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There is an old saying when ordering your last ‘round at a bar for the night—one for the ditch! Obviously the connotation is a bit morbid, but still, I find it humorous.

This time of year always gets me thinking about this saying. Because it’s this time of year where we have wrapped up our big push for bringing in new performing arts program book publishing business.

But miraculously (or not surprisingly) my phone is ringing off the hook with prospects that we’ve called on since the beginning of the year that I’ve never gotten a chance to speak to.

These prospects are calling because they are now looking at the daunting task at hand of publishing their season program books.

When I finally do talk to these prospects, all the conversations usually go the same–“Hi we’re interested in your performing arts program book publishing services.” You can almost hear them begging on the other end of the phone.

But unfortunately I have to tell these prospects we can’t do it this season.

As my normal pitch goes as I am calling in the beginning of the year for new business, I tell potential prospects “we’re selling now, and if you’re not, you’re already behind the eight ball.” I picture the person on the other end of the phone rolling their eyes and thinking to themselves “uh-huh!”

And then the hammer drops come late August! They realize they don’t have any program book ad sales, they haven’t begun to put their pub schedule together, and they haven’t even negotiated with any printers for the print job. And now they’re realizing they may not have program books at all this season!

So who do they call? They call the guy that’s been calling them every week for the past six months, the guy that’s been sending them a post card every month, and the guy that has been emailing them every month for the past year.

In essence they’re asking me “one for the ditch?”

And as much as I would love to take on the new business, I tell them no because a ditch is exactly where our company would be if we did take the business.

The reason being the actual time it takes to publish a niche publication. As discussed in a previous blog How Long Does It Take To Produce A Program Book?, we calculated that it takes over 700 hours. And this is very often overlooked by a performing arts organization.

So if I’m getting called mid-August to take on a new client, I would be doing a dis-service to them as well as putting my company at risk. There simply isn’t enough time to do a quality job, let alone sell enough program book advertising to cover my costs.

So where am I going with all this? Even though you are just beginning your new season, it is never too early to start thinking about next season’s program books. You can roll your eyes and think to yourself “uh-huh”, but I’d certainly rather be buying another round for you than buying you one for the ditch! Good selling.

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