Category: Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality

The Continued Rise of VR in 2017 – And What it Means for You

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If you haven’t heard about VR by now, there’s a good chance you’re living under a rock.

The new technology seemed to really gain traction in 2016 with videos of Lil Wayne and LeBron James wearing Samsung’s Gear VR headsets and this emotional video released by Excedrin, which shows how it feels to experience a migraine — in real time.

But as VR and AR technology continue to gain traction in the new year, what are the implications of these products on marketers, businesses and the public?

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-11-58-02-amHow are Virtual Reality Headsets Different Today?

Many of you might consider VR headsets to be the latest breakthrough in modern technology. Not exactly. Rather, it’s more like an upgraded gaming system with its 360-degree views and human-like avatars.

And while the original headsets were extremely clunky and not exactly wireless, they also carried a hefty price tag. This had two implications: 1. Developers had no desire to create headsets outside of gaming and 2. They didn’t make sense for businesses or consumers.

Now, nearly two decades later, these bulky, expensive products have evolved. Companies like Samsung and Google now offer their own versions of VR headsets and, here at Structural Graphics, we’ve created cost-effective versions called SleekPeeks that you’re able to customize to fit your business’ logo, color scheme and unique messaging. Plus they ship flat.

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So, How Exactly are Businesses Using VR to Market Their Products?

For everything from virtual product demonstrations and 360 video tours to training and prototyping. Here are a few examples:

  • Psychiatrists at the University of Louisville use VR to treat patients with social anxieties or phobias during cognitive behavior therapy. Because the patients are in a controlled environment, doctors are able to simulate the patient’s fear of, say, flying, and direct them on how to cope with that fear.
  • Ford currently uses VR in its Immersion Lab to get a better sense of how their customers experience their cars. Using headsets, they view high-def renderings of the interiors and exteriors of the cars before a prototype has been made available. To make this even more realistic, the company has developed prop-like tools like a flashlight that help their employees’ experience feel natural.
  • In an effort to increase bookings, Marriott Hotels created a “teleporter” which encouraged users to step inside a booth, put on a VR headset and visit a dream location. Not only could the wearer see a beach in Hawaii or the London Eye, but they could also feel the wind in their hair and the sun on their faces.
  • The US Postal Service used our SleekPeeks for their “Emerging & Advanced Technology” discount incentive program at the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) “Masters of Marketing” Conference. This piece delivered a powerful, yet lightweight virtual reality experience to conference attendees.

Interested in discovering how virtual reality can work for your business? Click here to request your FREE SleekPeeks sample.

Thinking Outside the Inbox: Direct Mail for the Holidays

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I always get excited when I receive mail.

One glimpse of the mail carrier, donning his USPS garb, and I wait anxiously to see whether there’s anything addressed to me. But on those days when I’ve got more than bills or credit card offers stuffed in my mailbox, that childlike excitement I felt earlier all too quickly disintegrates into something else: disappointment.

There are the flat mailers that have my name incorrectly printed on them. There are the catalogs with promo codes so buried I get exhausted from flipping through before even finding them. And there are the dreaded cards and the postcards that I barely even look at before throwing away.

Sound familiar?

These pieces all have one thing in common (besides meeting my recycling bin): they’re boring. And as businesses increase their efforts to vie for your attention this holiday season, as marketers you want to be anything but. So, if you’re not currently creating (or, at the very least, brainstorming) some ways to set your direct mail apart, you’re already missing out on the opportunity to make a memorable impression.

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But don’t worry, it’s not too late to get your company or your products noticed in time for the holidays. Here, we’ve curated some of our most helpful tips on how to bring back that “wow factor” during the most magical time of the year.

      1. Go dimensional. Perhaps the easiest way to make a real impact with little-to-no-effort? Incorporate dimension. By incorporating pieces like our 3″ pop-up cube into your marketing, it’s easy to put forth your messaging in a way that takes advantage of 3D (but still ships flat).
      2. Embrace technology. For better or for worse, we live in a digital world and it’s just going to get that much more – er – digitaler. Instead of rejecting this characteristic of modern life, we say embrace it! Want your print advertising to play your jingle? Want to incorporate virtual reality or LED lights into your messaging? Make your customers feel like a kid around the holidays by sending them something shiny AND bright in the mail.
      3. Video is your friend. Did you know that videos increase people’s understanding of a product or service by 74%? In case you’ve been living under a rock, video is super trendy right now. Combine video with one of our high-impact print solutions and you’ve got a powerful marketing tool.
      4. Surprise them. If a consumer is able to predict how a promotional piece is going to look or feel before they even get their hands on it, you can almost bet that it will get lost and maybe even thrown away. Make your brand as exciting as you are – that unexpected element will not only set you apart from your competitors, but it’ll leave a lasting impression in your recipients’ minds.
      5. Think Interactive. Print plays to the human senses in ways that digital tech is hard-pressed to match. By delivering a direct mail piece that recipients can engage with, you’re not only getting their attention, but you’re strengthening your brand’s longevity, too.

Feeling inspired? Have an idea for how your business can target the next generation of purchasers? Contact us to get started.

Simpsons Virtural Reality | Structural Graphics

The Simpsons Uses VR to Celebrate 600 Episodes

Recently Fox’s The Simpson celebrated their 600th episode. It’s fascinating that a cartoon show about a silly family in a crazy town has managed to stay on the air so long. No doubt, it’s due to the shows innovative writers which parody current events, create satirical story lines and stay on top of pop culture.

Simpsons Virtural Reality | Structural GraphicsTo help celebrate this achievement the show released a great VR experience with the help of Google Cardboard. Unfortunately, I don’t get to watch The Simpsons anymore, but checking out the VR experience provided a hefty dose of nostalgic relief and a few laughs too.

You don’t have to use Google Cardboard, any VR viewer will work. I used my SleekPeeks® VR Viewer, download the app, then downloaded The Simpson’s “Planet of The Couches”. The experience provides six different fully-immersive scenes with 360 degrees of things to look at. Check it out!

10 Commandments of Direct Mail Marketing

For your pleasure, 10 Commandments of Direct Marketing set in proverbial stone.

  1. Thou shalt include clear calls to action.
    Just as its name implies, it’s important to be extremely direct with direct mail marketing. As a business, your job is to motivate people to do something: visit your company website, request a free sample or even purchase a product you’re trying to sell. It’s important for your call to action to be concise and to the point.
  2. Know thy target like thy know thyself.
    The better you know your prospects – who they are and what they want – the more likely your message will resonate with them effectively. Not only will this help you better tailor your direct mail pieces, but you’ll also increase the likelihood of encouraging your prospects to react to your call to action (see point 1 above).
  3. Thou shalt use responsive design.
    Research indicates that nearly half of mobile phone users feel frustrated when they visit a site that’s not mobile-friendly – and who could blame them? In this day and age mobile phones, e-readers and tablets are the preferred way to access websites and email. So, if you and your business can’t keep up, you’ll probably be left behind.
  4. Thou shalt not fear staying true to thyself.
    How do you make your product or company stand out from the rest? Don’t be afraid to take inspiration from others and to make each direct mail piece your own. Use color schemes and logos unique to who you are. iBeacons, virtual reality headsets, LED lighting and pop-up books are a few ways our clients have set themselves apart in their marketing.
  5. Thou shalt track.
    In order to know which pieces get the best response, it’s essential to track the results from each and every direct mail marketing campaign. Not only will you be able to send your mailers with confidence, but you’ll also know who responds to your marketing and have an opportunity to follow up.
  6. Honor thy needs of thy customer.
    No matter how you spin it, the customer/ prospect’s needs always come first. Are they looking for a new heart medication or an organic make-up line? As a marketer, your job is to solve a problem that your customer has. Remember that.
  7. Thou shalt provide value.
    Can your direct mail piece be multi-functional? A great example of this is our pop-up cube pencil holder. Not only does the piece provide information of what a company is trying to sell or promote, but it also has longevity – recipients have kept these pieces on their desks for weeks or months because of their value. It’s a win for both.
  8. Remember to make mailers creative.
    Here at Structural Graphics and our online offering, Red Paper Plane, we use dimensional print to get people’s attention whether it’s a DIY snowman or an origami gift card holder. No matter what you’re looking to promote, we’ve got a fun, effective and creative way to do it.
  9. Thou shalt use proven techniques.
    Perhaps it’s a unique selling proposition. Or maybe it’s a web key that encourages recipients to visit your website. Whatever has worked for you in the past, use it.
  10. Thou shalt always tell a good, compelling and powerful story.
    Enough said.

Ready to get your direct mail on? Give us a call at 860-767-2661 or shoot us an email. Together we can make your direct marketing really pop.

How Can I Use VR for Pharma?

There are a lot of oooh’s and ahhh’s around virtual reality, and that’s because it’s one of the most cutting edge technologies out there today. If you’re in the pharma industry, you might be wondering, “OK, I want to take my company or prescription to the next level.” But how?

We took a page out of Xavier Creative House’s book, and wanted to share it with you guys.

“Here are a few ways to use VR technology to promote awareness of your brand in a totally unique way:

  • Build Empathy: If your product treats a condition with significant sensory effects, such as Parkinson’s or chronic migraines, you can use VR at conferences to let clinicians “feel” what it’s like to actually be a patient with that condition—feel their hands shake, see their vision become distorted as a migraine aura takes hold. Clinicians can get so caught up in the science of various diseases, so distracted by the seemingly endless paperwork demanded by insurance companies, that it’s sometimes easy for them to lose sight of why they became doctors in the first place. VR can help them get back in touch with that altruism and empathy in a truly impactful way. Brand messages then reach a much more engaged target.
  • Facilitate Training: Is your product a medical device, a complex stent, for example? Let clinicians experience—without fear of failure—how it feels to use the device, and the audience for your brand message will be all ears.
  • Bring Science to Life: Mechanism of Action animations are nothing new, but to experience “being” in the bloodstream, penetrate a cell wall to deliver healing medicine—that type of immersive MOA has real punch. At a recent American College of Cardiology annual meeting, Boehringer Ingelheim offered attendees a VR experience exploring the mechanism-of-action behind a new pharmaceutical agent. The MOA demo, developed by VR experts Confideo Labs, drew long lines at the BI booth.”

Looking to incorporate virtual reality into your next campaign? Visit our virtual reality page, and scroll down to the bottom of the page to request a free sample.

Unsure how to get started? Contact us here!

The Reality of Going Virtual

Photo courtesy of polygon.com
Photo courtesy of polygon.com

Is virtual reality really the next major marketing trend?

Well, before you answer that question, consider this: Brands like McDonald’s, GE and Samsung have already adopted this technology. Facebook and YouTube already allow users to view 360-degree videos by utilizing the gyroscope on their mobile devices. Roughly $4 billion have already been invested in start-ups working on virtual reality, while studies have shown that VR, if embraced by the public, could reach upwards of $126 billion in revenues by 2020.

Whoa.

Judging by those stats (as well as this, this and this), the hype and expectations for virtual reality in 2016 couldn’t be higher. But how can brands use VR in their own marketing outreach in a creative yet cost-effective way?

 

With our SleekPeeks, we set out to solve that very problem. 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. These fully customizable viewers 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.

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But, while it may be tempting to incorporate VR into every future project, it’s still essential to make sure your marketing aligns naturally with your strategic brand objectives.

When that’s the case, we recommend using VR to:

We Recommend Using VR To...

Virtual reality, at its best, is a truly transformative experience. Not only can it create an interactive, hands-on environment to showcase your products, but it’s also an exciting, albeit challenging, way to interact with your consumers.

Need to reach your audience? Contact us to see how you can incorporate VR into your next promotional piece.

The Hottest New Trend: Direct Mail

Why do people continue to refer to direct mail as “old school” marketing? There is nothing old school about direct mail anymore. Interest in direct mail took a hit for awhile as marketers flocked to the low cost and immediate gratification of digital marketing. Now many of those marketers are back.

Just look at the return of catalogs. After making marketing headlines by shelving its print catalog several years ago, J.C. Penney reversed course. Major retailers like Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue are sending more targeted and specialized catalogs. Williams Sonoma has made a deeper investment in its catalog by adding recipes.

While not every marketer uses catalogs, their return speaks volumes about the value of direct mail. Numerous studies have shown that even Millennials—the consummate digital generation—are responding to direct mail (when it’s done right).

According to the Direct Marketing Association’s 2015 Response Rate report, the average response rate to direct mail is now 3.7% with a house list and 1% with a prospect list (compare that to .1% for email). Even a few years ago, the average response rate for direct mail was .5% to 1.0%. Something has changed, radically.

Let’s look at three reasons why direct mail is the hottest “new” trend.

  1. Marketers are paying more attention to direct mail.

Marketers may take print out of the mix for awhile, then bring it back. When they do, they often bring back a newer, better version of direct mail — one that is more personalized, more targeted, and more creative than the “old” versions.

  1. Print has become interactive.

Direct mail is changing. Interactive elements like augmented reality, QR Codes, and personalized URLs make it a responsive channel. The 2016 IKEA Catalog uses Augmented Reality to allow consumers to visualize products in their homes before they buy them. Recipients can scan a QR Code to be immediately taken to a video testimonial or demonstration of the product. If you’re a nonprofit, people can make donations via QR Code, as well.

  1. Personalization is more powerful.

It used to be that people were highly skeptical of giving out their personal information, but they are becoming increasingly comfortable with it.  Infosys found that 78% of consumers would be likely to purchase from a retailer multiple times if the retailer provided them with targeted offers, and 45% would be willing to trade “some privacy” for incentives tailored to their shopping habits.  As consumers become more comfortable with giving out their data, marketers’ ability to create highly targeted, more effective direct mail campaigns gets easier.

Want to rediscover the power of direct mail? Let us show you some creative ideas!

What About Near Field Communication?

For the last few years print and technology have been dancing around one another, closing in on ways to take brand experiences to the next level. With smartphones taking over the consumer market, near field communication (similar to QR and AR codes) is poised to take your brand’s interactions with consumers to a whole new level. Continue reading

Meet Red Paper Plane: Our Online Ordering Solution

With close to 40,000 print marketing designs suitable for almost every industry, it was only a matter of time before we unveiled those resources to a wider audience. Continue reading