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What is Custom Publishing?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Custom publishing is a tool utilized to create and reinforce brand loyalty. It involves the production of media such as magazines, videos, newspapers, and brochures which has been targeted to appeal to a very particular audience and type of consumer. One of the best examples of custom publishing is an in-flight magazine, a publication created with the express purpose of targeting people who use a particular airline. The in-flight magazine is also one of the oldest examples of using publication of customized media in marketing.

This type of marketing is not advertising. In fact, custom publishing goes out of its way to ensure that it is not perceived as advertising, so that when people are exposed to it, they consider it as a credible, informative, and useful source. It is typically informational or editorial in nature. For example, in an in-flight magazine, people can find food recommendations, travel reviews, and other content related to airline travel, without specific mentions of the airline.

Many companies utilize custom publishing to keep existing customers. For example, a car company might send out periodic magazines to people who purchase their cars, providing information which might be of use, and reminding customers that they are valuable and viewed as important by the company. These materials are also used to solicit new customers. A manufacturer of food products, for example, might publish a magazine provided free of charge at grocery stores in the hopes of piquing interest in the company and its products.

The construction of custom publishing is accomplished with extreme care. Every piece of media produced must align with the lifestyle, brand, and values marketing associated with the company, reinforcing consumer confidence and faith. A luxury car company, for example, would not publish content promoting a frugal lifestyle, as this runs contrary to the core values of the company. Likewise, a producer of family films would focus on custom publishing which reinforced family values.

People sometimes use the term “custom publishing” to refer to the publication of customized works such as books of poetry or class readers by request, sometimes known as “vanity publishing.” More accurately known as “self-publishing,” this type of publishing involves taking material which someone has prepared, and publishing it for sale to a limited market. The distinction between self-publishing and custom publishing is that individuals interested in promoting and distributing their own work use self-publishing, while companies focused on brand recognition and customer loyalty engage in custom publishing.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a SmartCapitalMind researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By wander — On Jul 18, 2011

Picking up the magazines put out by stores can be a great way to learn about new products and save money. Most of the custom publishing I have seen done for stores always includes oodles of coupons for those who are looking for a bargain.

While the store magazines are undoubtedly trying to push their brand image, they do offer so good insight into what you can expect from them and how far they are willing to go to keep customers happy. Deals where they will match your coupons and give you free goodies just for being a reader are pretty enticing.

By MrSmirnov — On Jul 17, 2011

Whenever I travel I always get sucked into browsing through the in-flight magazines. I feel that there really isn't much too do, especially when you are on a long haul flight and need some entertainment.

I never really knew that in-flight magazines were considered a custom publishing job. Though it makes sense considering that these magazines not only have general travel articles but also specific route information and an entertainment guide for all of the airlines flights.

The in-flight magazine is also a great source of information regarding things like baggage allowance and security procedures at various stops.

Whenever I am not sure about filling in a customs form, there is usually a page in the magazine that helps with that sort of information. It is really handy.

By JaneAir — On Jul 16, 2011

I've noticed lately that there is a new type of vanity publishing out there: ebook publishing. Although many consider self publishers not to be "real" authors, many of these independents have actually experienced a degree of success.

I read an article recently about such a case. A young woman had self published several ebooks through an independent site. Her books sold so well she actually got picked up by a regular publisher!

I'm wondering if custom publishing will branch out to ebooks eventually as well. They are quite inexpensive to make and distribute and ereaders and tablets are becoming more and more popular.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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