In the world of marketing, perception is everything. Successful companies focus not only on improving the economic value of their products but also on increasing their perceived value. Packaging plays a major role in determining how the customer views your product. Packaging takes many forms.
First, consider the actual physical packaging, from the product’s color and shape and style to the container in which it is shipped. Apple has been a leader in designing computer shells that look sleek and modern. An Apple computer virtually shouts, “Look at me. I’m the latest and greatest!” Apple’s target customer is the individual seeking the ultimate in user friendliness and the creative professionals such as a graphic designer or an architect. These are the very people to whom the ultra modern packaging is most likely to appeal.
Second, the appearance of your marketing collateral is also extremely important. If you are in the up-scale clothing business, you will want all of your brochures to have an elegant, expensive appearance. They will probably be four color and printed on glossy paper, showing chic models dressed in the latest fashions. On the other hand, if you run a chain of stores selling work clothes to farmers, you will want to project a totally different image.
Third, consider the importance of personal packaging. If you are selling financial services, you want to look conservative and affluent, projecting the image of one who is both trustworthy and successful. This will be reflected in your dress, your manner of speech, the car you drive and so on. A very different impression would be required if you were selling motorcycles or sporting goods or gardening equipment. Pay close attention to the image you project. It should offer a clear message to your ideal customer: “Look, you can trust me. We’re birds of a feather. I relate to you and your needs and am the right person to satisfy them.”
In creating a marketing plan, you must first be absolutely clear about your Product (or service). Exactly what do you sell?
A common mistake made by many businesses is to define their Product in terms of what it is. “We manufacture photocopying equipment” or “We specialise in the sale of computers and related products” or “We offer a wide array of legal services.” or “We sell women’s clothing.” But people do not decide to purchase from you based on what you are selling but rather what your Product will do for them. First, they must have a perceived need. Second, they must be convinced that your Product will fill this need more easily and/or economically than that offered by your competitors.
Ask yourself this question: “What need is satisfied by my Product?” Stated differently, you might ask, “What problem does my Product solve?” or, “What pain does my Product remove?”
Always define your Product in terms of the benefits it offers the consumer. The most beautifully designed Product, the most brilliantly crafted service, will sell only if it fills a perceived need.
These seven elements are universal; they are applicable in every industry and every business. They are also closely intertwined. A single change in one can change your sales and your profitability dramatically.