Don’t forget the packaging

packagingWe seem to be in a marketing era that rewards straightforward, cut to the chase marketing and sales tactics.  The recession taught us that consumers were leery of any hyperbole or inflated promises so marketers let the pendulum swing to the other extreme – stripped down copy that was information based, educational in nature and absolutely void of spin or packaging.

I think we can look back at 2008 and see the birth of content marketing – the helpful era.  I’m a big fan of the genre and I believe serving our potential customers and current customers by going out of our way to be helpful is smart marketing.

But I do think the pendulum has swung a little too far.  I believe as human beings, we can’t help but appreciate a little bit of sizzle with our steak.  I’m happy to see the hyped marketing copy days in the rear view mirror but I do think we’ve lost something in our rush to pure practicality.  We’ve sacrificed some of the showmanship that allows us to build anticipation, celebrate our product/service’s ability to delight our customers and create buzz around our brand.

I’m not advocating that we go back to the “monster truck” style of marketing but I do think we need to remember that part of receiving a great gift is getting to unwrap a beautiful package.

When I use the word packaging, I’m not just limiting my meaning to the literal packaging of a tangible product.  Whether you operate a brick and mortar store, run a service business or sell something intangible – you can pick up your game when it comes to packaging.

How do you deliver the goods? The advertising industry is a great example of a profession that has allowed their packaging to be diminished over time. When I started in the business, computers were not the norm and everyone didn’t have access to one. When we wanted to present new ad concepts to a client – we delivered them in person.  They were mounted on a board and we’d cover our ideas with paper that was branded with the agency’s name and logo.

We’d “reveal” our ideas by lifting the flapped paper, almost like opening a curtain before the big show. It created a sense of drama and anticipation. Today, we just email PDFs – hardly an ounce of show in that.

Is the current delivery model more efficient? You bet.  But, does it help our clients truly appreciate the time and energy that went into creating those concepts?  No, in that way it sells our work short.

Do you beautify the ordinary? When is a box more than just a box? Tiffany’s blue box. Apple’s elegant packaging.  Can you take something that most companies just do out of necessity and make it part of the experience? Apple’s the master at this. Have you ever heard of “unboxing?” It’s a term that has been coined by Apple customers that is linked to unpacking a new Apple product.

For Apple fans – this is an event — an event worth capturing on video. Just search unboxing on YouTube and you’ll be amazed at both the volume of videos and the number of views.  One video of the Apple watch being unboxed has been viewed over 500,000 times.

What aspects of your product/service are necessities that could be re-engineered into something people would talk about? Savvy companies are doing with things as ordinary as a room key, a box, an invoice, delivery follow up, or customer service access.

If you want to be a brand worth talking about – make sure you haven’t stripped all the sizzle out of the equation. You don’t want to overdue it but adding some style and attention to detail elevates your brand and brings back some of the sexy.

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