On Demand Publishing Really Works!

Early in my career I worked for a brilliant marketer named Peter Eddison. We had many great conversations and exchanged many great ideas — sometimes too many and over to short a time period to do anything with them.

One of Peter’s more memorable ideas was to create product documentation only on demand. He would often be observing how much effort we put into creating lengthy manuals for our complex product (Fulcrum) and wondered why we go through all that effort given how little people actually read documentation. He used to often say — “Wouldn’t it be good if we could publish each page as someone actually wants to read it?”.

This was obviously not practical in the 80’s and 90’s but certainly somewhat practical today — and I put that idea to the test in the way InsideSpin.com was created. For those who have looked at the site, you will have noticed that not all sections are fully fleshed out. In fact, only about 50% of them are — the rest have red colored ‘More’ buttons — when ‘More’ is pressed, it increments a counter in a database and provides the reader an option to send me an email to formally request that page.

Over time, I look at the database to see which topics are getting the most hits and direct my efforts to build new content based on that. My most recent one was the page on Board and CEO Authority (http://www.insidespin.com/governtopics.php#authority). I think I have proven to myself that Peter’s idea was, at least at the concept level, a good one — and even practical in some contexts in a real situation.

Thanks for the many times we talked about how to make the product world a better place — this one is for you!

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