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.