Cardboard engineering and paper engineering techniques can create unique direct mail pieces

Published: 18th July 2009
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Business to Business advertising and marketing has never been in a tighter situation than it is today. Marketing budgets have been cut back in the wake of the rampaging recession and pressure is being applied by company accountants to tighten belts even further. So where does the marketing department look in order to keep a presence in the marketplace without spending a fortune?

Whilst the company accountant might point at inexpensive leaflets as a means to an end, the well-informed marketing professional will be well aware that the response from such a mailing is derisory and can very easily amount to throwing money down the drain. Sometimes the money men don't see the overall picture.

However, with a bit of imagination and application there are ways to transform a couple of pieces of paper or card into something that will knock your socks off in terms of direct mail. The key to this transformation is the utilization of paper engineering and cardboard engineering techniques. A cut here, a fold there, and before you know it, your four-page leaflet could have a big mouth in the centre that "talks" to you when you open and close the card.

There are many books on the subject of paper and cardboard engineering that will give a marketing professional many ideas of how to "beef-up" a mail shot with the minimum of effort but for some reason paper engineering is a skill that is often overlooked in direct mail even though its effectiveness adds quite dramatic effect to the success of the mail shot.

I believe that one of the problems is that designers want to run before they can walk and almost inevitably go "over the top" with their expectations on what can be achieved. The end result of such folly is that the project goes over budget before it passes the planning stage. However, in the hands of the right people, results can be surprising.

Simple Paper Engineering Techniques produce surprising Dimensional Mailers

For example, take a look at the case of automatic cardboard pop-ups. In order to make a range of pop-up direct mailers affordable the paper engineering content has to be kept as simple as possible. Most manufacturer's products are assembled by hand and it follows that the simpler the product assembly, the cheaper the price. Simple folding techniques lie at the heart of many of the most complicated-looking pop up mailers. By adopting this common-sense approach, specialist suppliers avoid many production pit-falls. Most suppliers apply the same maxim when asked to produce paper-engineering masterpieces - also known as commercial nightmares. In other words, keep it simple - keep it affordable.

Cardboard Engineering and Pop-up cards

Bespoke pop-up cards are very popular with corporate customers particularly when the pop-up required just simply does not work as a stand-alone 3-D piece of paper or cardboard engineering. Most suppliers offer the attractive alternative of a 2-dimensional pop-up or stand-up piece emerging from the centrefold of a 4-page card. (Reproducing a shape in two-dimensional stand-up or pop up form is much easier and therefore less expensive than an intricate 3-D creation.)

The two main mechanisms are the "V" fold pop up and parallelogram stand-ups. The use of these simple but very effective formats helps to keep assembly costs down. From time to time, other cardboard engineering movements are used such as pull-tabs and rotating wheels but once again, the cardboard engineering methods employed are kept simple for rules of economy.

So, if you are looking to add imagination and life to your direct mail piece, take a close look at paper and cardboard engineering - but remember not to go overboard!

There are many cardboard engineering specialists who make products such as those described, one of which being Whitney Woods Ltd.

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