As shop owners, there’s always an internal battle of wanting to WOW your customers in every way possible, while also taking into consideration this thing called a budget. Sure, it would be ideal to be able to print our business cards on the thickest, highest quality paper but there comes a point where you have to weigh the pros and cons on whether or not it’s worth it to splurge on fancy paper or splurge on something that may have a bigger impact.
As a Graphic Designer & Brand Stylist, this is a daily struggle of mine. I preach all the time to my clients that a customer experience should be crafted carefully. To add something unexpected in the package that will catch their attention and think to themselves, “Wow, this shop really knows their stuff!”. The nice thing is that these unexpected surprises don’t have to take a lot of extra time or even send your bank account into the red. With just a little love and creativity, you can add the element of surprise to your product packaging to leave your customers wide-eyed and racing back to your shop. So today I’m going to share with you some of the tricks I’ve learned as a shop owner, as well as share my own shop’s packaging to help inspire you to think about your own.
1. Keep your Branding Consistent
As a Graphic Designer, brand consistency is something I challenge my logo & website design clients on all the time. Keeping a consistent brand goes much further than slapping your logo onto your envelopes, but really comes down to how you craft your client experience. The logo, colors, patterns, and wording of your materials all play a role in how your customer perceives your brand. Is your shop serious and sophisticated or is it lighthearted, quirky, and witty? For me, my print shop is the latter. Full of color, wit, and a whole bunch of sprinkles. So when I went to brand my packaging, do you think I went for a serious tone on my stickers? Of course not! My ideal customer loves handmade items, party supplies, sprinkles, and all things baking. So I was sure to convey that vibe right down to the stickers I use on my prints and the colored address labels I use on the envelopes. It’s not always easy (or the most aesthetically pleasing) doing this with generic UPS packaging, but don’t let that stop you from thinking about how you could make their first physical encounter with your brand one to remember. How many times have you gotten a package wondering what the heck was inside (even though you were the one ordering it?). Give your customers a reason to get excited even before opening the package.
2. Consider the Future of Your Products
This is something I never thought about until the holiday season, but think about where your product is headed after it arrives to your customer. Will they be keeping it for themselves or is it something that is likely to be gifted? If it’s something that is likely to be gifted, toss in a extra business card! Business cards are so inexpensive and you may just gain a new customer if they can see where their gift came from. Because I know my art prints are often gifted, I slip a card into each print’s sleeve to make it easy for the customer to gift. It also gives the possibility of a non-customer getting curious and checking out the site for their own purchases after receiving the print as a gift.
3. Go The Extra Mile
Like I mentioned above, adding unexpected elements don’t have to cost a fortune. And often times, tweaks to things you already add to the package can be recreated or redesigned to be more memorable. Do you already print stickers with the words “Thank You” on them? How could you change the design or wording of them to grab your customers’ attention? Do you already sandwich your art prints or photographs between two pieces of cardboard for shipping? If so, are there things like stickers, tape, or ribbon that would make your customer’s unwrapping experience a little bit more gift-like? Even if your customer ordered it for themself, everyone loves feeling like they’re opening a gift! You may be surprised at how something like a little ribbon can really make that boring cardboard look a little more personable. At Sprinkleberrie, I package the print between two pieces of white matte board and then use fun patterned tape to seal the package in a gift-like cross pattern. Could I simply use clear scotch tape to do the job? Of course I could. But that $3 roll of green tape doesn’t cost much more than the clear tape, so the choice is simple for me. Do you sell clothes? What does the hang tag look like? Do you sell jewelry? Dress up those wholesale white boxes with a sticker seal, a ribbon to match your logo, or a little tag tied to the bracelet.
Another thing I add to all my prints is paper confetti to throw in that sprinkle element. I create the confetti with a circle punch and can get tons of dots out of one piece of colored cardstock. Confetti wouldn’t fit with all businesses, but I mention this as a way to get you thinking about what you could do to tie in the mission of your brand through simple additions like this.
4. Start A Conversation
You know that your customers love what you do, so how do you get them to share that with the world? Social media plays a huge role in online business success these days and adding a call-to-action in your packaging starts that conversation with your customer. Include a little note in each package to ask them to share a photo of their new goodies with you on Facebook or Instagram by tagging your username. Some people just naturally share everything they order, while some may never share at all. But if you don’t spark the idea in their head, they probably wouldn’t even think to do so. In my experience as a business owner, you will never get what you want if you don’t ask. Don’t sit back and wait for someone to shout your amazingness from the rooftops – ask them to!
On this similar note, you can use their most recent purchase as a way to start the conversation for their next purchase. Not all shops are at the point of being able to provide discounts, but if you are – consider slipping in a card with a returning customer discount. The few times I have received these from handmade sellers, I save them and usually end up buying something later down the road. Extra cards & stationery can add up, but these can easily be created as a business card size so that you can get cheap, bulk printing prices. Not sure how to go about creating these? Consider hiring a designer to help you craft materials like these. While online templates will suffice and are great for beginners, cards designed specifically for you are really what will set your business apart.
5. Package with Gratitude
As cheesy as this one may sound, gratitude can go a long way in business. You may never meet any of your customers in real life, so how can you let them know that you appreciate their business without just writing “We Appreciate Your Business” on the invoice? What can you do to ensure that they know that you care about them and that they aren’t just a number in your queue. If you are still hand-packing a manageable amount of shipments each day, can you add in a little handwritten thank you? It doesn’t have to be long, but I always love getting handwritten notes because it shows that there is a real person behind the brand. Too large to write each out but still want to add this personal element? You could type up the note and simply sign your name with a marker at the bottom. Still too much work? Consider writing out your name, digitizing it, and then placing it as a digital signature at the bottom of the note.
I hope you found these product packaging tips & tricks helpful! If you take nothing else away from this, I hope that these questions inspire you to think about how your customer’s packaging experience can strengthen your brand. As shop owners, we tend to put so much work into the actual crafting of our products that things like packaging often become an afterthought – when it should be crafted just as carefully as something like our logo or website. Unless you hand deliver each order to your customer’s doorstep, the care you put into packaging your products can say a lot about your business (all without even saying a word!).