Stryker Takes Brochures into the Digital Age with Adobe's Publishing Suite

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When it comes to building content for a company like Stryker, a surgical and health equipment manufacturer, the devil is in the details. Each device the company sells is accompanied by an extensive set of specifications, guidelines, and precautions, which must be digestible to customers but still include every bit of relevant information about the product. From a marketing standpoint, that's a major challenge.

Though the company primarily relied on brochures to distribute marketing content in the past, Stryker's marketing team eventually decided to transition to a digital distribution platform. Once the iPad became a popular sales tool, Stryker began building apps instead of continuing to create brochures to cut printing costs and speed the content development process. But the apps only made things more complicated for Stryker's marketing team and sales personnel, the apps' end users.

"[The apps] were difficult to make, and there were lots of resources involved," Stephen Brown, creative director at Stryker, says. "We were looking at a three-month build-and-release period. It was a very drawn-out process." The apps were also expensive—Stryker's IT department couldn't handle the load and outsourced the assignments, which cost roughly $5,000 per product, not counting any necessary animations. Embedding an animation ran an additional $2,500, according to Brown.

Because the apps weren't being built by marketers or designers, maintaining brand consistency was difficult, and often the content produced did not reflect Stryker's standard or style. The apps appeared bulky, and the material was difficult for salespeople to use and more difficult for customers to process. For content pertaining to medical equipment, that was "unacceptable," Brown says. When the company began using Adobe's Digital Publishing Suite solution, however, the problems virtually disappeared.

"When Adobe released DPS, we realized as designers that this is where we needed to be. It puts the creative power back into the hands of designers, because it uses the same structure that we used when we were making brochures, while eliminating the cost of printing," Brown says.

Indeed, the backbone of Adobe DPS consists of tools from Adobe's Creative Suite, most of which are familiar to designers. InDesign, for example, is the product at the center of Adobe DPS, Dave Dickson, senior product marketing manager for digital publishing, explains. Adobe DPS allows marketers and designers to publish interactive "mobile magazines" that feel "more like a clean, digitized brochure than a difficult-to-navigate app," Dickson says. The learning curve is shallow because most designers and marketers tasked with content creation are already InDesign-proficient, and there are "very few plug-ins on top of the InDesign functionality to facilitate the coding aspect," Brown adds.

Once Stryker began using Adobe's product to develop its medical equipment magazines, production time decreased dramatically. The team no longer had to wait for IT to find resources and contractors, assign the project, and launch it when it was completed. The production time was cut down to roughly two to three weeks, Brown says. And once Stryker purchased the DPS product, there was no longer any additional cost associated with developing new apps. Stryker continues to pay extra for animations, but that cost has been reduced by 80 percent—the company now pays about $500 instead of $2,500.

Among sales employees who use the magazines to sell Stryker's products, the overall adoption rate is three times higher than that of the old apps, and, as a result, sales are improving. Seven of Stryker's 10 top performing branches are top users of the DPS magazines.

"Before DPS, we had over 100 apps of all sorts. There were product apps, calculation apps, and different tools to help salespeople, but they were so difficult to use that the benefits were lost. Now it's basically consolidated into one app that contains all the magazines," Brown says.

As good content becomes increasingly important for effective marketing, the need for technology that can help companies build and publish that content is greater than ever. "Stryker was able to take a massive amount of dense information and transform it into a tool that salespeople not only needed to use, but actually want to use. Adobe DPS is a powerful tool for marketers," Dickson says.

The Payoff

After implementing Adobe's DPS solution, Stryker saw the following results:

  • a reduction in content production and launch time from 3 months to 2 to 3 weeks;
  • a reduction in cost from $5,000 per app and $2,500 per animation to no cost per magazine and $500 per animation;
  • a 70 percent correlation to sales; and
  • an adoption rate that was 3 times higher among sales employees.

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