All posts by Hillary

#TBT: Deliver Magazine

A few weeks ago, one of our staff members was combing through the archives, and came upon this wonderful article from the August 2010 issue of Deliver Magazine. How fortunate of a find, seeing as we recently celebrated our 40th year as a company. We love being able to go back, remember our roots and relive some of our favorite projects over again.

Won’t you join us?

Deliver Magazine (Vol 6, Issue 4, August 2010)

 

4 Ways to Execute a Powerful Marketing Campaign

So, you want to create a powerful marketing campaign, do you? Here, we’ve compiled four basic steps to take so you can smartly prepare, execute and drive actual revenue.

  1. Set your intentions.
    What do you want your campaign to achieve? That’s the first basic question you need to ask yourself. Be as specific as possible, as “I want more sales” gives you no yardstick to help you measure the distance to reaching your goals. Think about (or better yet, write down) exactly how many sales you want this year, specify the percentage increase in digital engagement you want to achieve or spell out exactly what locations you want to work to drive brand awareness.
  2. Create an action plan.
    Write down exactly what you’re going to do and when. This may sound simple, but the act of writing down your plan helps to organize your thoughts, think through superficial problems and, most importantly, visualize how and when your marketing plan or project will come together. Additionally, it will give you records to use when you go to evaluate the success of your marketing campaign.
  3. Act.
    As Nike famously says, “Just Do It”. You’ve spent weeks, maybe months, planning this campaign. Now is the time to act on it. Review your timeline and your metrics, choose the proper media and develop a communications plan among your team and any outside vendors. Decide how often you’ll need to (and can afford to) expose your messaging to your targeted audience.
  4. Measure your results, tweak and repeat.
    The campaign has launched, but your work isn’t over just yet. Now, it’s time to see how successful it was and make some adjustments. Go back to your marketing objective, look at the key performance indicators you sought out to measure and determine the campaign’s success. Did your marketing campaign achieve your objectives? What could you have done differently to make the campaign more effective? These are all valuable insights to help you and your team the next time.

What is Dimensional Print and What Can it Do For Me?


Here, at Structural Graphics, we spend a lot of time talking about “dimensional print”.

But what, exactly, is it?

On the surface, dimensional print is exactly as it sounds: packaging, displays, sales aids and direct mail pieces with a three dimensional component. However, upon further inspection, dimensional print can also be a potent and highly effective way to get yourself, your brand or your company noticed in all the right ways – if you know how to use it.

But how?

Imagine for a moment that you open an envelope and a 3D cube jumps to life right in front of you. Or how about an elaborate jukebox that rises from a flat piece of paper and plays actual music. Have I gotten your attention?

Three-dimensional mail (not to be confused with 3D printing) is not a new concept, and, in fact, goes back some 40 years. But, in this day and age of digital communication, stale advertisements and uninteresting direct mail, dimensional print has the unique ability to breathe life into marketing that can often fall flat.

We’ve already spelled out some of the ways direct mail can impact your marketing efforts, but cutting through the noise remains one of the primary obstacles for marketers in businesses of all sizes. According to a study by Millward Brown, printed pieces drive more brain activity than virtual messages, perhaps leading to a stronger connection and increased memorability.

And adding a dimensional or interactive component to your piece can actually make it even more memorable. Researchers say that dimensional direct mail pieces enjoy much higher response rates on average than flat envelope mailers, especially for B2B campaigns.  Feedback from our customers has also proven this fact.

Best Practices for Marketing in Higher Education

The U.S. has some 20 million+ college students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. To marketers, this tech-savvy group of twentysomethings is probably more commonly thought of in terms of keg stands, spring break and slim wallets, than as consciously selective consumers.

This is a mistake.

Understanding how to approach this young market as a college or university involves so much more than your typical marketing approach. As a higher education institution, your marketing must track trends, incorporate digital media and speak to the audience in a “voice” that excites and motivates.

Making sure your school gets noticed is what we do best, so we’ve put together a few tips on how to really get your college or university noticed by the right students.

Don’t Assume Direct Mail is Dead: According to research by mStoner, in partnership with Chegg, 64% of teens say they prefer to consume college website content through text and articles. But what does this mean for your marketing team? The answer: Direct mail pieces shouldn’t be left out of the equation.

Not only can direct mail be cost-effective, but it can also be highly targeted and customized to fit the individual. As many as 55 % of people are eager to read their mail, according to the U.S. Postal Service. Addressing prospective or returning students by name can only enhance the experience and, ultimately, prompt excitement about your school or program.

Example: UC Riverside chose to send out a dimensional folder aimed at showing how different college is to accepted students. The piece starts off as a seemingly flat printed folder, but when you open it up, an intricate pop-up immediately rises from the center. Each corner of the piece featured individual mini folders, each containing step-by-step instructions on how to get started with enrollment.

Invest in Video Marketing: The stats are already there: 78% of people watch videos online every week and 55% watch videos online every day, according to research by HighQ. So, while your college or university need not invest in a production company or a cinematographer, it should invest in video marketing to its students.

Here’s how we see it: You have thousands of loyal brand advocates just waiting to share their experiences at your school. So, when it comes to reaching the right audience for your school, it’s smart to empower these people to tell YOUR story in an authentic way. Not only can this humanize your “brand”, but it creates an emotional connection for a generation that relies so heavily on the word of influencers, Yelp and product reviews.

Our video-in-print brochures offer an effective option when it comes to telling your story. One of the biggest advantages of combining these two mediums is the ability to enhance your brand messaging through engaging and supporting content. Video is highly visual and auditory, which means it’s easier for 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.

Track Your Analytics: Today there are so many messages competing with yours on the web. How do you get people to visit your school’s website and click-through your communications? We use various web drivers to help take your prospective student from print to digital. 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 only can analytics tell you how successful you’ve been with reaching your target demographic, but it can also help you maximize (and when it comes time, also justify) your paid media budget.

Give Your School Dimension: Your college or university isn’t like any other, so why would you want your student population or, better yet, your marketing to be any different? When reaching out to prospective or returning students, it’s important to stand out from the crowd and deliver your story in a trendy, engaging way.

Our dimensional direct mail formats deliver your message wrapped in an engaging interactive experience. When students are considering their options, the message that was inventive, engaging and memorable will be top-of-their-minds. We can make sure that message will be yours.

Example: Seton Hall University chose our Rolling Cube to deliver information on their university to prospective students. This is one of our most interactive pieces. When you pull the cube from the mailer it keeps unfolding to reveal multiple cubes of information. See it in action below.

For more ideas for how to market in higher education, click here.

5 Unique (and Budget-Friendly) Ways to Thank Your Customers

It’s happened to all of us: You go to check your inbox and there to greet you are dozens of emails expressing thanks. “Thank you for your purchase.” “Thank you for subscribing.” “Thank you for participating in our event.”

But how effective are these email “thank yous” anyway?

As any good marketer knows, a simple “thank you” is all it takes to set your business or brand apart from the competition. But these days, with the overwhelming amount of digital communication available, saying it through email just isn’t enough. To help you get ahead and stand out from the pack, we’ve compiled some clever ways to thank your customers that are effective, impactful and have nothing to do with clicking send.

  1. Show, don’t tell. Instead of sending out a boilerplate email or even a standard “thank you” card, try showing recipients how much they mean to you by way of video. Not only do videos increase people’s understanding of a product or service, but it also allows you to showcase your brand’s personality and connect emotionally with your audience. Our Video-In-Print Brochures are a great place to start.
  2. Be engaging. Easier said than done, right? At Structural Graphics, we’re all about engagement, whether that means incorporating digital components into your direct mail or simply taking a unique approach to it altogether. From pop-up books and Telescoping Sliders to virtual reality head sets (ours are called SleekPeeks) and our iconic Flapper, we’ve got you covered.
  3. Give them something to remember you by. There’s no use in sending your customers marketing collateral if it doesn’t leave a lasting impression. Why not create a “thank you” that has some longevity by incorporating functional elements into your piece as well? Take this polygon calendar we created for Cars.com or a Pop Up Pen Holder like the one seen here.
  4. Surprise and delight. Emotions drive people to action. Consider including a little something unexpected in your “thank you” that will not only ensure that your brand is memorable to your intended recipient, it will also encourage them to interact with your brand in positive ways. Perhaps they’ll tell their friends about your brand or even read on in your “thank you” to purchase your product or service. Maybe it’s LED lights incorporated into your piece. Or maybe it’s sound to transport the recipient to your location. Interested in seeing some examples? Check out this video we did spotlight SKM Consumers Energy’s Pop Up House.
  5. Don’t stop there. Your thank you note should be more than just an expression of thanks. Think of Calls to Action to get the recipient to interact with your brand, whether that’s encouraging him to visit your website or asking her to share a photo of the piece on social media. This has two benefits: It’s fun for your recipient and it’s trackable for you. Our web keys are a perfect example of how to do this right.

SG Paper Engineer Displays Work at Art Exhibition


How much thought have you given to paper?

It’s a fragile medium, yet it can also be considered durable and strong. We learn to use it as children – for paper mache, posters and essays – but it continues to teach us lessons throughout life.

Here at Structural Graphics, it’s no surprise that we give A LOT of thought to paper: how it works, what it is and what it can be. And paper engineer, Isabel Uria, is certainly a testament to that.

Isabel’s work is currently on display at the Drezner Gallery in Avon, CT until Sat., June 24.

“Being creative is inside all of us,” Isabel said. “Creativity is looking at a world of possibilities and acknowledging all the ways a problem can be brought to light and all the ways it could be solved. Creativity opens your mind. It is a path to visualize the past, the present and the future. Creativity is the opposite of war. It is the future. Evolution has happened because human beings have been curious to know and understand how things work and take that understanding to CREATE new developments and innovative things that serve our needs and help us. Creativity makes the world go around!”

Paper Possibilities is a celebration of our understanding of paper as an expressive material. The artists in this exhibit come from a diverse set of backgrounds. Some are paper engineers, some work with cut paper, some are origami artists, and some find their expressions in the creation of the paper itself.

This is the first exhibition of the Paper Artist Gathering, a group based at the Hartford makerspace, MakeHartford. They have been working together and sharing techniques since November of 2015, and are ready to put forth their creations. Their goal is to demonstrate that despite its reputation as a common material, the potential for expressions in paper is not yet fully explored.


7 Steps Chrysler Took to Promote Their Business at the NADA Convention

Today’s automotive industry moves fast and furious, so it’s important to showcase your vehicles in new and creative ways. But how do you show change and innovation on paper? You don’t. You show it WITH paper.

Like Chrysler did here.

The automotive company was looking to encourage people to visit their service center display at the National Automobile Dealers Association’s Las Vegas convention in 2003. To do this, they cleverly employed several marketing techniques that can apply to any brand or industry.

  1. Stay true to your roots. Chrysler, which has a strong brand identity, chose to showcase a miniature version of a Chrysler dealership right down to the cars, service desk and employees.
  2. Never underestimate the ‘WOW Factor’. Pop-up mailers are a really unique way to capture the attention of your audience. This particular one ships flat but, because of its interactivity, detail and uniqueness, it also surprises and delights.
  3. Less can be more – when it’s done right. Sometimes it’s just better to get to the point. To really maximize the space on this mailer, Chrysler chose to include short bursts of essential information instead of paragraphs of marketing speak. Rather than trying to convince attendees to visit its display, the team chose to let the excitement of the mailer speak for itself.
  4. Include a call to action. In this mailer, Chrysler is up front about what it wants – for people to visit the company’s service center display at the conference.
  5. Offer an incentive. We all know that people generally love to win free stuff. So, instead of just asking conference attendees to visit Chrysler’s display, they wanted to make the visit worthwhile. To make their call to action even more powerful, the company also advertised that they would be offering a chance to win a free year of ServiceVision.
  6. Don’t forget the basic information. Between the bells and the whistles, it’s easy for marketers to get caught up in the excitement of a piece and forget the most basic of information. Always include the date, time and location (if applicable) of any event you or your business are/ is attending.
  7. Catchy openings are key. Embracing the convention’s location, Chrysler took inspiration from Las Vegas’ neon lights and showgirls. The mailer’s cover is colorful and hints at the purpose for sending it out. It also beckons the recipient to open it up to see what’s inside.

5 Ways to Incorporate Video into Your B2B Marketing

Video is one of the most talked-about subjects in the marketing industry right now, and with good reason. Did you know that videos increase people’s understanding of a product or service by 74%?

Everyone from social media strategists and content creators to businesses and brands are all jumping aboard this trend. Why? They all understand how and why video has become such a popular mechanism to win new business and increase audience loyalty.

But despite its growing relevance, one of the questions we get most is: How do I get started with video marketing? Here, we’ve included a few tips to help make your marketing videos even more effective.

  1. Choose the right files. To ensure the quality of your video and sound are exactly where you want it, 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
  2. Keep it short. Video is a great vehicle for delivering your message, if it’s done effectively. Keep your videos short (30-60 seconds) and entertaining while still delivering on substance.
  3. Don’t forget the CTA. Perhaps it’s as simple as encouraging viewers to visit your website or call a direct line. Whatever the call to action is, don’t forget it. This will help you track responses and, perhaps more importantly, determine the success of your marketing efforts.
  4. Make your messaging digestible. In addition to keeping your content brief, remember to share your messaging in short, potent bursts. Perhaps this means separating your video into “chapters” or creating a YouTube series to really hit home your product or brand. Allowing viewers to enjoy your content in bite-size pieces ensures your audience will absorb more of the information you’re delivering.
  5. Consider Video-in-Print formats. Here 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.

PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: History Channel Sox Box

How many of you watch the History Channel?

We created this History Socks Box for A&E so they could showcase, in their words, “some of their best footage ever” with their ad sales clients. Each quarter, A&E chooses two of their hottest shows to highlight. In this case, it’s Join or Die with Craig Ferguson and Vikings.

This box is the first of its kind for the network and was designed to hold three pairs of socks – two inspired by that quarter’s featured shows and a third made up of spares. The box also includes an insert with show descriptions and scheduled airings.  

Interested in learning more about what went into creating this box? Head on over to our website or email us.

The 5 People You Meet in Marketing

Thanks to Mitch Albom, we’ve already gotten introduced to the five people you meet in Heaven. But for us Earthly beings, who are still very much grounded in the here and now, this collective of people is still very relevant in our everyday lives.

Take marketing, for example. It can often be a mixed bag of personalities, backgrounds and skill sets. Some, you’ll find, have been in the industry for what seems like forever, while others, recent grads or transitioning professionals, are making their first foray into the space.

Below we’ve identified five personalities you’re almost certain to meet in the marketing world.

Which one are you?

THE VISIONARY

Wise. Early adopter. Clairvoyant. Regardless of what you want to call this person, you can always bet there’s going to be one in the group. This person is the one with a Rolodex so thick it puts War & Peace to shame. He seems to know everyone and everything as far as marketing is concerned, and often spins a yarn to prove it.

THE MILLENNIAL

Ah, millennials. This term of endearment usually refers to the youngster, maybe even the newb, in the group. Though these guys are generally new to content marketing (and maybe even the work force altogether), they have a deep passion for learning and are excited to dive in head first. At business meetings, they’ll arrive with notebooks from Rifle Paper Co. or an iPad, and they’re typically vocal about their new ideas. Contrary to popular stereotypes that millennials are the lazy generation, they can actually be a true asset to any company willing to evolve.

THE SOCIAL MEDIA SUPERSTAR

You know the guy: he’s the one who’s always checking his Twitter feed, uses words like “hashtag”, “engagement” and “SEO” in normal conversation, and has probably done a Facebook Live at least once in his life. This is the person who would rather read Google Analytics reports than Gatsby and asks if you’ve seen the latest video trending on YouTube instead of talking politics. This person eats, sleeps and breathes social media, and you better believe you can find him everywhere: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Tumblr, YouTube, Vimeo, Google+, Pinterest, Reddit, Snapchat. This list goes on.

THE PICASSO

Maybe she’s a designer who whips up brilliant infographics in an afternoon or comes up with fresh ideas for a native advertising campaign. This is the person for whom a lunchtime stroll can turn into a chance to ideate on the latest client project. She may be a bit flighty, but she always comes to meetings brimming with ideas. The Picasso’s favorite phrase is, “What if we did this…”.

THE STORYTELLER

Here’s how to recognize a master storyteller: This person cares more about engaging customers than immediate conversions. He’s worried less about ROI and more on brand loyalty. This person is always experimenting and has his finger on the pulse of what interests the company’s audience, whether that’s data, social media or experiential campaigns.

Can you think of some more personalities we may have missed? Share with us in the comments below!