Adding Video to your Printed Marketing Materials for Free

 

In this post we will explore in detail how to beef up your printed marketing materials by adding your own custom video and making it easy for your customers to share the video as well.
I am sure some of you reading this right now are imagining small screens, wires and batteries or mini-DVDs glued to the inside of your media kits. Well, that’s not the case, it’s not that complicated and it’s free!

Adding the video to your printed marketing materials is done in 3 easy steps and all 3 tools needed are available freely on the Internet.

Video Distribution Step One

Video Distribution

The first step, assuming you already have a video that you would like to distribute to your customers, is to upload your video to the web. There are quite a few websites that will host your video file for free, some of the most popular being Youtube and Vimeo.

 If you are tech-savvy or have an IT person who handles your website, you can also upload your videos to your own website hosting server.

By uploading your videos to the web, you make them available and easily accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Most video hosting sites as you may already know, have a commenting feature where people can leave comments about your video and you can respond to their comments.

 

Link Creation Rope

Creating a Link

In this second step we will create a link to the video. Both Youtube and Vimeo automatically create a link for you and you simply copy and paste it. Most video hosting sites will do this for you as well.

After we have uploaded the video and generated a direct link to the video, we are going to make it a link that we can track to see how many times it has been used, shared and who shared it.

There are many free URL shorteners available that give you free tracking tools that provide basic Analytics with information regarding the use of the link you shortened. Here are a few of the most popular ones, I recommend you create a user account so that you can log in and view your results:

I tend to be partial to bit.ly because I like how easy it is to create a shortened url and the way they present the link tracking information.

To create a shortened URL, simply paste the video URL into the big blue text box and click shorten. Easy as that.

The Bit.ly analytic panel gives you different ways to look at what happened to your URL throughout its life:

  • A visual chart with the amount of daily clicks
  • Cool feature called Conversations which shows who is talking and sharing the same link on social networks plus a count of how many times it has been shared on various social networks.
  • QR code and a sidebar to share the link on your social networks right from the bit.ly page (go to settings to authorize this).

Being able to analyze the results of your efforts is a very valuable tool. If you can tell what did well and what went wrong with your marketing, you can use this information to improve your marketing and drive better results on your next campaign.

 

QR Code Connecting Print to Video

Code Connection

The final step in adding video to your printed marketing materials is to create the connection between your video and the paper your marketing material is printed on.

Most of you may be familiar with QR codes by now since they have been around for a while. You might see them quite often on catalogs, magazines, postcards and many other direct mail printed materials; not to mention packaging and even in commercial stores like BestBuy use them to show video product demos in the stores.

If you would like to learn more about QR codes, I highly recommend you read my post that contains information about QR codes and a list of Free QR Code readers and generators.

For this specific tutorial we will be using a QR code to direct the user’s mobile smart phone to a video that you uploaded per the instructions in step one. Why use a QR code? Well, how many people do you think would want to type a URL that looks like this – bit.ly/egm7XG - into their smart phone browser? By using a QR code all the user has to do is tap his QR code reader app and scan the code.

Let’s get to it! Creating a QR code is simple. Go to one of the free websites I listed in the blog post about QR Codes. Try them all to see which one you find easier to use and feel free to share with us in the comments below.

For this example I will use the www.BeQRious.com website to generate my QR code:

BeQRious.com screenshot

Simply paste the shortened URL you created in step 2 into the text box labeled “Enter web URL:” and click the Create Code button.

You will see on the right an image of a cellphone with a QR code on the screen. That is the code that was generated by your special and unique URL.

Now, if you are feeling a bit antsy, go ahead and fire up your QR Code reader app on your smart phone and scan the the code right on your computer screen. Make sure it works correctly and directs your smart phone to the video you uploaded in step 1.

If it doesn’t work, go back to step 1 and make sure you used the correct link for the video, in the URL shortener and that you used the correct link generated by the URL shortner, on BeQRious.com (or whatever qr code generator you decided to use).

Wa-la! That’s it. Download the QR code and insert into the design of your marketing materials.

I recommend you download the vector/PDF version of the code (if available) as it is created in vector format and can be enlarged or reduced to just about any size without losing any quality. I personally try to keep it no smaller than 1 inch x 1 inch.

IMPORTANT!!!

Rule #1 : TEST, TEST, TEST.
You must make sure that the code is not too small or too blurry to be read by the cameras on smart phones. You must test the QR code among different phone models and different QR code reader apps to make sure it works appropriately.

One Critical Component Missing from your Brochure Design

brochures by mmprintSometimes a business card just isn’t enough to leave behind when you visit a potential customer. Sometimes, customers come into your facility and want to learn more about your products or services while they wait or to take back to the office or home.

Sure, you can tell them to visit your website; there’s a lot of information and pictures there. But how sure are you that they will actually visit your site? How do you know that they will remember to do so?

Well by furnishing them with a printed brochure, you can rest assured that they have the information they seek, in their hands, ready to read. No computers to turn on, no website addresses to type, just a simple informative brochure in their hand ready to be read.

Online and Offline go hand-in-hand

Your brochure is a selling tool, it serves as a convenient hub to introduce your service or product, it can contain information about you and/or your business and a way to contact you. Now here is the way to extend the power of your brochure to actually make the sale for you: add a QR Code.
Yes, by adding a QR code to the inside or outside of your brochure, the potential customer can scan the QR code with their smart phone, go to a mobile-ready website that is formatted to make it easy for them to actually place the order for the product or schedule an appointment for the service you offer.

Read more about how to properly execute a QR Code campaign to get the best results from your efforts and save money on postage when using direct mail services.

 

Brochure Inspiration for Advertisers and Graphic Designers

Printed brochures come in many sizes and shapes. Of course we have to offer you a nice collection of beautifully crafted brochure samples to get your creative juices flowing and to end this post with some motivational visual inspiration.

 

Brochure by Brandzigners

Brochure by deviantonis

MSC Brochure by SherifShaaban

MineralKat Brochure A4 by pho3nix_bf

 

Brochure by ksteward

CropLife Brochure by jpz001

 

brochure by SeventhDesign

brochure by Amy Moen

 

Saving Money on Direct Mail with QR Codes

Although QR codes are quickly being adopted by major companies and industries, adoption is moving slowly throughout the small business sector.

In an effort to promote Direct Mail and create awareness of the benefits of using QR codes in Direct Mail, the United States Postal Service is offering a special postage discount during the months of July and August 2011:

Direct Mail marketers and mail houses can save 3% on their First Class Presort Mail and Standard Presort Mail postage simply by including a QR Code that must be easily visible on the outside of the mail piece. Simple as that.

 

Although the savings can be substantial, it is important to keep in mind that if your Direct Mail campaign is not thought out thoroughly and optimized for success, then all of your efforts and cost of printing and postage will go to waste.
On the bright side, you can always learn from your mistakes.

Direct Mail is about trial and error and consistency; improvement and repetition. I don’t think any one Direct Mail campaign can be the one or the best one for that matter.

 

Printing and Mailing Services Banner

 

If you are thinking of taking advantage of the 3% postage discount and this would be your first QR Code Direct Mail campaign, the following paragraphs will help you begin with an advantage.

Incorrect Use of QR Code QR Code Malpractice

Creating and Reading QR Codes is easy and FREE! But the biggest issue lies with what happens after the QR Code is scanned.

Obviously (or maybe not obvious enough), a QR Code is scanned with a smart phone which typically has a screen size between 2 to 4 inches. This being the case, wouldn’t you expect to be taken to a mobile-friendly website that is compatible with your smart phone’s screen size?
Well, believe it or not, this is a very common mistake made by marketers that makes the whole Direct Mail/QR Code campaign a complete failure.

Let’s say your Direct Mail piece is a postcard that promotes a new product that you are selling and the customer scans your QR code. The customer lands on a mobile friendly page that contains a great description of the product but does not have a Buy Now! button anywhere on the page. The purpose of your Direct Mail piece is to offer a product that you sell, yet a way to purchase the product is not easily made available. This Direct Mail campaign can pretty much be considered a lost sale opportunity.

QR Code Best PracticesQR Code Best Practices

A complete Direct Mail campaign using QR codes must include a mobile landing page where a call to action is the main focus of the page. Whatever the purpose of your Direct Mail campaign is, it should reflect in your mobile landing page.
If your QR Code directs the user to a video preview, make sure the video is formatted for mobile screens and should start playing right away.  The purpose of a smartphone is accessibility and convenience – No downloads!

 

The following are a few key rules to follow to create a successful Direct Mail QR Code campaign:

  • Use a vector QR Code in your artwork to make sure that it prints clear and works 100% even on low megapixel cameras. I find BeQRious lets you generate vector QR Codes you can download in PDF format easily
  • Test your QR Code on at least 4-5 different QR Code scanning apps and different smart phones before printing the whole run
  • Include information on how to scan the QR Code
  • Your QR Code should direct the user’s mobile phone directly to the landing page
  • Your Landing Page must load quickly, keep images to a minimum
  • Include Call-to-action buttons or links such as “Buy Now!”, “Sign up here!”, or “Call us now!”
  • Keep the focus of the page on the purpose of the campaign and the Call-to-action buttons/links
  • Make your QR Code link using a link shortening service such as goo.gl or bit.ly (free versions) so that you can track the number of scans and other analytics

How have you used QR Codes in your latest

Direct Mail or Marketing Campaign?

Please share any lessons you have learned when using QR Codes in Direct Mail campaigns below…

3 Key Marketing Tips for the Modern Real Estate Agent

In today’s fierce Real Estate market you have to stay on your toes. Marketing your open houses, agency, available properties and yourself as a Real Estate agent is a key component to drive business, sales and changing that For Sale sign into a Sold! sign.

As a printing company we get to see what is new and what is working across different markets using different strategies. Here are some key marketing tips inspired by what we have seen work best for real estate agencies and agents in their marketing efforts:

Content is King

1. Apply the Content is King Concept to your Real Estate Marketing Efforts

To begin with, most home buyers want to know what they are getting and how much it costs; They peruse through the property listings on your website and find a few pictures, a list of features and a few bullet points with a sales price which gives them the skinny on the property. But where is the value?

Content is King is a phrase well known to today’s internet marketers, SEO gurus and social media experts. It’s a very successful concept on the web and has been for years, these days even more so. Content adds value to a product beyond its functions or assets. Is there a positive story behind the property, the street or the town? Did someone famous or worth mentioning live there at one point? Content can give a property personality; transforming a house for sale into a home for sale. Words can influence, that’s why Content is King.

 

For Sale Sign with QR Code 2. Modernize your Real Estate Marketing Materials

With the sharp increase in consumer purchases of smart phones, it is a big mistake not to consider incorporating mobile into your Real Estate marketing.

As a home buyer, I can remember the frustration caused by seeing a beautiful house with a for sale sign outside as I drove by and saying to myself: “I can’t wait to get home and look up the listing on that house!”
By the time I got home I had forgotten the address, the Real Estate Agency that was selling it and of course, I didn’t stop to write down the phone number on the sign.  For the Real Estate agent this meant a lost sale or a lost lead at the least.

Behold, the QR Code. It began as a special barcode to track car parts and has evolved into the connection between offline and online marketing. The QR Code can be scanned with a smartphone to display information or initiate an action on the mobile phone.

A For Sale sign with a QR Code on it can lead a person who is interested in the home to a mobile friendly website where they can view pictures and contact the seller or Real Estate agent. QR Codes can also store contact information directly into the mobile phone’s contact list simply by scanning the code. QR codes are open for personal and commercial use. Here is a list of free QR Code readers and generators.

 

Personalize Communications Variable Data Printing VDP3. Personalize Communications

Real Estate agents and agencies have access to a vast amount of data about potential customers and their interests. Too often, this data goes unused to its full potential when in reality, it is bursting with value.

There is a little hidden gem that doesn’t seem to get the exposure it deserves…yet! Only the big ad agencies and corporations seem to be using this technology to their advantage. The printing industry is currently experiencing a digital evolution and from it we have the birth of Variable Data Printing, also known as VDP.

Variable Data Printing is the personalization of each individual piece in a print run. Let’s say you have a database of 5000 potential home buyers and in that database you have details about the type of homes these potential home buyers are interested in purchasing: Cape, Colonial, Ranch, two family, etc.
In your magnificent database of real estate information you also have access to all of the listings of homes for sale that have these features.

Now tie it all together. A printing company with Variable Data Printing capabilities can take your database information (usually in MS Excel format) and customize each printed piece with information pertaining to the recipient such as their name and information related to their home buying interests such as images and open house dates.

Here is a sample Postcard with Variable Data Printing

 

Real Estate Variable Data Printing VDP Postcard

 

Here are the Variable Data Fields:

 

Variable Data Fields in Real Estate PostcardVariable Data Printing is a remarkable technology will absolutely increase your read rate. Most generic postcards are glanced at and discarded. If the recipient sees their name on it, they have a higher probability of reading all of your content and contacting you.

 

 

Have you used QR Codes or Variable Data Printing in your Marketing? What other technologies are you using in your Real Estate Marketing Campaigns?

Please comment below

Digital Supremacy: Variable Data Printing

Digital Printing has been adopted by the print industry for its efficiency, plethora of functions and small run capability. It is the underlying foundation of Variable Data Printing also known as VDP.

Variable Data Printing is a”Mail Merge” on steroids

VDP offers the ability to print personalized messages, images or graphical aspects on each printed piece using data collected about an individual, leveraging familiarity to increase ROI.
A simple example of the use of variable data is personalization of the greeting in a letter. No longer does a letter have to be informal as “Dear Customer”. We can now, thanks to Variable Data Printing, personalize the salutation to include the name of the intended recipient such as “Dear Marcy” or “Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith”. This feature alone can drastically increase the chances of the letter actually being read.

advanced uses

Variable data can include the use of personalized images or graphics to really dig into the familiarity advantage of variable data. For example:

Variable Data Printing Postcard

The owner of a local cellular phone store has a database full of data about the cellular service and devices of all his current customers use. He wants to send a postcard to each of them reminding them that their contract is about to expire and that they are eligible to upgrade their current cellphone. The owner contacts his print shop and explains what he wants to do. The print shop then explains that variable data can help him accomplish this and together come up with a killer personalized marketing piece.

The postcard would include 3 personalized fields:

  • The recipients name in the greeting
  • The expiration date of the recipient’s current contract
  • A picture of the cellphone they currently own

While the designer creates a beautiful layout, the store owner creates a simple database that holds the following information separated into columns:

First Name, Last Name, Address, Address 2, City, State, Zip, Contract Expiration, Device Model.

Variable Data Printing Database


After the graphics and database have been completed and submitted to the print shop, it is the job of the pre-press technician to connect the artwork file with the database using Data Fields. Each of the column names will become a data field such as <First_Name>, <Last_Name> and so on.

Variable Data - Data Fields

Variable Data Software such as FusionPro or Darwin is then used to prepare a VPS file that merges the artwork with the database on the fly as each piece is printed.

Efficiency

The process of a standard mailing without variable data usually begins by printing the static artwork on an offset press first leaving a blank “mailing panel” for the recipient address information to be imprinted after the run is completed using a separate mailing machine that inkjets the address on to each piece.

With digital printing, the mailing address is considered variable data that can be printed at the same time the piece itself is being printed. The printing, the indicia and the address are all printed in one fell swoop. Not only is this faster, but the customer also saves on mailing setup fees and removes any possibility of smudges to the address resulting in possible lost  revenues.

This post is an addendum to “Digital Evolution: The State of Commercial Printing“, which defines the changes the print industry is visibly undergoing at this time.

Please Share your thoughts below

QR Code – The Advertising Double Agent

QR Code
Scan me!

QR Codes (Quick Response Codes) are the connection between online and offline marketing. With the advancement and acceleration of smart phones, consumers have the ability to scan and interpret this barcode with their mobile phone. Originally created by a subsidiary of Toyota, Denso-Wave, the QR Code technology has been around for over a decade.

Versatility is QR Code’s middle name.

The amount of data that a QR Code can hold is approximately 7089 Numeric characters or 4296 Alphanumeric characters as stated on Wikipedia.

This allows for the encoding of URLs, phone numbers, full contact information, SMS messages, links to launch YouTube videos, display static text… to name a few options offered by this revolutionary technology.

How Can Advertisers Use QR CODES in Printed Materials?

QR Codes in Advertising

Believe it or not, your entire marketing piece can be designed around a QR code.

Want to inform your customers of a GRAND OPENING? Create a Google Places Page which provides you with a pre-made QR Code that contains a link to your Google Places Page, Your customers can scan the code and visit your Google Places Page on their mobile phone. Once there, your customer will find all there is to know about your business and directions to your location. Scan the QR Code above and see for yourself!

Do you have a  product demonstration video? Include a QR Code in your postcard, brochure or even next to the product in your catalog that will direct the customer to view a product demonstration video on their mobile device. This also gives you the chance to direct the customer to a landing page on your website before or after the video is viewed, reinforcing the sale.

Want to make it easier for that potential customer to retain your contact information? Generate a QR Code that contains all of your contact information and include it on your business card. When a customer scans your QR Code with their mobile device, depending on the QR Code Reader they are using (see “QR Code Readers” below), your contact information will be displayed and saved to the “contacts” or phone book of the mobile device.

Depending on your product or service, QR Codes can serve a variety of customizable uses in your marketing scheme.

Business card with QR Code

Where can Custom QR Codes be Generated?

We must be thankful (to Denso-Wave) for the use of QR Codes being free of any license. This has given developers the ability to create online QR Code generators…FREE TO USE! Of course you will find some out there that want to charge to use their generator or allow for Non-Commercial use only, but here is a list I compiled to help you get started generating QR Codes and better yet… more sales conversions!

  • beQRious – Extensive Options – Featured: QR Code with Embedded Image
  • ZXing Project – Extensive Options – Featured: Wi-fi Login Information
  • QRStuff – Extensive Options – Featured: Google Maps Directions
  • Delivr – Extensive Options – Featured: URL shortening
  • Mobile-Barcodes – Extensive Options – Featured: Email Composer
  • Mofuse – Simple Generator – Featured: Generates Hosted Image Link
Here are some helpful links to download QR Code readers for your smart phone:

View this article via your mobile phone to download and install directly to your mobile device.

I-nigma – I use this one myself.

Scanlife

NeoReader

How have you used QR Codes in your marketing?