I Am Legend
You may be wondering what more there is to know or learn about calendars, a product that has not gone through any drastic changes in centuries. What could I possibly say that you don't already know about this legendary promotional product? Plenty. Advertising calendars have been a major player in the industry for such a long time that pieces printed back in the 19th century and early 20th century are now quite collectible and valuable. For example, according to Kovels.com, the well respected antiques and collectibles print and online price guide, a 19th Century Coca-Cola Calendar can easily fetch around $1000.00.
While today's promotional calendars are not bringing in that kind of cash, they are a healthy mainstay for many distributors. "There is a 90 percent reorder rate for calendars," explained Lori Kates, general manager/vice president for Vitronic Promotional Group, Mason, Ohio. "Distributors can create their own retirement plan. We have many distributors that have sold calendars for 20 to 30 years and now only work three months of the year, collecting reorders, and vacationing the remaining months. They are a natural annuity for the distributor and a very effective, inexpensive advertising solution for the end-user."
During tough economic times, calendars have shown to hold on to their share of profitability. Joe Bunsness, national sales manager for Norwood Promotional Products, Indianapolis, noted, "A calendar is seen as an annual gift by many customers. Because of this, many businesses continue to provide them even during tough economic times [because] their customers have come to expect it."
One thing that differentiates calendars today from those of past generations is the customization available. Variable printing and other embellishment technologies make it easy for suppliers to offer a wide variety of custom options. "It is all about custom," noted Bunsness. "Many customers want to be able to make their calendar unique, so they are looking for more ways to add their own touch to the calendar. Today's technological advances make it easier and easier to give end-buyers completely customizable calendars in as few as 50 units minimum."
Kates agreed with that idea. "The increased use of electronic calendars such as those found in Blackberry's [and] iPods has created the need to be more versatile with the traditional promotional calendar," she noted. In response to this need, Vitronic Promotional Group has been introducing spins on the traditional calendar, such as their MagneticMark Combo Bookmark. "This item is a combination magnetic calendar and magnetic bookmark. It is perfect for sports schedules, school schedules, menus and more. Additionally, it is printed in four-color process so you can create any custom art the customer desires," Kates added.
One thing that remains the same is the popularity of an old faithful. "Our best selling calendar style is still the spiral wall calendar," said Bunsness. "This calendar fits nicely in an office space or home. With vibrant images and plenty of space for appointments, this style has broad appeal for almost all customers."
Bunsness advised distributors of the importance of educating end-buyers on calendars as a promotional tool. "Help the customer understand why calendars should be included in their marketing mix," he said. "The distributor is really selling advertising with the calendar as the vehicle." Kates added. "During sales calls, distributors should ask end-users if they've ordered their calendars for the year."
Now is the time to jump-start calendar sales. Often times, distributors will wait until the forth quarter before placing their orders. But according to Kates, "Spring is the best time for distributors to send in their calendar orders." Bunsness concurred, "It is never too early to begin talking to your customers about the benefits of calendar advertising." And with many supplier companies offering incentives to get calendar orders in early, why not start today?