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Quickly—what’s the most looked at section of your program book? No, I’m not talking about your gut feel about what section your patrons are looking at. I’m talking real analytics as to what section of your program book is getting the most attention from your patrons and how much time they’re spending on that section?

If you are struggling with this question, then I won’t even get into asking how many pages your patrons actually look at in your program book.

Nor will I ask what content is the most appealing to your patrons.

I also won’t ask whether you can push content from your program book to your Facebook page and vice versa.

Or whether you are actually able to interact with your patrons through your program book.

Nor will I ask whether your program book is able to give you insights about where you are drawing your patrons from.

And I won’t even ask you whether your program book is able to take surveys to help your organization stay in compliance with state funding.

I also won’t ask whether when you’re selling your program book ads, are you able to show your advertisers how many times their advertising is getting looked at by your patrons?

If your seats look blank to you even though they’re filled with patrons then you may want to consider using a program book app for your patrons that choose to view their content this way. Like it or not, your patrons will expect to have a choice of how they want to view their content, and if you aren’t offering a digital version of your program book, you will eventually be left behind. Sure, there are going to be the hard liners that will wrinkle their nose at the thought of anything other than a paper program book. And this is ok, because if done right you can provide all of your patrons a choice between paper program books or a digital mobile version. The critical piece however, will be the experience they get when they use your digital program book. This is especially the case with your advertisers. If you’re just throwing up on your website a pdf version of your program book, don’t expect a whole lot of activity, nor a whole lot of excitement from your advertisers. But give your patrons something more than your paper program book can offer, and you will find that offering a digital version of your program book will satisfy more patrons than you might think. And give your advertisers digital ads that can be tracked and interacted with and you will be a hero!

Making a commitment to offer a digital version of your program book will take time and money and there are different ways to approach it. But it will be well worth the investment in the long run because of the new opportunities you will gain. You can develop an app in-house if you have someone on your staff with the expertise and time to do it. Or there are other service providers out there that offer apps specifically geared toward the performing arts. However, you need to keep in mind that these will still need to be updated and populated by someone in your organization that have some experience with websites and app’s, as well as time to maintain it. So there are choices out there, you just need to find the right one for your organization. By answering these 3 questions, hopefully it will help you narrow down your decision:

  1. Does your organization want to make a commitment to a program book app?
  2. Do you have a budget for the investment that it will take to develop a program book app?
  3. Do you have expertise and time within your staff to maintain a program book app?

With our program book app, Stageview, there is nothing more that needs to be done on our client’s end, nor is there any additional cost. Onstage has carefully added the production of Stageview into the production workflow so that it is a seamless process. So all the while our client’s printed program books are in production, behind the scenes their mobile version is being created at no additional cost to them. As Yakov Smirnoff would say, what a country!

Good selling!