It’s not too early to start selling the upcoming season. Sure, the 2016-2017 season seems like a long ways off, and you may even still be selling single issue program book ads for your current season. But if you are the person in charge of publishing your performing arts program books, now is prime time to begin your next season’s ad sales campaign!

Below is how and why you need to utilize this ever shrinking “window of opportunity” to maximize your program book ad sales and minimize your costs.

  1. Analyze your current season’s program book. How many pages were used? How many ad pages were sold? How many pages were used for trades? How many pages were used for content? How many pages were color, how many pages were black and white? The answers to these questions will give you important information on expected costs for your upcoming season program books so you can set your program book ad sales objective accordingly.
  1. Decisions from prospective advertisers take time and advertising budgets have been established. Come too late to the party and you’re very likely to hear “we are very interested in advertising in your program book, but our ad budget is already used up, call us next year.” Also, a big misconception is that the time it takes to cultivate a prospect into an advertiser is only days. But think again–it actually takes weeks. At Onstage Publications, our average conversion rate is 2.5 weeks!
  1. Use Spec ads. Spec ads (or speculative ads) are a great tool for converting prospects into actual sales. This is when you have a “hot” prospect, but they tell you “we don’t have anyone to put together an ad, so we’re going to have to pass.” This is when you take the bull by the horns and have your graphic artist put something together (spec something up) for the prospective advertiser. If you’ve done a good job on your fact finding (see Program Book Advertising Sales Fact Finding – What Is It? How Do You Do It?), then you will have good information to put together a great program book ad for the prospect. This will take more time on your part, but start early enough in the year, and it will pay off big time in the end. At Onstage Publications, we have found that using a spec ad with an advertising prospect can increase the conversion rate from 3% to 16.5%!
  1. Sell your program book ads by edition. If you print your program book throughout the season and have multiple editions, sell ad space by edition. This can also help if you’ve approached a prospect too late and they tell you that their advertising budget is already used up. They may not be able to do the whole season, but if you break it up by program book edition, they may be able to find something in their budget that they can move around to try out an ad in your program book. This also allows you to sell larger ads at a perceived lower cost to the advertiser, and then contact that advertiser throughout the season to renew their ad. The larger ads are also the most effective for the advertiser. This becomes a “win-win” proposition but you need to begin now.

Good Selling!


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