Category: Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality

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.

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

ford-australia-design-2

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.

sleekpeeks_web_3_resized__3

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

postbox
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.