Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Outside Of The Box Is As Important As What Is Inside

So many people never think about the package when they develop a product. Packaging should be the first thought in product development -- not the last. Without the package, you couldn't even have a product to sell or ship. After all, the package transports the product from point A to point B, protects it and secures the contents inside.

The product has to be shipped using some method of conveyance – the package. So, no matter what kind of product you develop (whether it be informative, literature or a physical consumer product) the choice of the shipping container or box is just as important as what you put inside it.Your "package" is the first physical interaction with your customer or potential customer. What it looks like, the material it is made from, and the condition it arrives in all convey a visual image of the contents inside. Remember this connects back to you and the impression of your products or services: Bad packaging-bad products or services.

You can also easily destroy the good impression you have created about your product/services by using "shoddy" packaging. Don't incorporate packaging into your shipping that looks as if it has seen better days or if it has been used and reused. There are some people out there that tout using any old box to ship a product; but if a good impression counts with your customer, don't even consider this as an option. There are many inexpensive packaging options that can create a unique look without having to spend a lot. All it requires is a little ingenuity and creativity on your part.

Think about the box in the store that is torn, dented or shows obvious signs of damage. Do you ever buy that product? No way. It sits on the shelf forever and becomes more shopworn as time passes. Your immediate thought-It's damaged inside.

How many plain brown or white envelopes have you tossed without even looking inside at the contents? Why would someone want to see what's inside if the outside looks like garbage? Consider when you receive something that is torn, tattered and it is from someone unknown. Your first impression is a negative one. You may just pitch it before even opening it. The amount of things that are thrown away because they are unidentified or uninteresting is staggering. Mailrooms are often instructed to toss this kind stuff (junk) before it gets delivered no matter who it's addressed to.

Here are some ways you can improve the odds to ensure that your product will be opened and seen by the receiver.

• Always ship or mail a sample to yourself to see what condition it arrives in.

• Clearly indicate who the material is from and why it is important to be opened promptly.

• Use care when selecting packaging material. Make sure the materials will get the job done.

• Consider color as a differentiator from all of the white and brown out there.

• Make sure the outside of the package screams "open me."

• Ensure that the contents inside are protected and secure so they arrive in pristine condition. Think of ways to distinguish yourself from the competition. Even using such simple things like colored bubble wrap (no more expensive) can create a positive impression.

• Make the package something that can be reusable or stored. (A client of mine who shipped flower bouquets made the shipping package in such a way that gift wrapping paper could be stored in the box after the flowers were long gone.)

• Make sure the container is substantial enough to be returned should it need to be. Nothing alienates a customer more than having to find another box to ship something back in.

• Think about what appeals to you when you receive a package. What makes you want to open it? Incorporate that feeling into your shipping materials.

Whatever methods you decide to use to ship your products make sure that you put thought and creativity into the box or container before you send it out the door. It is difficult to overcome an initial negative impression of your product if it arrives in shop worn or damaged condition or in the worst case broken. The customer may never give you a second chance.

Remember to make packaging of your product your first thought not your last. As in this case, what is outside the box counts just as much as what is inside.


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