Tag Archives: direct mail

What’s NFC and How Can I Use it in My Marketing?

Image courtesy of The Verge.

So, what exactly is NFC?

NFC stands for Near Field Communication, a short range wireless RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) communication technology which allows two devices to communicate and share information with one another once they are within a certain range. What’s especially cool about NFC technology is that there’s no need to download or launch an application to use it – bringing the NFC-equipped devices near one another automatically triggers the action.

But isn’t that a QR code?

The short answer? Not exactly.

Though QR codes and NFC can both be used to transfer data and link content wirelessly, there are some key factors that differentiate one from the other. Here’s an infographic from www.unitag.io which illustrates how you can tell them apart.

Infographic courtesy of www.unitag.io.

Then how does this apply to my marketing?

To unleash the full potential of what NFC technology has to offer, we’ve compiled a few simple ideas and benefits to using it in your future marketing campaigns.

  1. It works everywhere. That bus station in the middle of nowhere? NFC works there. How about that national park with spotty cell service? Yup, there, too. What’s truly remarkable about NFC technology is that it’s usable in environments where Bluetooth or service is of limited use.
  2. It allows you to tell a bigger story. Does your business’ product or service have more to it than can fit on an ad or shelf-talker? NFC might just be for you. A simple NFC tag embedded in a shelf-talker, POS display or packaging can deliver additional information – such as free recipes, loyalty discounts, video demonstrations or educational material – that can provide more context for customers and motivate them to act. 
  3. It takes the online offline (and vice versa). Roughly three quarters of Americans currently own smartphones, according to a 2017 study by the Pew Research Center. They don’t predict this will be slowing down anytime soon. As a marketer, it’s becoming increasingly important to build more integrated customer experiences that can bridge the virtual and physical worlds in a way that fits buyers’ lifestyles and captures their attention.
  4. It helps create tailored offerings for customers. As marketers, we all know that the most valuable currency we have is data. The more we know about the preferences, geography, income and purchasing habits of each target customer, the better we can reach them at the right time in the right place with the right offer. With NFC, a direct connection is initiated between individuals and marketers. As a result, we’re able to learn more about them and develop tailored offerings they value. 
  5. It hands the power over to consumers, but not entirely. It’s been said that the average American sees or hears more than 4,000 ads per day. In a world where each one of us is bombarded with unsolicited advertising, NFC technology gives users greater control over their interactions.

Interested to learn more about NFC? Visit our Print and NFC page on the Structural Graphics website to see examples of NFC campaigns our clients have created.

Contact us for more information on the technology, how we’ve implemented it and what we can do using NFC to help your business. The possibilities are endless.

You’re Not Making These Silly Print Marketing Mistakes…Are You?

Are you a marketer who regularly uses direct mail?

Here at Structural Graphics, we’re big proponents of print marketing and have applauded its ability to generate feedback, loyalty and, ultimately, sales. However, if you’re not using it properly, these pieces – and leads – can end up in the garbage.

To help you better succeed with your direct mail campaigns, we’ve compiled this list of common blunders that can hinder your prospects.

  1. An unclear message: Does your headline match your CTA? Do your graphics tie into your angle or story line? Is your copy clear, concise and appropriate for your audience?  
  2. Wrong audience: Do your research beforehand. Consider not only the age, location and interests of your target demographic, but also the appropriate time of year to contact them. For instance, tax season may not be the appropriate time to contact small business owners, and members of a senior housing community likely won’t respond to real estate marketing. 
  3. Being too self-indulgent: There’s a delicate balance between asserting your strengths and overindulging in them. Recipients don’t want front row tickets to the “Me Show”; they care about “What’s in it for me?” Great marketing always focuses on the recipients, not the business or agent reaching out. Highlight your brand’s value by showing how your product or service can help change people’s lives, making them easier or more fulfilling.
  4. No contact info: Print or digital, your marketing should always have the first and last name of someone for the recipient to contact. This simple touch point creates a connection between the consumer and your business, and saves them the hassle of having to go looking for someone to reach out to.

Cool Startups Love Using Direct Mail. But Why?

When was the last time you had a mailbox full of actual mail?

Us too.

Print magazines and books now have “e” in front of them. People are paying their bills on the Internet. Customers are opting to go paperless and companies have scaled back printing catalogs, opting instead to use their budgets for websites and social media advertising.

Yet there seems to be a print resurgence of sorts among new, digitally-savvy, direct-to-consumer companies. Brands like Casper, Glossier, Quip, Wayfair and HelloFresh have taken to targeting customers in the mail, not just via email.

“The rise of young, digital brands spending money to mail us stuff speaks to the cyclical progress of shopping trends,” says Chavie Lieber in this Vox article. “A decade ago, companies looking to reach customers would often buy email addresses from third parties. They’d do giveaways and, if existing customers handed over their family and friends’ email addresses, they’d offer discounts too.”

But today, it’s a different story.

“[T]he virtual mailbox today looks a whole lot like our parents’ IRL mailboxes back then: A total s*** show,” Lieber continues. “Our inboxes are overflowing with newsletters, real letters, ride-sharing receipts, lunch-sharing receipts, bills, fake bills, breaking news notifications, not-so-breaking news notifications, brand promotions, sales promotions, social media alerts, spam… How do we all stay on top of this?”

The answer: We don’t.

Every day, we’re inundated with hundreds of emails. Add that to the excessive number of ads we’re faced with on social media, TV, radio and the Internet, and it almost makes you want to scream “Uncle!”.

“People our age get hundreds of emails a day, but they only get ten pieces of a mail a day, if that many,” says Pete Christman, the head of acquisition marketing at the shaving company Harry’s, which counts on mailers as part of its marketing. “From a numbers perspective, email is a much noisier environment.”

But it’s not just consumers who are feeling the effects of playing in this noisy digital space. Businesses are feeling it, too. Many are finding themselves fishing in a small pond, targeting the same age group, living in the same heavily populated areas with the same general income. In a word, it’s crowded.

This is why direct mail is often a more effective way to capture the attention of new and existing customers. Instead of pouring money into a Facebook or Instagram ad (the price of which increases based on how effectively it’s performing), direct mail pieces not only encourage trust in the brand that sent it, but the customer also retains the information in the mailer longer than if they were to have seen it in an email. Not to mention, when a high-impact printed format is received by a consumer it stands out in an engaging manner, which is more than we can say for the cluttered digital ads still sitting in their inbox or smartphone applications.

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.

Can Seasons Affect Your Business’ Direct Mail Responses? We Think So.

Here in New England, we eat, sleep and do business based on the seasons. But many marketers, specifically those who utilize direct mail, tend to focus so much on the whats and whos of their strategy, and lose sight of when to actually send their pieces.

Do you know what time of year is best for your company to send mailings? If you’re in an industry like retail or travel, then maybe. However, if you’re operating in a space like manufacturing, commodity or design, you might not. What’s more, do you know those weeks or months – when your response rates plummet – to avoid?

Here’s an example: Financial planners get the worst response rates during November and December, when many people are spending time with their loved ones to celebrate the holidays. Other days, like Memorial Day, Labor Day and Independence Day are also notoriously low for response rates. January, though, is just the opposite. While individuals are evaluating their finances and planning for the year ahead, the first quarter of the year is generally best for CFPs to remind clients that they’re a valuable resource.

Similarly, the holidays may be a perfect time for retailers to target consumers looking to purchase food, clothing or toys for their families, friends and mailpersons. By mailing at just the right times, we’re able to make the best use out of our direct mail pieces and provide the most valuable to those receiving them.

Experiment with small mailings and compare your business’ response rates over time. In weeks or months, you’ll be able to identify the appropriate cadence for your mailings and be efficient with your advertising budget at the same time!

How to Create Higher Ed. Marketing that Works

Statistics show that high school and college-aged students like direct mail. Our direct mail is dimensional, interactive and engaging. With other colleges and universities soliciting the same top-prospect students that you are, direct mail from Red Paper Plane and Structural Graphics will make sure your message gets noticed and stays top-of-mind.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

UC Riverside chose this dimensional folder to send out information about its different colleges to accepted students. The piece starts off as a seemingly flat printed folder, but when you open it up, an intricate pop-up immediately rises from the center. Each corner of the piece featured individual mini folders, each containing step-by-step instructions on how to get started with enrollment.

Our flat-cube is one of our most dynamic and exciting designs because of its ability to immediately make an impact with recipients. This one was used by SUNY Adirondack Community College to send information about its college to prospective students. The cube immediately pops up when you remove it from the mail sleeve.

University of Canterbury used our Flapper to recruit students to its school and to promote its Product Design program. They chose the tablet-sized Flapper and displayed their information in a portrait layout. The inside of the colorful Flapper featured bright graphics that represented the key aspects of its product design program.

This clever Extendo mailer went out to prospective MBA students from the Georgia State University J. Mack Robinson College of Business. When you pull on one of the sides, the other sides pops out automatically – revealing a series of business jackets, each detailing one of the 4 MBA programs and 18 specialized master’s programs.

Rutgers School of Business used the Exploding Page design to deliver information about its business program to prospective students. The self-mailer appears to be a standard looking direct mail piece on the outside, but when opened up, it expands to twice its original size. The inside of the mailer contained information about the different programs offered by this prestigious school.

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Structural Graphics Awarded 2 Gold Ink Awards

We are proud to announce that Printing Impressions has awarded Structural Graphics not one, but two, 2017 Gold Ink Awards! With submissions in the “Direct Mail” and “Dimensional Printing” categories, Structural Graphics took home “Silver” for each.

Here are the designs that took home the prize:

Our Diagonal Box Mailer that we designed for Porsche, and their agency Cramer Krasselt, was awarded Silver in the “Direct Mail” category of the Gold Ink Awards.

Our Circle Pop-Up Brochure Mailer that we designed for Audi and their printer, Hennegan, also took home Silver, but this time in the “Dimensional Printing” category of the Gold Ink Awards.

We’d like to thank Printing Impressions for both of these honors and recognitions. To learn more about the awards, visit Printing Impression’s website here.

For more dimensional print marketing inspiration, visit us online at StructuralGraphics.com.