Every December, each Promo Marketing editor receives a large desk calendar for the following year. Throughout the year we write down meeting times, due dates and vacation days. We keep track of our upcoming issues and thrill in crossing out assignments when we finish them. The best part of these desk calendars is that at the end of each month, we can tear off that sheet and reach the next month. This glee continues until we reach December and the next month is not a month, but cardboard. What will we do to mark our trips to the beach or trade show dates? Then another desk calendar arrives and we are appeased.
That's what is so wonderful about calendars and planners: users need new ones every year. This means continued sales for you and continued advertising for your clients. Offer your clients this enduring promotion by using the 11 tips below.
1. Keep It Simple
Bill Mahre, president of ADG Promotional Products, Hugo, Minn., suggested keeping calendars and planners simple to gain the most exposure. "Make it simple and functional enough for the end-user to want to make it part of their everyday activities," he said. He warned against making planners too complicated, because extras can distract from the purpose of the product. "Too often people try to become overly creative and the promotional item (in this case a planner) ends up being the proverbial 'trash and trinket,'" he said.
2. Add a Pen
Calendars and planners are great, but only if you can mark them up with important events and meetings. For this, Mahre suggested adding a pen. "Pen and planner [sets] are also becoming more popular, especially when they are personalized," he explained.
3. Don't Focus on Material
Mahre advised distributors to avoid high-price materials because the products are only meant to last a year. "Most [planners] are price-sensitive since they are intended to only last for a year and vinyl is a popular outside cover material." Don Guthrie, vice president of sales for Payne Publishers Inc., Manassas, Va., agreed, adding that higher-price materials are available if an end-buyer requests it, but lower-price options are the most popular. "There is not really a best material. It all depends on what the client wants and the budget involved," he said. "Our less expensive leatherette cover is our top-selling cover material."
4. Go Dark
According to Guthrie and Mahre, darker colors are favored for planners and calendars. "We have a wide variety of colors and designs but black, navy and burgundy remain the most popular," said Guthrie. Mahre added brown and dark green as popular colors.
5. Reach Out To Note-takers
Mahre listed the best markets for planners are office workers and note-takers. "Traditional strong markets like real estate, education, law firms, accountants and banks still use large quantities of planners since they are a good value and ideal for note-taking," he said.
6. Sell During New Year's
Mahre noted the first day of a new year as the best time for beginning calendar and planner programs. He also mentioned that many orders come in late December. "Many last-minute requests come in starting in early December with rush orders," he said. Guthrie agreed, saying, "The majority of our calendar sales are still accomplished in the fourth quarter and into January." Though suppliers can fill last-minute December orders, your clients might not get the style, material or color they want so planning ahead is preferable. "Sometimes stock items may not be at ideal levels and this causes disappointment for everyone," Mahre explained.
7. Avoid Trendy Covers
Guthrie noted that new calendar trends appear often, but usually don't last long. Repeat calendar buyers stick to one style. "Repeat clients usually like to keep the same format they are used to using, so we don't change our stock formats very often," he said. If you must embrace a new calendar style, try bright colors. "We are seeing more covers with brighter color designs that are very appealing," stated Mahre.
8. Target Schools & Services
"One market that has come on very strong the last few years is the academic market," said Guthrie. "We sell a full line of academic planners to middle schools, high schools, colleges and companies that service the academic market," he added. Guthrie also noted services like hotels, car dealerships, banks, hospitals and the military as strong target markets.
9. Use Economical Imprints
Planners and calendars are often ordered last minute and are only meant to last a year, so a high-tech imprint is not necessary to make a statement. Mahre mentioned that most planners are screen printed or hot stamped. "These are the most economical methods to deliver large quantities in a short time frame," he explained. Guthrie added foil stamping and digital printing to the list of best calendar and timeplanner imprint methods. "We feel [foil stamping] gives the best color resolution over all other methods," he stated. "For full-cover coverage, digital printing is definitely the future."
10. Customize It
Adding an imprint is obvious, but Mahre suggested making other amendments to further personalize the planners. "Any time an end-user receives something with their name on it the perceived value and usage exponentially increases," he said. Mahre suggested employing the most up-to-date printing technology to add pictures, messages and date block information. "The technology now available makes customization easy and impactful for any size business or order," he said. Guthrie also championed personalization. "The best way to make your calendar or planners stand out is either with using a great logo imprint or interior customization i.e. insert information pages, phantom imprint, etc.," he said.
11. Don't Fear Tech Advances
Guthrie and Mahre mentioned the relevance of paper calendars even in an age of smartphones and tablet computers. "A recent study found that 80 percent of the respondents had a physical calendar in their purse, briefcase or home," he said. "With all the advances in technology, this is a validation of the continued use of paper planners." Mahre added that while technological additions like QR codes are on the rise, they are not standard. "We are seeing more of those populating products especially like planners and calendars," he said. "The only real challenge is that there are so many variations and not all QR codes are accessible via the many different phones."