Category Archives: About Conformer

5 Tips: What Designers Know about Great Presentation Folders

Award-winning folder featuring pearlized linen, blind embossment, and 2-color spot

How do you design a standout presentation folder?  Designers have several tricks of the trade – what I call “special effects” – that you can use to create something really special for your company. Even better, an extraordinary folder doesn’t need to cost you any more than an ordinary one.

These tips will help you attain presentation folder greatness.

  1. Treat the interior space of the folder as valuable real estate.  Your documents may cover up this space before your client removes them from the folder… then voilà!  Feature your client list, testimonials or marketing copy.*
  2. Finish the folder… aqueous finish that is.  Aqueous finish seals in the color printed on blank stock.  Many pocket folders are finished with glossy finish by default, but you have options.  The color can be sealed with an aqueous finish – gloss, satin, or matte – just like house paint.  Or you can go for UV Gloss with a super shiny finish.  Conversely, if you’ve chosen a dark folder color, consider a satin finish to reduce signs of fingerprinting.  Just be sure the finish fits the personality of your business.  Travel industry?  Gloss.  Insurance?  Matte.
  3. Add sparkle to your folder design with UV spot.  Folder designers are very familiar with using embossment or foil stamping to make a logo pop.  But consider UV spot for a more modern look.  It can add high gloss shine in a precise place, like right on top of your logo.  And finish the folder underneath in matte aqueous for the strongest contrast.
  4. Create texture using linen stocks or embossment to add interest and perceived value, particularly if you have a conservative color palette.  Or dress up your look with a pearlized linen (which is FSC-certified, too).
  5. If your corporate colors are dark (see Brand Building Great Presentation Folder Design story) and you want a guaranteed crack-free finish, check out Xtreme Coated Cover paper stock.  It’s the only paper I know of with a crack-free guarantee.

* If you use a tint of your PMS color plus the PMS color itself, you can create nice contrast while still running a one-color job…which can save you money.

This article is part of a series on great presentation folder design featured on the Conformer Products’ Blog.

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

Hall of Shame #12: Envelope Kills Oscar Moment

Did anybody else see how much the presenters at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards were struggling to open the envelopes with the Oscar winners’ names last night?  It wasn’t nerves and shaky fingers.  It was a poor choice of envelope.  This made it tricky for presenters to extract the greatly anticipated card  (and get those cards in there to begin with).

There’s Nicole Kidman’s awkward “I can’t get it out” moment before announcing the winner of Best Original Score, while Hugh Jackman giggled alongside her.

Or Amy Adams‘s grimace and her “Oh, wow?!” to Jake Gyllenhaal as she struggled to pull the card out of the envelope and announce “Strangers No More” as an Oscar winner.

Click here to see Steven Spielberg — no stranger to the Oscar stage — struggle to get the card out of his envelope. At least he was smooth enough not to fill dead air time with a disparaging envelope remark.  Helen Mirren compensated by pinching the bottom of the envelope while pulling the card out; Reese Witherspoon held the envelope upside down and let gravity help her get the card.   (She must have practiced that in advance.)

The Great Envelope Blooper created pauses in the show’s programming far less endearing than the witty “You know…” tangents made by octogenarian Kirk Douglas as he presented the Best Supporting Actress award. (And he tossed the envelope to the ground by the way.)

The show’s producers obviously don’t know much about selecting a well-fitted envelope.  You start with the contents – the card itself – and determine its length, width, and thickness.  Thickness is always the wild card because, if you don’t choose an envelope construction that can conform to varying thicknesses, it can jam up the entire envelope as you saw last night at the Oscars.  This damages the card and the envelope.

But the dresses were nice…

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

‘Fringe’ Case Study: Social Media Really Works!

A Good Sign

I’ll be honest with you.  Product placement has never been in our marketing plans.  I mean, product placement is for soft drinks, laptops, and running shoes.  Right?

But our ongoing social media outreach, coupled with product placement, turned out to be an incredibly effective marketing combination.  Since so many of us are still trying to figure out how to use social media tools effectively to build business, I thought you might be interested in hearing our own success story this week.

As you may know, the Conformer mailer was featured at length in the opening sequence of “Fringe” last Friday on the Fox television network. Had the media exposure stopped there, the “Fringe” product placement probably wouldn’t have influenced a single sale.  That’s where social media made all the difference.  Here’s what we did next:

  • We used Hulu to create a tightly edited version of Conformer’s appearance, creating an efficient way to showcase our Hollywood moment.
  • Then I updated the Conformer blog on our lucky break and added an easy click to our video clip.
  • Our blog automatically streams to our LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, so all of our connections heard about the story first.  We have a clever link at the bottom of every Conformer employee’s email signature that features our blog stories, so our video clip showed up there, too.
  • Our PR firm wrote a press release, which alerted trade magazines and our favorite bloggers.  Our story got picked up online in places we’re still discovering, allowing us to reach people who have never heard of Conformer before.
  • A personalized email was sent to friends, colleagues, clients, and interested parties and we encouraged them to share with friends.
  • On our home page, we showcased the video spot on a peel-back corner of our website, which we know through Google Analytics is one of our most-clicked web pages.
  • We shared many of these tools with our strategic partners who collaborate with us to bring Conformer to the marketplace. This enables our “Fringe” fame to go viral among their customer base.   And some even featured our video clip at the weekly sales meeting to fire up the reps.
  • We used a URL shortener called bit.ly to create a tidy way to communicate the link and also allows us to track clicks.   https://conformerinc.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/fox-networks-fringe-gives-conformer-15-seconds-of-fame/ became http://bit.ly/dHthFD.  This shortened URL prints nicely on a sticker, now placed on all Conformer samples.
  • And of course, we’re writing stories like this one and sending them in our monthly enewsletter in case you may have missed all of the hullabaloo from last week.

So how many “Fringe” viewers from that first Friday night called us after seeing our product placement?  Zero.  How many people contacted us after our social media campaign?  A LOT…and they’re sales inquiries.  Our blog and website traffic is way up and continues to stay up (thanks to viral marketing), which conveniently improves our Google search rankings.

Many thanks to Bill Tignanelli at Admore, the “Fringe” television fan who alerted us, and to all of you for fueling our viral campaign.  (Now please, send this to a friend!)

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

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‘Fringe’ Highlights Conformer’s New Product Launch

Book sent to Agent Dunham in Conformer Mailer

This morning, my colleague asked me if “Fringe” planned on using Conformer mailers to ship alien body parts in future episodes.  It’s been a fun week.  (Read: Conformer on FRINGE)

Sci-fi humor aside, last week Agent Olivia Dunham opened a Conformer mailer and pulled out a hardcover book titled If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him! on “Fringe.”  You may have noticed that the bubble sack wrapping the small book inside was total overkill (no pun intended), but we forgive the television producers.  The Conformer paperboard mailer works beautifully without the bubble wrap because it conforms to the contents and eliminates shifting, while creating a 360 degree periphery of protection.

Nevertheless, “Fringe” has let our secret out of the bag, compelling us to share our plans to launch the new Conformer corrugate mailer very soon.  This new product is designed for heavier items, this new product creates the perfect package for items that might otherwise ship in a corrugate box.  So what’s the advantage?  The Conformer corrugate mailer conforms to its contents, eliminating the cost of shipping dead space and the cost of excess packaging fill.  Plus, no box assembly is required, which dramatically reduces fulfillment costs.

Bubble wrap is so often misused and overused that we don’t even recognize it as a fixable problem anymore.  A hardcover book is not fragile, and several more cost-effective and eco-friendly options can prevent damage from shifting inside an oversized box.   It is indeed a fixable situation.

So now that you’re on the inside track, stay tuned for the official launch of the Conformer heavy-duty corrugate mailer!

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

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Fox’s ‘Fringe’ Gives Conformer Mailer 15 Secs of Fame

 

On Friday night at 9/8c, a Conformer mailer was delivered on the latest episode of “Fringe” to Special Agent Olivia Dunham, exposing millions of viewers to a 15-second look at the Conformer patented construction on the Fox Network.  In the episode “Firefly,” right after the opening credits from minute 4:25-4:40, you see a delivery man ring Agent Dunham’s door and hand over the package.  Dunham opens the package and pulls out a hardcover book titled, If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!

Click here to watch the full episode of “Fringe” or you can click here to skip to our 15 seconds of fame..

Click to view full size image

The producers showcased the Conformer mailer on their own accord.  Had we been involved, we could have told them that wrapping the book in bubble wrap first was unnecessary since the Conformer mailer provides the right amount of protection on its own.  But we applaud the Fox Network for choosing a Conformer mailer for one of its top-rated shows, and thank them for giving our Conformer mailer 15 glorious seconds of fame.

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

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Fresh Eyes

I try not to burden my soul too much with New Year’s resolutions. Rather, I see the new year as a way to see things with fresh eyes. It doesn’t hurt that New Year’s forces me to push back from my desk for a few days, clear my head and think fresh thoughts.

Perhaps that’s why so many of us go into organization mode in January. We view our surroundings with fresh eyes and see that things could be different, better.

January’s Fresh Eyes are a gift to inventors like us at Conformer. We are innovative 365 days of the year, but some days are easier than others.

Fresh Eyes can be a force for positive change, rather than tired New Year’s resolutions. When was the last time you took a fresh look at your sales kit, for example? Does your presentation folder limp along, or is it actually making a positive contribution to the overall impression on your customers? When you send out a package, use your fresh eyes to determine whether you are making the best eco-friendly packaging choice that, again, makes a positive contribution not only to the Earth, but also to your brand and to your customer.

And speaking of brand, I often turn to Branding Strategy Insider, brought to you by my Hallmark mentor Brad Van Auken and his smart new business partner, Derrick Daye, whenever I need some fresh-eyed inspiration.

So no resolutions for me this year… I will inspire myself to go to the gym, I swear!

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

Try It, You’ll Like It

As anybody in new product development or technology can tell you, it’s challenging to get people to try a product they’ve never seen in action before.  We at Conformer Products can attest to this issue, which is why product sampling is our most important marketing tactic.  Because despite our website, the photo gallery and the videos, people still want to touch the product with their own two hands.  And if you’ve got a good product, sampling is a great way to go.

That’s why a featured packaging innovation from Anton Steeman’s Best in Packaging blog caught my attention.  If you scroll down to the bottom of this article, you’ll see TinyBottles, a set of 50 mL test tube-like samples of wine that can be shipped to you.  This sampling kit enables you to sample new wines from the San Francisco region far from the tasting room.  Interestingly, this innovation comes from a company called Crushpad, which is in the business of helping winemakers market and sell their wines.

How important is sampling in your business?  Take our poll and tell us!

-Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com