Tag Archives: Conformer Products

‘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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FAQs: What is FSC- or SFI-Certified Paper?

Since Conformer encourages all of our customers to use environmentally sustainable paper stocks, this question comes up a lot.  What does FSC-certified mean?  Is that the same thing as SFI-certified?  What’s the difference?

FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council.  This is a non-profit organization that provides a third-party certification service to the paper industry to “promote management of the world’s forests.” It ensures that your paper is coming from sustainably harvested forests, meaning that it comes from a renewable source.  According to the FSC website, “plantations must contribute to reduce the pressures on and promote the restoration and conservation of natural forests.”   How does it do this?  The Forest Stewardship Council has developed a Chain of Custody process — effectively, an inventory management system —  that enables you to trace your paper stock back to the tree it was harvested from, thereby ensuring it came from a sustainably managed forest.

If the manufacturer is FSC-certified as an organization, that gives them the right to placed the FSC logo on products it manufacturers.  Alternatively, if the manufacturer is not FSC-certified but simply sources FSC-certified paper stock, your sustainably harvested paper is still exactly that but cannot have the FSC-certified logo printed on it.  Both are viable and “good” options.

SFI stands for Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and it is also an independent auditor of good forestry practices.  It is simply an alternative to FSC-certification and is just as good an indicator of sustainably harvested paper stock. 

These two organizations can be greatly credited for ensuring that trees get planted on this planet by the very industry that depends on them.  There’s some unconventional wisdom at play here, but I can’t think of another industry more committed to planting trees than the paper industry.  And that’s good news for our planet.

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

FAQs: Can I Afford to Buy Eco-Friendly Products?

Many of our clients are surprised to hear that eco-friendly presentation and mailing materials can cost the same or less than unfriendly materials. Unfortunately, the marketplace has been trained to assume that making eco-friendly choices comes at a price.  I’ve seen businesses eliminate (needed) materials altogether in an attempt to go green because they don’t think they have budget-friendly options.

Eco-friendly can be budget-friendly by aligning with smart buying principles:

– Buying power.  If your supplier makes a major investment in buying, let’s say Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper (more on that topic here), then the cost of that material becomes very competitive against less environmentally attractive stocks.

Economies of scale.  The Conformer portfolio made of recycled milk jug poly costs the same as buying it from virgin poly (recyclable, but not made of post-consumer recycled material).  Our base materials come from a poly extruder that specializes and extrudes milk jug poly in volume.  Then it becomes an aesthetic rather than a price-based decision.  That’s ideal.

Long-term eco-commitment of your vendors. Becoming FSC-certified is an arduous process with upfront costs. But once an organization has realigned its operations to comply with the Forest Stewardship Council’s specifications, the ongoing costs of this inventory management system become operationally streamlined.  Vendors that dabble in green products don’t achieve this cost benefit.

Buying quality products.  Durability reduces the probability that your materials become insta-trash.  In other words, if it looks like junk, it gets junked. If your presentation and mailing materials can survive the journey from the printer to storage to fulfillment to more storage to possibly mail processing to your customer’s desk — and still look good doing it — your materials will more likely be reused by your customer.  (And you get bonus points if your name is all over it.)

Tell us about your experiences sourcing eco-friendly materials on a budget, and we will gladly shine the spotlight on you here on the Conformer Products blog.

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

Hall of Shame #10: The Story He’s Telling

Side view of inappropriately-used USPS Priority Mailer

So I’ve been psychoanalyzing our packaging choices, and what they say about us and our brand to the customer.  If you’ve read Inconvenient Truth: When a (Visual) Story > 1000 Words, you’re probably already in agreement that this package (see photo) has a very sad story to tell, and whatever message this Amazon reseller was trying to send me — customer loyalty, trust, good judgment — just got flushed down the toilet because of a poor packaging choice.

This vendor is taking the chance that a) this package will arrive alive and b) that I’ll be too lazy to return or complain about it if it doesn’t.  The only thing this company has going for it is that I can’t remember its name since the package has no discernible brand marking on it… All I see is USPS (which has enough baggage as it is).

Everything your customer receives from you tells a story, whether you like it or not.  Don’t let your mailroom or your fulfillment company determine whether or not it’s a good one.

-Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

Hall of Shame #9: Bubble Mailers, a Slow Death

I think consumers are smart enough to recognize “greenwashing” when they see it.  Greenwashing, a term whose origin seems derived from “brainwashing,” is when a company spins its product in a way to position it as more eco-friendly than it actually is.  Keep that in mind as you read the following and decide for yourself whether or not you’re being “greenwashed.”

Ingredients of a Bubble Mailer

Can you read the ingredients list on the bubble mailer photo to my left? It says “100% Recycled Paper/10% Post-Consumer” and “10% Recycled Plastic.”  At first glance, the use of recycled material seems like a great thing, doesn’t it?

Let’s pull this product apart a little though, no pun intended.  A bubble mailer is a kraft-like paper bag with plastic bubble material sealed to its interior.  [Did you know that this bubble material was invented in 1960? (See Wikipedia.)  Bubble material is a pretty ancient technology that was cutting edge in its heyday.  Remember the 1967 movie “The Graduate” when Mr. McGuire says “Plastics!“?]

In any case, everybody knows you need to separate your recyclables — paper goes with paper, plastic goes with plastic- so that these materials can be recycled and made into something new.  In a traditional bubble mailer, these two media are sealed together and it is difficult to impossible to separate them.  So even though the product may be made of recycled material, the bubble mailer cannot be recycled.  To the landfill it goes, where it will sit for hundreds of years, just like a baby’s diaper.  

My attempt at separating a bubble mailer

Clearly this bubble mailer’s manufacturer is attempting to put more recycled content into its product so that’s good.  But at the end of the day, the end result is a product headed straight for the landfill, and that’s bad.  So tell me, readers, do you think this bubble mailer should be in Conformer’s Hall of Shame?
-Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com