Would you consider yourself a printer? I’ll bet you don’t, but you are.

Think for a minute about what we had to do 20 years ago to print a color brochure, a mailer or a quote for a job – if you were lucky, you had access to a copier. Or a fax machine. Now, think about what technology allows us to do today. For relatively little investment, we can design and print or distribute astonishingly professional documents and media from our computers that rival what we went to “professionals” for not that many years ago.

So – whether you noticed it or not – we became printers. Maybe not TALENTED ones, but we’re more printers than we were.

In the same ways, the Internet has made us all publishers. And as a manufacturer, that puts you in a very weird place. You make money when you make the things you make well, and if you’re designing collateral to send to prospects or writing for your Web site you likely aren’t. Or, at least that’s how it seems.

As manufacturers in the information age, you MUST get acquainted to some degree with what is happening with your prospects and customers to capitalize on their changing habits and preferences for finding and engaging you online.

Attention is the New Currency” is a piece from 2007, written by Gerd Leonhard, that shatters some old notions of how information is produced, delivered and consumed online. Among the pearls of wisdom Gerd drops in this blog, here’s one you have to understand to succeed online as a publisher (through your Web site):

The tollbooth has moved up the road a bit but this is now a trusted and reliable road that will inevitably lead to the monetization point. Put the tollbooth too early and 95% of digital travelers will turn around and look for other ways to get there!

What this means for you is this: finding reasons to withhold information about your capabilities, experiences and expertise with the goal of getting a contact or a phone call will kill you online.

Holding back the information that differentiates you – that is, what you’ve done for others and can do for new customers – will push prospects to your competitors without you even knowing it happened.

Look, you don’t have to be a fulltime publisher any more than you have to be a fulltime printer. But neglecting to aggressively participate and promote your business and its strengths online today is like handing over $500 to someone to print copies of your equipment list.

You can either collect the toll (rewards) later than you’re used to, or you’re gonna pay for it yourself later on.