Calendars Are Foundational Branded Products

In today’s world, more than ever, we need to connect and communicate with our customers and prospects.  With that in mind, Calendars are foundational branded products…and they need to be in your marketing mix.

It never ceases to amaze me the number of really smart business people who get a case of the “yeah-buts” when they talk about calendar advertising. They have created all kinds of “yeah-buts” in their mind about why this form of advertising won’t work for them. They have many (in their mind) well-reasoned arguments about it too.

Yeah-but…they are wrong.

First things first, let’s “say this out loud.” Sometimes, in business, we overthink things that are not that complicated. I think maybe calendars might be one of those things. “Saying it out loud” forces you to simplify things and decide if (or if not) they make sense. Let’s apply it here. Say this out loud.

Do I want my customers and prospects to take my basic who-what-where message and hang it on their wall all year long?
Uh…of course you do!

Do I want these same customers and prospects to hang my brochure up on their wall all year?
Sure! That would be ideal for any type of business.

Do I want to have this sort of exposure (did I mention it was all year?) for the cost of one radio campaign?

At its most basic, calendar advertising just makes sense. I call it a “foundational piece of marketing.” You are not going to use calendars alone to market your business. But it should be the base from which you build the rest of your marketing campaigns. Make sure you get your message on your clients wall (or desk, or pocket, depending on the calendar you choose) and then build from there.

One final question before I get to some of the “yeah-buts.” What is the worst thing that can happen to a calendar that you give to a client? Think about it. In reality, the worst thing that can happen is that your client looks at the calendar and then throws it away.


Guess what. That is the best thing that can happen to nearly any other form of major advertising! If a customer consumes your radio ad, notices it, and then it goes away, it’s done its job! So consider that the next time you tell someone calendars won’t work for you.

Now let’s address some of the “Yeah-Buts” and see if we can get rid of the myths.

“Yeah-But” no one uses calendars anymore!

Hogwash. Don’t get me wrong there has certainly been a shift to technology for personal calendars. I get it. But studies show that there are printed (that means promotional opportunities) calendars in nearly 80% of homes and 80% of businesses (thanks PPAI). In fact there is more than one. Homes average 3 printed calendars and offices average 2.

As a matter of fact, you hear more and more people getting excited to receive calendars because they believe that “no one” gives out calendars anymore! That presents a real opportunity for business owners to fill a need…and get a boost of advertising.

Here’s another “say it out loud” moment. That’s right. Many of your customers will be excited to get this “as a gift.” This foundational marketing tool will be valued because of its utility and will be looked forward too.

When was the last time you could say that about a cable ad?

“Yeah-But” calendars are expensive.

I totally disagree. It’s all relative folks. As I mentioned earlier, done right you can get a year’s worth of exposure for the cost of one mass-media campaign. Whether it’s with radio, TV or even (to a lesser degree) print ads, small businesses will spend thousands of dollars on campaigns that come and go in the blink of an eye. But then these same marketers will balk at spending that on a year’s worth of exposure directly in the office of the customer they are trying to reach. This argument just doesn’t make sense.

Now it’s worth mentioning there are multiple ways to create a calendar campaign. You can use a stock calendar with great pictures and a basic area for imprint. Or you can create a completely custom calendar with your own pictures and information. Each of these options has real merit…depending on the target you want to reach.

As a rule, stock calendars can be less expensive. So if cost is a real concern for you, this might be a better option. But the cost of custom calendars has come down with digital printing, so you might be surprised with the cost-effectiveness of this option. You simply need to decide what you want to accomplish and then move toward that option. We will discuss that more later.

The basic point is calendar advertising is an extremely cost effective way to promote your business or organization. It is less than pennies per exposure. And I think most importantly, it is not wasted. Your message is reaching directly into the homes, offices, desks and minds of your target market.

“Yeah-But” calendars are passé.

Maybe it’s because calendar advertising has been around for 100 years. Maybe it’s because some business marketers are always chasing the new “shiny” thing. But sometimes the “yeah-but” comes because they think calendars are an old way to go to market. Maybe you think that.

Remember that “say it out loud” thing? Let’s do that again. I want you to say:

“I don’t want to use an advertising and marketing tool because it has worked for 100 years for thousands of companies.”

Sounds dumb, doesn’t it?

Calendar advertising is NOT passé. It is proven. Hundreds of thousands of companies have utilized this tool in the tool box to promote and grow their business. Nothing is around in the business world this long if it doesn’t work.


“Yeah-But” I get lots of calendars and I throw them away.

Congrats! You are super popular. But here’s the thing; you are the exception. Many people actually go to the mall during the holiday season and buy themselves a calendar. If that is your client, you just missed a huge opportunity.

The other problem with that argument is this you might throw a few away, but most people keep their favorite. So the issue is not that you get too many calendars. The issue is you get too few that move your excitement meter. I always tell people that the cost of a calendar is not determined at the point of purchase. It’s determined at the point of hanging.
If you spend $.50 each on 1000 crappy calendars and
only 1 of them is put on a wall, then that was one damn expensive calendar.

The rule is the same for mugs, mouse pads and calendars. Yes, most people have one. But if you give them one they like better, they will use yours. So don’t always go cheap on the calendar. It might be a very expensive mistake.

So now I have addressed just a few of the “yeah-buts.” You either believe me or you don’t. My guess is, if you are still reading, you do! So let’s talk about some options for calendars…and which might make sense for you.

Stock Calendars

There are tons of shapes and sizes and themes when it comes to “stock” calendars. Basically a stock calendar is simply a calendar that is mass-produced that has a specific space for you to put your business information on. Some examples of stock calendars include:

Appointment Style Wall Calendars: These wall calendars are the most popular style of promotional calendar. They often come with pictures ranging from scenic to puppies and kittens to motivation and thousands of others. These can be a great inexpensive way to reach customers in their home or cubicle.

Executive Style Wall Calendars: These are generally larger, grander calendars that are meant to be displayed in an executive office or board room.

Year At A Glance Wall Calendars: The name says it all. These calendars show the entire year on one page and are perfect
for planning.

Desk Planners: These calendars are used all over the world to plan hair appointments, schedule vacations, and
massages. Though some people believe that calendars are only being done on the computer, this type of calendar is still very popular.

Desk Pad: A great calendar to be able to have right on the desk to display appointments.

And there are lots and lots of other stock styles as well. What you need to do as a business marketer is simply decide where you should best try to reach your customer. Then choose the style of calendar best suited for that location.

A big advantage of a stock calendar is you can purchase a small quantity without breaking the bank. You have less flexibility on what you can put on them. But stock calendars can be extremely effective when done right!

Custom Calendars

As the name suggests, a custom calendar can be created from scratch to fulfill any of the above styles…but with your company’s pictures, styles, information and more. I always tell my clients that they are starting with a blank piece of paper. So within reason, you can do pretty much whatever you want to do on a custom calendar.

The custom calendar is fantastic because you go from putting your “who-what-where” message on the wall (which is great) to putting your entire company brochure on the wall. You can showcase products, services, case studies, success stories and more. You really have a chance to go all out and “story tell” on a custom calendar.

In addition, though Custom Calendars are generally more expensive than stock calendars, the cost has really come down. So reach out to your promotional consultant before you dismiss the idea of creating a custom calendar. It might be more in your budget than you think!  Click here to learn more about our print offerings.

What it boils down to is, you should be incorporating calendar advertising into your marketing budget. Create a calendar campaign that you can be excited about and then build the rest of your advertising the rest of the year on top of it. Once you create the solid “foundation” you will find a great year can be built with ease!

If you want more foundational marketing tips on how to use branded merchandise to grow your organization, here are some things you can do.  First, check out our blog page.  We have lots of information like this there.  You can sign up for our VIP newsletter.  We send out one email per week with our content.  Finally, you can check out the book this was originally written in Delivering Marketing Joy.

Written by: Kirby Hasseman

Kirby Hasseman is the CEO of Hasseman Marketing & Communications. Kirby hosts a weekly Web show called Delivering Marketing Joy where he interviews business leaders from around the country. Kirby has published four books. His most recent is “Fan of Happy.” His book, called "Delivering Marketing Joy" is about doing “promo right” and is perfect for people in the industry and customers. He also wrote “Think Big For Small Business” and “Give Your Way to Success. All are available on Amazon.