveling to a tournament and each of your players will be trading with players on the other teams here is how that calculation might look. Your team has 14 players and you want each player to be able to trade 50 pins. 14 players * 50 quantity = 700 total pins.
Or if the pin is for years of service then all you need to do is look at the company records and identify how many employees will achieve a milestone year. Maybe you have 1, 5, 10, 15, and 20-year milestones and there are 100, 50, 20, 5, and 2 employees respectively in each category for the coming year. By adding up the numbers you find you need 177 total pins. Simple, right? The only other thing to consider with quantity is how might quantity affect the pricing. The more custom pins you order, the cheaper so it might make sense to order 2- or 3-years’ worth of pins to get a lower price point. Of course, this only works if the pins will not expire and the budget exists.
Sometimes your requirement is a specific date, other times a defined range, and other times there is no required date as the pins will be used indefinitely. Obviously, the question is important because it takes time to produce custom lapel pins. As a general rule custom pins take 3 weeks from order to delivery. However, based on certain time of year or large quantities the time could take longer. If you needed 20,000 pins in two weeks or if it is Chinese New Year and the factories are closed timing becomes an issue. Most pin companies try to accommodate your needs but it is important to have this defined to ensure you don’t miss your event.
This question seems to be the hardest for people to answer and understandably so as there are many factors such as design, purpose, cost, and preference that go into choosing the correct size. The good news is an experienced pin manufacturer will guide you in making the best decision. Many people struggle to visualize size so providing guidance is essential. Typically, custom pins range from .5 inch to 3 inches with 1 and 1.25 inch the most common. So, if a person asks for a 3-inch pin red flags go up. If a design has many small words it may need to be a little bigger for legibility. If a design is long and not very tall, it may need to be a little bigger to feel like a normal sized pin. If a pin is for trading purposes it most certainly should be bigger. If a pin is for a professional setting it should be smaller as to not be to gaudy. The last thing to understand is pins are measured based on the longest dimension either top to bottom or left to right. Measuring it correctly is important.
Having a professional design is NOT required by most pin companies, but it is helpful to them if available. The reason it is helpful is it saves time, energy and gives them exactly what you want rather than them trying to interpret what you want. All pin companies have professional graphic designers who take whatever you provide and translate it into manufacturable artwork. If all you have is a vague verbal idea, great. If all you have is a simple sketch on a napkin, great. If all you have is a logo but want other stuff added, great. In other words, we take what you have and visually show you what the pin will look like. You should never have to wonder what your pin will look like.
Unless you are reselling pins, displaying pins or trying to convey greater meaning or value for a pin, custom packaging is NOT necessary. But it is always available and does cost to produce. The good news is the pin manufacturer will make the pin, print the packaging and assemble the pin on the packaging to ensure you receive a completely finished product. There are many different options for packaging such as backer cards, plastic hinged boxes, velvet hinged boxes, paper boxes, and other display type packaging.
Now we are getting into the most technical question, but don’t feel bad if you can’t answer this question as most people really don’t have any idea about the differences. The pin company will ask this question just to make sure if you do know what you want, that is what you get. You’ll remember question one dealt with purpose. The purpose will go along way to helping answer this question. There are several types of pins: hard enamel, soft enamel, diestruck, diecast, and photodome. If the pin was for an executive or corporate branding hard enamel or diestruck would be a good choice. If the pin was for trading or giveaway soft enamel would be a good choice. If you were producing 20,000 plus pins photodome may be the best option. So, to be clear, if you know what type you want from past experience just mention that, otherwise just understand your purpose and budget and let the pin manufacturer guide your decision.
We’ve addressed the hard questions, the easy questions, the important questions and now we have arrived at the ultimate question. What is the budget. The budget determines everything. Most people, organizations, charities, etc. do not have an unlimited budget so understanding the budget helps direct the process. The good news is that artwork, shipping, and setup are all FREE or at least already included in the pricing so you don’t have to worry about too much extra. As a general rule, the minimum cost to order fully customized pins is $250. That will get you 50 pins. An average order of 100 pins will run you close to $300 give or take. So, know your budget so you can determine if you can ultimately do what you need to do.
Nothing in this world is free including custom lapel pins. So, if you’re going to order custom pins, hopefully you have considered how you are going to pay for them. Because custom pins are custom, typically you have to prepay for the full order upfront. All forms of payment are accepted: credit card, check, cash, wire transfers, and electronic checks. Many resellers of pins today actually crowd fund the purchase and get advanced sales to fund the purchase of the pins. Most pin companies stand behind their products and will resolve any problems you may encounter. It can be scary to prepay for something you have not seen, but in this day and age of online buying it has almost become the norm. Custom pins are no different.
How do I choose a pin manufacturer? How do I choose the best pin manufacturer? Can I trust the pin company I choose? These are all good questions. At this point you know Custom Pins Now is the writer of this blog post so naturally we might have some biased perspective. But we also try our best to be honest and upfront so let us do our best to answer this question unbiasedly.
The reality is most of the world’s pins are made in China, just like everything else you use every day. The other reality is there are 10, 20, 50 custom pin companies selling on the internet today, all manufacturing their pins in China. So quality, pricing, and lead times are typically very similar amongst all companies. Most companies offer free artwork, shipping and setup charges. So, one of the main things to look for in a company is their service – this is where companies begin to distinguish themselves. Do they answer the phone? Do they promptly respond to emails? Do they answer your questions clearly? Do they provide direction and guidance in the process? Believe it or not, these qualities are where a company sets themselves apart. Once you have been through the process with a bad company, you will understand what good service is and the next time you will choose it over price. If you are a penny pincher, you will always be able to find a company that is cheaper if you search long enough. All we can say is you might get exactly what you pay for. Custom Pins Now has been at this custom pin business for a very long time, we try to be honest; we try to give feedback; we try to be responsive. We ultimately know it is our customers that keep us in business. Our philosophy is not to be the lowest priced pin company, but we want to be the most responsive pin company.
We hope this blog post has given you some valuable insight into ordering custom pins. There may be more questions to consider, but ultimately if you have answered these “10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Ordering Custom Pins” then you will be well prepared to have a great experience regardless of which pin company you choose to work with.
Our concluding comment is “If you can dream it, we can create it.” Happy pinning.