Producing a programme for your fair, festival or fun day will boost profits, help thank supporters and inform visitors about what's in store – you wouldn't want them to miss anything!
Although most commonly used at fairs, you may also benefit from having a programme at other big events with multiple attractions and stalls such as a music festival or fireworks night. Early planning will produce the best results, so that advertisers and sponsors can be approached on the basis of a write-up in your programme. Start selling advertising slots at least six weeks before your event to ensure you have enough time to get the programme designed and printed before. Here are a few things to think about:
Can you get sponsorship to cover your printing costs, in exchange for editorial coverage in the programme? Start by asking local printing companies, or approach local businesses that may have the facility to print your brochures for you. This will significantly improve your profit margin.
Put a call-out to supporters to see if you can enlist someone with graphic design skills. Failing this, appeal to local designers to see if they will help you out, in exchange for advertising their services in the programme. The design doesn't need to be complicated – something simple, which gives clear information and a map of the event will be fine.
Size and price
Will your programme be A5, professionally printed, colour or black and white? How many will you produce - is it worth the expense of printing more to drop through local residents' doors or to go home with children at local schools, if it means more people attend your event? The more you print, the more people see the advertising, so this could push up the amount you can charge for inclusion. Once you have decided the format and circulation, break down advertising space into prices for full pages, half pages, classifieds, etc.
If possible, appoint a dedicated volunteer to look after the advertising. Do you have a list of companies who have supported you in the past? Send letters/emails to local businesses, explaining the role of your cause, and what you are raising money for. While contacting companies about advertising, it's worth asking whether they could also donate a raffle prize. Give advertisers dimensions and a deadline. Allow time to chase artwork (if supplied complete) or content/logos – especially if you have a designer putting these together, and to get finished layouts approved if necessary.
What to include
- Map: A layout of your event will help visitors identify the location of key attractions, i.e. where's the food?!
- Sponsors: If you have received sponsorship for aspects of your event or for the programme itself, dedicate space to thank them.
- Timings: If you have any performances, talent shows, or attractions with timings attached, provide a schedule so that no-one misses out.
- Prizes: Mention your top raffle or auction prizes to encourage people to buy tickets
- With thanks to: Reserve a spot to thank all those volunteers who have helped make your event happen
On the day
Will you hand your programme out at the gate, will you charge for it or will it be part of the entrance fee to the fair? Some PTAs have put a 'lucky gold star' stamp in a limited number of the programmes as an incentive to buy. If you purchase a programme with a star, you win a prize! This is less time consuming than manually numbering each programme for a 'lucky numbers' competition.
'We made around £420 from our programme. We do give some free adverts for companies who come and attend – for pony rides, animal encounters, etc. One person does the advert sales and I do the design (ex-graphic designer!). We produce a full-colour, litho-printed A5 brochure that we deliver out to the village and beyond (1,500 copies). We charge £110 for a full page advert, £60 for a half page and £35 for a 1/4 page.' Elizabeth Clark
'Our programme was an A4 sheet folded into A5. Adverts were not charged as we charged £30 for the pitches, so it was more of a thank you for a raffle prize however large or small. It's a lot of hassle collecting the money, which is why we keep it basic. We gave these out in book bags a week or so before hand to entice the kids to hassle parents to come! We have always charged an entrance fee: adults 50p and children free. Last year for the first time we asked for a donation and made the most ever as people are a bit more carefree with their change!' Peter Foreman
- Have you produced a programme or brochure for your event and have some advice to share? Let us know by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.