All posts by Hillary

Video Meet Print: How to Convince Customers to Remember Your Brand

What if a prospective client or customer could watch your brand’s story anytime and any place simply by turning a page or opening a brochure?

If this sounds like something from a Steven Spielberg film, you’re only half right.

Video in Print, though still a fairly novel concept, is completely attainable (and affordable) if you know where to look and what to look for. 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 static, silent words and pictures. 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.

Click here for some tips and tricks when it comes to using Video in Print for your marketing needs.

Here at Structural Graphics, we’re proud to have more than a decade-long relationship with our video component supplier. Even better? We’ve been to their factory and have personally certified their facility to ensure each component is of top quality and has met the standards for consumer safety, health and environmental requirements in the U.S. and Europe.

Interested in trying Video in Print for yourself? Click here to see why you should choose Structural Graphics for your project today.

Why Integrating Direct Mail with Digital Targeting Will Get You Noticed

At Structural Graphics we are the leaders of the dimensional print marketing industry, and we have been for over 40 years. We are constantly re-defining what print can be by providing our clients with attention-getting solutions that stop people in their tracks. Our formats are engaging on their own, but by adding a digital element such as a Web Key, Video in Print, Virtual Reality, NFC tag, or QR code the piece becomes even more effective.

Check out the following article from CBT Automotive Network, Integrating Direct Mail with Digital Targeting, to learn 5 tips on how to incorporate technology in print in your current marketing efforts.

Structural Graphics’ Look Back on 2017

As we delve into another year, Structural Graphics looks back at some of the most effective dimensional print projects we worked on in 2017, from SleekPeeks® to disco balls (and even a mini planetarium!).

SleekPeeks®

The introduction of SleekPeeks®, inexpensive virtual reality headsets created by Structural Graphics, made it possible for brands like Porsche and USPS to deliver the ultimate interactive experience to their audience.

Lincoln Video Mailer

At the National Postal Forum in May 2017, our high-end video mailer for The Lincoln Motor Company’s “See it First” campaign was selected as the Grand Champion Award winner of the Irresistible Mail Awards trophy. The Irresistible Mail Awards is a USPS program that highlights mail pieces that increase engagement through innovative design, print or digital technologies. Structural Graphics structurally designed and hand assembled the piece.

Disco Ball Invitation

Featured as the 60-second Super-cool Fold of the Week, our “Simply Cool Swinging Disco Ball Accordion Invitation” was designed and produced for the Regional One Health Foundation. They used this mailer to invite people to their annual ONE Night Fundraiser. The invitation shipped flat, but the paper die-cut spheres on the cover immediately twirl in succession when you open up the mailer to create the illusion of a dimensional disco ball.

Dish Network Pop Up Cube

Used as a unique handout at the CES Show in Las Vegas, this pop up cube was delivered inside a half-sleeve, giving the recipient a sneak peek of what was on the inside. As the cube slides out, it immediately pops into shape delivering information about Dish Network’s award-winning DVR, The Hopper®. Click here to see it in action!

This Book is a Planetarium

In her newest book, “This Book is a Planetarium,” designer, innovator, and author Kelli Anderson takes commonly known mechanisms and replicates them through pop-up paper designs. Kelli came up with the initial engineering in her studio and then reached out to the team at Structural Graphics to make the Planetarium piece in the book production-ready. When you place the flashlight of your smartphone underneath the Planetarium dome, the constellations are displayed as if you were viewing them in the night’s sky.

Audi Pop-Up Brochure

Our Circle Pop-Up Brochure Mailer that we designed for Audi and their printer, Hennegan, was awarded Silver in the “Dimensional Printing” category of the Gold Ink Awards. Presented by Printing Impressions, The Gold Ink Awards is the industry’s most prestigious print competition. It’s open to all creators and producers of printed materials, and encompasses nearly 50 categories within commercial printing, magazines, books, catalogs, digital printing and packaging.

The Pop-Up Cube: How Can I Make it My Own?

More than four decades ago, a simple fascination with pop-up books and paper led Structural Graphics to engineer a new advertising medium focused on dimensional print. Now, we help brands rise above their competition by thinking differently about paper and what it can do.

One of our most loved and most popular formats is the Pop-Up Cube. It’s a customizeable direct mail template that ships flat and features a 3D cube that springs into the air automatically when opened.

The high achievers of direct mail, Pop Up Mailers are attention grabbing, leave a lasting impression and boost response rates. Keep your audience interested longer so your message is front of mind with these simple tips:

Think outside the box (literally).

Cars.com Polygon Calendar

Aside from our standard cube, clients have also requested everything from pop-up houses, polygons and pyramids. Put your own stamp on this piece by choosing a shape that best illustrates your industry, your clients and your work.

Multiply your idea.

Essilor Rolling Cube

Looking for a chance to build on your brand messaging? Consider a Rolling Cube. While this format doesn’t have the same surprise and delight that a Pop-Up Cube does, it is still incredibly interactive and allows you additional space to feature your brand and/ or brand messaging.

Don’t forget the sleeve.

Dish Network Pop Up Cube

Though the Pop-Up Cube will likely be the most memorable part of this direct mail piece, it’s important to remember that it’s not the first thing your clients will see – the sleeve is. Make sure to include copy that will entice recipients to open it. Maybe consider including your brand logo. Whatever your decision, don’t forget that this is also valuable space to gain your audience’s attention and keep it.

4 Easy Steps to Design a Piece on Red Paper Plane

Are you a small business or solo entrepreneur? Do you need a marketing piece turned around quickly in order to meet a deadline? Do you want your piece to be of high quality but not for it to cost a fortune?

Have you heard about RedPaperPlane.com?

Red Paper Plane is the online ordering division of Structural Graphics. It provides clients with an easy and intuitive way to design the high-impact formats we’ve become known for, including pop-up cubes, greeting cards and the Flapper. And you don’t need to be a professional designer to do it! Using our online design tool, anyone can customize the direct mail formats with their logo, photos and text in a fraction of the time it used to take to place art to one of our templates offline.

Just follow these four simple steps:

  1. Choose your format.
  2. Download the template.
  3. Upload your artwork.
  4. Proof and order!

Whether you’re an experienced designer, a marketing professional or a small business owner, Red Paper Plane has created an online experience with your needs in mind.

Tips & Tricks for Using Video in Print

Happy New Year!

Video in Print advertising (VPA) is a unique way to fuse the emotional elements of video with the informative nature of print into one highly effective marketing piece. Here are some tips to ensure you get the best piece for your marketing spend.

  • Pick a reputable supplier. Anyone with a web site and an electronics supplier in China can sell video in print advertising so make sure the supplier you choose has design and manufacturing expertise.
  • VPA itself is not patented. While some suppliers claim it is, only a few of the scores of designs available are covered by patent protection so you have many choices available to you.
  • Video units are not created equal. Make sure your supplier uses top quality components.
  • Chose the right files. To ensure the quality of your video and sound we recommend using the following:
    a. Video File Format: MP4, WMV, AVI, MOV, (Codec: MPEG-4,Divx,Xvid 720P)
    b. Audio output: Mono speaker
    c. Sound level: 75-80 dB
  • The shorter, the better. Video is a great way to deliver your message, but keep it to 30-60 seconds. And don’t forget the call to action so you can track responses.
  • Double check the packaging. Make sure the shipper will hold up in the mail and deliver your video unit in working order.
  • Don’t forget the design elements. Designing the VPA unit with print treatments and engaging design elements can help you match the piece to your company’s personality.

At Structural Graphics, we have produced hundreds of thousands of video units for some of the top Automotive, Pharmaceutical, Financial Services, Manufacturing and Entertainment brands in the world. Check out our VPA Gallery here.

6 Quick Tips to Improve Your Brand Photography

As any good marketer knows, first impressions are everything.

So, when a prospective client visits your website, glances at your portfolio and determines whether or not they will hire you, you better make sure your product photography is on point.

Product photography is so important for countless reasons. Not only can it stimulate a general need for your product, but it also showcases its usefulness, significant features and quality. Following these six basic tips will help you to master both the technique and artistry of product photography – and ensure that you never lose a lead because of it.

1) Follow the light. Finding a good source of light is essential when it comes to photographing your products. To avoid adding unnecessary shadows to your image, keep things simple: shoot in a well-lit area, use natural light when possible and be mindful of objects like clouds that may cast unnecessary darkness.

2) Choose the right backdrop. Use your background to complement your product, not distract from it. When just starting out, opt for a simple, single-color backdrop. The purpose here is to let your product be the center of attention.

3) Consider the human element. Using models may or may not be useful for you, depending on what you are trying to sell/ photograph. Perhaps you are a jewelry company looking to promote your new selection of necklaces. Or maybe you’re looking to mentor young students. Evaluate whether or not a persona will be able to show the value of your product and effectively tell the story of your brand.

4) Show scale. Give your audience a sense of how big or small your product is. By placing the product next to a common object, you can showcase a point of difference or feature how easy it is to use.

5) Play with focus. No one wants to look at a gallery of static images. To create a more dynamic spread, consider honing in on the key points of your product and pulling it forward from the background using your camera’s focus. This is a great way to highlight the quality of your product as well as its usefulness, especially if you’re looking to compare your products with a competitor’s.

6) Tell a story. It may seem silly to think that a product photo can tell a story, but keeping this in the back of your mind will take your images from good to great. Instead of photographing your product in front of a white background, consider capturing it in use. Place it in its natural environment. Or capture someone’s reaction to it. There are countless ways to set your images, and thus your product, apart by creating or playing into the emotions of your audience.

Why Disruption Can Be A Good Thing

Have you ever taken an Uber? Stayed at an Airbnb? Or watched a movie on Netflix? Even if you weren’t aware of it at the time, all of these brands are participating in what marketers these days refer to as “disruption”; they’re shaking up the industry.

WHAT IS DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION AND MARKETING?

Disruptive Innovation is a term coined by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen. He describes disruptive innovation as “a process by which a product or service takes root in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.”

But, believe it or not, this buzz-worthy phrase has been a part of the business world longer than you might think. Consider the introduction of cell phones. When was the last time you used a landline?

IS IT BENEFICIAL?

Disruption is a word that has inevitably evolved as the new standard for businesses around the world. Here are a few ways embracing Disruptive Innovation can help you and your brand stay relevant:

  • Smaller companies and startups can compete with corporate enterprises by establishing and growing new market segments of their own. In many cases, big business will make lucrative deals or offer huge cash sums to incorporate these innovative startups into their own business model – or make them go away.
  • Your company culture can evolve as a learning community that welcomes change rather than fearing it. Employees may have ideas on better processes or technologies that will increase efficiency; consumers can provide insights into what various markets are looking for.
  • You will identify your leaders for today and for tomorrow. People who are curious, open to new ideas / approaches, and welcome the challenge of taking your business into the future are those you should rally behind.
  • Opportunities for growth will present themselves to companies that allow themselves to adapt to leading new trends. It can benefit both competition and consumers by providing better products and more accessible services.

Strategies for Using Customer Testimonials in Your Marketing Content

Customer reviews and testimonials matter… a lot.

In today’s world of social media influencers, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Amazon, we look for and act on the recommendations of others when it comes to all areas of our life, but specifically when it comes to making a purchasing decision.

In fact, according to Nielsen research, 92 percent of people will “trust a recommendation from a peer” and 70 percent will trust a recommendation from “someone they don’t even know.”

And while these recommendations can come in many forms, testimonials are a great way to establish your brand’s credibility and to sell your product to consumers. The one key difference between testimonials and other word-of-mouth and third-party reviews is that they are sought and selected by you, the marketer. This gives you greater control over what is said and how it is displayed.

But how can you get a great testimonial?

The short answer to this question is that you must ask. Approach your best customers individually and personalize the request with the person’s name, the product he or she purchased as well as any other information that might be relevant. It’s also smart to approach recent customers – maybe some you’re just beginning to form relationships with – as a way to both follow up on the work you did or the project you sold and to get their honest opinion while the purchase is still fresh in their minds.

Next, you must ask the right questions. Don’t just ask for a “testimonial”. Be specific in your request. Ideally, your objective is to extract examples of how your product or service has benefited them. You can do this by asking questions like:

  • How much money did our product save you?
  • What’s the biggest benefit you’ve seen as a result of using our product?
  • What made you choose us/ our product?
  • Do you have any ROI feedback as to how successful the piece was at reaching your target market?

Make sure to provide a guideline for the customer or client. Not only does this help you control the response, but it also increases the probability that he or she will respond to you since you’ve made the process more manageable by outlining it with questions.
Once you have a nice pool of responses, make sure to edit them properly – this is a testimonial, not an essay. Edit out any irrelevant chatter (if it’s a video) or unnecessary sentences (if it’s a written response) to keep the focus on information that’s going to help potential customers overcome objections and decide to purchase.

When you have a few strong testimonials you’re pleased with, the next and possibly most important part is that you use it strategically. After all, a testimonial is no help if your customers don’t see it. Consider adding them to your website, email blasts or case studies. Furthermore, experimenting with paid ads or using shorter testimonials on social media can also drive traffic to your website and, eventually, convert followers into customers.

3 Ways Intelligent Marketers Use VR

Have you been thinking about incorporating virtual reality into your next campaign? Gartner predicts that virtual reality marketing is positioned at a vital transition point. The New York Times recently distributed more than one million Cardboard Viewers to Sunday print subscribers and Google Cardboard has been downloaded roughly 10 million times.

If it’s your first time experimenting with how VR can transform your business, here are a few tips to help ensure your message (and your brand) resonates.

Think mobile.

Rather than creating long-form narratives or experiences that require users to sit with a cumbersome headset on their heads, consider shorter, more digestible content for today’s consumer. VR headsets are getting lighter, sleeker and have replaced built-in screens with smartphones.

Creating short-form branded experiences that can easily be shared can get people interested in what you have to offer.

Recognize that storytelling still matters.

Like with all of your marketing efforts, VR should be chosen because it’s the best medium to tell your brand’s particular story. With technology, people like to get wrapped up in whatever is new and trendy, and often forget that the content is still the driving force behind its success.

Avoid falling into the trap of believing you can produce anything for VR and have it meet your marketing objectives. Rather, create branded content specifically formatted to fit the platform and consider how both will help you to move the needle.

Don’t forget the other senses.

The truly compelling part of using VR is that it can create a world that isn’t really there. It’s virtual. And while visual content is often the focus for most companies’ marketing teams, it shouldn’t be the only one.

The best marketers determine how to engage multiple senses, whether it’s Marriott incorporating the sound of waves to their virtual beachside getaway or Game of Thrones blasting cool air, creating the feeling users were being hoisted up 700 feet to the top of the Wall at Castle Black.

The introduction of inexpensive virtual reality headsets has made it possible for brands to deliver the ultimate experience to consumers. Structural Graphics offers virtual reality headsets that ship flat, assemble in seconds, and are fully customizable! Our SleekPeeks VR Viewers provide a complete immersive experience, sturdy design and high quality lenses. Click here to try one for yourself!