The Pop-Up Cube: How Can I Make it My Own?

More than four decades ago, a simple fascination with pop-up books and paper led Structural Graphics to engineer a new advertising medium focused on dimensional print. Now, we help brands rise above their competition by thinking differently about paper and what it can do.

One of our most loved and most popular formats is the Pop-Up Cube. It’s a customizeable direct mail template that ships flat and features a 3D cube that springs into the air automatically when opened.

The high achievers of direct mail, Pop Up Mailers are attention grabbing, leave a lasting impression and boost response rates. Keep your audience interested longer so your message is front of mind with these simple tips:

Think outside the box (literally).

Cars.com Polygon Calendar

Aside from our standard cube, clients have also requested everything from pop-up houses, polygons and pyramids. Put your own stamp on this piece by choosing a shape that best illustrates your industry, your clients and your work.

Multiply your idea.

Essilor Rolling Cube

Looking for a chance to build on your brand messaging? Consider a Rolling Cube. While this format doesn’t have the same surprise and delight that a Pop-Up Cube does, it is still incredibly interactive and allows you additional space to feature your brand and/ or brand messaging.

Don’t forget the sleeve.

Dish Network Pop Up Cube

Though the Pop-Up Cube will likely be the most memorable part of this direct mail piece, it’s important to remember that it’s not the first thing your clients will see – the sleeve is. Make sure to include copy that will entice recipients to open it. Maybe consider including your brand logo. Whatever your decision, don’t forget that this is also valuable space to gain your audience’s attention and keep it.

4 Easy Steps to Design a Piece on Red Paper Plane

Are you a small business or solo entrepreneur? Do you need a marketing piece turned around quickly in order to meet a deadline? Do you want your piece to be of high quality but not for it to cost a fortune?

Have you heard about RedPaperPlane.com?

Red Paper Plane is the online ordering division of Structural Graphics. It provides clients with an easy and intuitive way to design the high-impact formats we’ve become known for, including pop-up cubes, greeting cards and the Flapper. And you don’t need to be a professional designer to do it! Using our online design tool, anyone can customize the direct mail formats with their logo, photos and text in a fraction of the time it used to take to place art to one of our templates offline.

Just follow these four simple steps:

  1. Choose your format.
  2. Download the template.
  3. Upload your artwork.
  4. Proof and order!

Whether you’re an experienced designer, a marketing professional or a small business owner, Red Paper Plane has created an online experience with your needs in mind.

Tips & Tricks for Using Video in Print

Happy New Year!

Video in Print advertising (VPA) is a unique way to fuse the emotional elements of video with the informative nature of print into one highly effective marketing piece. Here are some tips to ensure you get the best piece for your marketing spend.

  • Pick a reputable supplier. Anyone with a web site and an electronics supplier in China can sell video in print advertising so make sure the supplier you choose has design and manufacturing expertise.
  • VPA itself is not patented. While some suppliers claim it is, only a few of the scores of designs available are covered by patent protection so you have many choices available to you.
  • Video units are not created equal. Make sure your supplier uses top quality components.
  • Chose the right files. To ensure the quality of your video and sound 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
  • The shorter, the better. Video is a great way to deliver your message, but keep it to 30-60 seconds. And don’t forget the call to action so you can track responses.
  • Double check the packaging. Make sure the shipper will hold up in the mail and deliver your video unit in working order.
  • Don’t forget the design elements. Designing the VPA unit with print treatments and engaging design elements can help you match the piece to your company’s personality.

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.

6 Quick Tips to Improve Your Brand Photography

As any good marketer knows, first impressions are everything.

So, when a prospective client visits your website, glances at your portfolio and determines whether or not they will hire you, you better make sure your product photography is on point.

Product photography is so important for countless reasons. Not only can it stimulate a general need for your product, but it also showcases its usefulness, significant features and quality. Following these six basic tips will help you to master both the technique and artistry of product photography – and ensure that you never lose a lead because of it.

1) Follow the light. Finding a good source of light is essential when it comes to photographing your products. To avoid adding unnecessary shadows to your image, keep things simple: shoot in a well-lit area, use natural light when possible and be mindful of objects like clouds that may cast unnecessary darkness.

2) Choose the right backdrop. Use your background to complement your product, not distract from it. When just starting out, opt for a simple, single-color backdrop. The purpose here is to let your product be the center of attention.

3) Consider the human element. Using models may or may not be useful for you, depending on what you are trying to sell/ photograph. Perhaps you are a jewelry company looking to promote your new selection of necklaces. Or maybe you’re looking to mentor young students. Evaluate whether or not a persona will be able to show the value of your product and effectively tell the story of your brand.

4) Show scale. Give your audience a sense of how big or small your product is. By placing the product next to a common object, you can showcase a point of difference or feature how easy it is to use.

5) Play with focus. No one wants to look at a gallery of static images. To create a more dynamic spread, consider honing in on the key points of your product and pulling it forward from the background using your camera’s focus. This is a great way to highlight the quality of your product as well as its usefulness, especially if you’re looking to compare your products with a competitor’s.

6) Tell a story. It may seem silly to think that a product photo can tell a story, but keeping this in the back of your mind will take your images from good to great. Instead of photographing your product in front of a white background, consider capturing it in use. Place it in its natural environment. Or capture someone’s reaction to it. There are countless ways to set your images, and thus your product, apart by creating or playing into the emotions of your audience.

Why Disruption Can Be A Good Thing

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.

WHAT IS DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION AND MARKETING?

Disruptive Innovation is a term coined by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen. He describes disruptive innovation as “a process by which a product or service takes root in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.”

But, believe it or not, this buzz-worthy phrase has been a part of the business world longer than you might think. Consider the introduction of cell phones. When was the last time you used a landline?

IS IT BENEFICIAL?

Disruption is a word that has inevitably evolved as the new standard for businesses around the world. Here are a few ways embracing Disruptive Innovation can help you and your brand stay relevant:

  • Smaller companies and startups can compete with corporate enterprises by establishing and growing new market segments of their own. In many cases, big business will make lucrative deals or offer huge cash sums to incorporate these innovative startups into their own business model – or make them go away.
  • Your company culture can evolve as a learning community that welcomes change rather than fearing it. Employees may have ideas on better processes or technologies that will increase efficiency; consumers can provide insights into what various markets are looking for.
  • You will identify your leaders for today and for tomorrow. People who are curious, open to new ideas / approaches, and welcome the challenge of taking your business into the future are those you should rally behind.
  • Opportunities for growth will present themselves to companies that allow themselves to adapt to leading new trends. It can benefit both competition and consumers by providing better products and more accessible services.

Strategies for Using Customer Testimonials in Your Marketing Content

Customer reviews and testimonials matter… a lot.

In today’s world of social media influencers, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Amazon, we look for and act on the recommendations of others when it comes to all areas of our life, but specifically when it comes to making a purchasing decision.

In fact, according to Nielsen research, 92 percent of people will “trust a recommendation from a peer” and 70 percent will trust a recommendation from “someone they don’t even know.”

And while these recommendations can come in many forms, testimonials are a great way to establish your brand’s credibility and to sell your product to consumers. The one key difference between testimonials and other word-of-mouth and third-party reviews is that they are sought and selected by you, the marketer. This gives you greater control over what is said and how it is displayed.

But how can you get a great testimonial?

The short answer to this question is that you must ask. Approach your best customers individually and personalize the request with the person’s name, the product he or she purchased as well as any other information that might be relevant. It’s also smart to approach recent customers – maybe some you’re just beginning to form relationships with – as a way to both follow up on the work you did or the project you sold and to get their honest opinion while the purchase is still fresh in their minds.

Next, you must ask the right questions. Don’t just ask for a “testimonial”. Be specific in your request. Ideally, your objective is to extract examples of how your product or service has benefited them. You can do this by asking questions like:

  • How much money did our product save you?
  • What’s the biggest benefit you’ve seen as a result of using our product?
  • What made you choose us/ our product?
  • Do you have any ROI feedback as to how successful the piece was at reaching your target market?

Make sure to provide a guideline for the customer or client. Not only does this help you control the response, but it also increases the probability that he or she will respond to you since you’ve made the process more manageable by outlining it with questions.
Once you have a nice pool of responses, make sure to edit them properly – this is a testimonial, not an essay. Edit out any irrelevant chatter (if it’s a video) or unnecessary sentences (if it’s a written response) to keep the focus on information that’s going to help potential customers overcome objections and decide to purchase.

When you have a few strong testimonials you’re pleased with, the next and possibly most important part is that you use it strategically. After all, a testimonial is no help if your customers don’t see it. Consider adding them to your website, email blasts or case studies. Furthermore, experimenting with paid ads or using shorter testimonials on social media can also drive traffic to your website and, eventually, convert followers into customers.

3 Ways Intelligent Marketers Use VR

Have you been thinking about incorporating virtual reality into your next campaign? Gartner predicts that virtual reality marketing is positioned at a vital transition point. The New York Times recently distributed more than one million Cardboard Viewers to Sunday print subscribers and Google Cardboard has been downloaded roughly 10 million times.

If it’s your first time experimenting with how VR can transform your business, here are a few tips to help ensure your message (and your brand) resonates.

Think mobile.

Rather than creating long-form narratives or experiences that require users to sit with a cumbersome headset on their heads, consider shorter, more digestible content for today’s consumer. VR headsets are getting lighter, sleeker and have replaced built-in screens with smartphones.

Creating short-form branded experiences that can easily be shared can get people interested in what you have to offer.

Recognize that storytelling still matters.

Like with all of your marketing efforts, VR should be chosen because it’s the best medium to tell your brand’s particular story. With technology, people like to get wrapped up in whatever is new and trendy, and often forget that the content is still the driving force behind its success.

Avoid falling into the trap of believing you can produce anything for VR and have it meet your marketing objectives. Rather, create branded content specifically formatted to fit the platform and consider how both will help you to move the needle.

Don’t forget the other senses.

The truly compelling part of using VR is that it can create a world that isn’t really there. It’s virtual. And while visual content is often the focus for most companies’ marketing teams, it shouldn’t be the only one.

The best marketers determine how to engage multiple senses, whether it’s Marriott incorporating the sound of waves to their virtual beachside getaway or Game of Thrones blasting cool air, creating the feeling users were being hoisted up 700 feet to the top of the Wall at Castle Black.

The introduction of inexpensive virtual reality headsets has made it possible for brands to deliver the ultimate experience to consumers. Structural Graphics offers virtual reality headsets that ship flat, assemble in seconds, and are fully customizable! Our SleekPeeks VR Viewers provide a complete immersive experience, sturdy design and high quality lenses. Click here to try one for yourself!

With New iOS 11, Device Can Read Codes Natively

We’ve already debunked the notion that QR codes are dead, but with last month’s arrival of the new iOS 11, it looks like this rumor has been officially put to rest.

What’s a QR Code?

QR codes are unique graphics that link to a website, landing page or other information source. Previously, in order to scan the code and access the data associated with it, iOS users would need to download an app specializing in reading QR codes.

About that iOS 11 everyone’s been talking about…

Among the new features Apple announced, the new iOS allows iPhone 7 and above cameras to read QR codes natively. With the software update, the device’s camera app can read the code and displays the data automatically in a pop-up notification. No app download required.

While this feature is new for iOS, it isn’t entirely unheard of. Google’s Chrome on iOS launched an in-app QR code scanner earlier this year and social media users may be familiar with SnapChat’s “snapcodes” which allow users to easily scan and follow others.

Check out this Forbes article to learn more about the new iOS 11 and 25 of its “secret” features.

How does this affect me?

Well, if you’re an iOS user, the capability to natively read QR codes allows you a way to connect your mobile device with the real world in real-time. Think about it. By using these codes you can: verify the goods you’re purchasing online are not counterfeit, send and receive contact information with a single click, learn more about a company or product, access directions and more.

But it’s also a powerful marketing tool, too. Because users can now have more convenient access to hidden content, this opens to door to fun guerrilla tactics, interactive print displays or more effective experiential marketing for businesses and brands around the world. For instance, we can imagine seeing a QR code in a comic book to promote the new Wonder Woman movie or a treasure hunt sponsored by a travel company with QR codes leading participants to the next clue.

How Marketers and AR Can Work Hand-in-Hand

Augmented reality is quickly blossoming into a marketing trend that not only allows users to access information virtually, but without taking their attention off of the real world. Pokemon Go, Snapchat’s lenses, even Google Glass, have shifted the attention toward this new technology and the power behind it. Now, with Apple’s release of three new phones – the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X, plus the launch of ARKit for iOS and Google’s ARCore for Android, AR is poised to move into the hands of the public.

“As traditional revenues from television advertising are beginning to erode, a new trillion-dollar industry is emerging that mandates brands be omnipresent. Within this decade, augmented reality is going to change the way the always-connected consumer works, shops and plays. Once contextual marketing seamlessly transitions to commerce, it will be trusted brands—and the savvy marketers who manage them—that help consumers augment their world with tailored experiences to enhance their daily lives.” – AdAge

As the conversation turns toward the benefits of AR, how can we, as marketers, adopt and harness the power of this emerging technology?

Feature Interactive Ads.

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. Take a look at the movie to see it in action!

Make Your Products Scannable.

Open up our shadow box and meet our robot technology mascot, Joey. Joey has all of your SG technology capabilities questions answered with a simple scan of his mid-section.

Simply download Taggar for Augmented Reality or activate your QR code reader, scan his mid-section, and be launched into a technology experience!

For more ideas on how to use AR in your business’ marketing efforts, read this blog post by Incisive Edge.

Click here to learn more about our technology capabilities at Structural Graphics.

6 Brilliant Direct Mail Ideas You Should be Incorporating into Your Marketing Plan

In a highly digital world, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get your company’s message heard above the noise. But direct mail can make this seemingly impossible task possible.

Direct mail marketing hinges on the idea of connecting brands with customers in a real and tangible way. To accomplish this effectively, we recommend getting their attention through clever ideas, interactivity and unique attention to detail. In fact, our direct mail designs deliver an average response rate of 8.5 percent.

The next time you’re ideating about your next direct mail marketing campaign, use these examples below to wow the group (and increase your response rates)!

Atlanta Falcons Mercedes-Benz Stadium Mailer

We produced this piece for The Atlanta Falcons to give fans a sneak peek of the new Mercedes-Benz multi-purpose retractable roof stadium under construction in Atlanta, Georgia. This piece was also used to encourage fans to purchase their season tickets and to sign up for a tour of the new stadium. The cover of this piece featured an image of the stadium roof. When pulled down on the side-tab, the roof petals immediately opened up to give recipients a demonstration and preview of the new roof opening. The inside of the mailer featured a web key that drove recipients to a unique URL where they could learn more and experience a virtual tour of the new stadium. The web key also allowed our customer to keep track of who visited the site and market to those who did not accordingly.

Fort Worth Zoo Ball Custom Invitation

In conjunction with Schaefer Advertising, we designed this custom event invitation with our client for the Fort Worth Zoo Ball, an annual fundraising event to support the privately owned, non-profit zoo. Some of the highlights of this high-profile event included an appearance by Reba McEntire, a silent auction and a raffle.

Mettler Toledo Flapper

Mettler Toledo is a multinational manufacturer of scales and analytical instruments. They used the Flapper direct mail solution as part of a national lead generation campaign. The Flapper featured imagery of a man with glasses. As you opened up each of the multiple panels, the expression on his face changed slightly which helped build momentum with each panel flip.

NutriSolutions Folder with Cylinder

RR Donnelley partnered with us on this high-impact direct mail solution for agricultural brand WinField. WinField was looking for an impactful way to market NutriSolutions, their complete plant nutrition management program. What they chose was this direct mail folder which included a pop-up cylinder on the inside. The cylinder included comprehensive information on the NutriSolutions program.

Carestream Shadowbox Mailer

Carestream is no stranger to the power of high-impact print! They came to us to develop a visually creative mailer to highlight their DRX-Revoluion Mobile X-Ray system. They chose our Shadowbox Mailer design. It shipped flat but when you pull on the side panels, the inside transformed into a shadowbox display with the X-Ray machine featured front and center.

Food Lion Renovation Pop Up

Grocery store chain, Food Lion, mailed this fun pop-up to customers to make them aware of renovations being made to the store and to get them excited about some upcoming changes to the store and product line. The piece is effective to mail because it starts out flat and memorable because of the dimensional component that pops up as soon as you open the piece.