Entrepreneurship 101: Storytelling through Product Packaging

Entrepreneurship 101: Storytelling through Product Packaging

Guest post by Ana Stanojevic

 

chocolate packaging

 

When shoppers enter a store where your product is displayed, they are faced with a wide range of choices. If their minds are not already firmly set on a specific product they want to buy, your product has only one way to differentiate itself among the competition: through its packaging.

Graphics, color and textual (product) information on a packaging label, along with prior knowledge or popularity of the brand, are the main things that influence a buyer’s decision. While the strategy of building product popularity involves many different factors and a lot of time, branding a product using a product label is very concrete and can be summed up in six words: Let your label tell a story. The best way to attract a customer is through visual storytelling. In that sense, a packaging label assumes the role of your product’s salesperson.

 

4 Important Questions to Answer to Earn Your Customers’ Trust

So, how do you make these three key packaging label elements attractive enough so people would want to buy your product? The first thing to do is consider the following questions:

  1. What are the things that distinguish your product from the competition? (Exceptionally fast shipping services? Very rare ingredients? Low product cost?)
  2. What feelings do you want to evoke with your product? (Excitement? Desire? Calm? Safety? Pride?)
  3. What are some words/traits you want your product to be associated with? (Strength? Trust? Reliability? Quality? Elegance? Elite?)
  4. What promise are you making to the customer?

Yes, all of that can be communicated via graphics, colors and short text that fits on a label. If it’s a beverage or food packaging label you are creating, you want it to communicate the product’s unique taste and smell. If it’s a toy label, it should probably emphasize the product’s entertainment value. Clearly, writing out “delicious” or “fun” is not enough, because why would a buyer believe you? You want all these factors to combine together to create the right effect that will earn your customer’s trust.

 

The Message behind Color Combinations

There are extensive studies on color symbolism and how different color combinations affect our judgment. In order to match up appropriate colors with the story you are telling your customers, it is necessary to do some serious research. Simple Internet search will quickly provide you with some basic information about color psychology:

  • Blue is considered to have calming, soothing effects on the viewers and is usually associated with trustworthiness and reliability.
  • We think of green as the color of nature and harmony, because it is everywhere around the majority of us. It is peaceful, “environmental” and is perceived as the perfect color to soothe anxiety and depression.
  • Red and orange energize us and radiate warmth. These are the colors that call to action.
  • Purple sparks imagination and has traits of both red and blue, so it can both uplift our mood and soothe our mind.
  • Brown. This earthy color is used for conveying that something is natural or organic, and it is associated with home, order and stability.
  • In Western cultures, white symbolizes purity and encourages us to de-clutter our physical and mental space.
  • Black invokes a range of emotions. It can be associated with power, emptiness, mystery, potential, etc.

These color meanings and associations are very general and are valid only for the standard shades. For example, while blue is associated with calm and rest, there are shades of blue, such as electric blue or turquoise, which have quite the opposite effect on people. That is why it is very important to do an extensive research on colors and choose those combinations that will properly represent your product.

Also note that colors are not chosen independently of text, logo and the rest of the label design.

 

How to Tailor Your Label Design

Depending on your product and the message you are trying to convey to customers, your design can be simple or elaborate, modern or retro, blatant or subtle. It can consist only of a simple logo, or of rich, beautifully illustrated images. Your professional designer should choose the right elements to come up with appropriate visual match for the story behind your brand.

If you want to save on design and professional photographs, you can look for appropriate stock images from popular websites such as Pixabay, Photopin, iStockphoto, etc. Designers can find lots of inspiration on Pinterest, Behance, Deviantart, and many other websites featuring inspirational label design.

 

Choose Your Words Wisely

This is easier said than done. It takes a lot of research, creative thinking and engagement with (potential) buyers to come up with the right words to deliver your message to the customer. You want it to be clear, but not too conspicuous. Not too long, but to include all relevant information. You don’t want to use overly exploited phrases.

In some cases this advice doesn’t apply. For example, for food labels you’ll mostly be governed by strict food labeling regulations and your storytelling will rely primarily on color and design. In some other cases your label will consist of only one word, so it’s very important to get that one word right.

Once you are happy with the text, you should also consider its font, style and size, because you’ll get potential buyers to actually read the text only if they like the visual side of your copy.

 

Embed the Label with Your Product Brand Spirit

Of course, there are more things to consider when creating a product label: its shape, size, material, how it is printed, whether it is professionally applied to the product packaging, etc. You may create the perfect text copy, logo and design, but if you fail to partner up with professional printers, you may end up with labels that will start peeling off the product as soon as your customers leave the store. As much as your exceptional label design is admired, the final product will not reflect professionalism.

In conclusion, think about how you can make the best of that palpable part of your branding strategy – the product label. Invest resources in embedding it with your product’s brand spirit and an appealing message to your customers, and watch how your customers connect with the storyline you so carefully built.

 

Small biz how-to : Get yourself a mailing list (part 2)

Hiya! I’m glad you’re here again, because I really want to help you get a solid mailing list together – it’s a REALLY important thing to have in your business. If you think you don’t need one, think again – read Part 1 of ‘Get Yourself a Mailing List’ here, and find out why. {Part 1 also talks about what sorts of things you should be including in your newsletters. And it’s not all about you.}

So, no more chit-chat; let’s get stuck in.

 

How do you build your list?

Choose an email marketing service provider

Mailchimp or Aweber are by far the most commonly used, but there are many many others too. They offer lots of great tools for statistics and analysis, and if you’re starting small and/or you’re on a budget, Mailchimp is free for the first 2000 subscribers. However, if you upgrade to their paid service, they also offer lots of add-ons and extra tools which are useful. Aweber also offers a free 30 day trial.

ALWAYS use a double opt-in (this where people give you the email address, which then gets an email from the service asking them to confirm their subscription) – this helps to filter out dodgy spambots (double opt-ins are standard for Aweber and Mailchimp). It also confirms that the person is obviously seriously interested in what you have to say, if they have to work to get the information.

 

Make sure your opt-in forms are visible.

Um… perhaps a better word than ‘visible’ would be OBVIOUS. Don’t hide them away in tiny writing at the bottom of your page; be proud of what you have to offer! Good places to put them include the top of your sidebar, along the very top of your page (you can do this with the free Hello Bar), and very definitely include an opt-in form on your About page. You can even add in a pop-up – they are THE most effective way to build your list quickly (and p.s. they don’t have to be yukky. I use the free ITRO pop-up plugin for WordPress and I’ve found it great. You can set how big it is, how quickly it appears, and how frequently it appears for people who return to your site).  Another useful and obvious place to put your sign-up link is in your signature at the bottom of your email.

 

Keep it clean.

Another important thing to remember is to avoid clutter on your webpage. When people are confronted with too much choice, they tend to avoid decisions and just walk away… and by default they’ve just made a choice to take the NO option. Do you want that?  Think about how you react when you see a messy page! Look at your own page/s critically and make it easy for your audience to find what they want; you’ll be rewarded.

 

Give them a reason to subscribe

You might feel entirely comfortable with simply offering updates on new products. Some people go a bit extra and offer special discounts for subscribers. Sometimes, however, this alone might not be quite enough to entice people to give you their email address.

Especially if you’re offering services such as consultancy or coaching, it’s best if you offer something special and useful.  Think about what would be most helpful to your customers – a free e-book, a discount voucher, a list of resources, the latest market report, a printable – anything that suits. For instance, if you’re a portrait photographer, offer them a bunch of tips on how to prepare for the shoot – how to choose an ideal venue, what kind of overall feel they want, what clothes look best in photos etc. Don’t offer them a free recipe book because it’s nothing to do with what they’ve come to you for. People love free stuff, but only if it fits their specific interests at the time.

 

How often should you send?

That depends on what you’ve got to say and what you can manage, but most recommendations I’ve seen are for at least once per month, and probably every two weeks is better. If you send TOO frequently, you’ll end up with your subscribers getting bored and ignoring you – or worse, unsubscribing (unless of course you’re Seth Godin); and if you send something only once a year, people will have forgotten who you are… and probably unsubscribe as well. Whatever frequency you choose, be reasonably consistent with it too.

 

OK, so you want to get serious about getting a list

There is tons of great information out there. I am the queen of Google – I know. But I would suggest you start with these people –

  • I love Natalie Lussier! If you get onto her 30 day List Building Challenge, you won’t look back. She’s got tons of fabulous info, including a great Facebook group that she pops into fairly frequently.
  • As I mentioned in Part 1, Derek Halpern is also fab with the info on mailing lists. And he’s expert on the psychology of marketing, so he’s got some great info on what sorts of things you should include on your opt-in forms, and what to include in your newsletters.
  • And lastly, I love this idea of swapping skills for exposure to build your list, from Ben Settle on Copyblogger. It’s all about making connections – and I know that some of you might not feel confident enough to do this, but always keep in mind that those people that you look up too and admire – they’re real, and they started where you are now. Reach out, and you never know where it might get you!

 

 

Your newsletter is all about sharing with your customers, your audience. When you build up a relationship with them by being generous with quality information, they will reward you with loyalty, and they will reward you with glowing testimonials. And that’s how word spreads.

 

Have you got any burning questions about how to set up in Mailchimp or Aweber? Or you need help putting together your opt-in form? Anything else? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll find you an answer!

 

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oh, and p.s. – you can join my email list here. I’ll be sending something to your inbox shortly. Spread the love!

Julie X

 

Small biz how-to : Get yourself a mailing list (part 1)

desert mailboxes

{image: ‘Desert Mailboxes’ by  Jillian Audrey, here}

 

If you’ve got a small business, you have to get yourself a mailing list. (I’ve written a little about it already, here – but I’ve got some more to say about why it’s an essential thing for your business, hence today’s post).

Derek Halpern of Social Triggers gives some excellent reasons as to why you should. He says it is WAY more effective than social media and he’s got some convincing arguments. For instance, the average person gets thousands of Twitter updates in their stream in one day, but most people get less than a hundred emails per day. For that reason alone, they’re more likely to open your email than click on a twitter link. Add to that the fact that if your customer is not looking at their twitter stream at around the time of your tweet, they are VERY likely to miss it. Your email remains in their inbox until they do something about it.

There are other limiting factors in social media too. Facebook in particular ranks posts, so that not everyone sees all of your posts (and depending on how active and engaging you have been in the past, your post might not be seen by very many people at all. Email has no ranking system. Guaranteed they’ll see it in their inbox.

Another compelling argument is that your subscribers, by definition, are already specifically interested in what you have to say. They’re already receptive to your ideas and what you have to offer. So, don’t disappoint them.

 

The point is this: everybody has an email address that they access on average a couple of times a day. Using an email to stay in contact with them is personal and direct.

 

What should you include in your newsletters?

DON’T just use your newsletter to sell, sell, sell (unless of course you set up that expectation with your subscribers in the first place). If you promise useful stuff on the opt-in form, deliver useful stuff.

Some of the biggies in the biz, such as Derek Halpern or Marie Forleo send out fab videos every week or so, posing a specific problem and explaining how to deal with it. Some others, such as Alexandra Franzen, simply share insights and ask thought-provoking questions.

You don’t have to be fancy to be helpful. Here are some of the types of things I always include in my email newsletters. There are lots more, just keep in mind who and what your customer is, and what they would find interesting.

Tips and tricks specific to your area of business are good. It’s always a pleasure to read Colette Patterns‘ newsletter, because they’ve always got great sewing tips – I’ve seen some really tricky, neat stuff, too!

You could include items of interest from elsewhere around the web. Keep it focused on the core content of your business; for instance you could include a great article you found, or reports on trends in your specific field.

Another idea is to base your newsletter around either a great quote, or an article you’ve found, or some insight that you have gained in your life/business recently. Amy from Pikaland does this, and I always love reading her stories and insights.

Lastly, yes! include your stuff – because this is the point of having a list in the first place, right? The idea is to present things to your potential customer that are of value to THEM – links to an article you wrote, pics of new work, a special discount code, what new ideas you’re working on. Of course, if you’ve got some special amazing thing that you’re launching and you’re very excited about, sure, headline it! Write the whole damn newsletter about it! That’s fine; just don’t make a habit of ONLY talking about yourself/your products in every email.

 

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In part 2 of this post, I’ll show you how to build your list effectively, about how to choose an email provider, and other necessary stuff.

Email lists are important – When you build up a relationship with your customers by being generous with quality information, your customers reward you with loyalty, and word spreads.

 

That’s it!

oh, and p.s. – you can join my email list here. You’ll be getting mucho goodies in your inbox shortly. Spread the love!

 

Julie X

Small biz : How to market your webinar

 How to market your webinar
communication - inner child by andy westface society6
{artwork by Andy Westface via here}

{Guest post from Gemma Falconer}

 

It’s a fresh new year, full of potential and promise. It’s a time to look back on everything you did in 2014 and search for improvements to make 2015 your year to shine. With the benefit of hindsight, you can evaluate what did or didn’t work within your company last year, and change your tactics accordingly.

When done right, webinars are a great way to spread information and promote brand awareness. In fact, back in August 2011, HubSpot achieved the Guinness World Record for Largest Online Marketing Seminar with 10,899 participants. An enviable number, to say the least. If you’ve ever hosted a webinar before, you’re already familiar with that nagging fear: what if no one tunes in? What if you’ve spent weeks (perhaps even months) planning your presentation and there’s no one to see it? Here are a few tips and tricks to make sure that your next webinar gets the attention and attendance it deserves.

 

1. Creativity above all

Original content will always triumph over irrelevant or redundant ideas. If your topic isn’t fresh, you won’t get a great turn-out, no matter how killer your marketing strategy. You need something that’s general enough to gather a large following yet specific enough to be of use to your attendees.

One way to create a special, intriguing webinar is to partner up – reach out to a brand you’re interested in or who is perhaps doing something similar, and join forces. Not only will this increase your possible audience, it will be an opportunity to make truly unique content.

 

2. Nail your email marketing

The bulk of your webinar prep work will be simply getting the word out there. Make sure that your emails stand out visually and entice the reader into action. Email out invitations and reminders on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays as Mondays and Fridays are usually spent catching up or hustling to finish a project last-minute, meaning a greater chance that your email will go unread.

 

3. Be social!

As important as email marketing is to your webinar, you shouldn’t be only relying on that one tactic to gather an audience: you need to create a social media presence. A great way to generate buzz around your event on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ is to create its own hashtag and regularly post about it, especially as the date draws nearer. You can even host a giveaway or a competition (with one of your services/products as the prize) to get people really involved.

 

4. Less is more

If you make the sign-up process lengthy or confusing, many people will be turned off and chances are you will lose many potential attendees. So simplify everything for them: clearly lay out the webinar details (date, time, time zone, whether it will be live only, on-demand, or both, how to join on the day, etc.), spell out your objectives and limit the number of form fields attendees have to fill out.

 

5. Build your reputation

Don’t let the relationships you build with attendees go cold – you don’t want negative sentiment to affect any future webinars you might want to hold. Send a follow-up email as a thank you, and always be on the constant look-out for ways to improve your technique!

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Author’s Bio:

Gemma Falconer is a member of the Demand Generation team at Citrix and GoToMeeting, a cloud computing company that enables mobile workstyles. She has been using collaboration tools/video conferencing/online meetings for the past 6 years and splits her working time between the office and home. Having experienced the flexibility and various advantages of using such technology, Gemma would love for employers to seriously consider offering collaboration tools and flexible working for their employees so they too can truly benefit. Gemma is a mother, keen volleyball player and writer. Find her on Twitter on LinkedIn.

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{Disclaimer : tractorgirl worked in collaboration with GoToMeeting to provide this post. I hope you find it helpful!}

 

Making Blogger pretty: adding social media icons (and other tricks)

chulabird pattern

{background pattern Autumn Swirl by Chulabird, here}

 

If you have any kind of a blog that is connected to your business in some way, you absolutely need to include links to your social media accounts. Using social media icons is the most popular and the most obvious way to do this. It’s best if they’re somewhere towards the top of your blog page – whether they’re above your header or below, or over on your sidebar is really up to you and how you want your blog to look.

If you want to add in some buttons for your social media, you’ll first have to have some appropriate icon images for the social media you need – either purchase some, or make them yourself.

There are lots of free ones – just google “free social media icons” and look through the images until you find some you like (always check the licence conditions!) – and you can always alter colours and other effects. Of course you can always create your own too.

OR, here I’ve included a zip file of the 5 most popular icons – Google+, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – as .png files. They’re black  on transparent backgrounds, but you can easily change the colour using Photoshop or Picmonkey. They’re all 64 pixels square – a bit larger means they’re easier to work with if you intend changing colours etc, but I would recommend you resize them to something a bit smaller if you’re putting them on your blog – somewhere between 30 – 50 pixels wide is good.

 

the lot

Download the icons here.

 

There are a couple of reasons I prefer to use .png files rather than .jpegs. Although .jpg files are compressed so that they’re quicker to load, the compression also means that they lose clarity, and sometimes they can end up looking quite blurry. Another reason for a transparent background is that if your blog has a coloured background, your icons can sit there happily without an ugly white square around them.

OK. So now those images need to be hosted somewhere (i.e. they need a URL where Blogger can find them), and if you’ve bought some webhosting, there’s no problem – just load up the files. But if you don’t have your own webhosting,  I found a great work-around tutorial on YouTube showing you how to add them directly to Blogger so you can use them on your site. (The full video is here).

In the video, Emily of BlogaholicDesigns.etsy.com suggests simply creating a new post, which is named something to remind you that it is not public, such as “DO NOT PUBLISH OR DELETE”. In that post, click on the HTML tab (circled in red below), as this gives you control over the spacing of the images. Then load up your images, by clicking on the picture icon (also circled in red). Then click on Compose, so that you can align the images (probably centred is best).

Save it (don’t Publish!). Click back into HTML, then copy the code that appears – it should look a bit like the image below. Highlight all that code to select it, and then Ctrl C to copy it onto your clipboard.

 

how to blogger - sm icons

 

Next, close that window so that you’re back on the main Dashboard. Go into Layout (circled in red below), and click on any box labelled “Add a gadget” in the area that you want it – usually best at the top of the sidebar, or above your menu.

 

how to blogger - sm icons 2

 

The pop-up window will give you a bunch of different types of ‘gadgets’ you can add in – click on “HTML/Javascript”, and paste all the code into the Content box. Your screen should look a bit like the one below. Save, and you’re done!

 

how to blogger - sm icons 3

 

Happy blogging!

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Do you have any burning questions about Blogger? Any specific problems? Anything in particular you’d like to change on your blog but don’t know how? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll find you an answer!!

Or, are you proud of your blog? Share your link, so the world can see 🙂

 

Julie x