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Posted: June 22, 2009

In business, fatal attraction is no attraction at all

Smart packaging and strategic marketing go hand in hand

Esty Atlas

Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Apply this philosophy to your business. If your sales are down substantially over last year or even the last two years, the struggling economy is not your only enemy.

When was the last time you took a close look at the packaging of your products? Could they benefit from being updated? How would you find out? Do your actual products or company presentation (website, marketing materials, etc) look old and tired compared to your competition's? These are all viable questions in today’s fast-paced, sell-the-sizzle or they’ll-never-taste-the-steak mentality. The fact is, some lousy products will sell because of good packaging (and yes, strategic marketing) … remember Pet Rocks? They were just rocks. Millions of people bought them.

Don't lose sales on a great product that doesn’t catch one’s eye because of bad packaging. Image, image, image creates a particular persona. The right one creates demand. Your company’s personality is driven by how you showcase your stuff. Lost in a crowd? Not attracting attention can be financially fatal. If your business needs new life, follow Nike's advice: "Just Do It!” Here’s how.

Look at masterful companies and how they market their products. For Nike, the average Schmo or Sally can put on a pair of athletic shoes that he or she will happily pay even more for, if necessary. Why? To get the feeling -- the belief -- that these shoes will improve one’s performance. After all, they've got that famous swoosh on the side the pros wear.

Great marketing gave the swoosh value and credibility. That's reason enough to run harder or workout longer. It’s like a subconscious energy boost. Their effective commercials show average people transforming their lives with newly toned bodies. Behind it all is how well their strategic packaging paid off. Co-founder and former chairman of athletic apparel, Nike's Phil Knight became a billionaire and was the 31st richest American in 2004. Before passing the baton to the next CEO, he said, “Now we understand that the most important thing we do is market the product. We’ve come around to saying that Nike is a marketing-oriented company, and the product is our most important marketing tool.”
Smart packaging and strategic marketing absolutely go hand in hand. This week, I want you to look at how your business products are packaged. If you sell items, look at them very carefully. (If you are a service-oriented company, your packaging counts just as much, and I’ll get to that shortly). Compare your product’s packaging to the competition's. Does yours standout? Here's an easy test: Look at over-the-counter non-prescription medicine. Rows of shelves filled with all sorts of remedies claiming all kinds of immediate relief. No shortage of competition there! The packaging must be examined from many aspects. 

Successful packaging integrates attention-getting color, graphics, clearly states its main benefit and takes into consideration the one thing that will cause you to buy it over the competition. What’s THAT thing? Your packaging must resonate with the consumer. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Marketing battles are fought inside the mind of the prospect. So learn to take advantage of the current mindset. Find the emotional connection between your product and their hearts. Give it value, a sense of purpose and make it unique. Own your niche. Kleenex owns tissues; Heinz owns the ketchup world.
The same qualities are true if you are a service-oriented business. Does your website contain the same content it did six months ago? Will it still have the same content six months from now? If so, there is no reason for anyone to look at it more than once. Was it designed more than two years ago? Is it easy or hard to find you online? It may be time to revisit today’s No. 1 marketing vehicle. You would not believe how many businesses quickly threw together a website years ago and never looked at it again.

Is your website a “one-way street” that just sits there or does it inspire and create a positive user experience? Optimizing websites today to help drive traffic to your site is no longer optional. Everyone’s got to do it, especially the independent business owner. Want to know the BEST way to improve your website? The trick is not to blather on and on about you, you and you.  The know-it-all kid in school was never your best friend. You’ve got to package (there’s that word again) your products or services from the consumer’s point of view, and make it easy on the eyes. It’s simply mind-boggling how many businesses fail or lose sales by doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result!

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Esty Atlas is a four-time Emmy award-winning writer, specializing in leadership communications, media and public relations. 303-919-2425; email: or

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