The Elegance of Print Publishing as a Manufacturing Process

manufacture-print-catalogIf you want to make absolutely certain that your great content and product information is seen by your target audience, you can't do better than print.

Once they have that print publication in their hands, the chance of them spending quality time with your content goes up dramatically. It invites itself to be read, even if it is put down for a while. Not so with an eBook or online catalog. The smallest interruption will drive it off the screen, never to be seen again.

OK, so you agree that print is better. But, you say, it's impossible! The logistics of making even one print publication are overwhelming. And to make things worse, the content for segment A needs to be different than the content for segment B. In fact, every single publication must be unique. The problem seems insurmountable.

Try a Manufacturing Perspective

The trick is to take a manufacturing point of view. Define the workflow processes, constraints, and tools that allow making a print publication to become a fully automated process. Maybe that means that you always save your content in a particular format. Or that you have rules about the size and number of images with each article. Or you set minimums and maximums on the length of product description and number of attributes.

Compromise is Key

You have to identify dependable tools that will consistently make readable, high-quality publications. True, you may have to compromise from your ideals. That is the case with any manufacturing process. If you aim too high, automation is not attainable. The challenge is to get creative within the feature set of your tools and processes. Keep an open mind, and you will discover that there are many opportunities for imaginative design. If you are working with a software vendor, explain your objectives. Ask for their suggestions on how to make your publications more interesting and attractive. Get a graphic designer involved. Explain to them what they have to work with, and see what they come up with. You will be pleasantly surprised. A good graphic designer will rise to the challenge and do amazing things.

Long-Term Benefits and New Opportunities

Once you have become efficient at creating quality publications, it will pay dividends over and over. You will find opportunities to re-purpose content for all kinds of different reasons. Plus you can experiment with various marketing messages, ways of presenting the content, different calls to action — just the same as an online campaign. With automation, there is no limit to the variations and tests you can run. Furthermore, you can explore using QR codes and other means to start collecting analytics that measure the success of each publication.

This article was inspired by a terrific post on the advantages of streamlined print operations, What the heck is a print manufacturer? Thanks to Greg Cholmondeley of PODi.

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