The Value of Direct Mail in the Digital Age

As newer technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), chatbots and voice recognition software increasingly enter our everyday, today’s hyper-connected marketing landscape begs one important question: is there still a place for direct mail?

In a word, yes.

Direct mail has come a long way since the catalogs and postcards of yore. Today’s direct mail, as seen by Structural Graphics’ customer spotlights, can be dimensional, incorporate technology and video alongside print, and successfully engage your target audience.

However, it’s important to remember that direct mail should be one part of a larger, integrated overall marketing strategy, as consumers prove again and again that they interact with a variety of media formats when it’s most convenient for them. Even in this digital-first age, it’s important to take a holistic approach when it comes to developing marketing campaigns and root them in success metrics.

Here are three reasons to keep print top-of-mind:

It drives ROI. Although many may think direct mail is a tool of the past, consumers are actually often reading, and more importantly reacting, to the mail sent to them more than they are email. According to a recent response rate report by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), direct mail achieves a 5.1 percent response rate compared to 0.6 percent for email, 0.6 percent for paid search, 0.2 percent for online display and 0.4 percent for social media.

It goes straight to the source. Sending marketing materials straight to a consumer’s mailbox is perhaps the most direct path to communicate a brand’s message. Although digital platforms like paid ads and social media provide marketers with a unique opportunity to reach their target audience at any time, print remains a critical means to reach them at home and tailor each piece accordingly. In fact, tech-savvy consumers aged 18-21 years old had a direct mail response rate of 12.4 percent, according to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

It integrates seamlessly with digital. Research shows that printed collateral continues to be a compelling and successful way to capture the attention of your target audience. However, when coupled with video, it has the capability to not only gain consumers’ attention, but also to hold it. Consider this: 76% of companies who have used videos in the past year report a direct business impact (AdWeek) and 90% of customers report that product videos help them make purchasing decisions (HubSpot).

Video in Print brochures offer an effective option when it comes to getting your company noticed. One of the biggest advantages of combining these two mediums is the ability to enhance your brand messaging. Video is highly visual and auditory, which means it’s easier for many people to remember than text-based content. When consumers remember your video content, they, in turn, remember your brand. This can translate into better brand loyalty as well as more sales and leads.

Structural Graphics Paper Engineer Designs Spectacular Paper Sculpture By Hand

At Structural Graphics, we are very lucky to have such talented and creative employees among us. One of them being our very own Paper Engineer, Shin Wakabayashi. We have yet to find out what Shin cannot do. Talented beyond his years and experience, Shin amazes us and our clients with an innate ability to enhance whatever he touches. Ambitious and tenacious, Shin doesn’t approach projects as much as he tackles them, working and reworking their solutions into perfection. A disciplined artist with an engineer’s attention to detail, he is a Renaissance man who can draw, paint, sculpt, invent, cut, fold, assemble, design, and render.

Shin recently attended a week-long paper sculpture workshop at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking in North Franklin, Indiana taught by world renowned artist Jeff Nishinaka. At this workshop, Shin began work on a paper sculpture that he created entirely by hand. At the completion of the workshop, Shin then took his paper sculpture home to complete it. The entire design was completed over the course of 1 month, with hours spent working on the sculpture before and after work.

The sculpture was inspired by Shin’s interest in Japanese mythological creatures and the artwork used to represent them. Shin referenced a statue of a Tengu, a Japanese folkloric being, erected in a mountain in Tokyo, Japan for his sculpture. He first begin with a drawing of the statue and then transferred it to paper. He hand-cut, shaped, scored (using rolling methods) and glued the paper pieces on top of each other.

This spectacular paper sculpture is currently on display at the Fisher Gallery at the Farmington Valley Arts Center in Avon, CT, as part of a larger paper arts show. Those in the Connecticut area are able to see it on display, along with works by other talented Paper Engineers, now through August 31st.

To see more of Shin’s spectacular work, follow him on Instagram at:

shinwaka89

papershin

Announcing the New and Improved RedPaperPlane.com!

We’re excited to announce the launch of our online ordering division, Red Paper Plane’s, new and improved website! Our goal with this redesign is to create a user-friendly browsing experience that makes it super-easy to find, design and order your perfect dimensional print mailer, brochure, invitation or promotional box. Here’s what else you can expect from the new redpaperplane.com:

More Choices: We’ve added new products, too! You can now design your own Cardboard Virtual Reality Viewers and explore our expanded line of Video in Print brochures and mailers in addition to our other customer favorites.

Improved Navigation: While we still have our customer success stories, templates and design interface, we’ve simplified our navigation bar to make it easier to find exactly what you’re looking for. Browse by product or by use. We’ve also included three featured templates and our latest customer spotlights right on the homepage.

Expanded Features: Now, you can drag and drop your artwork, instantly preview your proof, download and share quotes, and easily create multiple versions of your marketing piece straight from the website.

Easy Design: Our custom interface makes designing a dimensional print piece as easy as 1-2-3:
Choose your format.
Download your template.
Place your art.

Superior Results: The average response rate of dimensional mail is three times greater than traditional mail! Check out Red Paper Plane’s Customer Success Stories here.

With more products, expanded features and convenient benefits, Red Paper Plane’s website will make it easier than ever to set your brand apart. So, what are you waiting for?

Check it out at RedPaperPlane.com/.

Clever Ways to Incorporate VR Into Your Next Marketing Campaign

Take a moment and think back to your last vacation. Where was it? How was the weather? What did you see? But most importantly, how did it make you feel?

What if you could relive that vacation, or the feeling of driving a new car, or perhaps learn an entirely new skill? With Virtual Reality (VR), you can. Whether that’s traveling across the world or participating in a product demonstration remotely, this technology can be a great asset for any brand or marketing team.

While VR has existed for decades (think video gamers in their parents’ basement), it’s only recently made its way into consumers’ homes. Why? The barrier to entry has been so high. Traditional VR viewers were cumbersome and very expensive. However, the introduction of customizable, low-cost, easy-to-assemble viewers like our SleekPeeks® have made it easier than ever to interact with consumers in an entirely new way.

Take the U.S. ARMY, for example. They were looking to create a unique recruitment tool that could be customized to three themes: Sniper, Tank Commander and Bomb Tech. Our SleekPeeks® VR Viewers hit the mark.

MRM/McCann created “In Our Boots”, the VR app that would be used and directions were printed on the viewer detailing where the recipient could download it. Depending upon which soldier the viewer chose to hover over in the VR app, he or she was taken into an immersive experience that simulated the role of a Sniper, Tank Commander or Bomb Tech, allowing the viewer to assess whether or not the U.S. ARMY was for him or her.

Another unique use of our SleekPeeks® came in the form of a test drive. Hyundai was seeking to deliver the ultimate driving experience to prospective customers and sought out Structural Graphics with the help of Blanks Printing to bring their vision to reality. Users were easily able to pop the viewer into place, download the app and try the vehicle out in a safe environment.

Interested in incorporating virtual reality into your next marketing campaign? Contact us or start designing your own viewer here.

5 Marketing Trends & How They Impact the Health Industry

When it comes to healthcare, unlike other industries, many companies are notoriously hesitant to jump on marketing trends, instead, choosing to rely on what’s been effective in the past. But as the healthcare sector evolves, marketers who analyze the trends and prepare for the future have the best chances of setting up their companies for success.

Below are a few marketing trends sure to impact the healthcare industry in Q3 + Q4 of 2019:

  1. Advertising is getting increasingly intelligent.Virtual reality. Native advertising. NFC. Promoted posts. With the wealth of data at our fingertips, targeting specific groups of people – whether it’s by age range, annual salary or shopping preferences – has never been easier for a marketer. With new technologies and a little creative thought, you can use precision targeting to put hyper-relevant content in front of key individuals like the head of supply for a pharmacy chain or a physician at a local hospital. Be sure to use relevant content aimed at how your company, service or product can help them solve or deal with a specific problem you know they have.
  2. We’re relying on the thoughts and feelings of others. Okay, so maybe this isn’t exactly revolutionary since we’ve been relying on online recommendations, Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews for years. However, what makes this worth paying attention to now is that these online reviewers, now called influencers, are representing brands and marketing their products and services to tens or hundreds of thousands of highly engaged consumers.  Partnering with these influencers often gives companies unparalleled access to groups of people they wouldn’t normally have an opportunity to target. Another benefit? These influencers are often conceptualizing and creating the content, then reporting on ROI.   
  3. Video is king. Maybe you’ve noticed; video is taking over the world. From YouTube and Instagram Live to Netflix sweeping last year’s Emmy awards with a record-breaking 112 nominations, it’s clear that video is a mechanism to reach your target audience directly. Not only is it highly sensory, but, when combined with a high-impact printed format, the results are even more effective. Video in Print is a force to be reckoned with. 
  4. Online and offline worlds: you can’t have one without the other.Roughly three quarters of Americans currently own smartphones, according to a 2017 study by the Pew Research Center. They don’t predict this will be slowing down anytime soon. As a marketer, it’s becoming increasingly important to build more integrated customer experiences that can bridge the virtual and physical worlds in a way that fits buyers’ lifestyles and captures their attention. Try our SleekPeeks® Virtual Reality Viewers or NFC technology, for example.

Pharma Marketing Challenges? SG Has Your Solution.

In a highly regulated industry like health care, it’s common for pharmaceutical companies to skimp on their marketing efforts due to things like the complexity of the message they’re trying to send, lack of creativity within the marketplace, or absence of engaging displays.

At Structural Graphics, we understand the key challenges faced by the pharmaceutical industry and have been providing creative marketing solutions to companies operating within this space for more than four decades. Our interactive formats visually deliver your messaging to HCPs and patients through effective education, promotion, detail and welcome kit designs.

Here are just a few examples of how Structural Graphics can help solve your Pharmaceutical Marketing challenges:

Challenge: Developing educational marketing collateral that’s both effective and convenient, and can incorporate video.

SG Solution: Among our favorite designs are our customizable Video in Print Brochures. For an industry that thrives on demonstrations, education and creating a welcoming environment, these can be used as sales aids for detail representatives or product demonstrations for new patients.

Challenge: As early adopters of new technology, there’s a disconnect with our marketing.

SG Solution: Incorporating technology into your marketing campaigns is also a great solution for physicians and other healthcare providers. In a profession which requires people to continually update their ways of doing business more efficiently and effectively, we’ve seen that NFC tags, QR codes, lights, sound, and web keys provide more value to those in the pharmaceutical industry and capture attention where it’s needed most.

Challenge: Breaking down complex information into an easily digestible format.

SG Solution: Using dimension, movement and creativity, our designs can be used strategically to reduce complex information into easy-to-digest segments. For instance, our patented Flapper design allows brands and agencies to guide recipients through their messaging via four distinct panels. The panels fold in on themselves, resulting in an engaging, yet effective, direct mail piece that can’t be put down.

See our full Pharmaceutical Marketing offering here.

How to Link Dimensional Print to Online Views

Have you ever wondered how many people are actually seeing your marketing pieces? Do you have a call to action, but can’t track it back to your direct mail campaign?

We have just the piece for you.

It’s called a Web Key and its ability to link dimensional print to your digital presence is revolutionary for brands, marketers and agencies who are looking to not only to convert, but to provide more concrete metrics for their teams.

Here’s how the Web Key works:

First, you’ll need to decide on the landing page you’d like to drive recipients to. This could be the homepage of your website, digital document, webinar or a custom URL you’ve developed for your campaign. The only requirement is that it’s live.

The next decision is what format you’d like the Web Key embedded in. At Structural Graphics, we’ve been working with Web Keys for years and have seen clients use them in brochures, magazine inserts, event promotion, well boxes and so much more.

From there, we will link the die cut Web Key device with your unique landing page and send it to you for distribution. Plus, we’ll provide you with campaign analytics to help you learn who is visiting, for how long, and what they are interested in. Not to mention, when combined with a high-impact printed format, Web Keys are even more effective!

5 Video Marketing Trends You Should Be Paying Attention To

Regardless of how you use it, video has become the most popular type of digital content used by people the world over. As such, it’s also a supremely effective communication tool for business, allowing advertisers, marketers, and sales teams to share everything from testimonials, product demonstrations, educational messages, reviews, and more with a target audience.

The research is clear.

According to a report from HubSpot Research, 54% of consumers want to see videos from brands they support in comparison to email newsletters (46%) or social image content (41%). Additionally, the report states that video is the most memorable content (43%) in comparison to images (36%) and text (18%).

But between customers’ varied preferences and the ever-evolving digital landscape, it can be difficult to know where to start. To help you out, we’ve outlined five video trends worth paying attention to, and how they can be used in your own marketing efforts.

Trend 1: Video First. “Video First” is a term coined by Facebook in reference to a growing phenomenon: consumers not only want to consume video, but also produce it. As today’s consumers look to express themselves, video makes it easier to provide a holistic view of ourselves, our lives, and the items we love.

Pro Tip: When developing your marketing campaigns, consider it from the lens of this “video first” mentality and get closer to your audience than ever before.

Trend 2: Live Video. Maybe you’ve heard of them: Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Instagram Stories, Periscope. Nowadays there are so many opportunities for live video, whether it’s based upon turnaround time, platform, or something else entirely. Live video, unlike pre-recorded content, draws people in nearly three times longer, according to the same HubSpot study. And brands have noticed.

Pro Tip: Look for the platforms that your target audience is using the most and experiment with live streaming. Perhaps it’s a Q&A session where you can interact in real-time with your customers or maybe it’s a simple look at a day in the life at your company. Whatever topic you choose, make it engaging – this is an opportunity to make your customers feel like they’re truly a part of your brand.

Trend 3: Cost Reduction. With so many high-quality tools at your fingertips, producing video is easier and more cost friendly than ever. At Structural Graphics, we offer custom Video in Print Brochures that marry the tactile feeling of print with the sights and sounds of video.

Pro Tip: With a smartphone, microphone and solid game plan, you’re sure to win the hearts and minds of your audience.

Trend 4: Virtual Reality. You know that cliche about walking in a man’s shoes? Well, with virtual reality, you actually can. Global revenue for this market is expected to reach $3.7 billion by 2020, according to SuperData Games and Interactive Media Intelligence.

Pro Tip: Get ahead of your competitors with our SleekPeeks®, customized virtual reality viewers that assemble in seconds and don’t break the bank.

Trend 5: 360-Degree Video. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a video that offers multidimensional perspectives of places like a room, landscape, or event. Implementing 360-degree video into your marketing efforts offers a customized experience for viewers, literally allowing them to fully emerge themselves in an experience.

Pro Tip: Start small. Think Google 360 View or Facebook’s relatively new functionality that allows users to pan or tilt a panoramic image that’s posted to its platform. Not to mention, 360-degree video content works great with our SleekPeeks® Virtual Reality Viewers! 

What’s NFC and How Can I Use it in My Marketing?

Image courtesy of The Verge.

So, what exactly is NFC?

NFC stands for Near Field Communication, a short range wireless RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) communication technology which allows two devices to communicate and share information with one another once they are within a certain range. What’s especially cool about NFC technology is that there’s no need to download or launch an application to use it – bringing the NFC-equipped devices near one another automatically triggers the action.

But isn’t that a QR code?

The short answer? Not exactly.

Though QR codes and NFC can both be used to transfer data and link content wirelessly, there are some key factors that differentiate one from the other. Here’s an infographic from www.unitag.io which illustrates how you can tell them apart.

Infographic courtesy of www.unitag.io.

Then how does this apply to my marketing?

To unleash the full potential of what NFC technology has to offer, we’ve compiled a few simple ideas and benefits to using it in your future marketing campaigns.

  1. It works everywhere. That bus station in the middle of nowhere? NFC works there. How about that national park with spotty cell service? Yup, there, too. What’s truly remarkable about NFC technology is that it’s usable in environments where Bluetooth or service is of limited use.
  2. It allows you to tell a bigger story. Does your business’ product or service have more to it than can fit on an ad or shelf-talker? NFC might just be for you. A simple NFC tag embedded in a shelf-talker, POS display or packaging can deliver additional information – such as free recipes, loyalty discounts, video demonstrations or educational material – that can provide more context for customers and motivate them to act. 
  3. It takes the online offline (and vice versa). Roughly three quarters of Americans currently own smartphones, according to a 2017 study by the Pew Research Center. They don’t predict this will be slowing down anytime soon. As a marketer, it’s becoming increasingly important to build more integrated customer experiences that can bridge the virtual and physical worlds in a way that fits buyers’ lifestyles and captures their attention.
  4. It helps create tailored offerings for customers. As marketers, we all know that the most valuable currency we have is data. The more we know about the preferences, geography, income and purchasing habits of each target customer, the better we can reach them at the right time in the right place with the right offer. With NFC, a direct connection is initiated between individuals and marketers. As a result, we’re able to learn more about them and develop tailored offerings they value. 
  5. It hands the power over to consumers, but not entirely. It’s been said that the average American sees or hears more than 4,000 ads per day. In a world where each one of us is bombarded with unsolicited advertising, NFC technology gives users greater control over their interactions.

Interested to learn more about NFC? Visit our Print and NFC page on the Structural Graphics website to see examples of NFC campaigns our clients have created.

Contact us for more information on the technology, how we’ve implemented it and what we can do using NFC to help your business. The possibilities are endless.

You’re Not Making These Silly Print Marketing Mistakes…Are You?

Are you a marketer who regularly uses direct mail?

Here at Structural Graphics, we’re big proponents of print marketing and have applauded its ability to generate feedback, loyalty and, ultimately, sales. However, if you’re not using it properly, these pieces – and leads – can end up in the garbage.

To help you better succeed with your direct mail campaigns, we’ve compiled this list of common blunders that can hinder your prospects.

  1. An unclear message: Does your headline match your CTA? Do your graphics tie into your angle or story line? Is your copy clear, concise and appropriate for your audience?  
  2. Wrong audience: Do your research beforehand. Consider not only the age, location and interests of your target demographic, but also the appropriate time of year to contact them. For instance, tax season may not be the appropriate time to contact small business owners, and members of a senior housing community likely won’t respond to real estate marketing. 
  3. Being too self-indulgent: There’s a delicate balance between asserting your strengths and overindulging in them. Recipients don’t want front row tickets to the “Me Show”; they care about “What’s in it for me?” Great marketing always focuses on the recipients, not the business or agent reaching out. Highlight your brand’s value by showing how your product or service can help change people’s lives, making them easier or more fulfilling.
  4. No contact info: Print or digital, your marketing should always have the first and last name of someone for the recipient to contact. This simple touch point creates a connection between the consumer and your business, and saves them the hassle of having to go looking for someone to reach out to.