Hey Marketers, Don’t Overlook The Power of Packaging

I recently ran across an article that addressed the “Power of Packaging” written by packaging expert Steve Kazanjian. As I’ve tried to put the importance of product packaging into words, I couldn’t say it better than Steve. The article, published on Ad Age, was a slam dunk. Here are some excerpts:

“Packaging is far more that a product’s vessel; it is the physical manifestation of a brand experience. Because of this, packaging should be a critical piece of a brand’s integrated communication strategy”

This is a profound statement regarding packaging. Steve goes on to explain that 100% of a brand’s purchasers interact with the packaging. They touch it, hold it, open it, store it, and dispose of it. At each point of interaction lies an opportunity to create a brand impression. A few examples Kazanjian uses are a follows:

1. The cork bottle stopper for Grey Goose Vodka cues the customer into a connoisseur experience which drives a high price point for the product. Would Grey Goose’s brand be as effective with a screw cap? Definitely not.

2. Lets look at orange juice. When packaged in a clear bottle, it communicates freshness. When orange juice comes in a carton, it says “Pasteurized”. Never thought of it before but I agree 100%.

In 2011, marketers are focusing heavily on social media to create highly personalized brand experiences while overlooking the effectiveness of packaging. Meanwhile, consumers are seeking rich experiences with brands and packaging. Subtle visual and emotional cues that good packaging can provide earns customer loyalty. Packaging is powerful and pays huge dividends to companies who utilize it effectively.

Follow Steve Kazanjian on Twitter.
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Green Marketing in a Struggling Economy

So you want to help the environment by being more eco-friendly and increasing your green efforts, but think that it is too expensive? Many people wonder if they should cut back on green marketing and their green efforts in a struggling economy, but in fact you should do quite the opposite. I read in the September issue of Deliver, a marketing magazine, that it is actually a “hook to getting through them”. They say that green marketing improves your efficiencies, increases customer loyalty, and differentiates your brand.

Wal-Mart-Eco-Friendly-EffortsTake for instance, Wal-Mart’s green efforts. Wal-Mart’s “Earth Month” green marketing efforts included print ads for 10 different green products under $10 and “rollbacks” on environmentally-friendly products. Customers are looking for ways to save money in a tough economy, and Wal-Mart is helping them do that, while still having a positive environmental effect.

Eco-Friendly-Efforts-SunChips-Solar-EnergyGreen marketing also increases customer loyalty. Frito-Lay’s SunChips brand gained customers by showing them that green is both good for them and the environment. They started this marketing plan after seeing market research from 2006 that showed that people who care about their personal health also care about the planet. SunChips have 18 grams of whole grain and zero trans fat. Since these chips are healthier than regular potato chips, their campaigns played off this, their nature-related name, and their sustainability investments, which includesEco-Friendly-Efforts-SunChips-Compostable-Bag producing a compostable bag. They promoted their compostable bags with an online video showing them decompose, as well as print ads that included a tear-off sample for consumers to test it out themselves in their compost piles. Green marketing helped SunChips become one of the fastest-growing snack brands at Frito-Lay.

Eco-friendly-Efforts-Innovation-Thinking-Ideas-EnvironmentGreen marketing, done correctly, also differentiates your brand from the competition. IBM took a different route by connecting with the community in their green efforts. Their Smarter Planet initiative used direct mail to encourage individuals, businesses, and institutions to change the way they work. They also started a series of jams, or brainstorming sessions, that bring people from around the world together to solve an issue. Their “Congestion Challenge” collects innovative ideas to fight transportation congestion, and the winner receives $50,000, as well as the development and implementation support for the idea.

Steps to Improve Your Packaging

Looking for a step-by-step guide to help you improve your packaging?  The following will help you to find the weaknesses in your packaging and improve them for more effective packaging and higher product sales.

1. Look at your current packaging.  Don’t try to convince yourself of how it works.  Ask yourself honestly how it can by improved.  Does it accurately reflect the product? Is it best working to your product’s advantage? Does it make sense?  Make sure the changes you make are beneficial to the product and keep your brand consistent.

2. Ask for an outsider’s opinion. Hand your product packaging over to someone who knows nothing about your product or packaging.

3. Look at the competition.  If your product is sold in retail stores, go to the actual store and look at similar products.

Improving your packaging can increase customer loyalty and satisfaction.  It can also boost sales.  Using these tips to brainstorm about your packaging can lead to positive results for your product, brand and company.

Know Thy Customer: On a Budget

Know Thy Customer on a Budget Comic

In the previous post, “Know Thy Customer,” I blogged about ways to do market research to get to know your customers better. Doing this helps marketers to give customers what they want, increase sales, and reach customer-driven goals. Many of the tips I provided are not within reach of businesses that work with smaller marketing budgets, so here is a post aimed at providing ways to “know thy customer” on a budget.Know Thy Customer on a Budget Comic

Talk to your best customers. This does not mean putting hours of planning into designing survey questions and sitting down with customers for half hour in-depth interviews (although if you want to put the time and money into that, it can’t hurt and would provide great insights into your customers). This is simply an informal chat about your customers needs and wants, with regard to your company. Ask them what you can do better to leave them more satisfied. Keep it simple. Keep it short.
Ask customers what they do and where they go in their spare time. This may seem like small talk to you, and to them – which can be good for building rapport with your customers – but you are actually finding out a lot about these customers based on their interests. What do your customers’ hobbies tell you about them? If your customer is interested in snowboarding, it could mean that they are interested in adventure and taking risks. If they visit social networking sites a lot, they could be interested in technology and meeting new people. Look at these interests and their implications and see if they can be applied to your business, marketing, and/or products and services.

Know Thy Customer on a Budget SurveyConduct surveys. This can be done in a number of ways. Leave surveys on the bottom of sales receipts for customers to send back to you. E-mail all of your customers asking them for their feedback. Place polls or short surveys in your e-newsletters. Create a feedback form to link to the pages on your Website. Think about key modes of communication between you and your customer and utilize these modes as possible survey locations.

Check out competitor Websites. Their customers are likely very similar to your customers. What do your competitors do that tailors to these customers? Do they have a blog or open forum? What do the comments indicate about customer interests? What kind of speech do your competitors use to connect with customers? What are they doing that you are not?
Analyze the data you already have. What is your best selling product? What is your worst selling product? Are some products starting to sell better? Are some products being ordered less frequently? Which ones? This is all data that you have in-house from your order records. You can probably discover much more than this simply by looking at the data you already have! If you have certain products or services that sell better than others, you can look into creating related, complimentary products or services or you could examine the way you market that product and why those tactics are effective.

If you don’t have the money or the time to spend on consumer research, any of these options can provide significant insight into customers that can be applied to your business principles. Don’t let your budget deter you from this important business angle. Getting to know your customers will pay off big in the end. It will build loyalty to your business and can grow your profits. With these simple, cost-effective marketing tips, you have the tools to effectively Know Thy Customer.
Know Thy Customer on a Budget Survey

    Companies Utilize Social Media Networks for Cause Marketing

    Cause marketing is nothing new, but it has been increasingly growing in popularity for companies to both give back to the community and to get their names out there.  It is seen as a marketing campaign, but the money used is not just being spent on promotions, it is being used to help others.  This makes cause marketing a truly great idea.

    social media networks facebook for cause marketing

    A new trend that we are starting to see is companies implementing cause marketing through popular social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter.  These social media networks connect millions of people across the world quickly and easily.social media networks twitter for cause marketing

    Just last month, Target’s “Bullseye Gives” campaign allowed Facebook users to go on Target’s Facebook page and vote for which charity (from a list of ten) that Target will donate $3 million.  Users were allowed to vote once a day, and the amount of money each charity was given was determined by the percentage of votes that they received.  Better yet, each time someone voted, it would show up in their newsfeed for all of their friends to see.  This is a tremendous word-of-mouth tool for praising Target and their acts of social responsibility.  Target’s “Bullseye Gives” campaign resulted in 167,000 Facebook users who came together to vote over 291,000 times.  Now that’s getting their name out there.target bulleye gives cause marketing campaign

    Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Share a Little Comfort Cause Marketing Ad CampaignTarget is not the only company that uses social media networks, like Facebook, to broadcast their charitable efforts.  Kraft also did well with their “Share a Little Comfort” campaign.  They offered to donate up to one million boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese to needy families, depending on the number of “statuses” or “tweets” shared by users on Facebook and Twitter.

    Using popular social media networks for cause marketing can really help companies get their name out there and give back to the community, but they must be careful as to not come off as spam.  If consumers think that you are just trying to sell more of your product and don’t actually care about the charities, your campaign will be a setback for your branding efforts.  But if you follow in these companies footsteps in finding the perfect mix of social media promotions and charitable donations, you could gain a considerable amount of customer and brand loyalty, while still knowing that you are helping others.<–>