Every year, around this time we start to work on our program for our student showcase. We have found this to be a great way not only to connect with other business owners but also a way to raise funds for scholarships. Even though we are not a non profit business we approach our scholarship fund as if we are. The funds that we designate for scholarships go into a specific account and once we give the scholarships out those funds are then transferred into the business checking account. Through the years I don't know of one studio that has not given out scholarships. Most of the time business owners just absorb the cost and call it a scholarship when in reality it really is a loss of profit. This way there really is money that will be used and you are in control because you know exactly how many scholarships you can give out. There is only so much money that you have and once that is gone that's it!
The way that we position the ads for the program is that a portion of the proceeds will go towards the production of the program and the rest into our fund for scholarships. If presented this way you will see a much more receptive response from people you approach about doing an ad. Now I am not advocating that you say that it will be used for something just to trick people into doing an ad. If you say that you are using the profits for scholarships you then must keep a track of the money and then allocate that amount to your fund. Depending on how you work it, you can make yourself a nice profit that you can use to add to your scholarship account. Typically, each year, we make in excess of $5000.00 after all expenses are paid.
We have a few ways that we build ads for our program. One approach is to offer our parents and their family members the opportunity to take a congratulatory ad out in the program. The ad size will determine the cost. If they want to add a photo there is an additional cost. When people purchase tickets for the performance this is a great time to ask them if they want to put a message to their child in the program. We also send home a letter to all of our families letting them know about the scholarships and asking them if they have a business or know of someone that has a business that may like to do an ad in the program. The ad size, where your studio is located and the cost of producing your program will again determine the cost. The front and back inside cover and outside back cover are more expensive and we sell those only as a full page ad.
Another way that we acquire ads is to go out into the community and talk to business owners to let them know why we are trying to raise money and showing them how it can be beneficial to their business. A good selling point is that the program is usually not discarded and therefore a sound advertising tool. It is amazing how many people will rally behind you when they see your passion and enthusiasm for what you are doing! If you are a bit shy or reserved then you may want to recruit the efforts of faculty, staff or parents to help you out. Older students can also be very helpful. One of the ways we have found to be useful is to go out into the community so we can meet other business owners and get to know them. This is a great way for you to network and get the word out about your studio. It is easy to get stuck in the studio all the time and be a bit isolated from the rest of the community. We also have several people who help us with this and by doing so we can get the best coverage and definitely increase the amount of responses. There will be some people that will have no interest at all but try not to take it personally! If you are a newer studio this will be a great way to meet other business owners and exchange contact information with them. Business owners have children too!
Check out our downloadable forms for a sample of the program ad form that we use. The price can be adjusted to fit your area and cost. Make sure that you find out how much it will cost you to create your program before determining what you will charge for your ads. We recommend that you print a thank you to all of the advertisers in your program. We have also found that it is helpful to let the audience know, at the event, that they should let the advertisers know when they frequent their establishments and mention to them that they saw their ad in the show program as it promotes goodwill.
In closing, your program will not only add money to your scholarship fund but help you to get to know your fellow local business owners and at the same time get your name out in the community.