Category: Ideas & Inspiration

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.


Structural Graphics Video Mail Piece Grand Champion of 2017 US Postal Service Irresistible Mail Award

Some mail pieces are effective, some are engaging, some are beautiful. But very few can be called Irresistible Mail™” – the US Postal Service.

At the National Postal Forum in Baltimore, MD on May 23, 2017, The Lincoln Motor Company’s high-end video mailer, “See it First,” was selected as the Grand Champion Award winner of the “Irresistible Mail” trophy.  The Irresistible Mail Award is a USPS program that highlights mail pieces that increase engagement through innovative design, print or digital technologies.

Sharing creative credits on the winning mailer are Structural Graphics who printed and hand-assembled the piece, Lincoln Motor Company, Ford’s ad agency GTB (formerly Team Detroit), Hudson Rouge.

Used to give customers a sneak peek before the vehicle hit showrooms, this mailer presents a video screen embedded on the inside of a display folder.  Activating upon opening, the video delivers a story about Continental’s heritage and features, along with a tri-fold brochure describing the ownership experience, all delivered in a custom box. This piece was one of four finalists recognized at this year’s Forum, having been the winner of the 2nd quarter Irresistible Mail Award.

Additionally, you can find Structural Graphics on the 2017 USPS Irresistible site. Several of our pieces, created in partnership with MRM/ McCann and Sandy Alexander, are featured, including SleekPeeks VR Viewers, and OE, a slider design our paper engineers developed that features Near Field Communication and a “Twister” exploding page.

Be sure to check out Structural Graphics VPA Gallery.

PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: Seton Hall University Stands Out With Rolling Cube Mailer

The competition to increase the admissions yield in higher education is stiffer than ever, according to the University of College Designers Association.  Schools are looking for ways to stand out and differentiate themselves from everyone else.

Seton Hall University chose our Rolling Cube to deliver information about 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. Words don’t do it justice – be sure to click on the flash movie to see it in action!

 

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.

Introducing SG Unfolded

Each year, businesses throughout North America choose Structural Graphics to produce thousands of dimensional projects customized to fit their individual needs. But what about the multitude of other designs our paper engineers have created but have never been produced?

Now, you can find them here.

SG Unfolded, which launched this week, is intended to showcase one-of-a-kind inventions born of innovative thinking and precision engineering. We have such a large library of designs, that we wanted to shine a spotlight on some of the amazing work our paper engineers think up behind the scenes, which may have never made it into a client’s hands.

Our hope is not only to show off these designs, but also to help you get to know our paper engineers and their approach to crafting novel pieces for marketing professionals, Fortune 500 companies, universities and the like. Perhaps these pieces will even inspire you!

Currently, we have 16 designs on SG Unfolded (and our related Instagram account, with more queued up and ready to be posted for you to enjoy every week. Multiple images are posted for each design, including a short video to showcase how the mechanism works.

We hope you enjoy!

Why Video in Print Can Work for Your Brand

“If a picture paints 1,000 words then one minute of video is worth 1.8 million.”
– Dr James McQuivey, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research

Within the last decade or so, the marketing landscape has changed tremendously. Traditional outreach in the form of catalogues and printed post cards has given way to email blasts and digital ads as consumers increasingly spend their time online.

This change in consumer behavior means that we, as marketers, must also alter the way in which we produce content for the companies and the brands we represent. Not only do we need to be more intentional with the stories we tell, but we must become more strategic in how we tell them.

Research shows that printed collateral continues to be a compelling and successful way to capture the attention of your target audience. However, when coupled with video, print has the capability to not only gain consumers’ attention, but also to hold it.

The statistics are there:

  • 70% of marketing professionals report that video converts better than any other medium (CodeFuel)
  • 90% of customers report that product videos help them make purchasing decisions (HubSpot)
  • On Facebook, video posts have 135% greater organic reach than photo posts (Social Media Examiner)
  • 76% of companies who have used videos in the past year report a direct business impact (AdWeek)

With the blurring pace of modern society, video is one of the few types of mediums that caters to the consumers of today, while still providing the value, relevance and trackable metrics marketing professionals are after. But how can we merge the strengths of print with those of video to create a singular high-impact marketing tool?

Our 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 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.

Aetna used this dynamic video brochure to send information about its “smarter” healthcare solutions to consumers. The inside of the brochure featured a video screen with 6 buttons underneath it. By pressing each button, consumers could watch a video and learn more about each of the different solutions offered by Aetna.

T-CAAN is one of Canada’s oldest and most extensive networks of independent advertising, marketing and communication agencies. Information Packaging of Canada used this video handout at a recent T-CAAN event in Calgary. The mechanism they used was the Extendo. When you pull out the bottom panel, another panel automatically slides out from the top featuring a video about Information Packaging.

Nationwide Financial went “all out” and used this video invitation for its 2016 Nationwide Sales Invitational, a high-end event that rewards an elite group of advisors for their life and annuity sales volume and sales potential with Nationwide. The inside of this elegant mailer featured a video about the event complete with play/pause and volume controls.

What are you waiting for? Get in touch and let’s figure out how to take your marketing to the next level.

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.