Sometimes it’s hard to understand print industry lingo. If you’re not part of this vibrant and evolving field, you may not always be savvy to terms that printers toss around with abandon. That’s their problem – not yours.
Printers are visual communicators above all else, aren’t they? If they can’t clearly explain a print concept or technology, you don’t owe them your business.
Take “print on demand.” It’s used so often and so broadly within the industry, that many marketers miss the essence of what it really means, and why they should care.
When you hear a printer’s claim that he does print-on-demand (POD), here’s what you probably think: I can get something printed really fast…as in “same day,” “no waiting,” and “I demand it now.” (BTW, it’s often called “on demand printing,” too.)
While it’s true that POD offers a much quicker turnaround on your delivered materials than traditional (AKA offset) commercial printing, it’s actually much more nuanced than that. Marketers should appreciate all the power that print-on-demand offers. Once they do, they can take full advantage of it.
Getting something printed on demand involves digital printing technology: presses that produce short runs (low quantities) very quickly. The majority of printers now offer this technology, though the presses differ. Most print in full color, though very few print spot colors (a particular PMS color, for example). You’ll have paper and other substrate options. There are some finished size limitations as well, but your printer will guide you when you’re planning a print-on-demand job. Long gone are the days when POD jobs had to be multiples of 8 ½ x 11.
Aside from these broad technical considerations, marketers should keep in mind the amazing ways to take advantage of print-on-demand technology in support of a marketing campaign as well as other business communications.
So, what's in it for me?
The real magic of using print-on-demand is that it’s highly automatable – and that means “hands off” for you after the project is set up with your printer. Whether you’re creating training materials, a book, sell sheets, membership materials, or development kits, you can create each product with your printer partner, then it’s uploaded to your own online marketing resource center, where it sits at-the-ready for future orders.
You can personalize your print-on-demand jobs. That’s one of the hallmarks of digital printing technology: the fact that you can marry a database with a print project, change the copy as well as graphics, and print out a unique, personalized piece every time.
You can use POD to test a product. Let’s say you’re not sure how a printed piece will work in the field. Print a small number of pieces, show them to your sales reps to test – or even just get their input. Once you collect comments, you can make any changes necessary and continue with your print run.
Think of this technology as your private printing press that’s always available to produce a copy when needed. Better yet – consider POD your collateral management system. Use it to store all of your collateral online. Your materials will be there whenever you need to order them on demand – just like ordering from Amazon.
Another benefit of a POD program? All of your stored materials have branding consistency. Approve the design and printed sample once, and be confident that every future copy will be of consistent quality, even if sales or other non-marketing team members order them. (POD becomes POM: Peace of Mind.)
When you print anything on demand, you reduce (if not eliminate) waste outright. It’s totally efficient. Print what you need when you need it. Print it near; print it far. Start calculating the savings you’ll realize by doing away with print inventory – and suddenly you’re the star of your marketing team. Wanna bet your manager takes notice?