Mark Your Calendar


The world seems to spin at a faster pace these days. Employees are asked to do more with less, turnaround times have shortened, immediate responses are expected from emails and texts, and even children’s activities are overscheduled. Most people will agree that it has become challenging to fit all the demands of the modern world into 24 hours.

Time management is a puzzle that just about everyone is trying to solve, and there is an ever-increasing supply of solutions in the marketplace, including electronic calendars and apps that track time spent on projects, manage to-do lists, take notes and organize daily tasks. While these tools are undoubtedly useful, many people still turn to paper products as an alternative or supplement. U.S. datebook sales increased by over $50 million between 2014 and 2016, according to The NPD Group, Inc., an American market research company.

“The 21st-century smartphone allows people to bank online, schedule appointments, set reminders, watch cat videos and yes, even make phone calls,” says Melissa Timko, advertising director for supplier ModernLine (PPAI 113978). “But busy families still have their calendars hanging on a wall with all their sports activities, doctor appointments and school functions.”

The appeal of paper calendars and planners continues to surprise those who had predicted the demise of this product category. But people who prefer a traditional planner have their reasons, including the tactile feel of a physical page, the ability to keep everything in one place and adherence to business etiquette, since checking a calendar on a phone in a group setting or meeting may be perceived as rude, but opening a planner is perfectly acceptable. Not to mention, nothing beats the satisfaction of marking items off a to-do list in ink.

In addition, a research study published by the Association for Psychological Science concluded that handwriting assists with comprehension and retention, so the physical act of marking something on paper—as opposed to typing it into a digital device— improves the odds that it will be remembered. 

Personalization—a hot button for younger generations—has spurred a new trend in paper planners that combines the practical aspects of scheduling with creative customization. Fans of this trend use original art, stickers and cutouts to decorate their planners, which double as craft-like diaries. The online planner community is thriving, with planner enthusiasts posting color-coding ideas and organizational techniques on Instagram and Pinterest, among other platforms.

In fact, a recent YouTube search for “planners” netted almost three million results including tutorials, product reviews and “big reveals” of finished projects. And those looking for a more hands-on experience can attend multi-day conferences with educational speakers, panels, workshops and social events.

Thanks to their cross-generational appeal, all signs point to the continued popularity of traditional time management devices. “Calendars are still alive and thriving in the home, at work and even in the backpack or purse,” adds Timko. “[Branded] calendars and pocket planners keep your information in front of your customers daily, reminding them who you are, how to reach you and why they should call you.”


Calendars: The Steady Annuity

by David Johnson

How many products say “thank you” over a thousand times? The only answer is a calendar. On average, a calendar is used 2.8 times a day in the home and 10 times a day in the workplace. 

Many distributors pass over this tried- and-true promotional product, opting instead for the latest technology or trends that are here one day and gone the next. Unlike apparel that hangs in a closet, a mug stored in a cupboard or a pen placed in a drawer, a calendar gets prime real estate placement. 

Calendars also offer an enormous opportunity in the form of repeat business. There is over an 80 percent chance of a reorder, and the average order is renewed for eight years. Calendars are the only annuity in the promotional product industry, and the average cost per impression is less than one cent.

Selling calendars isn’t complicated, but it’s important to be versed in the basic terminology.

  • Calendars are either printed in PMS or four-color process for photographs. Some clients will even ask for five- or six-color calendars where the images are printed in process colors and the logo is in PMS colors.
  • The two most common subcategories are wall calendars and desk calendars.
  • A “custom pad” allows a client to highlight special days throughout the year, such as anniversaries or industry events.
  • Calendars are either stock, custom or personalized.
    • º Stock calendars often feature universally appealing themes such as pets, flowers or scenery. 
    • º Custom calendars are created when a customer supplies their own pictures, so they illustrate the exact goods or service that the client provides. For example, an architectural firm may choose to use photos of concept drawings and completed projects. 
    • º Personalized calendars—the latest trend—include the recipients’ name in the images. For example, during National Nurses Week, a hospital may hand every nurse a personalized calendar to thank them for their hard work, 365 days a year.

For a calendar to be used, it needs to stand out and be functional. For these reasons, custom or personalized calendars are usually the way to go. 

According to the PPAI 2017 Sales Volume Study, calendars are the eighth largest category in promotional product sales. The annuity is laying on the table—don’t pass it up.

David Johnson is sales manager for American Calendar (PPAI 111244),  a Greenville, Tennessee-based supplier.


Case Studies

A Down-To-Earth Calendar That’s Good For The Environment And Business
In an effort to get information out to area residents on eco-conscious living, a local refuse and recycling company chose the goingreen® appointment calendar. Printed on 30 percent recycled paper, the calendar features green living tips for each month. 

During recycling seminars at schools, the company’s “Can Man” mascot handed out the calendar to children so they could take them home to their parents. The calendars were also distributed at recycling facilities. This calendar served its purpose as a valuable public service to residents and helped the company earn additional money through an increase in local recycling.
Source: BIC Graphic USA

Scenes From Sea To Shining Sea
A nursing home was looking for a gift to offer prospective clients and their families after they toured the facility. The directors of the home did not have a large advertising budget, so they needed something that would give them a great return on investment. The American Scenic Appointment Calendar was selected because of its beautiful photographs, broad appeal and its function as a daily reminder of the prospect’s visit to the home.
Source: Beacon Promotions

A Calendar To Flip Over
To encourage partnership in the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) and drive attendance to its functions, the Bentcil Company created a custom flip calendar featuring the sights and events that take place in the Greater Miami area. Included in the calendar was a page that recognized those that committed to a corporate sponsorship. Thanks to the success of the promotion, the calendar has been reordered for a second year.
Source: The Bentcil Company

An Incentive To Go The Extra Mile
A customer service company with over 5,000 employees shows appreciation to outstanding employees every year by rewarding them with trips to various vacation destinations around the world. The company purchased the MousePaper® Calendar highlighting important company dates during the year. It also features photos of the incentive trip destinations, reminding employees of the rewards for top performers.

Built with 30 percent post-consumer recycled paper, these eco-friendly calendar mousepads are a “triple threat,” giving employees a monthly calendar, note pad and mouse pad. Not only is the product practical and useful, it is also a constant motivator to employees to excel in their profession.

Putting The Client In The Driver’s Seat
A large manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks and equipment needed to automate ordering, printing, distribution and invoicing of its calendar program. With a specific budget, they required 60,000 calendars consisting of 475 individual orders and ship-to locations, and another 245 custom imprints.

Using American Solutions for Business’s technology and invoicing resources, Senior Account Executive Dick Brimmer created a program where the customer could easily customize, proof and order calendars online. To simplify billing, 550 dealer locations were set up with individual accounts. 

By clearly understanding the customer’s needs as well as the supplier’s ecommerce capabilities, the client received a custom solution while saving time, money and resources.
Source: American Solutions for Business

A Ship-Shape Promotion
In the aggressive world of shipping and logistics, it’s important to maximize any available competitive advantage. To gain market share, a shipping client had the goal of getting his company’s name on the wall of every routing manager possible. He selected the three-month, four-panel calendar as a gift for this target audience.

“This is the most user-friendly calendar in the shipping industry,” says David Johnson, sales manager for American Calendar. “With three months at-a-glance, the routing manager can take into account the timeframes for manufacturing, transportation and distribution. The calendar also has a sliding date indicator that can be moved to the current date, so the reader’s eyes go there immediately. With the shipping company’s information on display daily, the result is more business.”
Source: American Calendar


Terry Ramsay is associate editor of PPB.


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