Omnipress Introduces New No-Cost Print Service

Right now, it’s probably more difficult than ever to plan a conference or instructor-led course. Just as we were all feeling relatively confident about a slow but steady return to in-person educational events, new variants caused us to re-think our plans yet again—including how we use print services to provide educational materials to attendees.

According to the latest survey results featured in PCMA’s COVID-19 Recovery Dashboard, meeting planners are once again shifting back to virtual or trying a hybrid format for the first time. Meanwhile, the planning window continues to get smaller while the outcomes (attendance, sponsor commitment, etc.) remain difficult to predict.

In response to all this uncertainty, Omnipress has launched a new print service option—EasyPrint™—that removes both the risk and burden of printing event and course materials. With EasyPrint, you can still provide a physical program book or training manual to the participants who really want it, at no cost whatsoever to the organization.

Here’s how EasyPrint works:

  1. Omnipress creates, hosts, and manages an online storefront to merchandise your printed materials available for purchase.
  2. You provide participants with a link to our storefront where they order materials directly from us.
  3. You provide Omnipress with a print-ready file of your materials.
  4. Omnipress will print, pack, and ship items to participants at no cost to you.

Jonny Popp, General Manager of Omnipress explains why EasyPrint was developed. “We understand that it’s become challenging to estimate print quantities with any confidence right now, without knowing what attendance or demand is going to look like. Add to that the fact that our customers are having to make significant adjustments to their educational events with less planning time. The last thing they need is one more task.”

Adds Popp, “At the same time, our customers tell us they have participants who are print fanatics. They love to have that tactile piece. For them, it increases the value of the event or course.”

In addition to increasing value for both in-person and virtual participants, EasyPrint also allows organizations to retain an important piece of their sponsor recognition package while removing the out-of-pocket costs.

A New Approach to Print-on-Demand for Training Programs

Training organizations are looking at print-on-demand solutions to manage the financial risk of printing course materials. But print-on-demand does have a major downside—namely, increased cost.

In response, organizations like Omnipress have developed a new print-on-demand model known as micro-inventory, which combines a low-risk print model with a better cost-per-piece.

Pandemic-induced challenges have increased the need to print course materials on-demand

Data gathered in our 2021 Training Trends Report highlights several of the challenges that training professionals are facing as a result of changes in program performance and delivery in 2020, including:

• Budget shortfalls, as a majority of organizations, reported a decrease in training revenue in 2020
• Less predictable enrollment, as more in-person courses will remain virtual moving forward

Meanwhile, more than half of organizations still plan to provide printed training materials to both in-person and virtual course participants.

Less predictable print runs combined with a need to manage costs have caused more organizations to consider print-on-demand in addition to or instead of traditional print and fulfillment.

A traditional print and fulfillment model works best with well-established, flagship courses where demand is both large and predictable enough to print and warehouse a higher quantity of training materials that can be ordered and shipped quickly throughout the year.

But when organizations introduce a new course, or the delivery model of that course changes, enrollment is more difficult to forecast. Longer print runs become riskier.

The benefits of printing training course materials on-demand

Printing educational materials on-demand allows an organization to order a smaller quantity of course books or training manuals on an as-needed basis, which provides several benefits:

Improves cash flow

Smaller print runs mean reduced up-front costs, which equates to potentially improved cash flow for the organization.

Reduces overhead

A print-on-demand model often minimizes or reduces the need to inventory materials in a warehouse and the related fees.

Minimizes waste

By reducing the print run quantity, you can more easily make content updates while minimizing the financial risk of tossing books already on the shelf due to the need to make content changes.

Supports a positive customer experience

Because books are printed as they are ordered, the risk of running out of stock is significantly reduced, which means you can feel confident your materials will be delivered to learners on time.

The downside to print-on-demand

While printing materials on-demand offers more flexibility and decreased risk, it does come with a higher price tag. The same 500 course books will cost substantially less if you print them all at once, versus printing them in ten separate runs of 50.

MicroInventory: All the benefits of print-on-demand, at a better cost

Recognizing that organizations need a better way to achieve both an optimal print run quantity with a better price-per-piece, print providers like Omnipress have established a new print-on-demand model known as MicroInventory

Omnipress Director of Market Development, Dan Loomis, explains how MicroInventory works.

“Using data provided by the customer, we estimate the timing and quantity of each shipment. But instead of printing for each shipment, we run a slightly larger quantity based on our mid-term forecast of demand.”

In this scenario, Omnipress assumes the risk on behalf of the organization, making sure they don’t over or under-print.

Adds Loomis, “Another very lucrative benefit is that we don’t invoice our customers until the books actually ship. If the customer needs ten books at a time, and we print 100 because that’s our estimated mid-term demand, the customer is only invoiced for ten at a time as they ship.”

This MicroInventory model provides a better cost-per-piece than true print-on-demand, while reducing the financial risk of maintaining a large inventory.

When should you consider using the MicroInventory model to print course materials?

MicroInventory is an optimal solution when:

  • The volume and timing of course demand are difficult to predict (like when a new course is introduced)
  • The content changes frequently or will be changing but the timeline for those changes is in flux

As Loomis points out, “MicroInventory isn’t an all-or-nothing solution.” Many organizations offer multiple educational programs, each with unique levels of demand. “We look at all materials in your training library and determine the best print and fulfillment model for each title.”

As you’re evaluating the best way to print and deliver printed training materials to both in-person and virtual learners at a time when some of your programs may be experiencing a transition period, consider using micro-inventory as part of your overall print and fulfillment strategy, and as a more cost-effective alternative to the true print-on-demand model.

“Right-Size” Your Print Runs Using a Micro-Inventory Solution

Nothing about this past year has been predictable, including enrollment in instructor-led courses that were forced to migrate from in-person to online. For those organizations whose printed training materials are a cornerstone of the course, these changes in enrollment have made planning print run quantities and shipping materials to virtual learners significantly more difficult—and potentially carry more financial risk. In response, many organizations have migrated away from their legacy print and delivery model to a micro-inventory solution.

The effects of virtual delivery on course enrollment

Due to gathering restrictions and health and safety concerns, many in-person, instructor-led courses were moved from the classroom to an online environment. This change in delivery model presents several pros and cons. On the one hand, virtual instructor-led training sessions provide increased access to a wider audience who are no longer restricted by room capacity, time away from the office, or travel expenses. On the other hand, replicating the intimate, interactive, and hands-on environment of the classroom can be challenging, and in some cases, may decrease the perceived value of the course.

This dichotomy has produced changes in course enrollment, but the effects for organizations are all over the board.

We just closed our annual survey of training and education professionals. While we’re compiling the data for release in our 2021 Training Trends Report, here’s a preview of one important statistic.

When it comes to the impact of the pandemic on course enrollment:

  • 33% of respondents report a slight to significant decrease in participation
  • 34% of respondents report a slight to significant increase in participation
  • 27% have not seen any changes to course enrollment numbers

Maintaining “right-sized” print runs becomes more challenging

This lack of consistency and predictability within the training industry has made planning print runs for training materials being sent to virtual learners more difficult. Without the ability to anticipate how learners will respond to changes in course delivery, it’s harder to ensure you have the right materials for the course, and therefore run the risk of over-printing and throwing books away, or under-printing and not having them delivered to the learner on time.

It may be the perfect time to consider a MicroInventory solution.

How micro-inventory works

A MicroInventory solution provides a perfect balance between having just the right amount of inventory with the best cost-per-piece print costs.

We work with customers to produce smaller quantities of your educational materials that can satisfy a few months’ worth of demand, instead of anticipating your annual order volume. You only pay for the materials you sell, giving you volume pricing without paying for excess inventory, which ultimately frees up cash flow for your organization.

It also gives you more flexibility to monitor and manage changes in demand as the year progresses, making it a perfect solution during this time of extreme uncertainty—particularly as restrictions are eased and in-person learning becomes a reality again.

Outside of the pandemic, micro-inventory is an effective solution for any situation where course demand is not well-established, such as with the introduction of a new course or program.

The measurable impact of micro-inventory on print runs

One organization in particular, (ISC)2, switched to a MicroInvetory model, which eliminated the need to print, ship and store large print inventories around the globe and resulted in a 60% cost savings. Read the (ISC)2 Customer Profile to learn more about the benefits they experienced by switching to a MicroInventory print and delivery model.

Printed Training Materials: Design Tips For Learning Retention

The success of your training program isn’t based solely on the quality of the content. The design of your printed training materials matters too. How information is presented within your training manuals and course books plays a big role in how well learning is retained and applied.

We’ve compiled these industry-sourced ideas to transform your course materials and support a multi-dimensional approach to learning.

1. Design your printed training materials with user experience (UX) in mind

Design plays an extremely important role in the usability of your training materials. White space, font choices, visual cues, colors, and content flow all play a role in how thoroughly and quickly learners consume and understand the information being presented. Here are a few ways to increase the usability of your materials.

  • Present Content in Shorter Sections
    In today’s digital world, most learners have difficulty focusing on longer pieces of text. Reduce the length of your chapters and sections, providing more frequent breaks in the material so readers have a logical place to pause and digest.
  • Turn Text into Graphics
    Use supporting visuals and graphics wherever possible to accompany or replace text-only content. Iconography allows you to present complex visual cues quickly while minimizing the amount of text needed. If you are outlining list-based information, try substituting pages of text with a simple-to-follow infographic to help increase retention.
  • Consider You Pro
    How the book will be used should inform your production specifications. For example, if learners will need to write answers or take notes on the page, paper stocks and binding types matter. uncoated stocks are easier to write on. And coil binding lays flatter than saddle-stitch.

2. Incorporate Multiple Layers of Learning

Mastery requires repetition and reinforcement. Most of us retain information by having that same content presented multiple ways. Here are some ideas of how to do that within your training manual.

  • Start each section or chapter with a quick overview of the key topics covered
  • Use call-out boxes that provide additional context, such as a “Putting It Into Practice” example
  • End each chapter with a chapter summary, highlighting the key takeaways
  • Incorporate quizzes and reflection exercises throughout each section to foster immediate retention and application
  • Create space for “brain breaks” or even doodling throughout your book to help learners refocus and refresh

3. Provide Direct Access to Supplemental Learning Materials

Extend the learning beyond your book. Include QR codes in your printed materials that link to resources designed to offer additional context and real-world applications, such as videos, podcasts, and virtual renderings.

As you evaluate the strategy and design of your training programs to facilitate better performance from your learners, it’s important to also examine your printed training materials. Be sure to incorporate a design that not only reflects the quality of your training content but supports your learning retention and application goals as well.

User Experience and Printed Conference Program Books

The concept of user experience (UX) isn’t limited to websites and other online interactions. Offline tools, such as your printed conference program or proceedings book, also need to be designed with the end user’s experience in mind.

User experience is broadly defined as “the overall experience of a person using a product…especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use.” When the product is the conference, we take great care to ensure attendees can easily navigate all aspects of our event. From finding relevant schedule and session information on the website and in the mobile event app, to being able to easily navigate the conference center and expo hall, we understand that every touchpoint we have with an attendee helps shape their opinion of our conference and affects whether or not they choose to return.

The printed program guide, which not only provides important event information but also sets the tone of the event, should also be designed to provide an exceptional user experience.

User experience and your conference program booklet

Just like an app or website, attendees must be able to access the information they’re looking for quickly within your printed program, and use the materials as they were intended.  Elements like colors and fonts, tabs, paper type, and even the binding of the book don’t just make it look impressive, they also contribute to the book’s overall functionality.

The overall design of the book is a key component to usability and the attendee’s experience with it. Layout and formatting should be done in a way that helps guide readers through the material, provides consistent visual cues, and appropriately reflects your brand. Other key aspects of the conference program book’s design that aren’t always top-of-mind are book size, fonts, paper type, and binding, which all affect user experience.

Before you start the design and production of your next program booklet and other printed conference materials, here are some questions to take into consideration that will help you incorporate UX into your conference materials:

What is the purpose of the conference program booklet?

Does your program serve as a proceedings. book, containing “shelf-worthy” material such as abstracts or papers? If so, consider using perfect binding to create a printable spine. Just make sure it’s easy enough to pack in a suitcase for the return trip.

Conversely, if the program guide is meant to serve as a quick-reference tool to view the schedule, find room assignments, and navigate the tradeshow floor,  a smaller thinner, or even a pocket-guide piece may be preferable.

Who is your average conference attendee?

If the demographics of your conference tend to skew older, be sure to use a larger font size that is easily legible, even in dimly lit rooms. Avoid pairing colors that don’t have enough contrast, which also decreases legibility.

Some attendees tend to prefer a booklet that is more portable, keeping it in their pocket rather than a briefcase or bag, which may make smaller booklets a smarter choice.

Are you providing added value with your printed conference materials?

If your attendees love having the program booklet as a place to take notes during the conference, then paper stock and binding type matters. Use an uncoated stock for notes pages, as they are easier to write on. Additionally, ensure your piece lays flat. Coil binding works better than saddle-stitch for this purpose.

If your program is a source of revenue for your conference, then you want to give your sponsors (and exhibitors) a chance to stand out, while providing the information that attendees are looking for.  Advertising space should be large enough to feature a meaningful message and help attendees find them on-site.

How much content do you have?

If yours is a large, multi-day and or multi-track conference with a significant amount of simultaneous content to choose from (sessions, workshops, symposia, speakers, special events, exhibitors, etc.), you want to make your program booklet as easy for users to navigate as possible. Consider including a table of contents at the front, so users can find relevant information easily.

You can include tabs to break up sections of content. Physical tabs sit out further from the book, making them easy to see. However, sometimes this makes the book harder to store. Bleed tabs provide a graphic reference to each section while remaining in-line with the rest of the book.

User experience applies across all attendee touchpoints of a conference. As you’re reviewing and evaluating your online and digital tools, be sure to apply the same scrutiny to your printed conference materials, such as your program booklet, as well.  Doing so will help ensure that attendees have a positive user experience with all aspects of your conference.

Applying Micro-Learning Concepts to Your Printed Course Materials

 

In an earlier post, we discussed how micro-learning—or “the delivery of bite-sized content nuggets”— is considered to be the #1 trend for training professionals in 2018. But this doesn’t mean it’s being widely executed. While some organizations are starting to experiment with their offerings, most are still figuring out how to get started.

The discussion of micro-learning is typically centered around online and mobile-based training programs, which, according to recently-compiled data from a series of industry studies, is one of the primary reasons that the implementation of micro-learning programs isn’t as widespread as you would think. Continuing education professionals stated that the time investment required to create online and mobile-friendly content is a major barrier, particularly for those who are already tasked with growing their programs using the same or fewer resources. Meanwhile, according to the same series of studies, nearly three-fourths of participants provide printed training materials. If there is a clear, strategic benefit for your organization to create programs that consist of smaller learning segments, it may be possible to pilot a program by re-thinking how you present your print-based content.

Historically, course books and training manuals have been designed to support long-form learning, organizing content into longer chapters that both introduce complex concepts and dive into all of the supporting details.  Recently, however, some organizations have started looking at ways to redesign existing content in order to serve up the same information smaller pieces that can be consumed and referenced much more quickly. Here are just a few ideas to consider:

From One to Many

Take a large, single course book and break it out into a branded series of separate pieces that are each more singularly focused.  In doing this, you may have room to play with the format and add notetaking pages or other self-reflection and application exercises to make the content more personally relevant.

Keep Sections Short

If you determine that offering a single course book is the best way to deliver your program, consider reducing the length of your chapters and sections, providing more frequent breaks in the material so readers have a logical place to pause and digest.

Turn Text into Graphics

If you are outlining list-based information, try substituting pages of text with a simple-to-follow infographic to help increase retention.

Provide Easy Access to Supplemental Digital Material

Most of us are never more than an arm’s length from our phones or other mobile devices at all times. Rather than presenting all of the necessary information in your printed piece, consider using print as a means to give a more concise overview or introduction of a topic, with directions throughout the piece to supplemental online materials from your organization or your industry’s thought-leaders, including videos, podcasts and virtual renderings that can be accessed while the learner is reading.

If you are looking to incorporate micro-learning practices into your existing continuing education programs but don’t feel you have the time or resources to develop online and mobile-friendly content, consider starting with your printed materials. This not only gives you an opportunity to take a fresh look at existing content, but is also a lower-cost way to test-pilot micro-learning techniques before making a larger investment in new, digital materials.

Get Your Training Courses Ready for Generation Z

For the past several years, a common theme around the strategy planning table is how to attract and retain younger members. With each passing year, this conversation is less about the long sought-after Millennials, however. The oldest of this generation is now in their mid-30’s. Many associations now have their sights set on the up-and-comers known as Generation Z. And what everyone is starting to realize is how different they appear to be from their predecessors.

Who is Generation Z?

Although there are some reported variances in the dates that define Generation Z, the general consensus is they were born between the mid-to-late 1990’s (roughly 1995) through the 2000’s (roughly 2010).

The eldest are in the process of graduating college and hitting the workforce, while the youngest are busy creating Google presentations, blogging and creating iMovies as part of their elementary school curriculum.

They are a very multi-cultural generation that is even larger than Boomers and Millennials. Today they represent over 25% of the U.S. population. And in just 5 years, they will represent approximately 20% of the workforce.

And, their overall outlook on life—their ambitions, goals, and the way they plan to achieve them—is the product of events and innovations that have completely changed even the world that Millennials knew. This is (potentially) a very different generation.

Turmoil and Technology Has Made Them Pragmatic, Entrepreneurial

A Non-Standard Path to Success

Generation Z felt the fallout from the Great Recession and has never known a world without terrorism. Unlike the so-called “entitled” Millennials, they understand that success isn’t guaranteed. They are prepared to work for it, and to make it their own.

  • They actively seek out opportunities to learn, develop and grow
  • They aren’t necessarily set on taking a linear path to success
  • They have a greater entrepreneurial drive than their predecessors, and have grown up in a world where they’ve seen (via social media) even their youngest peers have success with self-derived ventures
  • They are also more financially conservative than their predecessors

Beyond Tech Savvy

For Millennials, technology was very much present in their lives, but as a parallel activity, something to “play with” in their free time. Contrast this with Generation Z, where technology is fully integrated into everything they do. It has changed the model for how they interact with the world around them, how they learn and, most importantly, how they process information.

  • Where Millennials are the generation that shares content, Gen Z is the generation that creates it
  • In the classroom, a Gen Z student uses multiple platforms (including both print and digital) simultaneously to learn and reinforce a single concept, and often has the opportunity to choose how they want to learn
  • Thanks to DVRs, media streaming and 24/7 connectivity anywhere, the concept of appointment-based anything is fading fast

Social Media Maturity

For Gen Z, social media is no longer a new fad. It’s an established reality. And while it is the basis of a majority of their social connections, Gen Z is much more “mature” in their use of it than Millennials are.

  • Social connections matter even more to Gen Z more than to Millennials. They want to be culturally connected, and have a tremendous fear of missing out (a.k.a. “FOMO”)
  • At the same time, they are more conscientious of social media privacy, and tend to be drawn to more private forms of social interaction such as Snapchat, Secret and Whisper

How Gen Z Might Shape Your Association’s Educational Programs

Today many associations grapple with how to remain relevant at a time when access to free knowledge is just a click away. But there’s good news. Gen Z will find tremendous value in the growth opportunities that associations provide by increasing knowledge and facilitating connections. As long as you can adapt to their needs and meet them on their terms.

Here are 5 things to consider in your next program development and planning session:
1. Is there an opportunity to re-define the classroom setting, using unique and non-traditional locations as a means to help apply learning?

2. Is there an opportunity to develop sessions that allow attendees to co-create content as a means to facilitate learning and professional development?

3. How might you combine instructor-led training and self-guided learning as part of a single learning strategy (versus an either-or approach)?

4. How can you more effectively tie print and digital materials together in a complementary way? For instance, does it make sense to use print to introduce a complex topic, with digital tools such as video, interactive platforms, virtual and 4D technology to facilitate hands-on application of the concept?

5. In looking at your printed materials, how might you re-develop and re-design them to provide shorter pieces of content with more visual cues that support the text?

Although Millennials are still extremely relevant to associations, it won’t be long before all eyes are on Generation Z. How accurately can we predict future preferences based this current profile of a very young generation? It’s too soon to tell for sure. What is certain, however, is that, just as with Millennials, it won’t be long before we’re reevaluating and reconsidering today’s best practices. And it’s never too early to start planning ahead.

Quick Tips for Managing Conference Program Printing

 

Conference program materials are often one of the last items to be checked off the event planner’s to-do list. With a very narrow delivery window, there is little room for error. What steps can you take to streamline the printing of your next conference program, avoid common pitfalls and increase the return on your investment?

Take a look at this infographic to learn some quick tips to reduce the stress of your next conference program printing project.

And for more ideas and advice, be sure to read our whitepaper, Managing Conference Print Projects: Five Tips for Success. You’ll get access to the knowledge we’ve gathered from printing conference content for over 40 years. These best practices and tips are the same ideas we share with customers to reduce the stress of this important part of conference planning.

conference print projects

 

Conference Print Projects: From the Infographic

Conference print projects are often the last items to be checked off the conference planning to-do list. Keep these Four facts in mind as your conference program comes together to avoid any last minute surprises.

A Big Pay-Off: Save Money with the Right Paper Stock

A heavier-stock cover separate from the body pages adds expense.
Save money by using a slightly heavier stock for the entire piece, including a self-cover.

Don’t Get Caught In A Bind: Know Your Binding Options A Head of Time

Perfect Bound: Text on a flat spine makes it easy to find on the shelf
Plastic Coil: Lays completely flat, great for notetaking and can contain up to 1,300 pages
Saddle Stitch: An economical option but limited to a maximum of 104 pages

Go Smaller for Bigger Page Counts: A Smaller Finished Size Can Save Your Budget

Double your page count without affecting your budget by turning an 8.5” x 11” piece into 5.5” x 8.5”

Add More Color to Your Piece (without Adding Much Green): The Price of Full-Color Printing Has Decreased

New technology has made conference program printing in full-color significantly less costly in recent years.

 

 

 

 

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