What’s New Wednesday? Paper USB Drives

It’s Wednesday, and you know what day it is?? Of course I’m referring to What’s New Wednesday. Weekly, or at least regularly, or at least on certain Wednesdays, I plan to introduce new products, new ideas or new thoughts that relate to marketing, print and signage. Some of these may well be the next big thing in the world of communications, and some may be nothing more than a curiosity. And let’s be honest, some may just be lame. But we won’t know until we take a look, so let’s begin.

If you know anything at all about me, you know there are two true loves in my life. Yeah, yeah, we all know about my wife and our kids, but I’m not talking about them right now. I’m talking about paper and technology. Old school vs. new school communication. Imagine if you will, a world in which both of them live together in harmony; one feeding off the other. We may have discussed this courtship before when we’ve talked about QR codes and even Augmented Reality. While those relationships still do exist, some of them anyway, I found this newest union to be very interesting.

It’s called swivelCard, and in a nutshell, it’s a paper USB drive that is embedded in a business card. Cool, right? We have smartphones, smartwatches, so why not a smart business card?

Here’s a peek at their Kickstarter video:

Since it is my sworn duty to explore all things paper-embedded-with-technology, I inquired about becoming a reseller of this product, and purchased a sample pack. I wanted to properly celebrate this marriage made in heaven. Sadly, the honeymoon may be short lived.

I suppose that USB drives are also called thumb drives for a reason. You need your thumb to insert them into the USB slot. And when you combine the fact that I am generally all thumbs, and attempting to gingerly, then not so gingerly insert a paper USB drive into my laptop, the results were less than appealing. Admittedly, I had issues. And crumpling. Fortunately, I had more than one in my sample pack, and finally successfully loaded the drive and launched the content.

I do like this idea and the overall concept. Anything that finds a way to make the printed word more relevant and engaging is a must have for me, But I do have questions that make me wonder if this will have legs:

  • I am sometimes leery of putting USB drives with unknown content into my computer. Is this a widespread concern?
  • I appreciate the concept; I was so excited about it after watching the video. But the construction, folding and execution was a little awkward and borderline cumbersome. For my time, I would rather simply type in a URL, or hey, maybe even scan a QR code.
  • The example of using this in a medical facility is genius; patient education is a great shortfall of our healthcare system and in theory, this could go a long way in making headway in that area. But is it easily deliverable on a patient-by-patient basis? Again, the idea is brilliant.
  • They do have some entertaining video case studies, even one using the swivel card at a wedding. Would you use this for your wedding?
  • And major kudos to include the ability to track and measure analytics with this device. Remember, if you aren’t measuring, you aren’t marketing!
  • But is it cost prohibitive? The swivelCard is much less expensive than a preloaded USB drive. But at a cost of about $2.00 each, it is much more expensive than a standard business card. (Granted, it offers much more than a standard business card.) And the USB drive, based on my mangling experience, may be a one-time use.

Actually, ignore that point, we can always print more!

So that’s What’s New this Wednesday. Is the swivelCard something of interest to you?  Will this marriage last?

And please, tell me What’s New with You?

blog photo

Paul Strack

[email protected]


Lyon College

Lyon College, a small liberal arts college in Batesville, Arkansas, wanted to gain the attention of prospective students. CustomXM sent postcards to high school seniors encouraging them to visit a personalized URL to enter for a chance to win an iPad and, once there, complete an online survey about their academic and extracurricular interests. A subsequent direct mail piece was personalized based on those responses to the survey. This piece also included an augmented reality “trigger,” which engaged students with an entertaining video about the school, giving them insight to part of Lyon’s campus and community.

The message in all the touchpoints was crafted to highlight the key differentiators of Lyon College including a small student to faculty ratio, close proximity to the Ozark Mountains, numerous outdoor activities, availability of financial aid and recognition from publications such as U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review.

Lyon College saw a 76% increase in applications compared to the previous year. They also saw a 50% increase in qualified applicants compared to the prior year. Additionally, Lyon was able to cut the direct marketing budget by 30% by withholding certain direct mail pieces sent in previous years in favor of fewer, more targeted and personalized pieces.

I Know What I Did Last Summer…

Summertime and the living was (supposed to be) easy.  Theoretically, at least.  Traditionally, our business does experience a slowdown during the summer months.  Or maybe I do.  They say summer allows us time to recharge our batteries, reinvigorate our drive, and rejuvenate our thinking.  I’m not sure if all that is true or if I even understand that. But we did accomplish some very interesting, exciting things during the recently completed summer months:

We built a Wall.  (Actually, we prefer to call it THE WALL.)

If you know anything about me, you know I am a proponent for the correct use of QR codes and all things mobile.  And you may also know that mobile shopping via smartphones is on the rise, and continues to break records from previous years.  Naturally, I felt compelled to do our part. So we built The Wall at McCain Mall, combining mobile technology, QR codes and retail shopping in the state’s largest indoor mall.  This video explains it much better than I:

We built an App. (Actually, we “skinned an app.)

If you know anything about me, you know I am a proponent for making printed pieces more relevant to the end user.  And you may know that I enjoy new, unusual techniques that help accomplish this goal. Enter mobile Augmented Reality.   Using the Aurasma platform, we created our own version of this app that allows us to bring Augmented Reality to the mobile world. We now can literally bring your printed pieces to life!  You will soon be seeing much more of this technology, but we think you should be given the opportunity to try it now.  Watch this video, download the VREAL app, grab a dollar bill and get VREAL!

We built a new sideline operation and website. (Actually, almost.)

If you know anything about me, you know I truly enjoy marketing techniques that involve personal, direct and most importantly unique interaction. What better way to do this than to be given the ability to produce on-demand, short run, direct-to-garment products?  In other word, t-shirts.  And the emphasis is on short-run. You want to have an impact, and you want to make a difference in your personal communications, right? Direct-to-garment, uh, t-shirts are a great solution.  So think very short run – 10, 25, maybe 50.  We are not a screen printer. (But we can help you with that if you need it.)

We also decided that my son, Michael should do something constructive while attending – Arkansas State University, the Home of The Red Wolves. So he created a sideline business called Wolf Prints.  Nice name, nice touch.

So he will be selling shirts to fraternities and the like, but we will sell them too.  We almost have a web site done.  But in the meantime, if you need another creative way to make a statement, give us a Howl!

There you have it – now YOU know what I did last summer.  What did you do?  And more importantly, how can we help you tell others about it?

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Paul Strack, CustomXM