Everyone does it. I do it, and I know you do it as well. There are always those things on your to-do list that you keep moving to another day, another week, and before you know it, to another month, just because you don’t want to deal with them.

It’s like when you were back in school. You knew you had an exam coming up, but you kept telling yourself that you had plenty of time to study, and then all of a sudden it’s the day before the exam and you ended up cramming.

I don’t about you, but anytime I crammed for an exam, my results were never that great.

And this is exactly like your program books. The more you procrastinate, the worse your results are going to be!

We’re just wrapping up our push for bringing in new contracts for our turnkey performing arts program book management system this season. I’m happy to say we’ve had a banner year in securing new contracts. But I’ve got some lingering ones out there that are just hanging. Typically the reply I get when I follow up on these is that “the board hasn’t made a decision yet.”

But here’s the thing. Regardless of whether or not these organizations outsource their program book publishing to us, the only ones that are getting hurt by the prolonged procrastination are the program book advertisers themselves!

How you ask? Think about it. Here it is the end of July. We know that in order to have a successful program book advertising selling campaign you need at least two months before the season starts. But even two months is putting your back up against a wall. Because guess what? If you think you’re bad about procrastinating, think again. Program book advertisers are notorious for procrastinating! And if you try to hurry them up to make a decision, the easiest decision for them is going to be to cancel their advertising altogether.

But there are bigger implications than just hoping to renew all of the existing advertisers. Put yourself in the shoes of the advertiser. What do you think their perception of your performing arts organization is going to be in their eyes when you have a hurried-up, sloppy call with them about their upcoming advertising? Or you shoot out an email blast asking all your current advertisers to renew their program book advertising? This sort of “selling” is not going to leave a very good impression about your organization.

You won’t be able to tell these program book advertisers about the great line up for the new season, you won’t be able to tell them about all the great things that are happening with your organization, you won’t be able to tell them about the demographics of your audience, and on and on. And this is just for the renewals!

Your potential new advertisers will suffer even more. When you are calling for new program book advertisers, you are in a sense a PR person for your performing arts organization. If you don’t have time to tell a new prospect all the great things about your organization and just try to sell them an ad, you will lose this prospect forever, let alone a potential season ticket holder. You have to sell the “sizzle” with the sizzle being your performing arts organization and why yours is better than the one down the road.

But when you’re cramming your program book ad sales, you don’t have time to do this. All you have time for is “do you want to buy a program book ad?” And the answer will always be a resounding “no” because nobody wants to just “buy an ad.”

And so your program book advertising revenue starts to erode away year after year until you have $0 in program book ad revenue. And instead of your program books paying for themselves, they now become a line item on your expenses with nothing to offset them.

But the program book advertising isn’t the only thing you will lose. By procrastinating on your program books, you will also lose your negotiating power with your local printer. The quality of the design and layout will never be the best it can be, and you run the risk of lots of errors in your program books because your proofing process is going to be a hurried-up one. In other words because of your procrastination, you make everyone else in your organization cram as well, making for a hodge-podge program book.

So don’t let procrastination keep your program books from being the best they can be. As I’ve stated before, program books are a niche publication (The Most Important Program Book Lesson You’ll Ever Learn.) And if you don’t treat them as a niche publication, you will never have a successful program book. Good selling!

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