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Creating a Successful Recital Program

Children Dancing

The recital program is a staple of the annual recital experience.  An usher hands you a program, you settle into your seat, the house lights go down and it’s time for another great show.  The recital program isn’t just a way for the audience to keep track of the show order and who performs in each dance, it’s also a lifelong keepsake for families and a perfect messaging and marketing platform for dance studios.  Here are some tips on how to have a successful and profitable recital program this year!


  • DO: Sell Program Ads
    Having a recital program without selling program ads is a missed revenue opportunity! Every penny counts when it comes to owning a dance studio, and recital program ads are an easy way to increase your recital income, pay the studio’s summer rent, or even use it to take a vacation this summer (imagine that)!
  • DON’T: Send the Program to print without proofing
    Be sure to check over every piece of the recital program before sending it to the printer. Check over the spelling of dancer names, the show order, and make sure that no one is missing.  While proofing the program yourself is important, don’t let your eyes be the only ones to catch mistakes.  Have a few staff members or parents help you proof the program.  They will be sure to catch errors that you’ve missed – it’s understandable, we’ve looked at the same pages so many times, a fresh set of eyes are needed!
  • DO: Shop around for printing prices
    Just like you shouldn’t buy the first car you see; you shouldn’t say yes to the first printing quote you receive. It’s important to shop around for the best printing prices.  You’d be surprised how much printing costs can vary.  Get quotes from local print shops and online national printing chains.  When comparing quotes, make sure you are comparing apples to apples; print costs will fluctuate based on page count, paper size, color vs. black and white, paper weight and quality, and binding.  Don’t forget to factor in turn-around time, tax, and shipping costs into any quote you receive.
  • DON’T: Concentrate on Selling Full-Page Ads Only
    Program ads are typically priced by ad size. Instinctively, full-page ads cost the most, while smaller ads cost less.  An easy trap to get caught in is to focus your energy on selling as many full-page ads as possible.  At first glance, that strategy seems to make sense: sell as many of the most expensive product as you can.  However, it’s important to think of each page of your program as a piece of real estate.  The printing cost is the same no matter what is printed on the page.  If you sell full-page ads for $100, half-page ads for $60, and quarter-page ads for $40, you would make $160 on a page with four quarter-page ads, while making just $100 with a full-page ad.  That’s 60% more–with the same printing cost!  By all means, sell full-page ads to whoever will buy them, but smaller and more affordable ads will be easier to sell and will get you higher revenue in the long run.
  • DO: Advertise Your Program Ad Sales
    Utilize the same creativity and energy you would put into advertising your dance classes into advertising your program ad sales. Although you are selling a product to an existing client, rather than a new one, the same marketing tactics still work.  Make sure everyone knows that program ad sales are going on.  Send out emails, post on social media, and have posters up around the studio.  Make sure the ad deadline is super clear.  Parents will naturally wait until the last minute to purchase their program ads, so don’t worry if the sales are slow to start.  Pro tip!  Have copies of last year’s program around the studio for parents to browse for quality samples, message examples, and design inspiration.  If this is your first recital program, feel free to make your own “sample ads” to give people an idea of what to expect and some ideas on how to make their own ad special.

Follow these tips for a successful recital program that will be a lifelong keepsake for your dance families as well as a profitable recital revenue driver for your studio!

Growing up in the studio family business, Joe Naftal is the marketing director for Dance Connection in Islip, New York, and the CEO of the Penny Prima® brand. Joe has taught seminars, classes, and workshops for dance teachers and studio owners from around the world, has been on the seminar faculty of the Energize Conference, the Dance Teacher Summit, the UDMA Dance Teacher Expos, and has been a contributor for DanceStudioOwner.com and Dance Teacher Magazine. He is the author of Standby in the Wings, which has been sold across North America, the UK, and Australia, and is the creator of Check In Pointe and RecitalProgramAds.com. As an advocate for arts education, Joe serves on the Board of Directors for Robin Becker Dance and CM Performing Arts Center. Aside from his work at the studio, Joe is a lighting designer and production manager for classical and contemporary theatre, modern dance, ballet, and opera. He holds a BFA in Lighting Design from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

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Joe Naftal