No Crystal Ball? Then Try Print on Demand!

Do you ever wonder how meteorologists get away with being wrong so often? Their weather predictions are usually in the ballpark, but sometimes … well, sometimes it’s a very big ballpark. It doesn’t take too long for a forecast of 3-5 inches of snow to become 1-3—or 4-7, for that matter.

Sometimes it feels the same way when you’re predicting print quantities for your association’s continuing education (CE) program. You have a basic idea of how many people will probably sign up for a class that’s in its fifth year, so your guesstimates might be fairly accurate. But what if a new class is unexpectedly breaking registration records? Or a course that has had consistent registration numbers in the past suddenly drops by 20%, for no apparent reason?

Even with the best Doppler radar or finger on the pulse of the state of CE in your industry, no one can predict the future flawlessly. So give yourselves—and meteorologists—a break. The easiest way to manage your printed CE materials without wasting time, money, and resources is to choose print on demand.

Some people are hesitant to try print on demand because of the higher cost per unit, but the truth is that you may save money if your content changes frequently. Say you print 1,000 books, in a single print run, at a per-unit cost of $2.50 ($2,500 total). You sell 600 books ($1,500 worth) before content changes need to be made, rendering the last 400 books useless. That’s $1,000 left on the table! If you have multiple titles with content changes, the waste is even greater.

If the books had been printed on demand, on the other hand, just 600 books would be produced and distributed before the content changed. Even at a slightly higher per-unit cost of $4.00, that comes to $2,400, with no books or money wasted.

Omnipress has helped dozens of associations move to print on demand for their CE materials. Talk to us and we’ll help you get to the number that’s just right for you.

How to Manage Content Updates with Print on Demand

Your association’s industry is in a continuous state of development and progress. That’s great for professionals in the field—members of your association—because that means the field is constantly evolving. Engaged professionals are curious about this forward movement; they’re not stagnant or bored.

Regular change is a risk for printed continuing education materials, though. Printed books on a shelf could become obsolete before they reach your learners’ hands.

Print on demand helps you manage content updates and minimize loss. A small number of extra copies are kept on hand (a microinventory), but there aren’t dozens of boxes full of books no one will ever read. To make matters even better, you only pay for course books that learners order.

If frequent content changes are needed, this can lead to major cost savings. Say your industry releases standards every six months. With print on demand, you won’t have to toss hundreds or thousands of books that become outdated, literally overnight.

If you need to change content because industry standards have changed, you can use the opportunity to update other parts of the content as well. Perhaps the course book cited 2013 statistics, because those were the most recent figures available when the content was written. Do a bit of research to get 2014 numbers and you’ll have more accurate stats to go along with the fresh content. Print on demand allows you to manage content updates by keeping your information current and complete, without the risk that come with larger print runs.

One association switched to print on demand and saved 60% on print and fulfillment costs. Read the case study to learn more! Then leave a comment. We’d love to hear what you think!

Case in Point: Time Management & Order Fulfillment

Fourth quarter has already begun (can you believe it?), and before you know it, you and everyone you know will be making New Year’s resolutions. How to do a better job managing your continuing education program, be more productive throughout your workday, and streamline processes to be more efficient may top your list of professional objectives. Once you start evaluating exactly how you spend your time at work, you may find yourself wondering if there’s a better way.

Does this story sound familiar? Executive Director Robin Ginner was frustrated she was spending a lot of her time—she estimated 30-40%!—printing books and packing boxes for Vibration Institute (VI). If that time were spent developing new courses and managing the growth of current offerings, Robin thought, VI would have an even more successful training program.

Beyond the time factor, there was the matter of course book design, which was in need of an update. When Omnipress reached out to Robin, the association staff had already been discussing the need for a better fulfillment process and a redesign of the course books. “The call was well-timed,” she said.

How did the new book’s appearance and streamlined fulfillment process work out for VI? Get the rest of the story—download the Vibration Institute case study! (You’ll find more like it here.)

Know Your Options: Protecting Your Online Continuing Education Materials

You understand the value of making your training materials available online. Learners can familiarize themselves with the content before the continuing education class begins and show up prepared to engage more fully. Your association can leverage the opportunity to generate additional non-dues revenue by offering both printed and online training resources. To make it even easier, you can work with a partner that can integrate online training materials with your registration system.

Maybe you wonder whether or not your training materials are safe online. High-quality training materials are an important benefit of membership in your association. Professionals cite this as one of the top reasons they join the association in the first place. Doesn’t making this information available online run the risk of making that value-add available to others, who haven’t paid for the privilege of membership and therefore, have not earned the access?

It’s a good question, and like all good questions, the answer isn’t a simple “yes” or “no.” Anytime you make content available online, there is a risk of unauthorized use. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around the fact that if it’s out there and a learner-cum-hacker is tenacious and tech-savvy enough, someone could get access to your information.

You can, however, put protections in place to make that process more trouble than it’s worth. There are options available to safeguard your CE training materials a little (watermarking) or a lot (digital rights management). Paywalls will discourage most would-be content thieves, so putting a subscription management solution in place may help as well.

  • Watermarking: “Stamp” a date, time, and username on content that’s downloaded by an authorized user and that’s where it’s likely to stop. Think of this as discouragement of sharing by peer pressure.
  • Digital Rights Management (DRM): Give your CE training materials an extra level of protection with DRM. Users can download one document per device. Period, end of story. Because this method is more stringent, many users find it cumbersome and less user-friendly than watermarking.
  • Subscription Management: Offer learners online access to materials instead of a digital download. The upside is that they can read your CE materials just about whenever and wherever they want. The downside? Internet connectivity is required.

Don’t let protection of digital materials get you down. Think about it this way: How secure is a printed course book? Once it’s in the hands of a learner, they can do whatever they want to with it. If Sarah purchases a course book, takes the class, and becomes certified in the subject, what’s to stop her from lending that book to her friend Jackie in the next cubicle, when she wants to be get her own certification?

Honestly, nothing. Like it or not, unauthorized sharing already happens. Even with all of the digital protection in place, there’s nothing but a sense of fairness and integrity that can keep Sarah from sharing her password for online access to course materials with Jackie.

Understand that if it’s important to you to do whatever you can to protect your association’s training materials, you can count on Omnipress to help. For most learners, just seeing that your association wants to keep the content under wraps, for sole use by course registrants, will be enough to appeal to their better selves. Sarah’s conscience will tell her to stop, even if a paywall doesn’t. A good show of faith that you understand the importance of the information they hold in high regard goes a long way towards proving that your association’s CE program is appropriate only for learners who have purchased access.

Curious about this issue? Contact us for more information on online training materials and content protection options.

7 Reasons You Should Print Training Manuals on Demand

When you prepare to print training manuals for your association’s continuing education courses, do you struggle with choosing a number of initial copies to print? All the historical data in the world can’t ensure that you won’t waste time, money, or paper on books that no one will use. Choosing to print training manuals on demand, however,  can solve these problems.

When you print training manuals on demand, you can rest assured that amount of that waste will be kept to a minimum. There are many other reasons to choose print on demand for your association’s CE materials, including:

  1. Frequent content updates: How long does content in your industry remain current? Some associations can get away with large print runs because not much changes year to year. Others, particularly in highly-regulated industries and in STEM, must be updated more often.
  2. Reduced overhead: Start-up costs for large print-runs can be prohibitive or, at least, frightfully expensive. Print on demand requires less initial investment, keeping overhead low.
  3. Improved cash flow: Having less of your budget tied up in printed materials that may never be delivered to learners leaves you free to spend capital on other projects, like online training materials.
  4. Less guesswork: Inventory management becomes easier when you keep a smaller number of books on the shelf (a micro-inventory) and print more as orders roll in. You won’t have to toss hundreds of books, which cost you plenty, if content changes make the titles obsolete, or if a class is canceled.
  5. Minimum waste: When you keep a micro-inventory instead of a large quantity of books on the shelf, fewer books have to be tossed when changes are needed. Even better, your association is only charged for the number of books that were sold.
  6. No back orders: Avoid the embarrassment of back orders. Learners feel irritated when they can’t order the titles they need for class because a printer ran out. Print on demand takes this scenario off the table completely.
  7. Quick turnaround: Experienced printers can balance their workloads to get your larger print runs done without too much lead time. Print on demand requires less set up and fewer resources, so turnaround is even faster.

No two associations are the same; your reasons to print training manuals on demand may differ greatly from another similar organization. What we know: Print on demand works well for many associations, and it could be the right choice for you.

If this list makes you think it that sounds about right, contact us today! We’d love to help you bring educational resources to your association’s learners—and save you time, money, and resources at the same time.

Your Printer, Your Process, Your Inventory Management

When you find a process that works, you stick with it. Whether that means doing loads of laundry in a specific order, making scrambled eggs with your own special technique, or going on the same walk around your neighborhood, you figure out what works and your keep it up.

Managing your continuing education materials may involve a process that works well for you, or it might be a task in search of a better process. Could you use some help making sense of inventory management of your CE titles?

Omnipress is more than a printer; we serve as your partner in bringing your CE materials to life. That means we understand your business and your challenges. We’ll create a customized process to meet your association’s specific needs.

Our experience, along with our collaborative approach to customer service, offer you the perfect marriage of professionalism and kindness. To make it even easier for your association to deliver CE materials to learners, Omnipress offers help at every step: formatting and design services, printing, order fulfillment, custom kitting, inventory management, and online training materials. We even help you offer your CE materials to learners for purchase with a complete storefront, where your association can sell both printed books and online training materials (digital files and/or subscriptions).

Get those boxes of CE books out of your office. Free yourself from keeping track of how many books of each title you have on hand! Eliminate the embarrassment of back orders.

Instead, count on reporting tools from Omnipress. Let us house your course books on our shelves. Enjoy the peace of mind you’ll have when someone else is taking care of your CE materials so you can focus on expanding and improving your courses and marketing them to entice more learners.

Experience the Omnipress difference! Reach out to us to get started. We’d be happy to discuss your current process and our suggestions for improvement. We want to be your printer and your partner, after all, and we can’t wait to get the conversation started.

When It Comes to Access to Training Materials, More Is More


Less is more, as the saying goes, but sometimes that’s not true. Now and then, more is more.

When it comes to your association’s continuing education training content, for instance, giving learners multiple access points is a good thing. Why?

Your association’s mission likely includes a commitment to lifelong learning and professional development.

Take a minute to think about what that looks like. Sometimes that will include an hour-long study session, reading the course content from a printed book. Sometimes it won’t. Is your mission limited to when your learners have large swaths of time to spend, or would you also include learning that busy members manage to squeeze into their days? Learning doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.

People want to be able to read professional development materials whenever, wherever they get a chance.

Giving them access to training materials online is how to make it happen. Learners want to capitalize on those precious moments of free time in their days.

If a friend is late for lunch, they want the option to bring up the CE content on a smartphone or tablet and get a little review time in. Waiting in line? Read a few pages from your CE course book.

If your materials aren’t available online, members might choose Candy Crush instead. (They might in either case, but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.) Which option supports your association’s mission? That’s only possible with online training materials.

Online access to training materials also leads to learners who come to the course ready to learn and participate.

When printed course books are the only option, learners come to the class site curious, but in some ways, unprepared.

From a cost and logistical standpoint, it’s best to have all course books sent to the site of the learning event. That doesn’t help get the class off on the right foot, though. If online training materials are available, your instructors can assign a short reading to be completed before the first class starts. Learners come with enough background knowledge to hit the ground running.

More access points to your training materials means more successful courses and learner experience.

Budget Planning: Make Room for Better Print Quality

It’s time to face the music! Examine your printed training materials. Take a close look at the color, the paper weight, the binding. Are the course books durable, or do they look like they’ll fall apart, at the seams or otherwise, if they’re tossed in a learner’s backseat too many times?

With your 2016 training budget under consideration, probably as I write this, it’s time to think about print quality. Maybe you can do better on your own. Maybe you’re doing the best you can, under the current circumstances, and, in order to make any real improvements, you need some help.

If you handle printing within your organization, maybe your color printer and copier isn’t up to the task anymore. It’s possible that the machine just isn’t built for the kind of wear and tear you’re putting on it.

Are you spending more time and money getting maintenance done on your printer than you are on actually printing and assembling course books? Maybe it just seems that way. Take your frustration into consideration, then, and consider this: Given how much time, effort, money, and mental energy you put into printing in-house, is it really worth it to do it yourself?

What’s your tipping point? Are you there right now? How much more frustration do you have to take on before you decide it’s time to make a change?

In other words, if you have a better relationship with your copy repair guy than you do with your membership base, you might need help with your training course books.

Consider this: Are you somewhere between long print runs with large quantities in stock and print on demand? You want the pricing you get with long print runs, without that waste that can come from maintaining a large inventory. Print on demand has a higher cost per unit and having no stock ready to send out to learners makes you nervous.

You might need help from someone who can help you compare your options and make the best decision for your association. If there a compromise between the two that can save you money while keeping enough stock on hand to meet your learners’ needs? (There is! Reach out to Omnipress to learn more about printing on demand with microinventory.)

Think about your printed training materials, your 2016 budget, and the reputation and brand you reflect through your course books. Is it time to make a change? Omnipress would love to help. Reach out to us to get the conversation started!

3 Common Budget Challenges for Continuing Education Programs

Even though summer is at its peak, this is the time of year we begin to hear our customers’ conversations about evaluating costs and processes for next year’s continuing education budget.

Managing your association’s budget is always a complicated balancing act, and if you’re in the same boat as our customers, there’s rarely enough to go around. Training programs are often looking to expand by adding courses and offering more sessions of the more popular courses.

These initiatives take staff time and money—resources that always seem to be in short supply. The question becomes how to make the most of the budget you have to offer the best continuing education opportunities to learners.

When training professionals share their concerns with us, they bring up these three challenges more than any others:

  1. Surprise price increases: Over time, prices have increased, with no notification from their print vendor(s). If a vendor fails to tell you about a price increase, imagine what else the printer may be hiding from you. Has print quality declined? That adds insult to the injury of increased pricing.
  2. Comprehensive evaluation of print equipment leases: Does it still make sense to use in-house print and copier equipment? Is it economical, when you factor in the cost of the equipment itself, managing supplies, and using internal staff? Is the equipment capable of producing high-quality work? Could you substantially improve the print quality—without additional cost to your bottom line?
  3. Opportunity cost of using internal staff for order fulfillment: Could you better utilize your human resources? Has international shipping complicated things for internal staff? What would your program look like if the hours spent on packing boxes and shipping could be reallocated to, say, membership, or marketing, or developing new courses?

As you look forward to 2016, consider how the printing and fulfillment of your association’s continuing education materials could be handled more efficiently—and perhaps more cost-effectively as well—before the budget is settled.

Why You Should Invest in the Best Printer for CE Materials

It’s true: You get what you pay for! Most people (and most organizations) can’t afford to spend lavishly on everything, though, so you have to choose what counts and where you can save. Sometimes you need the best product or service available; other times, “good enough” will do just fine.

Where do your association’s printed training materials fall on this scale? It’s tempting to think of this as a place to cut corners in your budget, but when your reputation is on the line, it’s wise to think twice.

Whether it’s the training staff or individual instructors running copies and working with large national retailers to get the materials ready, getting the job done can mean little more than checking the box. The cost is reasonable and it’s convenient to have instructors use a well-known entity for printing services. Seems harmless enough, right?

Take a close look at those course books. The ones created on the fly, as one of an instructor’s weekend errands. Would you describe the quality as world-class? Is your brand well-represented? Hold up that book to another one from a different instructor. Do the colors match? How is the binding holding up? If you looked at the book in 10 years, would it stand the test of time, or would it fall apart from heavy use because the paper quality and binding weren’t up to snuff?Spiral bound notebook with pencil over rattan desk- shallow dof

These pictures show a more generic comb-bound picture (top), which might be similar to what an instructor might put together with limited time and resources. A spiral-bound book (right) has a more professional look and higher quality; a dedicated printer would produce results like this, for less than what you might think.

In other words, “good enough” might not be anymore. At some point, you’ll have to weigh the convenience and cost savings of reproducing books on your own, or having instructors do the same, with the reputation and brand your association wants to reflect. Most likely, these two concepts are at odds with each other, and it’s time to decide what your brand is worth.

Maybe you think working with a dedicated printer for your continuing education materials is cost-prohibitive. When was the last time you checked? Have you been assuming that it’s easier for instructors to run their own copies, regardless of whether that represents your association in the best light. It’s time to think about it: What is quality and reputation worth to your association?

Or perhaps you’re unaware of how much better the print quality could be. That problem is easily solved! Omnipress would be happy to speak with you, determine if your project would be a good fit, and, if appropriate, print a sample of your course book. If you’d be interested to see how high-quality printing looks on your association’s content, reach out to us today! We’d love to show you the difference a qualified printer can make for your organization.

Preparing Your CE Instructors for Success

Are your instructors prepared to lead your association’s continuing education courses? Whether or not they’re ready to teach and engage learners is one issue. Whether they have the tools they need to deliver knowledge—including course books, workbooks, exams, and office supplies—is quite another. The latter is an easier problem to solve, especially if you rely on a trusted partner to get the job done on your behalf.

You could take on the task of driving around town (often done “off the clock”) to hunt down sticky notes, #2 pencils, and other supplies. But if you’re anything like the association professionals we work with, you’d rather spend your nights and weekends doing … well, practically anything else.

That doesn’t mean you have to leave your instructors without the proper tools, though. They too have more important things to think about than whether or not there are enough handouts for every registrants for the course. It would distract and delay everyone in the classroom if time had to be taken away from instruction to make copies, though. It’s better to just take care of getting the correct number of copies, with a few extras just in case, for each instructor and let them focus on teaching.

Of course, you’d rather focus on managing courses and creating the content for new ones. To keep your instructors and yourself on track, let someone else take on the task of collecting, kitting, and shipping class materials to class sites.

Omnipress is uniquely qualified to handle this task and practically any other that falls under the umbrella of continuing education materials: printing course books and other materials, order fulfillment, and inventory management, for starters. Want to put your training content online? We can help with that, too. Need an online storefront to sell printed books, digital files, and other items, like USBs? We’ve got you covered.

So rest easy, and let your instructors do the same. As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” When you partner with Omnipress, you’re preparing your association’s training program for success.

Try This at Home: Manage Print Costs of Your CE Training Materials

If you have trouble keeping print costs of your continuing education training materials under control, you’re not alone! When we surveyed association training professionals like you, 41% said that they struggle with managing their continuing education print costs.

So what’s an association to do? Print costs get out of control when processes are inefficient or course books are discarded, which drives up the cost per unit. Streamline processes and print on demand to best manage print, fulfillment, and costs.

That’s just what International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium—better known as (ISC)2—did. Learn more about how (ISC)2 slashed their printing and shipping costs by 60%. Follow their example and your association could save, too! Download the case study now!

Manage Print Cost Infographic

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