Changing Role, Same Focus

 

Changes are something we talk about a lot on this blog. Sometimes it’s how generational changes are affecting associations, or how changing your mindset can help your organization find a new solution to an old problem.

Changes often make people nervous. Unsure. Maybe it breaks them out of a comfortable routine.

Change to me means opportunity. A chance to re-evaluate and reinvigorate. That’s exactly how I feel about this change: The change in responsibility that comes with my new role as Director of Training and Publications.

Playing a new role in this organization is nothing new to me. Over the 29 years that I’ve been a part of this company, I’ve been involved in just about every part of the business. While the role I play may have changed over the years, my commitment to helping our customers create better course materials for their learners and print, pack and ship their publications has remained.

From the point of view of our customers, it’ll be business as usual. But, behind the scenes, know that we are working hard to continually do what is necessary to remain the partner you turn to as a collaborative resource.

Focus on making our customers successful

All of our efforts really focus on one thing: Day in, day out, how can we help make our customers successful. That’s what we’re here to do. Knowing what associations do to better our community is a great motivator. We’re invested in seeing our customers remain competitive in their markets. That’s why we are always reviewing the solutions we offer and making recommendations that will help our customers reach their goals.

Focus on technology through integrations

One of the things we pride ourselves on is making our customers’ lives easier when it comes to system integrations. Associations are continually embracing new technology to help manage their financials and processes. This means opportunities for integrations between new systems are emerging all the time. We’ll continue to be proactive with recommendations that provide insight into your data and make your staff more efficient.

Focus on finding efficiencies

Developing efficient processes isn’t just important for us as a company, but is something that we pass on to our customers, as well. For example, we recently re-organized our warehouse to shorten the turn time it takes for an incoming order to be packed and prepped for delivery to your customer. Improvements like these help us ensure that our high-level of expectations translate into world-class service for our customers.

So what’s the bottom line to you? In my role as Director of Training and Publications, I’ll make sure we continue to stay focused on what really matters: Supporting our customers and making sure we offer them the solutions that support their mission and make them successful.

Learning from Millennials: The Basics Still Apply

 

I recently read this blog post by ATD on designing learning for tomorrow, as taken from the perspective of a Millennial. It really struck a chord with me, but not for the reasons you might imagine.

There is so much hype around the tools and technologies available to learners. Mobile learning, social learning and multi-platform learning are the latest buzzwords to grace the industry. The world of education is changing at an exponential rate, and there are no signs of it slowing down. As a training and education professional, you need to continue to evolve your programs—and fast—to keep up. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? Is that perhaps because we are spending too much time focused on technology for technology’s sake?

Getting Back to Basics

While it is true that technology is helping to facilitate new learning-based activities, the fundamentals of learning haven’t really changed much. New skills need to be reinforced over time to truly “stick.” Hands-on learning helps to turn abstract concepts into practical applications. And peer-to-peer discussions bring new ideas to light. This was true for Boomers, and is still true today for Millennials.

So rather than worrying about how you are going to re-design your educational programs for the future, start by revisiting and reinforcing your core learning objectives. Then, think about all of the ways you could use technology to achieve these objectives—both within your initial course, and as supplemental materials.

For instance, are you teaching a new procedure for workers in the field? Then what are some ways you can provide immediate access to the most frequently requested information while on-the-job? What may have been a pocket-sized handbook a decade ago might work well as an app today.

Providing Practical Choices—Including Print!

What’s really exciting about being a continuing education professional today are the opportunities to really bring learning to life in ways that never could have been done before, while at the same time giving learners options based on their own learning preferences. This means there are more ways to facilitate successful learning!

Much of the conversation has turned to digital technology. But let’s not forget about print. According to our Millennials and Print survey, 59% of respondents find it easier to learn from printed materials, and 57% indicated they prefer print for learning complex concepts. So while print still provides fundamental value to your youngest learners, technology has the ability to transform two-dimensional printed material into three or even four-dimensional, hands-on learning. The initial concepts introduced through a printed course book can be supplemented by video, interactive 3D apps, social platforms and even virtual technology for meaningful, dynamic and ongoing learning. Which means content is no longer an if/or discussion but rather a “yes, and” opportunity for educators.

Streamline Your Publications, Simplify Your Day

When workdays are busy (always!), simplifying projects is important. Often that takes the form of eliminating unnecessary steps and streamlining processes. The fewer tasks you have to complete, the more likely that you’ll actually manage to get to all of them.

Your association produces a dizzying amount of content each year, between its annual meeting, continuing education training courses, and publications. Wouldn’t it be simpler if you could count on one trusted vendor to produce all of that content?

Even looking at publications alone, there’s a lot to manage. Digital publishing platforms make it easier for members to access materials, but printed publications are often preferred. That means your association should provide both printed versions of and online access to publications like technical manuals, policy books, standards, and member directories. When that’s done, you still have to navigate how to sell the publications to member—in both formats.

What’s an overworked association staff to do? Rely on Omnipress to help them get it all done.

Printed publications: Printing association content is what we do. We can handle the proceedings from your annual meeting, the course books for your continuing education training program, and publications like policy books, standards, member directories, and technical manuals.

Order fulfillment: Getting your publications from our warehouse to your members is a cinch for the Omnipress team. Nearly half of the production team has been with the company for over 20 years! That’s expertise and experience you can trust.

Digital publishing platform: If you can partner with a company that prints, ships, and offers online access to publications, you’re golden. Omnipress’ digital publishing platform fits the bill with helpful features like full-text and faceted search, access control, and digital rights management.

Subscription management: Your association decides which visitors to your site have access to which materials. Whether the distinction is made based on subscription level, membership, or other criteria is up to you; making it work for your association is our responsibility.

Single storefront: Offer printed publications, digital files, and subscriptions through a single online storefront. Members can purchase books, USBs, PDFs or ePubs, and subscriptions to online access to materials. The storefront can be branded to show your association’s colors and logo. All payments collected stay with your organization throughout the transaction; we don’t take a cut of your well-earned, non-dues revenue.

When you’re ready to streamline your publications process and shorten your to-do list, Omnipress is ready to help. To learn more now, download our white papers on the digital publishing platform and using a single storefront for printed and digital materials.

Is It Time to Break Up With Your Fulfillment Vendor?

Your fulfillment vendor is the linking relationship between your organization and your members or customers. If your members receive their orders late, or receive the wrong order altogether, it’s your fault in the eyes of your customer (even though your fulfillment partner is actually at fault).

But how do you know when the time has come to consider a new fulfillment company? With so much invested in one (or a few) fulfillment partner(s), this is a HUGE decision to make.

What are the warning signs you should break up with your fulfillment vendor?

3 Signs Your Organization Needs a New Fulfillment Vendor

  1. You’re not communicating. Since your fulfillment vendor is the link between your organization and your customers, it is critical that they are keeping you informed of any problems. If one of their printers is down, if a customer gets the wrong order or if they lost an order, you should be the first to know. What’s more, your customers should not be the ones informing you of these problems.
  2. Your fulfillment vendor does not treat your product as their own. If the company fulfilling your continuing education materials or publications is shipping out books with missing pages or incorrect covers, they are clearly showing a lack of concern for your product and a lack of respect to your organization. These careless mistakes are a direct representation of your organization’s brand. Is this how you want to be represented?
  3. Your order fulfillment process causes you a lot of work. Getting your training materials or publication orders filled should not mean manual labor for you. If you’re sending your orders via email or an excel spreadsheet to your fulfillment vendor, you’re already doing too much work. You should be able to automatically send orders from your online store directly to your fulfillment partner in XML format. It’s not as difficult as you might think.

If your fulfillment vendor is causing you more harm than good, it may be time to break up and find a new one.

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Print: The New Sexy, Innovative Technology

Nothing’s sexier than the sleek, clean look of a brand new 4G iPad, right?

With the popularity of online content and the astounding growth of smartphones and tablet devices, people have been waving farewell to print, claiming it’s an archaic, boring and static medium.

But is print really dead?

The Battle Between Print and Online Content

As popularity for online content continually increases, equally has the debate between delivering educational content for meetings, training events and publications in print vs. online. These debates have led people to believe that these two mediums cannot co-exist.

With restricting budgets and pressure from their members, associations feel they have to choose between print or online solutions for their conference materials, continuing education and trade publications.

Print AND Online Content Strategy – The “A-HA!” Moment

Over time, associations have begun to realize that print and online can co-exist (even with budget restraints). After all, isn’t the purpose of an association to deliver members relevant and highly-valued content in the way they want to consume it?

Print is still a part of that equation for many association members.

Print Just Got Sexy!

But how do you turn print, the “archaic, boring, static medium,” into something flashy and sexy like all of the cool iPads and smartphones?

Here’s a great example: A product called Touchcode allows users to access digital content through printed paper. Print is no longer complacent with being perceived as irrelevant.

How does your association balance print and digital content? Do your members still want print?

 

Association Update: Now 1 in 5 American Adults Own a Tablet

Whether you like it or not, your association’s publications are trickier to convert into an eBook format than John Grisham’s latest novel. Complex tables, graphics and mathematical formulas can often be a bit of a challenge in the conversion process.

But, that is no excuse for your association to avoid this “whole eBook trend.”

… eBooks are here to stay!

3 Reasons eBooks are Here to Stay

  1. eBooks are being offered in libraries .
    In a recent article on NorthJersey.com, it was stated, “With the rise in popularity of e-book readers like the Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad and Nook from Barnes & Noble, local libraries are seeing a major increase in the demand for e-books, but there’s not enough of a supply of them.” With demand increasing, local libraries are now putting more focus on their digital collections. But, the pressure for eBooks will not just be on local libraries, if you’re association isn’t feeling the heat yet, it will soon.
  2. Tablet owners nearly doubled over the 2012 holiday season.
    In a recent study by the Pew Research Center, the number of tablet owners nearly doubled after the 2012 holiday season. Now 1 in 5 (19%) of American Adults own a tablet. As tablet sales increase, so will the number of requests for your association’s educational publications and conference proceedings to be offered in eBook format.
  3. eReader technology is only getting better.
    In the same study by The Pew Research Center, while they didn’t mention the most popular tablet, they did attribute the surge in tablet sales on the release of the new Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook tablet. According to a recent article on CNET, Amazon has been reluctant to give away sales figures, but analysts have estimated Amazon shipped nearly 4 million Kindle Fires during the fourth quarter of 2011.

Association Content Delivery is Critical

Your association’s educational content is what drives growth and keeps you relevant to your members. Providing that valuable content in the format your members want is just as critical as the content itself.

If you aren’t providing your eReading members your educational publications and other association content in an eBook format, someone else will.

Where do eBooks fit in your content strategy for 2012?

 

BTW – We’ve created “The Omnipress Guide to Association eBooks” to help our customers understand the conversion and distribution processes. You can check it out in the Customer Tools section of our website.

 

Digital Publishing Platforms | Conference Handouts Website or Online Archive?

Looking for a new, affordable way to put conference proceedings, speaker presentations or session handouts online for your next annual meeting?

Or maybe your association is looking for a way to create an entire eLibrary of scholarly publications and technical conference papers from the past 10, 20 or 30+ years?

Most associations are at some stage of creating an online content strategy. Some associations are just looking for a way to quickly place some handouts online, while others are looking for a way to put an entire library of association knowledge online for members and non-members alike to easily find and search.

2 Ways Associations Create Digital Publishing Platforms

Many associations are now using digital publishing platforms for their annual meeting materials and/or full library of educational publications.

Here are two ways you can use a digital publishing platform:

  1. Conference Handout Website: Some associations are using a simplified digital publishing platform to host their symposium materials. It’s a low-cost way to put session handouts, speaker presentations and conference proceedings online for an annual meeting. Websites are all branded, optimized for search engines and have full text and advanced search options so attendees can find the handouts they’re looking for quickly.
  2. Digital Library of Scholarly Content: A full-fledged digital publishing platform hosts and organizes years of conference proceedings and scholarly publications in one centralized hub (we’re talking thousands of documents). This eLibrary has all the benefits of the simple conference handout website, but offers more access management and more customized and advanced features to meet specific objectives.

It’s Not a Learning Management System

It’s important to remember that a digital publishing platform is not a Learning Management System (LMS). Digital publishing platforms (whether they are simple conference websites or full-blown archives of digital content) are discoverable by major search engines, host various types of content from journals to webinars and have advanced search options within the site.

Still confused? Check out more of the differences between a Digital Publishing Platform and LMS.

What’s a Digital Publishing Platform to Your Association Content?

What do you call the website containing all your educational content – the technical papers, recordings, presentations, handouts, and publications? (This is no joke. There’s no punch line!)

Many associations simply refer to this as “putting conference materials online” or “online handouts.” Sure that’s what you’re doing, but what if you had a catchy, memorable name you could market and build your brand on?

What Associations Call “Putting Content Online”

  • eLibrary
  • Library of Knowledge
  • Knowledge Community – (For public facing communities)
  • Proceedings Central
  • Central Repository
  • Online Destination Site
  • Resource Center
  • Digital Library
  • Body of Knowledge
  • (Name of Org) Central
  • Electronic Resource Library
  • Knowledge Library

We call it a Digital Publishing Platform,or eLibrary (or Knowledge Center).

Tomato- tomahto, right?

Sharing your educational content to members and using it to attract new members can be the lifeblood of your association. That’s the most important part.

What’s your “digital publishing platform”?

Infographic – Harnessing the Power of Educational Content

Looking for new ways to use your old speaker presentations, training materials or publications?

Out of the 550 responses in our “Capitalizing on Content” survey, associations were in agreement that educational content is key to brand awareness and industry relevancy, yet less than half are actually doing this.

What about creating a usable online archive of all your old conference or training materials and publications making this valuable content more discoverable? How about taking it a step farther and making this content marketable?

Check out our infographic to see what associations had to say about their educational content, and how digital publishing platform can capture and deliver this content.

You can click to zoom, or here is a print-friendly version for you.

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Curious about the rest of our survey findings? Download our free executive summary.

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Free Download: Capitalizing on Content
cover-content

Your Association Content is an Asset – Make it Usable

Many associations have a plethora of technical papers, reference guides, and conference materials sitting uselessly on their shelves.

Have you ever thought about making this content more usable?

“Content is king, usability is everything!”

With a knowledge center, you are able to unlock this valuable content leveraging it into a marketable asset by making it available with membership.

Eight Things You are ABLE To Do with a Content Knowledge Center:

  1. Make it Searchable: Metadata filtering (author name, subject, event, date, etc.) allows search engines to easily and quickly find your content by the commonly used search terms. And since each page of content has its own unique URL, users will be taken to the exact page where their search is most relevant.
  2. Make it Findable: Since each page of content has its own URL that is indexed with Google, your search engine optimization will drastically improve.
  3. Make it Trackable: With a powerful web analytics tool integrated with your knowledge center, you will be able to track who is looking at what content for how long. Being able to track this data serves as a valuable marketing tool for your educational content and organization.
  4. Make it Accessible: Users will be able to view your knowledge center from any device with internet capabilities and access. And since each page has a unique URL, pages, videos, and audio can be downloaded very quickly. Additionally, you can control accessibility with various subscription offers based on user type, subscription length, member/non-member, pricing and content blocks.
  5. Make it Updatable: With new and revised materials continually being added, new content can be quickly and easily updated. Notifications of updates can be easily shared via RSS feeds.
  6. Make it Sharable: By incorporating social sharing widgets for social media sites, users can easily share content out to their friends and followers. Your audience instantly grows in ways it never could.
  7. Make it Marketable: Putting your content in a knowledge center allows you the opportunity to sell a collection, section of document, page, and even access to the site. Using various price points, you can charge different types of users (i.e. attendees, sponsors, general public, etc.) different prices offering discounts to some, or free trials. Also, by having a selectively open site to search engines, users can view but not see certain content driving more traffic and enticing users to gain membership or pay for the content.
  8. Make it Integratable: Knowledge centers can be seamlessly integrated with AMS or registration allowing for SSO (single sign on) capabilities. Provided as a “software as a service,” there is no server to maintain and no hardware to purchase.

Want to learn more? Check out our twelve page white paper that will show you in greater detail how you can use a knowledge center to leverage your content!

Nine Questions You Should Ask Yourself About Offering Access to Your Online Content

Our customers’ publications, training materials, and event-related content are significant assets for their organization. However, migrating these assets to the web for online consumption can pose significant challenges, especially if you’re looking to generate some revenue from it. There are many different ways to serve up digital content to your users, so it’s helpful to have a plan in place for how you will be offering access to your intellectual property.

Here are nine of the questions we ask our Digital Publishing Platform customers that you can answer to assist yourself in this task:

  1. Are you going to offer free access to everyone, or will some or all of your content be gated (either as a benefit of membership, and/or if purchased)?
  2. What will you provide access to? Everything? Blocks of content organized by year or topic? Content types (ex. Presentations, videos, technical papers, publications, manuals, etc.)? Chapters? Or is access given on an a la carte basis? Or will you give a number of these options to your users?
  3. Will access be given depending on the user’s role (such as attendee vs. member vs. non-member)? Or if you’re selling access, will you provide discounts to certain roles, or offer up coupon codes?
  4. Once access to content is provided, is a user able to access it “forever”? Or can they only access the content for a set duration (ex. five days, 30 days, one year)? Or does access get automatically rescinded on a certain date (ex. 12-31-2014)?
  5. Do you want to offer preview access to pieces of your content, either by exposing something like an abstract, or the first three pages of every document, or by allowing users the ability to view up to 10 pages of anything they want before they lose access?
  6. Do you need to provide accounts to organizations, where you would limit account access either by number of concurrent users logged into a single account, or limit login only to those that come from a certain IP address range?
  7. Will you only allow the content to be accessed via your site, or will you also allow for digital file downloads?
  8. Will you allow for your gated content to be searched by search engines like Google, so people can more easily find your content on the internet, even though they might be prompted to pay before they can access it?
  9. Perhaps the most difficult question: What makes sense for your audience and what are they looking to achieve? Do you need to research/survey this further?

As part of this exercise, assuming you are offering different levels of access, it can be helpful to put together a table that lists your different offers and content blocks. Such as:

  • Full site access for 365 days for members, $499
  • Full site access for 365 days for non-members, $999
  • Access to all Continuing Education resources for 30 days, $199
  • Access to an individual publication until Jan, 1, 2013, $249
  • Access to 10 papers of the user’s choosing for 180 days, $69
  • Etc.

Obviously, this can have varying levels of complexity from organization to organization, but when you’re trying to monetize your publications, training materials, and/or event-based content in a digital publishing platform, having a good plan in place is 90% of the work.

Have you successfully followed a plan to get your content online and accessible to your audience, or did your attempt fall short? Or are you looking to migrate your content and you still have questions? Please let us know in the comments.

Print Makes a Comeback in 2011

Over the past few years, the need to lower costs and “go green” coupled with increasing using of mobile and internet technologies has steered meeting professionals away from providing printed handouts and learning materials at events.

  • Is cost really the issue?
  • Do members and attendees not value hard copy?
  • Has print lost its impact?

Fact: Our printing business is growing. How? Because many training organizations still provide printed educational books (manuals, workbooks, binders, etc.) to help educate their attendees. And since they offer multiple training events at various locations, the need for for a distribution strategy and partner is important.

This doesn’t mean organizers of events should be printing everything, but maybe your organization needs to consider your attendees and members. I hear things like, “our attendees have not pushed back” … but maybe they just stop attending your event (or did not renew membership) because it lacks the educational value and networking they might get somewhere else? Maybe your registration numbers are a reflection of this?

So when this article hit my inbox, “7 Reasons Print Will Make a Comeback in 2011” written by content marketing expert, Joe Pulizzi of Junta42 – The Content Marketing Revolution, I had to read it.

Here are the key points that Joe Pulizzi makes and my reactions to them:

Junta42: What’s Old Is New Again: Social media, online content and iPad applications are all part of the marketing mix today. Still, what excites marketers and media buyers is what IS NOT being done. They want to do something different…something new. It’s hard to believe, but I’ve heard many marketers talk about leveraging print as something new in their marketing mix. Unbelievable.

  • My thoughts: As a marketer and attendee to events, social and new media compete for my attention. I used to find conference programs in my traditional inbox, so when I get something event or education-related in print, I like it. It’s different.

Junta42: Customers Still Need to Ask Questions: We love the Internet because buyers can find answers to almost anything. But where do we go to think about what questions we should be asking? I talked to a publisher last week who said this: “The web is where we go to get answers but print is where we go to ask questions.” The print vehicle is still the best medium on the planet for thinking outside the box and asking yourself tough questions based on what you read. It’s lean back versus lean forward. If you want to challenge your customers (like Harvard Business Review does), print is a viable option.

  • My thoughts: Do people really do their best thinking at their computers? I don’t. Sometimes it’s in my car or while I’m sitting on the couch or on the patio. And, I like having the content that I am working on in print, not my iphone or netbook. I like to write notes and circle things that I need to check out or dig into. That’s hard to do on my computer.

Junta42: Print Still Excites People: I talked to a journalist recently who said it’s harder and harder to get people to agree to an interview for an online story. But mention that it will be a printed feature and executives rearrange their schedule. The printed word is still perceived as more credible to many people than anything on the web. It goes to the old adage, “If someone invested enough to print and mail it, it must be important.” Whether that’s true or not, that is still a widely-held perception.

  • My thoughts: Amen to this point. When the editors of MPI’s One+ Magazine wanted me to write an article about online event communities and told me it would be in their printed magazine, I was ecstatic (did you see it?). Have you ever walked into one of your breakout sessions and asked the attendees if they would like a printed copy of the session handout? I’ve seen this happen in person. Almost 90% of attendees raised their hand. But why? They can get the handouts online.

Junta42: Unplug: More and more people are actively choosing the unplug, or disconnect themselves from digital media. I’m doing this more myself. I’m finding myself turning off my phone and email more to engage with printed material. A year ago I didn’t see this coming. Today, I relish the opportunities when I can’t be reached for comment.

  • My thoughts: With in a few clicks you can go from Google to Amazon to your email to Hootsuite, then back to email, then to… you get my point. I receive 100+ emails and internal messages EVERY day that ask me to click to more external links. I am not telling anyone to not publish content online, but realize you’re competing with the fact that you can lose you reader in just one click. Can you ever get beneath the surface with digital content? Maybe print is just what you need to learn?

What do you think?