Category: Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality

Looking to Take Advantage of USPS’ 2019 Promotions? Here’s How.

Earlier in the year, the U.S. Postal Service re-introduced the first of six new promotions on direct mail for business. Although these promotions could provide substantial discounts on postage for businesses looking to send direct mail, meeting the requirements will entail some work. Here, we’ve broken down two of the six promotions the USPS is offering in 2019.

  1. The Tactile, Sensory and Interactive (TSI) promotion is for mailers who enhance their customers’ experience through direct mail via the use of advanced print innovations in paper, specialty inks and interactive elements like pop-ups or folds. Mailers can register for this promotion through July 31, 2019 upon which they’ll be eligible for an upfront two percent postage discount during the promotional period on qualified marketing mail, non-profit letters and flats.
  2. The USPS’ second promotion, for Emerging and Advanced Technology, encourages mailers to incorporate emerging technologies like Augmented Reality (AR), Near Field Communications (NFC), Virtual Reality (VR), and Video In Print into their direct mail pieces. The idea here is to make the physical direct mail piece more effective by incorporating it into a cohesive and multi-channel campaign. Registration is open through August 31, 2019 and the promotion runs from March 1 through August 31. Like the TSI promotion, the Emerging and Advanced Technology promotion gives an upfront two percent postage discount at the time of mailing. 

For more information and guidance on how to create a campaign that meets the USPS requirements, click here.

3 Simple Ways to Ensure Your Direct Mail Doesn’t Get Tossed

It’s a common scenario: after months of strategizing and laboring over copy or designs, your direct mail piece is ready to be shipped. But when you drop it off at the post office, it can feel like you’re throwing all that hard work into a black hole; from there you have no control over how recipients respond to it, if they respond.

Know the feeling?

Well, it doesn’t have to be this way. Instead of worrying whether your promo code will reach the right people or if the intended recipients will even open your mail piece, use these few simple tricks to make sure your marketing reaches the right people at the right time:

  1. Clean Up Your Mailing List. It doesn’t matter how great your copy is if you’re sending mail to the wrong people or to the wrong address (this goes for email distribution, too). If you’re using an incorrect or outdated mailing list, your mail has limited hope of landing in the mailbox you intended for it to. Instead, start with an accurate, updated distribution list. Perhaps that means scrubbing your current mailing list for duplicates, deleting any addresses that have been marked “return to sender” or removing anyone who hasn’t interacted with your communications in awhile. Whatever you do, ensure that you’re getting your contact information from a reliable source.
    Making sure your list is clean and correct not only guarantees that your mail will be delivered to the people you want it to go to, but it also eliminates the need to overspend on postage, printing, packaging and more.
  2. Pick Your Moment. Now that you’ve updated and scrubbed your mailing list, you have to choose the appropriate time to send your direct mail piece. Does it include a promotion that’s good for a limited time? Is there an urgency or a seasonality to what you’re trying to sell? This blog post goes into more detail on the best times of year to send various marketing pieces and the strategy behind doing so. The idea here is the make sure you’re targeting the right people with your marketing and provide value to them with your mail. 
  3. Capture Their Attention. When it comes to marketing, this is more easily said than done. Once your mail makes it in the hands of your target audience, the next crucial step is to make sure they’ll open it and see what you’re trying to communicate. Dimensional print is a great option for this. The pieces ship flat, but spring to life once they’re opened. A few of our favorite designs are the Flapper®, which constantly unfolds into itself, the Extendo®, which reveals hidden panels that triples the size of your marketing message, our SleekPeeks® Virtual Reality Viewers that showcase immersive experiences for your target audience, and the classic Pop Up Cube that automatically and unexpectedly pops into fully dimensional shape once removed from its envelope. 

Let’s Get ‘Phygital’

Print and digital. Digital and print.

These two forms of marketing, once separate, are now (combined) the key to what could be a powerful integrated marketing strategy, especially as postal rates and paper costs continue to drive up companies’ budgets. While it’s instinctive that organizations looking to slash operational spend decrease print and postage costs, print is still preferred by 60 percent of customers.

How do you find perfect harmony between managing rising print and mail costs while still maintaining an excellent experience for the consumer?

The answer, according to Matt Swain from Broadridge, is choice.

He posits in this article that organizations are “in a position to create a more strategic alignment between their print and digital communications” by going “phygital” – combining print with digital.

 

As businesses look more favorably at incorporating integrated marketing campaigns into their strategic plans, many are redesigning their print communications in order for them to complement their digital counterparts. Part of this move includes bridging the gap with technology.

QR, AR, VR and more allow businesses to introduce themselves and their products in a “paperless” way. We’re seeing these technologies drive customer engagement and strengthen customer-business relationships. Plus, the use of this technology may qualify your business for an upfront 2 percent USPS postage promotion discount that is in effect for 2019. Not to mention, combined with a high-impact dimensional printed format, the engagement level of each marketing campaign which includes these technologies increases.

Think Outside the (In)Box: 5 Print Trends to Take Advantage Of

Where did January go?

As we continue to execute our 2019 marketing promotions and campaigns, there is no better time to revisit (and rethink!) your business’ print communications. Is your collateral giving people what they want? Does your team have clear priorities spelled out from the beginning?

If you answered “no” to either of these questions, keep reading for some tips on how you can ensure your brand communications aren’t missing any opportunities for business.

  1. Plan, plan plan. Is your warehouse overflowing with inventory? Or maybe you’re nervous to try dimensional print because of the barriers to entry? It helps to have a clear plan. By starting with the end in mind, you’ll be able to print only what your team needs, thus reducing inventory, waste and long-term costs.
  2. Get physical. Provide your customers with an immersive and interactive experience when they open your direct mail piece, invitation or campus flyer. More and more, the printing industry is getting increasingly creative with everything from packaging techniques to Virtual Reality. Cut through the noise of overflowing inboxes and standard postcard mailers to not only capture your customers’ attention, but their hearts, too. 
  3. Don’t ignore the double dippers. These are the folks who receive both paper and digital communications. Statistically, many of these consumers are younger and, though they’re the most likely to go paperless eventually, are still open to the idea of receiving hard copies and snail mail. Take advantage of this market.
  4. Convenience is key. According to a poll by Keypoint Intelligence-Info Trends, customers said the best way for marketers to improve their print communications is to make them easier to understand. Instead of worrying about providing customers with every detail about your business, consider streamlining your marketing and focusing on one single “story” per piece. Not only does this cut out unnecessary detail, but it also makes your marketing easier to digest. Oh, and please, please remember to include a clear call to action.
  5. Prioritize, then execute. Perhaps a complete overhaul of your marketing strategy is in order, or maybe it just needs a fresh pair of eyes. Whatever the case, re-positioning your brand strategy allows businesses to start from scratch and execute on your priorities. How do you want customers to feel when they see your marketing communications? What action should they take after receiving it? These are all great questions to ask yourself and your team (if you’re not doing so already). They’ll encourage you to set clear goals for the year and inspire more detailed, thoughtful game plans to achieve them.

4 Things Innovative Marketers Will Do In 2019

You know it and we know it: Print is not dead. In fact, it’s more alive than ever before.

Not only can print help with building brand trust, but if done right, it can also help a brand reach a wider audience when part of a holistic marketing strategy.

So what’s a marketer to do?

To help you out, we’ve compiled four tips to run with in the year ahead.

  1. Let History Be Your Guide. Remember that holistic marketing strategy we mentioned above? It can prove to be invaluable, especially when you’re trying to create your next print ad or campaign. Comb through your brand’s social media analytics to see your best performing posts. Do you see any patterns? Find that common thread and use it to inform your print work.
  2. Take Note. So, you’ve purchased ad space in the perfect publication, but now the only question is how to make your ad stand out. Take a look at the magazine or newspaper, itself: Does it feature mostly text? Bold colors and little negative space? Whatever it is, try to deviate from that path to ensure you’ll stand out. Just make sure you don’t deviate from your other print and digital campaigns – you still want customers to recognize you.
  3. Don’t Give Away The Whole Story. Otherwise, what’s the point? When you’re developing a print campaign, it’s important that each piece thoughtfully tells a piece of the story you want to tell. The idea is to take customers on a journey with a clear call-to-action at the end. Tease and hook your audience. Don’t let too much out of the bag at once.
  4. Embrace Technology. Take some inspiration from Departures or InStyle, publications which both featured magazine ads that included ground-breaking technologies. From a pulse reader for Toyota to an expertly choreographed lighting experience for Audi, the marriage of traditional and modern media successfully created a multi-sensory experience that captured prospects’ attention.

Entering 2019: Our Marketing Predictions for the Year Ahead

In the lead up to the New Year, we put our heads together to share our vision for the year ahead. Here are a few trends we think will be shaping our marketing in 2019.

Video Marketing

Let’s face it: humans are visual creatures. Colors, graphics, movement and story lines capture our attention, especially when it comes to marketing. Take Facebook, for example. With the unveiling of their new Facebook Portal, we’re seeing commercials and ads that showcase the product as a small, but essential, character in people’s lives. And it isn’t the only one. Brands like HP, Google, Airbnb, Nike and Everlane, to name a few, have all jumped on the bandwagon that is authentic video storytelling.

But video creation is no longer only for brands with big budgets. Any good marketing campaign should be designed to trigger an emotional response, and video has consistently proven itself as an effective way to do this. According to this report by Cisco, video will make up more than 85% of all consumer internet traffic in the USA by 2020. What’s more, video marketing has zero signs of slowing down.

So what’s a brand to do? Whether you’re just getting started with video marketing or you want to up your video marketing’s “wow factor”, give our Video-in-Print Brochure a try.

The Netflix Effect

OK, so this may not be a real thing (yet), but what we’ve dubbed “The Netflix Effect” will continue to inform content and brand marketing into 2019. Four parts. Ten episodes. What’s working for streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu will work just as effectively for branded content if done right.

Strategically planning out and delivering your brand’s story in a way that plays to consumers’ interests and attention spans isn’t just great for them, it’s great for your company’s bottom line. To do this, leverage micro-targeting and new content delivery platforms and technologies.

Artificial Intelligence

Content will be more and more automated. Text aside, brands like Sephora, Starbucks and Apple are already automating their marketing using mapping, facial recognition and chatbots to aide in handling customer service interactions. As consumers crave increasingly more personalized and contextual messaging from the brands, publications and companies they support, this trend will continue to extend beyond marketing into automated news reporting, customer service, business intelligence, etc.

Engaging Audiences

We’ve really loved to see the evolution of how brands are engaging with their audiences. From Audi to the US Postal Service, virtual reality and augmented reality have proven themselves as important tools that bridge traditional print with evolving forms of media and technology. They’re so effective, in part, because of their immersive qualities – AR and VR have a unique ability to involve consumers in brand’s storytelling, creating a faster (and often stronger) sense of connection between the two.

Merging Old School + New School

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

Here’s the thing: everyone likes getting mail. That is, when it’s personalized, unique, relevant and valuable to the recipient (not a bill…). With all of the technological advancements in automation and digital marketing, direct mail has actually proven to be more valuable if done right. In fact, response rates for direct mailers have risen to as high as 5%, more than four times that of digital.

So, don’t shy away from old school marketing like postcards, brochures and catalogs. Rather, use these formats (if they work for your brand) in an intentional way that is both relevant and valuable to the recipient. Use data to inform your content and think outside the box when it comes to choosing a design.

Don’t know where to start? We recommend taking a look at our Flapper, Pop Up Cube and Extendo.

The Hows & Whys of Augmented Reality

What if you could pull the web page you’re currently viewing out from your computer screen and drop it in the air simply by putting on a pair of glasses? At CES 2018 – the world’s largest annual consumer technology show – this (made possible by Magic Leap One), as well as robots, voice assistants and connected cities, were all made entirely possible, leading consumers and analysts to speculate:

Could 2018 be the year of AR?

Augmented reality (AR) has received a lot of hype over the last decade or so. Not only does it allow users to lay visual data over their natural environment, but it allows marketers to create immersive, multi-sensory interactions with the brands they represent.

Throughout 2017, companies like Walmart and Sephora dipped their proverbial toes into the AR and VR pool. For instance, home furnishing giant IKEA released Place, an app that makes it possible for shoppers to see how IKEA furniture might look in their own living spaces prior to purchase. And Ford revealed that its engineers and designers use Microsoft HoloLens to overlay holograms of design concepts over models of vehicles, aiding them in designing cars.

Now, as we move farther into 2018, it seems like AR and VR have continued to gain traction with brands. But why?

Businesses are responding to disruption.

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.

So, it should be no surprise the AR and VR have taken hold in so many industries. In retail, for example, as brands continue to compete against online marketplaces like Amazon, using VR and AR to train employees, expand the experience of your product and create an emotional connection with your brand have become so important.

Businesses can scale the advantages of AR and VR.

The introduction of inexpensive VR headsets and greater access to AR capabilities has made it possible for brands to deliver the ultimate interactive experience to consumers, allowing them to literally walk a mile in someone else’s shoes – without breaking the bank. Our SleekPeeks, for instance, are fully customizable viewers that ship flat and take seconds to assemble.

Clients have already included them in a magazine as part of their ad, sent them in the mail alongside a promotion and used them as handouts at trade shows.

Development tools are enabling enterprises.

Heard of Apple’s ARKit. How about Facebook-owned Oculus? With so many development tools at our fingertips, it’s becoming easier for brands and, by default, marketers to incorporate AR and VR into their marketing campaigns. Here at Structural Graphics, we’ve developed customized, cost-effective designs for companies like Stryker Diagnostics, USPS and Porsche.

Combine AR and VR technology with one of our high impact designs, and you’ve delivered a larger-than-life brand experience for your customers!

Click here to see our full Virtual Reality offering and click here to read more about our Augmented Reality capabilities.

2018 Trends: Print in a Digital World

Shame on you if you’re still thinking of print as “traditional” marketing!

Beyond the fact that print is not dead, we’re firm believers that paper and ink can be as limitless as your imagination. Nowadays, consumers can access bedtime stories by scanning wallpaper, quit smoking by way of virtual reality and track their heart rate just from touching a magazine ad.

As brands continue to rethink their marketing, it’s important not to count print (or paper) out just yet. For many, it can aid in creating multi-sensory experiences, bringing together craftsmanship, creativity and design in a way that resonates with consumers.

Taking inspiration from the trends mentioned in St. Joseph Communications’ Print in a Digital World 2018 report, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most innovative projects we’ve been a part of to show you just how interesting paper can be.

TREND 1: Art, not ads.

“From smartphones to desktops and tablets to wearables, we cannot escape real-time digital experiences. Real disruption goes beyond swipes and taps. It comes from creating a wider sensory and immersive experience.” – St. Joseph Communications

SONY

Sony chose our Magic Window design for a direct mail campaign. The results? The average time spent with this mailer – 41 minutes. The rate of recall among recipients – 90%. The average time this piece was retained by recipients – 4 months.

VELUX SKYLIGHTS

We worked with full service agency Wray Ward Marketing to promote the commercial use capabilities of their client VELUX Skylights. They wanted to portray that VELUX Skylights was superior to its competition. The design they chose to do this was our table tent video box. The video screen is contained within the box. When you open up the box, the piece stands and locks into place displaying the informational video front and center. The video box also included play/pause and volume controls.

TREND 2: Beyond the page.

“The emergence of new channels and technologies are creating new opportunities for marketers. Virtual reality and augmented reality are bridging the gap between print and digital like never before. Downloadable apps can be easily introduced to campaigns, while more sophisticated brands are integrating these technologies into their own mobile platforms.” – St. Joseph Communications

FOOD LION

Food Lion Grocery Stores used this press kit to deliver information about the new layout and new products offered at its stores. When you open up the press kit, a replica of the new store pops up in the middle of the kit with detailed information on the new layout laid out in the middle. Also upon opening, a sound chip was activated to deliver an auditory announcement of the new stores. Each panel featured colorful imagery and information about the exciting changes of the store, and the right-hand panel also featured additional tabs of information that could be easily pulled out. The locking mechanism on the inside allowed the panels to lock in place making this the perfect comprehensive press kit for Food Lion.

PORSCHE

We designed and produced this custom Virtual Reality Viewer for Porsche. They used it to give consumers an interactive experience with their brand.

 

 

STRYKER DIAGNOSTICS

Stryker Diagnostics, the makers of hip and knee medical devices, chose this V-Pop design as a tradeshow invitation. When you open the invitation, a postcard pops up in the center. The call to action on the postcard was to bring the postcard to the Stryker booth to experience a 3D demonstration of the hip and knee devices. When users held the postcard marker in front of the web cams set up at the Stryker kiosks they were able to view a live 360 degree 3D demonstration of these devices.

TREND 3: Far from traditional.

“Thinking of print as ‘traditional’ is an old way of thinking. Consumers can cook, monitor their own health, and connect physical and digital channels thanks to a printed piece. These are the types of interactions that are meaningful to consumers.” – St. Joseph Communications

TOYOTA

The request was for something that has “never been done before.” With an LCD heart monitor and two completely independent electronic units in one magazine unit, this spectacular for the Toyota Camry certainly meets the criteria.

Incorporating movement, interaction and technology, this first-of-its-kind Camry insert is the latest re-invention of what print can be.

NATIONWIDE INSURANCE

Nationwide Insurance used this pie box mailer to deliver information about CareMatters, its long-term care product, to agents nationwide. The outside of the box pie box featured a partial mylar window that allowed recipients to get a sneak peek inside the box. In this case, a piece of the pie. Inside the box was a double-layered pie made out of paper that delivered different information as you turned the upper layer of the pie. There was also a brochure and a web key inside the box that drove agents to a unique landing page, specific to their agency, where they could learn more about this product. This box was also the winner of a GDUSA American Package Design Award!

GOOGLE

When you’re the most widely used web-based search engine in the world, how do you communicate with your audience in a way that is equally as big? Google chose this puzzle piece mailer to introduce the features of Google Earth Pro, its 3D interactive globe. The pieces of the puzzle were mailed inside the envelope and recipients were asked to connect it all together. The results? A fully dimensional ball featuring the features and benefits of Google Earth Pro.

Let’s Talk EDU: 5 Unique Ways to Market to the Next Generation

Before you can accept the best and the brightest, you’ve got to get their attention.

That’s where we come in.

Institutions from Manchester University all the way to University of Washington Tacoma are moving beyond the brochures, magazines and billboards traditionally used to market to students. Instead, they’re pushing their resources toward interactivity and the digital landscape. By using these unique higher education marketing strategies, colleges and universities can raise awareness of courses and programs while, ultimately, bringing new students into the fold.

Below are five key methods that savvy higher education institutions can use to creatively market their programs and reach a wider audience of prospective students.

  1. Cater to your audience, virtually. With smartphones and virtual reality headsets like our SleekPeeks, virtual reality is more accessible than ever. Not only have we seen countless universities offering virtual in-class experiences to online students, but we’ve also seen the technology become a part of the admissions process. Now, parents and students can explore campuses from afar with panoramic virtual reality tours inside buildings and around campuses.
  2. Get animated. Part of getting a prospective student excited about your institution is making an emotional connection with him or her. Video is a proven way to do just that. Whether it’s popularizing courses, highlighting campus or introducing students and parents to faculty, strategically crafted videos can speak to your target demographic. Even better? These videos can be leveraged across digital and print, allowing marketing teams to track ROI metrics. Pair your video with text using our Video in Print brochures, and you can do double duty.
  3. Personalize to fit your audience. A baseball player seeking to play at a D1 school isn’t necessarily going to have the same interests as an honors student looking to study pre-med. So, a university seeking to attract both students shouldn’t seek a one-size-fits-all approach to its marketing efforts. Like with any industry, when developing your marketing plan, it’s important to understand your audience: What content resonates with them? How do they currently perceive your school? How are they accessing your current content? Ensure that what you’re producing adds value to each group you want to target.
  4. Surprise and delight. Going to college is such a pivotal moment in the lives of so many young adults, yet so much of the higher education marketing we see doesn’t convey that excitement. Our Pop Up Cubes are extremely popular with colleges and universities because of their ability to engage and stand out from other mail. Not only do they ship flat, but as soon as the belly band is removed, they spring into action, showcasing the school in six eye-catching squares.
  5. Don’t forget the alumni! Maybe it’s a holiday card. Or an invitation to an upcoming alumni mixer. Whatever the occasion, the story of your school and the students’ place in it shouldn’t stop once they’ve graduated. Alumni are fantastic: They’re already a captive audience with an emotional connection to the school. Aside from donating real dollars, they can also offer compelling testimonials and clout to a university or college.

5 Red Paper Plane Templates to Save You Hours of Work

Here’s the thing.

As a marketing professional, you know that a solid strategy is the key to any successful direct mail marketing campaign. But between the research, meetings with creative, and tracking ROI, it can often feel like there’s just not enough time in the day to think of something truly unique to send to your customers.

Until now.

We’ve teamed up with the experts at Red Paper Plane, Structural Graphics’ online division, to make your life (and your marketing) a whole lot easier. With an assortment of ready-made templates, Red Paper Plane gives marketers like you the opportunity to customize your favorite design at the click of a mouse, no training required.

Think Red Paper Plane might be right for you? Here are some templates to get you started.

The Pop-Up Cube
One of our most loved and most popular formats is the Pop-Up Cube. It’s a customizable direct mail template that ships flat and, when opened, springs to life literally popping up into the air. The high achievers of direct mail, Pop Up mailers are attention grabbing, leave a lasting impression and boost response rates.

The Flapper
The Flapper, one of Structural Graphics’ exclusive patented designs, is kind of like a book you just can’t put down. What makes it so unique is the way it folds continually into itself, revealing four separate layers of messaging ranging from text, photographs and even QR codes. Choose from sizes ranging from mini (3.5” x 2.5”) to tablet (9.5” x 7.25”).

The Video Brochure
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 create a multi-sensory experience around your brand’s messaging. This can translate into better brand loyalty as well as more sales and leads.

The VR Viewer
The introduction of inexpensive VR headsets has made it possible for brands to deliver the ultimate interactive experience to consumers, allowing them to literally walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. With our SleekPeeks, you can fully customize these viewers with your branding, logos and imagery. Not only are they cost-effective, but they ship flat and take seconds to assemble.

The Exploding Page
On the outside, the Exploding Page appears to be a standard looking direct mail piece, but when opened, it expands to twice its original size. Aside from creating nearly double the space for your brand’s messaging, the Exploding Page is an extremely powerful mailer which can be designed to incorporate coupons, QR codes and even a hidden pocket to hold brochures or a DVD.