April 2, 2014 by Jim Braaten
In my nearly 30 years in the calendar publishing world I’ve witnessed a lot of mistakes. Some are rather innocent and have little lasting impact. Others…well, let’s just say we’ve known about folks who will literally bet their house on marketing and using calendars.
What a shame and what a risk! There’s a simple rule that must be adhered to no matter how you intend to use calendars as a marketing tool. The rule is simply this:
Develop your marketing strategy first and then afterwards design and publish a calendar keeping those distribution plans in mind.
Quite often we get successful photographers who come to us wanting to print a calendar. Usually what happens is they have been told repeatedly how good their photographs are and that they should be used on a calendar. In due time, the photographer succumbs to this constant ego stroking.
Now, that’s not to say they shouldn’t print a calendar. The point is being told your work is good enough for a calendar and actually walking down that path is a big journey. Moreover, a handful of clients who admire your work is great news, but it’s going to take hundreds if not thousands of people inspired to fork over money if the calendar is to succeed.
Several years back I had the unfortunate task of meeting with a calendar producer who was losing his shorts, so to speak, because he had invested foolishly. He simply designed a pretty calendar and reasoned it would sell like hotcakes. Guess what…it didn’t! In fact, he had a garage full of nearly 25,000 calendars he had taken a loan out on with his house as collateral. Think about it…you have to admire the moxy to be so confident in one’s sales effort to risk your home to print thousands of calendars.
Sadly, it failed miserably because he didn’t do his homework. Long before ink ever finds its way to paper the savvy calendar marketer develops his/her target market to ensure success and to minimize financial risk.
When potential custom calendar producers start telling me about their project and what plans they have I often stop them and ask…”so, how do you plant to sell or distribute it?” Usually there’s a slight pause as this is not the most appealing aspect of the project. Yet, it is by far the most important element.
Typically, I tell a potential calendar client how important it is for the cart not to come before the horse on these matters. In other words, we understand how the designing and printing of the calendar is the fun part. Still, for a calendar project of any kind to succeed the bulk of the work must come before the fun. In this case it means planning for success.
At CalendarsNow.com we don’t want to print and sell calendars that are destined for failure. We also don’t like to see customers struggle financially because they made some poor planning decisions. We’ve actually turned customers away because they didn’t heed our advice and we felt they were taking a path consisting of poor planning.
If you want to talk calendars with us we are only a phone call or an email away. Best of all, talking to us about your next calendar project does not obligate you in any way to do business with us. Each day we willingly share our calendar production knowledge with folks all over the world, and if they ultimately choose to do business with us that’s great. If not…well, we hope to have served some value to the calendar printing industry.
Whether you’re thinking of producing your own calendar or perhaps just using one of our many stock calendars with your promotional message, I can guarantee you that just 5 minutes of your time spent on the phone with our knowledgeable staff will prove to be time well spent. Give us a call.
November 14, 2013 by Jim Braaten
For nearly a decade Steve handed out imprinted promotional calendars advertising his hardware store. As time grew on Steve began to question the true value of distributing calendars when at times it seemed as though his customers no longer cared.
Then a few years back he decided to skip ordering calendars. He rationalized that the calendar was no longer serving a useful purpose. The money saved could be spent in so many more effective ways.
Unfortunately, Steve made a costly mistake.
You see, one of the customers who picked up a calendar each year and religiously used it in his shop was Larry. Now, Larry owned a small plumbing business in town and often times didn’t inventory a warehouse full of parts. Instead, he was a frequent customer of Steve’s hardware store picking up the supplies he needed for the day to complete the plumbing tasks anticipated.
It was early that next January when Larry had a visitor to his shop. It was a wholesale plumbing supply rep who had been pestering Larry for years to do business with him. As they were chatting, this rep happened to notice Larry didn’t have a nice calendar hanging in the shop yet. What an opportunity!
As the rep went out to his truck to get the usual coffee mugs, pens, notepads, etc. this time around the rep also grabbed a calendar. You see, in years past the rep always seen Steve’s hardware store’s calendar already hanging so he passed on leaving the gift of the calendar. But not this time around.
It was the worst case scenario for Steve and he didn’t even realize it was happening. Not only was his wall space that contained his calendar taken over by a new calendar, but it was a calendar from a company that could potentially cost Steve lots of money throughout the course of the year.
Oh, it takes more than a calendar to cause Larry to lose his loyalty to Steve’s hardware store, but over the course of time that calendar reminded Larry just how convenient and time-saving it would be to have supplies delivered right to his shop early in the morning. Moreover, Larry realized after a few purchases how this convenience was also saving him money by using a wholesaler.
Of course, Steve went about his business unaware any of this was going on. Larry still popped into the hardware store now and then, but over time Steve’s store lost out on money–enough money, fair to say, that could have easily purchased Steve’s annual calendar supply.
What Steve failed to realize is that customers don’t always show appreciation for a calendar you give them as a gift. It’s easy to view the imprinted promotional calendar as something that a person is giving the customer. Obviously, it is human nature to expect an occasional “thanks” when handing out calendars. Yet, it doesn’t always happen.
What Steve failed to comprehend was how the calendar is more importantly a tool. A marketing tool that keeps your brand message in front of lots of people. In some cases it also keeps your competitor’s message from hanging in those key locations, as in the case of Larry.
When a business decides to give up on using calendars for marketing there can be a hefty price paid that is not easy to measure or to track. Nevertheless, with calendars costing a relatively small portion of most advertising budgets, a single lost customer is a risk not many businesses are willing to take. In most cases, it has taken years of continuity to gain that wall space promoting your message. Why lose it to an opportunistic competitor who still provides a calendar to a customer you want to call yours?
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October 28, 2013 by Jim Braaten
Ever since the mid-1800′s promotional advertising calendars have been showing up in homes and offices throughout this country. It makes sense…take a product that is needed by everyone to help manage a busy life. Add a message that business owners want to get out to the masses for promotional purposes, and you have a perfect marriage of product and function.
Take the Depression Era of the 1930′s when banks and businesses were failing right and left. Historically you will find calendars were very popular during these difficult economic times. Even when advertising budgets were practically non-existent for many businesses, they still found ways to put their name and message on a calendar product given to customers.
You see, when times get tough and advertising doesn’t always make sense in theory as funds dry up, that’s also the time many businesses see opportunity. Back during the 1970′s one popular soft drink company who was in second place in sales took the opportunity to expand market share by increasing advertising when the leader cut costs by reducing advertising expenditures. The result, by challenging soda consumers to do a blind taste testing and spending lots of money to do it, the distance between first place and second place shrank considerably.
That being said, a business that chooses not to promote their products or services essentially is shutting their doors to new opportunities. Moreover, even the existing customers when not reminded about a business can forget who to call when they are looking to buy.
Calendars are a good answer. Calendars are cost effective advertising. For about a penny a day a quality calendar can hang in the high-traffic places not only reminding present customers, but also prompting potential prospects.
Interestingly enough, over the past quarter century while we’ve been in this business of printing calendars we do not see much wild fluctuation in calendar sales. In fact, they tend to stay pretty consistent no matter what is taking place in the world.
There was only one year, during the tragedy of 9-1-1 (Fall 2001), when even calendar sales could not get businesses to focus for a period of several months afterwards. Hopefully that was a one-time, unusual time period in our history never to be repeated.
So, if your promotional budget this year is tight and you’re considering either how or if you should advertise, it would be wise to reconsider your options. Calendars can give you 365 days of promotional value while newspaper or radio advertising is come and gone in a flash. Same holds true for radio, newsletters or flyers. Customers and prospect may see the message, but there is no incentive to keep it…to continually be reminded of it.
If you’re new to using calendars give one of our experienced calendar consultants a call for free marketing advice. We’ll give you the suggestions and the tools necessary to make certain tough times doesn’t mean no advertising due to a limited budget.
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October 24, 2013 by Jim Braaten
The printing industry loves color. We love color on our calendars. Customers love color on their advertising messages. Color is what makes our lives more interesting and exciting.
But how does a company with a very recognizable logo get the right color every time it is printed? Consider the logos used for popular soft drinks. Would you recognize if they were printed in the wrong shade of red or blue? Have you ever stopped to think how that situation is avoided?
Well, it’s rather simple. There is a standard in the industry called Pantone® that essentially assigns a number to every possible color. So, when a customer tells us they want their logo in #469 Brown and #109 Light Yellow we know exactly what colors the finished product should be. Essentially, to accomplish this task is the proper mixing of established ratios of quality inks. The system also provides a mechanism to ensure quality control of the printed product by using guides and monitoring equipment.
We often work closely with customers who desire these very strict standards when it comes to color reproduction on the products they purchase. It’s what allows one company on the East Coast to print coffee mugs with the very same appearance as the calendars we print here in Minnesota.
When a customer tells us to print their logo in Kelly Green such directions are really not that helpful. There is no standard for Kelly Green and what one printer might deem to be correct another printer might consider to be too dark.
To avoid such confusion the Pantone® system allows us to print colors correct the first time. Now, typically when it comes to mixing inks to precise standards there are some additional charges involved. However, we have an assortment of colors we consider standard that seems to suit most of our customers.
So, the next time you are looking for some color on your imprinted message don’t be surprised if we ask you what Pantone® Matching System (PMS) color you want printed. If precise colors are not that important, we can easily handle that. But when getting the correct color match is crucial, rest assured we have a mechanism in place to ensure those quality control standards will occur.
For additional information on promotional imprinted advertising message color possibilities please give one of our helpful customer service representatives a call. We have the resources available to get your colors printed correctly the first time.
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October 17, 2013 by Jim Braaten
I’m guessing the need for art dates back probably to the caveman era when early man grew tired of looking at the same old blah-appearing walls all day long. Take a little blood from harvested game animals for some red, perhaps some plants to stain various shades of green, and I think you get the idea. Those early walls turned into rough examples of art in nearly no time.
Fast forward a few eons and that early need for color and style on our walls really hasn’t changed too much. Oh, sure, today’s art in most cases doesn’t resemble anything like what a person would likely have found on those early drawings, but the concept is still the same. We like color and style where we live and nothing serves that purpose better than art.
Now mind you there are many different forms of art. In fact, what one person considers to be true artistic beauty another person might find difficult to appreciate. Hence, another wonderful aspect to art–we don’t all appreciate the same things. What appeals to many people by stirring passions inside fails to have that same effect on many others.
When it comes to putting art onto calendars it is only a marriage made in heaven. Unlike most expensive art which a person might hang in their house for most of a lifetime, calendar art is different and made to be fresh. In other words, why look at the same art image for years when a new month brings a new adventure to the eyes and to the mind.
At CalendarsNow.com we have been providing customers with a wide assortment of calendar art for nearly 25 years. Some of our art offerings on calendars is new and fresh, but by design some others are old and very nostalgic. Here’s a few tidbits of marketing wisdom we’ve learned about art calendars you might also want to consider:
- If your customers and prospects are typically 50+ years choose an art theme that rekindles memories. While nostalgic art calendars can appeal to all ages, the typical target audience for this genre of calendars is the more mature class.
- Don’t overlook the power of wildlife art. As it turns out wildlife art when used on calendars can be a power attraction. Most people like beautiful, majestic animals in shown in their natural ecosystems. Wildlife artists have a flair for capturing this powerful presence and thus bringing an otherwise two dimensional image to life.
- Theme art, such as Western or Native American styles of artwork, works well on calendars because they offer both color and sometimes dramatic action scenes. When customers value freedom and open spaces this style of calendar delivers.
- We’ve also noticed how many people love the abstract. They don’t want art that mimics a photographic image…instead they want colors and shapes that spur their imagination into overdrive. This avant garde group of art aficionados tends to be bold in their personalities and their presence in life. If you have customers who do not fit the cookie cutter mold that majority of people fit into, then calendar art with an unusual appeal could be the perfect choice.
Indeed, art as shown on calendars has many benefits. It not only draws attention to the calendar, but often it does so in a dramatic, mind-capturing fashion. It only stands to reason that when an imprinted promotional advertising calendar contains art it can stand out when hanging on the wall to get noticed. After all, if you are marketing your business or brand with a calendar isn’t the main goal to get noticed?
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