designing ebooks and other fun things

by Christian Postma

Promotional calendars: make yours a keeper


Calendars are one of the most popular promotional gifts, especially at Christmas time. And no wonder — they are easy to customize, not too expensive to print, but, most importantly, useful. After all, everyone has – and frequently uses – a calendar. Surely all of the receivers will hang yours up on the wall, or put it on their desk, and every time they glance at it, they will notice your logo and phone number, and be reminded of the service you provide.

This works perfectly in theory. But let’s look at it from the receiver’s point of view. And I know that every single one of you is a receiver as well. So let me ask you this:

How many calendars do you receive around Christmas time? (In my case, somewhere between 25 and 40)

And, more importantly:

Which one of these goes on your wall?

This is a question that is rather difficult to answer in advance. Besides saying “It depends.” But when faced with a choice of ten or fifteen or twenty calendars, we probably wouldn’t hesitate longer than a few seconds before picking a favorite.

This choice does depend on each individual’s passions and interests, and when it comes down to choosing between the featured photos of racing cars and cats, there is a 50-50 chance. But, beyond doing an extremely detailed survey on hobbies, free time, and favorite movies, you can raise the chances of your calendar being kept. How?

By paying attention to the details others ignore.

1. Skip the pre-designed calendars.

You know the ones, with a main theme such as “Art” or “Animals,” that allow you to add your logo and contact information. I know these are the least expensive option, but, besides the resulting cheap look, think of how many others are giving out the same calendars. Do you really want to run the risk of giving out an identical one as your competitor? I didn’t think so.

2. Pay attention to the ease of use.

With calendars, the saying “form should follow function,” is very, very true. The layout of the calendar should be easy to use and follow an already familiar structure. If someone has trouble figuring out where the week ends, or which days are the holidays, he probably won’t use it at all.

This layout for the dates by Tèo Brito is clean and easy to follow, while still different enough from the usual black-and-red text to be recognizable.

3. Pick a unique theme.

Pick a theme relevant to your business, but make it narrow rather than generic — it’s more impactful, and there is less chance that someone else is using the same images. For example, rather than “Animals,” or even “Cats,”  go with something like “Cats’ favorite furniture” and show cats sleeping on beds and couches. (This idea can work for a furniture store, for a vet, or for a flea collar.)

This is one of 12 unique illustrations by Andrey Gordeev, done for a trucking company calendar Around the World for 12 Months. Not what you would usually expect from a trucking company, this style is playful and fun, and would be welcome on many walls.

Or pick 12 tips, ideas, or fun facts relevant to your industry, and illustrate one every month. What things will be popular in social media in the months of April and November? What vegetables are planted every month? There are many themes you can think of here, depending on your industry, and you can tie this together with the next tip, making information the star of your calendar.

4. Give useful information.

You can include some recipes if you sell food. Details on visiting interesting places nearby if you run a bed & breakfast. Little-known facts about SEO. Again, there are plenty of ideas for every niche. Just make sure this information is useful for the receiver.
Or even make the calendar itself useful, like this plantable one by Botanical PaperWorks

5. Remind of your events.

Do you have a major sale during the year? Put that right into the calendar.

Or include a coupon to use during the month of March.

Offer a free consultation and highlight the date the offer ends.

Include little call-outs that remind your product or service can help them with something on this specific date.

The message from the author of the calendar is a nice touch to this clean design with a clear message: eat an apple a day.

6. Finish with care.

Add some little finishing detail that makes your calendar more precious. And make this detail relevant to what you do.

Colored stitching for children clothing store.

Different weights and textures of paper for art supplies.

Cut out shapes for a photographer.

Metallic effects for steel industry.

And so on, you get the idea.

This calendar designed by four photographers for a paper merchant imitates posters that people usually put on their walls. The posters are printed on different papers that Spicers stocks.

Or go all out and make it a unique object. Again, relevant to what you do.

by Christian Postma

This is actually a wallpaper, designed as a calendar, by Christian Postma. While not practical for every kind of a business, a home furnishings store could definitely use this as inspiration.

7. Observe how calendars are used.

I don’t mean do a survey. Just pay attention whenever you are in someone’s office or home. Where do they have a calendar? Do they take notes on it? Are there things attached to it? How big is it? Do you notice something that could have been incorporated to help them use it better?

If you pay attention to these details, you will come up with some excellent ideas for your calendar’s shape and form. And you can use many of these ideas for other promotional items as well.