Package Your Business

Vintage storefront

There’s a lot to be said about packaging.

Have you seen Field Notes? (I wrote about them before, I admit.) They’re notebooks (and stuff). And yet, they’re so cool!

Have you seen Artisanal Pencil Sharpening? He’s not kidding. Well, he might have started out kidding, but it’s a full on business.

In both cases, it’s masterful packaging.

Packaging Ideas is a Start

When you think up a great concept, everything really seems to just fall into place. For instance, The Pulse Network is a lot of fun as an Internet TV network, but as we’ve started defining it differently, we’ve been saying, “New media meets new marketing.” That one change really helps us think about the way we package it all, how we design, how we think up the products and services that The Pulse will need.

When you look at your blog, is it a magazine? Is it your storefront? Is it a newsletter? When you look at your online presence overall, what part of your larger idea does it all serve?

Packages Put a Boundary Around Things

Boundaries and borders and limitations are very helpful in designing and defining. Human Business Works is an education and media company. Thus, if someone approaches me with an idea to make shirts, it probably won’t fit in that business. I’ll either have to discard it, or start a new business for that idea. The boundary helps.

When Julien and I work on our new book, sometimes we come up with ideas that are amazing, but they don’t fit what we’re writing about. We either have to fit the idea into the context of the boundaries we’ve described for the book, or we have to chuck them. The boundaries help us write better, and it helps you get a better book out of the process.

Packaging Suggests Products

If you’re Pam Slim, your book Escape From Cubicle Nation has put you on a path, or has helped crystalize a path. If Pam makes events or other products, it’s much easier for her to continue with the branding she’s already built. If you’re my friend John Jantsch, you coin the phrase “duct tape marketing,” and you put yourself square in the middle of a product/service line that writes itself.

Don’t Package Yourself Into a Corner

One caution: if you’re very lucky, you’ll create many good packages, or even a few. Don’t get yourself stuck into a corner by thinking of yourself as a one-package brand. Apple isn’t a computer company. We still think of them that way, but it’s not really true. Amazon isn’t really just a bookseller, are they?

Seth Godin is the best packager I know, bar none. If I say his name, you probably think of the title of your favorite Seth book. But he’s had many great books (bless him), and yet none of the names or the packages stuck as THE ONLY ONE for Seth. If you’re lucky, you’ll maintain your packaging to be YOU+current project and not YOU-AS-current project.

So, What’s the Package?

How can you reimagine you, your company, your personal brand, your larger world view, your next project, your blog? What does the world look like with your packaging glasses on?

And what does it mean to your business?

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  • James

    Whew, that’s a challenge. I’ll get it someday, but right now packaging is my biggest issue – at least I’m aware of it right?!

    Thanks mate, I’m off to wrack my brain.

  • John Bardos – IdeaEconomy

    Related to packaging is the idea of focus. So many of us are working on so many different things that it is impossible for outsiders to understand what we are about. Focus on one narrow niche is important for getting things done, as well as, marketing ourselves to the world.

    I think it might be better to paint ourselves into a corner than to not be associated with a easily communicable idea at all.

    I always ask, “What kind of guy (or gal) are you?”

    Seth Godin is the Marketing Guy.
    Chris Brogan is the Social Media Guy.
    Pam Slim is the Escape From Cubicle Nation Gal.
    John Jantsch is the Duct Tape Marketing Guy.

    Those might be narrow definitions based on everything those people are working on, but that is what a successful career and business are built from.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      See, that’s just it. I think I’m not the social media guy. It’s just that’s where people met me first. Even I have to package better. : )

  • http://www.ParmFarm.com Amy

    Chris:

    This is exactly where I am right now. I know I am headed in the right direction but I can’t really see where I’m going. I just can’t seem to find my ‘packaging glasses’. (I know they’re here somewhere!)

    Amy Parmenter

  • http://www.thedesktopanalyst.com The Desktop Analyst

    My site is only a week old & I’m trying to figure out how to easily explain or package what the site is about. I’m taking a term usually used for a computer job, desktop analyst, but taking it in another direction, literally analyzing desktops. As in “psychoanalysis based on screenshots of computer desktops.” Now, this stuff is supposed to be funny but I’m not sure how to get that across before they even get to the site. I guess I’ll keep working on my package. That’s what sh… wait is that copyrighted?

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      See. You could call yourself a digital satirist. Or a modern satirist. And this is your first project. : )

      • http://www.thedesktopanalyst.com The Desktop Analyst

        Well, it’s the first one that’s seen daylight. Why, did you check it out? Digital satirist, I like that.

  • http://linkedin.com/in/joesorge Joe Sorge

    Chris, while I totally appreciate the idea of potentially “packaging yourself into a corner”, would you agree that it’s at least a valid idea to have at least the “one” package than a few that aren’t well maintained? Okay, that’s a pretty silly question I suppose, but one foot in front of the other right?

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Agreed. You want one package to start. ANd it’s okay to be known as “that guy who..” but you want to carry that forward. The best packages do. Define Madonna. It’s certainly not one song or another.

      • http://linkedin.com/in/joesorge Joe Sorge

        Madonna is a great example for sure. And I totally agree the more packages the better. But I think it’s hard for a small business or a brand that’s struggling to find it’s true voice to see the forest for the packing trees sometimes. Better to be the best in the world at one thing is where my mind is. Thanks for the reply.

      • http://linkedin.com/in/joesorge Joe Sorge

        Madonna is a great example for sure. And I totally agree the more packages the better. But I think it’s hard for a small business or a brand that’s struggling to find it’s true voice to see the forest for the packing trees sometimes. Better to be the best in the world at one thing is where my mind is. Thanks for the reply.

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  • http://www.mikesmithconsulting.co.uk Mikesmithconsulting

    Spot on

    Packaging encapsulates what you do and gives confidence to the prospects in your niche that they’ve come to the right place.

    Inbound marketing in all niches is becoming exceptionally competitive and the few milliseconds you have to capture attention are becoming ever more valuable. The packaging must answer the needs of your prospective clients and give them the confidence to explore further.

    But remember people buy from people so don’t hide behind the brand

  • http://www.minternetmarketing.com/blog Carole Mahoney

    Chris- it is starting to become scary to me when you write posts that seem to have been extracted straight from my brain. Packaging is exactly what I am working on for my biz right now. The challenge, as you stated, is not packaging yourself into a corner. I started this packaging project when I started to realize that people were having a hard time defining what we do. Some knew us as the analytics company, others as the social media people, others still as SEO. And so many just don’t want to try and figure it out (and really, should they have to?), they just say, “Can you help me with this…?” So I am designing service packages based around the needs that people commonly come to me with. I’ve started with one basic package, and from there it has grown into several.
    The boundary makes it easier for them to understand what they are getting and why, and simpler for us to service because it is streamlined. One concept I am considering is packages and then a chinese menu of things to go with it to compliment.

  • http://www.chitchat.org.uk Facebook Messages

    Packaging to me is merely your value proposition and what you’re offering. It’s how you’re perceived and how you want to be perceived.

    Good article though!

  • http://www.innovationreactor.com Mike West

    I think some companies still don’t have a clear understanding of this area. Your product and the experience is your value proposition. How you package, position and communicate it to customers is vital. Developing a compelling value proposition will help focus your strategy and improve customer comprehension.

  • http://www.innovationreactor.com Mike West

    I think some companies still don’t have a clear understanding of this area. Your product and the experience is your value proposition. How you package, position and communicate it to customers is vital. Developing a compelling value proposition will help focus your strategy and improve customer comprehension.

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  • http://www.blackfridayplanet.com/ William Hushburn

    I like that picture.

  • http://www.blackfridayplanet.com/ William Hushburn

    I like that picture.