Tag Archives: Marketing

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

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

Northwestern University: Big Ten Conformer Fan

While I love both my children equally, occasionally one of them will do something that deserves an extra squeeze.  As far as Conformer fans go, Northwestern University gets an extra squeeze from me today.

The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern started using Conformer folders last year, and not just in admissions.  As America’s #1 “marketing school,” they understand that a folder in the hands of prospective students, recruiters, alums and CEOs represents their brand to everyone coming through their doors.  Prior to Conformer, Kellogg used a laminated, reinforced folder that was as eco-friendly as a diaper in a landfill, and their need for durability came at a high cost.  Kellogg’s new Conformer folder is FSC-marked, and its strong construction eliminates all expensive reinforcement features.

Enter the Northwestern Alumni Association.  They liked the fresh look of
Kellogg’s new folder and its versatility for alumni functions.  It holds an NAA pen gracefully, and organizes multi-sized literature that used to slid around the old folder when opened.

Kellogg, Part 2.  Now using an eco-friendly folder campus-wide, Kellogg used a Conformer folder to kick off their capital campaign for a new eco-friendly building.  Conformer won a PEAK Award of Excellence for this execution.  It’s a real beauty.

Northwestern Development jumped on board as well.  Traveling many miles to meet with alums, the development folks liked the fact that a Conformer folder would arrive alive with them.  Folders looked great off the press, but were they durable enough to withstand the rigors of actual usage?  You bet!

Recently, NU’s famed Medill School of Journalism ordered the Conformer paperboard mailer.  Those smarties know that their correspondence to newly admitted students could mean the difference in converting an admitted candidate to an attending student.   Even an NU scarf fits inside.  Goodbye, ugly bubble mailer!

So extra hugs to Northwestern University today for totally and completely getting the value proposition of Conformer Products — durability, versatility, brand-friendly, and eco-friendly.  Go, Wildcats!

-Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

A Terrific Backhanded Compliment

I got a terrific backhanded compliment on Friday from a good friend and respected colleague in the human resources industry who handles a lot of training materials.  “I’ve always known about your envelope business”, she said, “but I was never particularly impressed by it.  Until now.”  That “now” moment occurred at that lunch, when I put a Conformer poly portfolio in her hand for the first time.

This is what we call a good learning opportunity.  Take my friend’s previously well disguised indifference to my entrepreneural endeavor.  That’s my fault.  She just assumed that a Conformer envelope was just a modest modification of a ubiquitous product…not sexy, not exciting, not worth pondering deeply.  It’s near to impossible for a customer to describe you a product they want that doesn’t yet exist.  It’s almost as challenging for an innovator to describe a breakthrough innovation without showing you how it works. 

So I can blog all day long, but if you’ve never had  a Conformer product in your hand, stop reading and ask us for a sample.  Put samples in the hands of the influential people in your business and your industry.  And just maybe you’ll get a backhanded compliment too. 

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

A Luxurious Look for Luxurious Products


The Steuben Catalog Mailer Goes from Ordinary to Extraordinary


Since 1903, Steuben Glass has been renowned for its unique, handmade products. The company was using an-off-the shelf, lightweight plastic envelope to mail their prestigious ½” thick perfect bound catalog, which often arrived damaged because of inadequate protection. The mailer did not reflect either the high-quality catalog or the company’s elite identity. Steuben needed more than an envelope. The company needed a sturdy, but elegant presentation piece to protect the contents and complement the prestigious products showcased inside.


Steuben turned to Conformer Products. The result was a four-color paperboard mailer that was customized to fit the unique dimensions of the catalog. The envelope featured a convenient tuck-tab closure and Steuben-branded artwork that complemented the elegant design of the catalog itself. In addition to protecting the high-quality contents during mail processing, the mailer evolved into a presentation case that encouraged recipients to keep both pieces together.

This stunning solution earned a 2008 PEAK (Print Excellence and Knowledge) Award for Commercial Printing, Envelopes and Mailers. Judges called it a “beautiful piece” that would entice recipient to open it and see what was inside.

The Conformer Advantage:

“First impressions are critical, especially with luxury products. Every aspect of the presentation now measures up to the Steuben image,” said Marvin Makofsky, president of Conformer. “We transformed their catalog packaging from ordinary to ex-traordinary, taking it from a Ford to a Mercedes.”

by Bob Makofsky


A New Generation of Patented Packaging Solutions