The Sands of Time
Netflix resurrected "Arrested Development" from the TV graveyard over Memorial Day weekend by debuting all 15 episodes of a new fourth season.
We don't want to reveal any spoilers, but there was something about the season opener that particularly stood out: Michael Bluth's cellphone calendar was stuck on 2003. His college-age son's solution? Hit the "today" button. Simple enough, but this three-minute joke could've easily been cut had a paper calendar been present.
While they may lack the trendiness of the latest iOS device, promotional calendars and planners continue to turn a tidy profit. But how can distributors stand out in a market heavily marred by tradition? Here are eight tips to help strategize your next promotion (and, perhaps, bring Michael Bluth to 2013).
1. INCORPORATE GRAPHICS
Amberlea Barnes, CEO of Drummond Printing Inc., Stuttgart, Ark., noted that digital printing makes custom photographs more attainable. "We see many small companies and organizations submitting their own photos such as local scenery, company personnel in action, animals available for adoption from the local shelter, or volunteers at work," she said. Barnes related an anecdote where a real estate developer mailed wall calendars featuring photographs of custom built homes to more than 500 customers and prospects. "We inserted the calendars in envelopes making it easy for the end-buyer to mail."
2. STRATEGIZE WITH COLOR
Tim O'Boyle, president of JournalBooks/Timeplanner Calendars, Charlotte, N.C., cited full-color printing as a popular trend among calendars and planners. "With today's digital technology, customers can bring their brand to life with full-color images on the cover or throughout the planner in low quantities at affordable prices," he noted.
Although full-color printing can make a message pop, some customers prefer a more subtle look. "Customers can opt for plain black or add colors to reflect their company brand colors," said Sharon Menssen, director of marketing, Beacon Promotions Inc., New Ulm, Minn.
3. CUSTOMIZE COVERS
O'Boyle mentioned that JournalBooks offers a variety of imprinting methods such as multicolor foil stamping, embossing, die-cutting, personalization, and page or date block imprinting. To achieve a unique look, he suggested combining any of these imprint methods with a customized cover. O'Boyle related a yearly promotion JournalBooks handles for a university that combines a few imprint options. "We produce a custom academic planner, from the Director Series, for a major university every year. Each month, they highlight accomplishments of the university with full-color graphics on each page. They have a uniquely printed front cover and every year they change the cover design by utilizing multi-graphics," he said. The calendars are then given to alumni to highlight activities that take place during the academic year.
Barnes recommended that distributors branch out from stock themes to gain more business. "Anyone can go online and buy a scenic calendar with their logo on it," she said. "To really set themselves apart from the competition, distributors should show custom calendars, such as our 13-photo wall calendars."
4. BUNDLE WITH OTHER PROMOTIONS
O'Boyle recommended using planners as an addition to promotions that celebrate a company anniversary, milestone or new brand launch. "For many clients, a Timeplanner is an annual goodwill gift to say thanks and keep that company top of mind throughout the coming year," he said.
5. ADD INCENTIVES
Barnes gave an example of a used auto parts store that offered different coupons on each calendar month. "This is a unique way to drive traffic into the store," she said.
6. PITCH TO ALL MARKETS
Calendars and planners can appeal to many different markets. According to Barnes, banks and insurance companies are popular customers. She also pointed to universities, nonprofits, truck brokers, auto mechanics, retailers and medical companies. "Basically, distributors should be pitching the idea of a calendar to just about all [of] their clients," Barnes remarked. "If they buy once, they will probably buy again, resulting in profitable reorders."
7. ORDER EARLY
While the fourth quarter is a popular time to order calendars, Menssen encouraged distributors to get a head start on sales. "It makes sense that peak times for calendar orders are in the last quarter of the year. However, talking about calendars all year long is important to ensure inventory and ordering before mid-year will save you money," she said. "Point out to potential calendar buyers there aren't a lot of products that will keep your ad message in front of your target audience every day of the year."
Barnes echoed this sentiment. "Any time is a great time for a calendar promotion. Drum-Line offers custom photo wall and desk calendars that can begin with any month," she said. Barnes cited an early calendar promotion. "Recently, an organization chose to begin a tent desk calendar in June, since that was the start of its fiscal year. They included strategic goals on the calendar and gave one to each employee," she said.
8. FIND A FORMAT THAT WORKS
Calendars and planners lend themselves to repeat orders. For instance, O'Boyle enjoys orders that have repeated for more than 30 years. He noted that such customers tend to make minimum changes—if any. "Most repeat customers do stick to the same format because it works well for their clients and they expect the same format," he explained.
Barnes concurred. "[Customers] may change the color or the imprint, but typically the style remains the same year after year," she added.