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Sabine Lenz

Making the Grade

By Sabine Lenz

About Sabine

Sabine Lenz is the founder of, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.

Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.

Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge. 


Why Augmented Reality is Doing You a Disservice

The caption promised me an “insightful slide show.” Purely for curiosity’s sake I pulled out my smartphone and scanned the augmented reality (AR) marker on the magazine page.

I leaned back a few minutes later and put it down to another AR disservice—or a case of “un-marketing.” The slide show consisted of three slides, the accompanying type too small to make any sense of on my iPhone screen.

It was another case of just because we can does not mean we should. It was the perfect example of using new technologies purely for the sake of it—similar to the use of QR codes. Some marketers want to use technology whether it makes sense—and thus provides a good user experience—or not.

A good user experience—let’s be realistic here—takes work. Lots of work. It has to be planned and executed well.

I recently had the chance to create such add-on value for the Visual Media Alliance’s newly launched magazine, Storyboard. Trying to be mindful (on a small budget, mind you), we interviewed award-winning designer Michael Osborne and created six short insightful videos that allow viewers to go behind the scenes of his studio and explore several of his unique sources of inspiration.

And yes, a lot of planning and finessing and editing was involved in the project. But so far, from the feedback we are getting, it was oh so worth it.

Let’s be Smart About Technology and Learn from the Best
Victoria’s Secret has been at the forefront of mobile commerce for quite some time. One of the reasons why the brand leads in this field is because their app and use of AR does not solely focus on driving sales. Instead, the app integrates content like games and weather forecasts designed to drive repeat usage.

But you do not have to have your own app to break AR ground and make sensible and successful use of the technology.

"Direct mail is still a huge part of many retailers’ businesses and marketing budgets," says Esha Shah, manager of mobile strategy and innovation at mobile marketing agency Fetch. "By integrating mobile technology with direct mail, Victoria’s Secret is bringing back to life a dated marketing tool. The mobile element speaks to the younger audience—it also provides a level of engagement that can be considered invaluable."

And there is the magic word: “invaluable.”

Make sure that for whatever reason you ask your client(s) to scan a QR or AR code, they come away with something helpful, something valuable, something fun, something they could not get anywhere else...

The options for AR are exciting and endless. Let’s make sure to use them smartly.

P.S. What is the best use of AR you have seen recently? Or for that matter, the worst?

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