Sunday, June 10, 2012

Any idea how much money theatres waste on glossy, full-color brochures?

I got two of these mailers just yesterday from local theatres. Full-color, stapled booklets, with images "bleeding" off the edge - basically the most expensive thing you can print. One of them was sixteen pages long.  (My partner generally gets a copy of whatever I get, too, so that's four of them on the kitchen table, if anyone's counting.)  I won't mention who sent them, because everybody with a sizable budget sends them.

I'm just wondering how much money is going down the drain along with them.

Everyone thought that with the rise of the Web, transactions would become more and more paperless. Bills of all kinds certainly have, along with various tickets and other cash transactions. But somehow subscription advertisements, and just general get-out-the-word announcements, haven't. In fact they seem to have gone more paper-ful, if that's a word.  I could line a bookshelf with the full-color brochures I get in the mail every year, and that's not counting all the postcards and flyers.  It's an avalanche.

Perhaps they're cost-effective; indeed, market theory would insist they must be.  Handling print is just more seductive than scanning a screen, after all.  And we know most subscription audiences map toward the elderly, who aren't always computer-literate or screen-savvy.

Still, I wonder.  You could pay for a lot of actors, dancers and musicians with what it costs to put together a full-color, sixteen-page brochure (since most of these arts groups are non-profit, the mailing costs are minimal, but surely the design, distribution and printing charges are high).  Various people have railed quite a bit about the way marketing staffs and real estate have gobbled up money that might have gone as wages to artists, but so far I've never heard of anyone attacking this expense - or even attempt to reduce it.  Surely some current subscribers could be wooed with online blandishments - and surely the audience target could be reduced in other ways (I, for instance, really don't need to be tossing so much stuff into the recycling bin).

Just a thought.

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