How Long Does It Take To Produce a Program Book? Print Vs. Digital

Performing arts organizations that pay attention to how long it takes to produce their program books gain more control over their expenses. Before you commit to a print or digital program book, compare the sales campaign and production processes for each.

Onstage Publications has more than 20 years of data showing why it often makes sense for performing arts groups to choose digital over print options. The following sections compare what it takes average-sized organizations to produce print and digital program books for a complete season. Most groups can expect to improve their efficiency by 65-70% by choosing digital program books.

The Sales Campaign Process

Most performing arts groups rely on ad sales to fund the cost of printing their program books. That often means you must start selling advertising space in your program books months before your season’s first performance.

Sales Campaigns for Print

When you rely on printed program books, you can expect sales campaigns to last four to six months. Overall, selling space can take up to 485 hours before you even start designing your program book. If your group starts its season in September, you probably begin selling advertising space in your programs in March or April.

Since printed program books cost more to produce than digital program books, you need to sell more ad space to cover your expenses. If you don’t sell enough, you won’t have enough to cover the costs of the print. That puts a lot of pressure on your team to sell space months before advertisers see results from their ad spend.

Sales Campaigns for Digital

When your performing arts group uses digital program books, you don’t need to plan four to six months in advance. Instead, you can cultivate supportive relationships throughout the season and include new advertisements as needed. You don’t want to have so many ads that you hurt your program book’s value, but you gain significant flexibility by choosing digital options.

You also benefit from the lower cost of making digital program books. Digital program books can cost 90% less to produce than printed program books. You save so much money that you can afford to shorten your sales campaign, giving your team more opportunities to focus on quality instead of quantity.

Digital program books even make it easier for you to attract advertisers. Digital programs create opportunities for you to gather data from your audience members. You can track how people interact with your program book’s pages and advertisements. You can also use questionnaires and surveys that benefit your supporting partners. The next time you want to convince a business to advertise in your program book, you can show them data that helps them see how they benefit from the investment in performing arts program book advertising.

The Production Process

How much time does it take you to design and proof your program books? The answer varies considerably depending on whether you use print or digital program books.

Print Program Production Process

The layout and design process for printed program books often takes about 148 hours because it requires so much careful planning and editing. Your designs have to meet physical specifications, such as paper size. The rigidity of print forces designers to spend a lot of time conforming to the physical object.

Expect proofing to take about 9.6 hours when you make print programs. Keep in mind that potential mistakes will appear in your printed program book. You can always edit mistakes in digital program books. You don’t have that option with print.

You even spend a lot more time on customer ad design, layout, and proofing for printed program books. It easily takes 51.75 hours. Despite the longer time, you don’t necessarily get more money from advertisers.

Digital Program Book Production Process

Everything takes less time when your performing arts organization chooses digital program books. The time spent on layout and design comes to an average of 37 hours. Proofing takes about 9.6 hours. Customer ad design, layout, and proofing equal about 15.75 hours.

Print and digital program books have unique benefits that can help your performing arts organization meet its goals. There isn’t much competition when it comes to efficiency, though. Over 20 years of data show that digital program books take less time to produce.

Audience Access has packages for performing arts organizations of all sizes. Whether you manage a small group that wants to take advantage of a free account or you run a large organization that wants to expand its engagement, Audience Access can help.

Start saving time and resources today!

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