The biggest cost for any printed performing arts program book will always be the print cost.
There are many ways to keep this cost to the absolute minimum. With one of these ways being the decision to print a wrap with inserts or as stand-alone program books.
I caveat this by saying that as the print technology continues to advance, we are seeing some signs of the wrap with inserts coming more in line with stand-alones.
But, until these two different scenarios are 100% equal, and the wrap with insert goes the way of the horse and buggy, this is a decision that still needs to be made. Because anytime you can squeeze more profit out of the printed program book, the better.
But how does one go about making this decision? The answer is program book ad sales.
Program book ad sales will always drive your program book print decisions.
But the line of communication between the program book ad sales department and the production department needs to be wide open. These cannot be walled off from each other.
Let me give you an example.
The other day at our weekly staff meeting, sales brought up the question on one of our wrap with insert program book markets and whether we could change this one to stand-alones.
The original print job for this program book called for three wraps with changing inserts throughout the season.
Printing a wrap with inserts can impede program book ad sales if sales are not wrapped up in time, or if the market is particularly strong and sales would like to continue to sell.
This three-wrap print job happened to be the latter—sales were strong, and sales wanted to continue to sell.
Our publications manager said “let me get some print quotes and I will get back with you.”
Sales already had a good idea of projected ad sales. So all they needed was the cost to switch this print job from a wrap with inserts to stand alones. This would then determine whether it would be a profitable change or an unprofitable change.
It ended up being a profitable change because the cost to change these program books was less than what sales had in the pipeline.
Of course, now the burden is on sales to make sure those projected sales come in. But this is a calculated risk that we’re willing to take.
I’d hate to have to make this decision from the gut, because this is how any printed program book print job can go south really quick.
By having great communication between our sales department, our production department, and our printer for quick turn-around estimates, we were able to make this decision on the fly and turn a good market into an even better market.