The Purpose Of Clever Packaging

If you love chocolate as much as I do you’ve probably heard about the Mast Brothers scandal.

The artisan chocolate makers are accused of not being completely transparent about their process when they launched in 2007 and of pulling the wool over customers eyes with “clever packaging”.

Transparency aside for a moment, because of course what’s inside the wrapper has to fulfil the promise the packaging makes. Packaging should be clever and intentional. If we’re not deliberately trying to create a connection with our customers in everything we do then what’s the point? Wrappers are the opening line of the brand story.
The ‘once upon a time’. The first thing the customer notices, touches and experiences.
The story we give her to tell, (often to herself).

The inconspicuous red sole of a Christian Louboutin shoe. The encouraging manifesto on a Lululemon bag. The highly researched and purposefully created unboxing experience of an Apple product. And yes, the gorgeous paper on a Mast Brothers chocolate bar—all clever packaging that customers are happy to pay for because of how it makes them feel.

Intangible value is something customers crave. The question packaging design must address isn’t how to charge more for average stuff, it’s how to change what the customer feels.

Image by Jen Collins.

3 Things Your Product Story Must Do

When we market our products to customers we often use a persuasive tone designed to convince. We describe by leading with features and benefits. We try hard to give customers reasons to choose, forgetting that most purchasing decisions are not rational, but emotional.

In short we forget why people buy.

Three things your product story should do

1. Affirm the customer’s worldview
What does she care about?
What’s the change she’s hoping for?
How will your product make her become more of who she wants to be?

2. Connect with and speak to her emotions—make her feel something
Why is she considering this product?
How does she feel before she experiences it?
How would she like to feel when she’s used the product?

3. Deliver the information you’ve anticipated she needs to confirm or rationalise her decision
What are the facts she needs to know and why?
What change can she expect after she has used the product?
Remember to show as well as tell.

Compelling products and services help us to be more of who we want to be.
The best product descriptions tell that story.

Ingredients lists, features and benefits are important, but delivering the facts without considering why your customer really buys from you means you’re selling your work and your brand story short.

Image by Brett Jordan.

The Alternative To Winning The Awareness Game

The top 200 advertisers in the U.S. spent $137.9 Billion on ads in 2014. When you’ve got those resources it’s easy to play the awareness game.

What if newspaper presses came to a stop and banner ads were abolished on the grounds of inciting mindless consumption? Imagine a world where billboards were torn down to combat visual pollution and TV channels stopped interrupting programs with commercials.
What would our options to woo our customers be then?

There is more than one way to become both top of mind and close to heart. Patagonia employs 45 full time technicians to repair customer’s old and damaged clothing for free. Warby Parker offers a 5 day home try-on service. Tenzing Men’s Skincare sends free samples to prospective customers. Our local cafe invests in staff training to ensure that customers experience the best service in the world. Lululemon holds complimentary yoga classes and events. And these businesses link their sales to giving impacts with the help of B1G1.

What could you commit part of your advertising budget to in order to get closer to your customers?

Image by Shinsuke Ikegame.

Meaningful Work

We’ve all witnessed a version of this in action. The speciality restaurant vowing to serve free range, grass fed and organic. The gift shop committed to selling local and artisanal. The designer who refuses to work with fast food companies. Uncompromising—until they think about scaling or they hit a bump in the road of their business.

Staying committed to your intention, keeping the promises you made to the people you serve (and to yourself)—choosing to amplify your difference is at the heart of meaningful work.

What makes a compelling brand, an unforgettable book, or a piece of music that moves us is what the creator has chosen to leave out. The silence between two notes.

As the composer Gustavo Santaolalla said, “Not playing is sometimes more difficult.”

Knowing which notes to play is what makes all the difference.

Our job isn’t to play every possible note.
It’s to play one note every day that we’re proud to have played.
[And often to enable other people to do the same.]

Image by Timothy V.

The Power Of Posture

How is it that we can go into the same cafe two days running, order the same drink, pay the same price and yet leave feeling entirely different about the experience depending on the interaction we have with the person who is serving?

Just as it’s possible for one yogi to hold a more graceful warrior pose than another (even though the arrangement of body parts is identical), it’s possible for us to change everything about how our customers perceive and experience our brand by adopting a particular posture.

We overestimate the effect of the things we can’t reliably predict or control (like how to get more people to like our Facebook page) and underestimate the power we have to change everything.

The way we choose to deliver, not just what we deliver matters more than we realise.

Image by Linh Nguyen.

The Moments In Between

On a recent international flight, a colleague was upgraded from Business Class to First Class.
The four cabin crew had only eight passengers to look after, so they could be extra attentive. The in-flight service was stellar. Everything happened quickly and smoothly, the menu was more varied and the seats more comfortable.

But for all of that by the end of the journey, he concluded that there’s very little to differentiate one experience from the other while you’re in the air. A lot of the value is created before boarding and after landing—during the moments in between. What made flying First Class exceptional was the seamlessness of the experience while on the ground. No queueing at passport control (the immigration officials come to you), beautiful lounges to freshen up in between flights and unhurried transfers.

We devote most of our energy and resources to delivering spec—on the things customers should expect from us, but it’s the moments in between where we have the opportunity to excel, differentiate and delight.

Where are your moments in between? How can you use them to give the customer a story to tell?

Image by simplethrill.

When It Comes To Customer Insights Go Deeper

Grace is 32 years old, she has worked hard to establish herself on the career ladder and bought her first home. Grace and her partner Mike are trying for a baby. As marketers with a brand story to tell we’re in a hurry to gather as much data as we can about Grace. We want to know her postcode, where she shops and what she chooses. We want to know how much she earns and how many people live in her household. Of course, there are companies, algorithms and applications that can filter this data for us.

But even as we’re paying attention to the data, we may be missing opportunities to serve Grace and tell a story that resonates with her because of what we don’t know.

We don’t know why she can’t wash her hands without glancing in the bathroom mirror, or what makes her wear impossibly high shoes on Friday night—the kind that leave her wearing Band-Aids on the backs of her heels for a week.

We haven’t worked out why she often buys flowers for friends when her own vase is rarely full.

We don’t understand the reason she unscrews the fabric softener bottle in the supermarket aisle to smell the fragrance, or why she wishes her hair was less of what it is and more of what someone else’s seems to be.

We haven’t discerned why she believes raw chocolate is worth paying four times more for, or why she stopped buying magazines but loses herself for an hour on Pinterest every night.

We are not wondering why she needs to be seen to “have it all”, or who she trusts and how they earned it.

How is it that we can know so much and so little all at once?

What don’t you know about your customers? Go deeper.

Image by Sascha Kohlmann.

Why Getting More Hits To Your Website Is Overrated

Every day you delete messages received from faceless SEO companies who have “noticed you could have a lot more hits to your website”. We are often mistakenly led to believe that our biggest challenge is getting more people to pay attention to our products, services or work.

Of course, we can game our way to increasing a meaningless number, while fooling ourselves into thinking we are making progress. The truth is it doesn’t matter if people landed or came, what matters is that they got exactly what they were hoping for, left surprised and delighted and wanted to come back.

The most 100 most popular websites in the world don’t get there by focusing on gaming numbers, they do it by obsessing about how to be useful to the audience they serve.

The challenge for most businesses isn’t to work out how to get more people to notice them. It’s to be clear about which people they want to matter to, to know what those people care about and to understand how they can make a difference in their lives.

Image by Duncan Hull.

7 Steps To Becoming A More Strategic Marketer

As marketers we spend much of our time and energy on tactics. We agonise over the creation of lead magnets, spend countless hours honing sales pages and perfecting social media promotions.

How To Become A More Strategic Marketer

1. Take a long-term view of your business, one that doesn’t require you to go for quick wins.

2. Find a group of people you care about serving.

3. Listen to what they say and watch what they do.

4. Create a product or service you believe in, one that solves problems and satisfies wants and needs.

5. Trust the people you made it for.

6. Stop selling to and start connecting with people, talk about why you made what you made.

7. Rinse and repeat.

There’s nothing more magnetic to your potential customers than the feeling of being seen and understood. That’s the number one job of your marketing.

Image by Don Harder.

The Power Of Customer Context

There’s a tiny hole-in-the-wall florist in the heart of the city, close to big office buildings and the cafes where people meet for breakfast and lunch. If it were an ordinary florist it would be the kind of place people would walk past on their way to somewhere else.

The neighbouring florist’s made-to-order, elaborate, cellophane-wrapped bouquets don’t cater to commuting office workers who live in small apartments on modest budgets. Meanwhile, the hole-in-the-wall sells out of simple, inexpensive, glass jars filled with wildflowers. The owner understands the power of the context in which the customer experiences his brand and how his product fits into her story.

There’s no need to second-guess the gesture of buying a little bunch that’s perfect for cheering up the corner of a desk on Monday morning (no vase or pre-ordering required), and no excuse not to celebrate the start of the weekend on the way to the tram on Friday night.

The more we put the customer at the centre of our marketing, the more we leave room for their story, the better our results will be. How are you doing that?

Image by mimmyg.

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