Market research firm Yoosless Phuqing Research released the results of a study today, in which it found that nearly 95% of companies in the US use pens and pencils, but have no centralized writing utensil strategy. According to the firm’s founder and CEO, Aimso Yoosless:
“Most firms are using pencils and pens interchangeably without any strategy for guiding employees on which writing utensil to use for different types of documents or messages. More disturbingly, in 23% of companies, employees are using Sharpies to compose documents and messages. In 12% of the firms surveyed, employees use pens, pencils, Sharpies, and crayons, yet have no strategy dictating when to use each instrument.”
The study claims that the impact of not having a writing utensil strategy could cost firms millions of dollars in brand equity. According to the study, “Today’s savvy consumers don’t want to see stuff written in pencil, when they should have been written with pen, or even crayon. One misuse of a pencil could cost you a customer.”
Many survey respondents commented that developing a writing utensil strategy is hard, and that they didn’t know where to begin. As one executive put it, “Our customers’ preferences vary greatly. Not only do some prefer pen-written material to pencil-written material, but some like blue ink, some like black, while even others prefer red or green. Personalizing our writing utensil usage to their needs is beyond our technological capabilities.”
Yoosless Phuqing did identify a minority of firms that have a Writing Utensil Strategic Strategy. These firms, which the research house refers to as WUSSies, demonstrated a number of best practices. Wussies:
1) Developed writing utensil guidelines. These policy statements instruct employees on which writing utensil to use when.
2) Appointed a Chief Writing Utensil Officer. Wussies recognize that someone in the firm has to have the authority to enforce the guidelines, and appoint a senior executive to direct the efforts.
3) Established writing utensil metrics. As one Wussie put it, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”