Packaging at all Levels
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Packaging at all Levels

Packaging at all Levels

If you were eating at a four-star restaurant and you were provided with plastic utensils, would you have an overall negative opinion about your meal and the establishment? What if you spent a lot of money at an upscale department store and your purchase was handed to you in a cheap plastic bag, would you have buyer’s remorse and second thoughts about your purchase?

Presentation and packaging is an essential part of adding perceived value to an experience or purchase. We see this demonstrated in every shopping experience… when we make purchases our goods are presented to us in some form of packaging. When we evaluate our purchase, that packaging is included in the overall evaluation of our final purchase. You would expect that the higher-end the product, the higher-end the packaging. We realize that every company is focus on the bottom line, but the best in class companies realize that if they’re offering a premium product the packaging has to follow suit—the cost of packaging is understood to be part of their product costs and is seen as an inherent cost of doing business.

If we’re now in agreement that packaging adds to the perceived value of a purchase, we must also agree that the same principle can be applied to the photography industry. If you are charging several hundreds to thousands of dollars for your services and products, should you not also present your services and products in a way that reflects this…?

I speak to hundreds of photographers every year and it is not uncommon for some of them to tell me that they cannot afford photo packaging. They normally explain that the economy is not doing well and that they are extremely focused on their bottom line. At this point I might ask them how they present their images to their customers. That question is normally followed by a very sheepish answer that involves some sort of plastic polybag or cheap box.  If this sounds familiar, think about how your clients feel when you present them with their plastic bag or cheap box… do you think they might have a feeling of buyer’s remorse?

When I make a purchase at Nordstrom, I feel like I am buying a premium product. When I leave the store my purchases are normally wrapped in tissue then laid individually inside of a heavy shopper bag. Additionally that bag is branded with the name “Nordstrom” in huge letters (free advertising!). For my ego’s standpoint it gives me bragging rights as I parade my purchase around the mall with me.  On the flip side, if I’m making a clothing purchase at Walmart, I have a different shopping experience. I realize that I am buying an economical product and hope that there is an acceptable level of quality to my purchase. When I leave the store my garments are stuffed into a very cheap plastic bag that has “Walmart” printed on it in very small letters. In reality the clothing that I purchased from either retailer might possibly be made in the same country, in the same facility, by the same factory worker using the same material. The difference is the identity of both companies. While both companies are retailers, one focuses on providing quality products and a high-end shopping experience, while the other focuses on being a cost leader. 

When you think about your business and your work, would you rather be compared to the Nordstrom of the photography industry or the Walmart?  Hold that thought, we will come back to it…

Have you ever heard of the five percent rule? It states that your packaging should not exceed five percent of your package price.  If you’re going to survive in photography industry you have to make money, and keeping the five percent rule in mind when making packaging decisions will help you stay on that course.

When you’re deciding if you’re the Nordstrom or the Walmart—or somewhere in between—you should think about your price point and the appropriate level of packaging for that price point. If you are a more economical studio where price is everything, then you should focus on packaging that will add value at the lowest possible cost, for example panel mounts, inexpensive memory mates, and economical boxes and/or bags. If you are high-end studio and you are charging a premium for your work, then you should be looking at high-end packaging solutions to add value to your finished products, for example folders, premium mounts, portrait boxes, photo cases, tissue, ribbon, etc.

To wrap it up—no pun intended…

  • Add value to your products and services by packaging your finished products appropriately—there are packaging options at all cost levels, so choose what works best for your studio.
  • Follow the five percent rule… your packaging should not exceed five percent of your package price.
  • Think of packaging is an inherent cost of doing business.

Remember… keep your clients in mind! Their evaluation of your work is based on their overall experience—from the time they first call your studio to schedule a session to the time you present them with their final purchase. You have the opportunity to make a positive lasting impression!

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