3 Ways to Shift Marketing Strategies in the Age of COVID-19

The rise of COVID-19 has brought an array of challenges for brands, one of which is effective marketing. With a drop in on-site video and photo production, teams being asked to work from home, and businesses being forced to shutter indefinitely, it’s certainly pushing marketing teams to think creatively about how to cope with our “new normal”.

Here are a few ways to shift your current marketing strategy to help better equip your business during COVID-19.

Ditch the handshake: Unfortunately, we’re living in a world in which face-to-face interactions aren’t feasible for many of us for the foreseeable future. At a time when lead generation feels as though it’s being challenged, focus on engaging with the accounts that have the greatest potential for revenue. Refresh your LinkedIn page and increase your engagement with new or former customers. Set up one-on-one webinars to demo a product or service that can be shipped or installed in a safe environment. Create an immersive experience for prospects as soon as they visit your website or social media channels.

Shift dollars to dimensional: We all seem to be spending a lot more time in front of our screens than usual these days. Instead of investing in a one-dimensional marketing strategy, consider using print mailers to your advantage. Dimensional print pieces like the ones at Structural Graphics and Red Paper Plane stand out, deliver the message you want, and offer an interactive experience that’s sure to be remembered.

Communicate: We can’t think of a better time to strengthen your communications skills. Whether it’s updating internal staff on company news or sharing how your brand is pivoting during this time, consistent and engaging communication is integral to the longevity of any business.

Struggling With Lead Generation? Here Are 4 Simple Tips.

Lead generation. It’s the holy grail of the marketing world.

Everything hinges on it, whether that’s the overall success of your marketing campaign or the business’ bottom line. However, it’s important to note there’s no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to finding and converting new prospects.

So, where does one begin? Here are a few tried and true tips to get you started:

CURATE. Before beginning any type of direct mail or email campaign, it’s important to pare down any of your current mailing lists so that you’re only reaching out to the right people for your brand. Who is your ideal buyer? Where do they live? What income bracket are they in? Essentially, cultivate a targeted profile of who you want to take an interest in your product.

DELIVER VALUE. In our opinion, this is the most important (and often overlooked step). What is your value proposition? Once you’ve determined who your target audience is, it becomes much easier to decide how your product or service will solve a problem they have. Does what you’re selling offer convenience? Help with self-esteem? Provide comfort? Your mail piece, whether it’s a postcard or an email, serves a purpose. Don’t let it get lost because you’re unable to deliver value to the recipient.

BUDGET. No business wants their marketing assets to appear cheap, especially when making a first impression on potential new customers. However, it’s important not to break the bank either. Now is the time to decide whether you should use an in-house graphic designer, copywriter or photographer, or if it would make more sense to outsource. This is a great opportunity to explore helpful third-party websites like RedPaperPlane.com, which allows brands to customize “WOW”-worthy direct mail pieces at an affordable rate.

TRACK. If you want to know if you’re generating viable leads, you need some way to track who is responding to your marketing calls to action. Aside from using tracking software, consider incorporating QR codes, NFC technology or web keys into your direct mail piece. When used correctly, these interactive tools can tell you exactly what content is working for your business and who is interested in what you have to offer.

Ready to get started generating viable leads for your business? Give us a shout to learn how we can help.

Are You A Direct Mail Noob? We’ve Got Some Tips for You.

Are you a marketer who sees the value of direct mail marketing, but aren’t quite sure where it would be most effective with your brand or business? Here at Structural Graphics, we like to think of ourselves as direct mail experts and have put together a few quick tips for incorporating it into your next campaign.

Start with a goal in mind. Do you want to drive virtual event attendance? Website hits? Lead Generation? Whatever it is you’re setting out to achieve, make sure you outline your objective in detail and consider what a successful execution of your campaign would look like. From there, determine your budget, audience and time frame.

Now, make it pop (literally). Two-dimensional direct mail pieces are a thing of the past. To really capture the attention of your target audience, consider going the dimensional route with a Pop Up Cube, VR Viewer or Video Mailer. These designs are now easier than ever to find and have the ability to surprise and delight where a generic postcard just can’t. At Structural Graphics, and our online design-it-yourself offering, Red Paper Plane, you’re in the driver’s seat and can customize the dimensional design of your choice with logos, colors, copy, and graphics unique to your brand.

Finally, send and track. To get the most out of your direct mail pieces, we highly suggest using a detailed approach to tracking them. You put all that time into making sure they perfectly reflect your business, after all! Be sure to collect tracking numbers for each of the mailers you send, then create a spreadsheet to keep track of its status. It’s also important to include the intended recipient’s name, address, and the sales representative or project manager who is responsible for following up.

And that’s it! Follow each of these simple steps and you’ll be a direct mail marketing champ in no time. Give us a call at (860)-767-2661 or send us a message to find out how we can help you get started on your first campaign!

Entering Q2: Our Future Marketing Predictions

In the lead up to the new quarter, we put our heads together to share our vision for the months ahead. Here are a few trends we think will be shaping our marketing throughout the remainder of 2020.

Video Marketing

It’s no secret that customers respond well to visual content. Now, more than ever, this type of content is essential, due to in person meetings and events being cancelled. But, just because you can’t be there in person, doesn’t mean you can’t be there at all. Video marketing is relatable, emotional and aids in building relationships. Much like we predicted in 2019, video content will continue to be an essential part of any marketing strategy for the duration of 2020. 

Whether you’re just getting started with video marketing or you want to up your video marketing’s “wow factor”, give our Video Mailers a try. Not only are they attention-getting, they also provide a visual experience of your brand for your prospects.

Online Goes Offline

Believe it or not, what’s tried and true are staples for a reason. That’s why direct mail still has value.

However, now brands are using technology and data gleaned from customers’ online presence to inform how to approach them offline. Billboards, retailers and others have begun experimenting with this ultra-targeted communication and consumers are falling for it. 

Don’t have the budget (or the data) to do this yourself? Use what you do know about your customers to approach them in a thoughtful way that is both relevant and valuable to them. 

Increased Direct Communication

Similar to our above point about personalizing direct mail, we expect the channels of communication between customers and brands to improve. Instead of the impersonal connections that many social platforms and websites offer, we’re seeing text messaging platforms, real-time Twitter Q&As, and on-call customer service representatives resurfacing and resurrecting the strong direct connections many of us have missed having with our favorite brands.  

SleekPeeks® Cardboard VR Viewer

Sensory Immersion

It’s not just about pumping out consistent content anymore. Customers are oversaturated with it. Instead, capturing the attention of potential buyers will require brands to get more creative. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) will continue to deliver on this front, but we’ll also see more interactive marketing experiences like this one that engage each of the five senses.

HIPPA and Direct Mail: Do You Know the Rules?

So, you think you know the rules when it comes to HIPAA, but do you know how it relates to your marketing?

HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding patients’ medical information. It applies to organizations that are considered HIPAA-covered entities, including health plans, healthcare clearinghouses and healthcare providers. Private health information like names, social security and health plan numbers, vehicle identifiers, fingerprints or facial images are some of the information protected by HIPAA.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule defines marketing as “a communication about a product or service that encourages recipients of the communication to purchase or use the product or service”. With limited exceptions, the rule requires an individual’s written authorization before his or her protected health information can be used for marketing. (It’s important to note that the HIPAA Privacy Rule distinguishes marketing communications from those communications regarding goods and services that are essential for quality health care.)

When considering sending direct mail within the healthcare community, it’s important to remember that HIPAA is, ultimately, there to protect patient health data and to protect your business against violations and fines. However, there are still ways that your team can market without putting patients’ privacy at risk. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Digital

  • Don’t create ads, posts or emails using patient information without obtaining explicit permission from the patients involved.
  • Don’t allow staff members to take any photos or videos, including cell phone photography, within the practice if there is the potential that personal information will be visible.
  • Create and enforce social media policies for employees limiting what they can and cannot post.
  • Ensure that any third-party agencies, photographers or vendors are HIPAA compliant. Legal Business Associate Agreements must be executed with all vendors, including marketing firms.
  • Encrypt any email sent to patients that contains personal information, including name and email address.

Direct

  • Receive explicit authorization from patients before sending them any direct mail.
  • Send marketing communications via certified mail and require the intended recipient’s signature.
  • Clearly and prominently identify your organization (if you are the one sending it).
  • Include clear opt-out instructions.
  • Explain why the recipient has been targeted with your communication and how the product or service you’re selling relates to the health of the individual.
  • Disclose whether a covered entity, such as a healthcare provider or partner, has received or will receive direct or indirect remuneration for making the communication.

5 Ways to Incorporate Tech Into Your Direct Mail

Do you ever feel like a print marketer in a digital world?

Well, you’re not wrong. But you’re not exactly right in feeling this way, either.

From Facebook ads to targeted email campaigns, it’s evident that technology plays a crucial role in influencing the purchasing decisions of customers. However, even despite the ongoing wave of technological advancements, customers are embracing direct mail, too.

Here’s how you can combine both technology and print, and use them to your advantage:

Video Brochures: By taking the best parts of video (sound and image) and merging it with the best part of print (context), Video Brochures are a win-win. Instead of sending another flat postcard with copy and graphics, these brochures allow brands a greater opportunity to connect with and capture the attention of their recipients. With a variety of sizes to choose from and the ability to customize not only the video, but the brochure as well, this is a format that is sure to take your business’ printed communication to the next level. Not to mention, marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than those who don’t. Click here to read about how combining video with a high-impact printed solution is such an effective marketing tool.

Audio in Print: Why settle for plain text when you can make it pop with sound? Print plays to the human senses in ways that digital tech is hard-pressed to match. Add sound and you’re able to deliver your customers and/ or prospects the ultimate sensory experience. Start by adding your jingle to your print communications or include a personalized video message from your sales representative or CEO. Now, that’s sure to capture their attention.

Near Field Communications: NFC technology uses tiny, radio frequency emitting tags to connect with digital devices like smartphones. When a smartphone comes within range of the signal, its web browser displays the content the signal steers it to – no apps necessary. What’s especially great about NFC is that it can be used on just about any printed material: brochures, in-store signage, posters, flyers, coupons, business cards and more.

Virtual Reality: Have you been considering incorporating VR into your marketing? New, inexpensive VR headsets like our SleekPeeks® have made it possible for brands of all sizes and budgets to deliver this immersive experience to their customers. Ours ship flat, assemble in seconds and are fully customizable.

Augmented Reality: Unlike VR, AR invites people into an interactive experience that doesn’t require the need for a headset. Customers, prospects and other members of the public are able to experience computer-generated information in a real-world setting. Combine AR with a brochure, magazine insert, invitation, or other printed collateral and deliver a larger-than-life experience to your customers.

Interested in incorporating technology into your next print campaign? Let’s talk.

How to Acquire, Retain, And Re-Engage Using Direct Mail

Believe it or not, many businesses can benefit from integrating direct mail into their overall marketing strategy. As brands look to gain new customers (and keep them), an omnichannel approach to how you’re delivering your message can help you drive more business and convert customers, regardless of what stage in the marketing cycle they’re at.

In fact, 9% of recipients from a house list and 5% from a prospect list respond to direct mail, according to the 2018 ANA/DMA Response Rate Report. That’s in comparison to 5.1% and 2.9%, respectively, shown in the organization’s 2017 report.

Here are some other key takeaways that relate specifically to direct mail response:

  • Letter-sized direct mail performed best for lead generation with 15.1% response rate.
  • The industries that used direct mail the most were Travel or Hospitality (80%), Nonprofit (75%), Publishing or Media (71%), Financial Services-Banks/Credit (67%), and Healthcare (63%).
  • The most popular methods of measuring response rates include online tracking (53%), code or coupon (45%), and call center or telephone (41%).

How can we continue to acquire new customers?

Don’t overlook what – and who – you already know. This is your opportunity to bring in other departments – your sales reps, social media manager, guest relations team, etc. – and analyze your current customer base. Glean information from your colleagues to determine your target audience’s demographics, geographic locations, interests and other relevant information. With a deeper understanding of your current customers, you can then better target your mailings to reach people like them.

When developing your messaging, use a call-to-action (CTA) in your mailings to keep a pulse on the campaign and each recipient who engages with it. Some ideas are QR codes, developing a personalized URL via a format like a Web Key or integrating voice recognition software like Structural Graphics Connect.

What’s the best way to effectively retain them?

As your brand seeks to expand its current customer base, it’s important not to forget about the ones who are already purchasing from and/ or interacting with you. Keeping these customers happy not only helps your business’ bottom line, but it also creates brand advocates in the process. Loyalty programs are a great way to encourage customer retention – and direct mail should be a part of it.

How can we win former customers back?

While direct mail can be helpful in retaining or enticing new customers, it’s also a powerful tool to re-engage with customers who may have lapsed. Seeking insight into when a customer left or stopped engaging with your brand can prove to be extremely helpful data, and direct mail can help with that. Surveys with incentives (think a 25% off coupon) or customized postcards with helpful products or services tailored to that individual can help customers feel valued and connected to your brand again.

Another option is dimensional print. While designs like Pop Up Cubes, SleekPeeks® or The Flapper® mail flat, they also possess that unique “wow factor” that encourages discussion, sharing and longevity to keep your brand top-of-mind for days, weeks or even years to come.

Unilever Incubator’s Ad Doubles as Wrapping Paper

As more and more brands continue to join the environmental movement, Unilever’s Love Beauty and Planet are taking an innovative approach this holiday season using, you guessed it, print.

On Dec. 8, the brand released an ad in the New York Times’ Sunday edition, which doubles as wrapping paper. The objective? To encourage customers to rethink their holiday waste. The ad was supported by a digital campaign aimed at driving awareness of the initiative through the brand’s social media channels, influencers and word-of-mouth.

According to the brand, trash increases as much as 25% during the holidays. What’s more is that much of the paper waste associated with gift wrap isn’t recyclable.

“We wanted to use our voice to raise awareness about wastefulness…in a way that feels more productive and happy,” said Sonika Molhotra, Brand Founder and Global Brand Director for Love Beauty and Planet.

How Marketers are Leveraging AR this Holiday Season

Augmented reality (AR) is one of the most popular technology trends right now – and marketers have taken notice. As we enter the holiday rush, brands the world over are leveraging the technology to drive both customer engagement as well as purchases.

Here are some examples:

Office Depot

Credit: Office Depot

Elf Yourself is a recurring campaign by Office Depot, which lets users turn themselves (or others) into elves using the brand’s website and app. In recent years, the Elf Yourself app has been updated with new features, including AR and the ability to print your elf as a seasonal greeting card and/ or share on social media using the hashtag #ElfYourself.

JC Penny

Credit: Verizon Media

In partnership with Verizon Media, the brand is taking advantage of the holiday proposal season and launched a 2019 mobile ad campaign for their Modern Bride Collection. Clicking on ads that appear on HuffPost Life, Yahoo Sports and other Verizon Media properties activates an AR feature which allows soon-to-be-brides to try on engagement rings.

Starbucks

Credit: Starbucks

Building on the popularity of their iconic holiday cups, Starbucks released four limited edition cup designs in early November. Each design, when used with Instagram, springs to life with its own AR effect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now it’s your turn. Do you have an idea for how to integrate AR into your marketing campaign? Contact us to bring it to life!

3 Unique (and Budget-Friendly) Ways to Thank Your Customers This Holiday Season

‘Tis the season of giving and there’s no better time to reflect on your most loyal customers past and present. Here are a few ways to thank them for their support (and keep them around well into the future).

Say it in print.
Any time of the year, cards can make a huge impact, but even more so when you’re looking to send a little holiday cheer. However, we’ve got something a bit more special than your average holiday card in mind this season. Red Paper Plane has our most popular holiday card designs available to order online. Even better? They are fully customizable, dimensional and ship in as little as 7 days.

Say it with video.
Have you heard that saying, “show, don’t tell”? What better way to tell your customers how much you appreciate them by showing what they’ve helped your business achieve! Videos are some of the most powerful marketing tools; they have the potential to increase people’s understanding of a product or service by 74%. Why not use this to your advantage and include it in a Video in Print brochure or turn it into a virtual reality your customers can experience through our SleekPeeks® VR Viewers?

Say it with a gift.

This time of year isn’t known as the giving season for nothing. And what better way to show customers how grateful you are for their business than with a little treat. Some of our clients have sent packages of hot cocoa. Others have included lanyards or sample sizes of the products they sell. Not only is this a great time to say thank you, it’s also a great opportunity to give a sneak peak at your products or services. Package them into one of our Well Boxes or design something entirely your own with our custom luxury packing solutions.

Now, that’s the holiday spirit!