The Heart And Soul Of Packaging with Emily Page

OTS 136 | Product Packaging

 

Do you every notice that somehow packaging always seems to  take a back seat to other seemingly more important items on you list. It’s what gets done with the the money that is leftover, which Emily Page will tell you is not always the best strategy.  The real truth is that product packaging is major. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to land your product on the shelf of a major retailer without some really concise, professional, well thought out packaging. Emily Page of Pearl Resourcing is one of those people that really understands packaging. Not only does she understand it, but I can tell it has become part of her. After hearing her speak, I know you will have a different respect and understanding for packaging and it’s importance. Emily is on a mission to help your product stand out on the shelf and will bring out the very best in your packaging for buyers and  consumers to react to.

Listen to the podcast here:

The Heart And Soul Of Packaging with Emily Page

We have another great conversation that we’re going to bring to you. This one is about packaging and I know that we talk about packaging a lot and it comes up a lot. The reason that is, is because I feel when it’s all said and done, when you’ve purchased your product, you’ve made your product, you brought it over here, and you put it on Amazon or however you get it started, that somehow packaging takes a back seat. Somehow packaging is what gets done with the leftover money and that’s not always the best. In some cases, I know I’ve been personally involved with people that have literally done the packaging themselves for a product that they think that they want a major big-box retailer to pick up.

Please understand, the reason we continue to talk about and hash over packaging is that it’s major. Nobody is going to buy your product on the shelf of a major retailer without some really concise, professional, well thought out, understood packaging. Emily Page of Pearl Resourcing is one of those people that really understand packaging. Not only does she understand it, but it’s part of her. After you hear her talk, you’re going to understand what by that. She has a passion for making your product stand out. She has a passion for bringing out the very best in your product on the outside for customers and consumers to react to. I had such a great time talking with her and getting to know her a little bit better. We met at an ECRM session. She also works with Jocko Willink and handles his White Tea product and was responsible for the look and feel on the packaging and how that product came all together. She knows what she’s doing. She’s very successful and I feel honored to have her on the podcast. I’m going to let her bring you into her world of packaging. Let’s get right into it.

Emily, welcome to On The Shelf. Thanks for coming on the program.

Thanks, Tim. It’s a pleasure to be here.

I’m excited to talk to you. We haven’t seen each other since the last ECRM EPPS session with Jocko. That’s where we met.

It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed meeting you and I listened to your podcast before. We had some conversations about pricing and strategies in retail. I’m excited to talk to you again.

I’m excited to talk to you because as I looked up your website and started learning a bit more about what you’re doing, I’m excited to hear your perspective. I think everybody has their own perspective on what they think the packaging is just like we were talking online. Just because I worked in a grocery industry, some people think that they can now do their packaging. I’ve always said, “Packaging is not a DIY unless that’s what you do for a living.” I’m super excited to hear your perspective and what you guys do. The name of your company is Pearl Resourcing. Is that because it’s a gem?

That’s absolutely right. Pearl Resourcing, I bought the company from a gentleman who was doing Alibaba before the internet existed, who’s going to Asia to make packaging for Hershey’s and for ProFlowers and a lot of the major candy companies in the United States. It required traveling to the Pearl River Delta, which is in China where a lot of manufacturing and import and exporting is occurring. That’s the original name and then I bought it from him and I realized that in this world, it’s easy for people to go online and think that they can find a random company on Alibaba and start designing packaging for themselves. What people really need is a resource. They need a resource to bridge the gap between manufacturing a box and creating something that will help to move and sell their product in stores.

There’s a lot of art that goes into that and science. There are also a lot of risks when a person is going to design what they want to do. They need a resource and a partner that’s thinking strategically in their best benefit and can tell them why to sell, why to spend more money, when to save money, and help them avoid and navigate those risks. When I bought the company, I changed the name to Pearl Resourcing because we are a huge resource for emerging brands and any company that is launching new products. That’s why the name came about.

They bring you a little rough stone and you turn it into a pearl.

What’s incredible about it is that packaging, you think about a pearl and there’s a clamshell that is there to protect that special thing. That’s in essence what our products are. We want to get our product to someone who will be able to appreciate and enjoy it. The packaging does that very effectively. If you have terrible packaging, you may have a great product but no one will ever see it or buy it or it may not get there safely. Packaging can really carry the gem from the shelf to that person’s home after they paid for it. I like that.

Packaging defines a product. Click To Tweet

People spend tons of money and they’ll build a website and then they just wait. They don’t promote it. They’re not marketing it and nobody comes to it. You can’t just build a website and people will show up. That’s not how it works and you can’t just put average packaging on the shelf and expect people to buy, in the US anyway. I’m dealing right now with a company packaging in China. All that’s on their packaging is just specifications. The name of the product is on there and the rest of it is Chinese, the requirements that they have to have on the packaging. She’s trying to bring it over here and I’m like, “You’re going to need a little more than that to get this thing to roll.” At Pearl Resourcing, what would you say is the lion’s share of your business?

The lion’s share of our business is packaging that sells products. You know this better than anyone because you’ve been in this industry for long. For anybody who’s not familiar with product development or maybe trying to understand why packaging defines a product, you can’t sell something until it has a skew, a UPC code that’s on the back of the product. The packaging is the vehicle with which your product is defined. If you’re selling juice, how many ounces are you going to sell that juice in? How much can you charge for it? How will it be refrigerated and kept safe to get to the consumer? The packaging is almost integral. You cannot divorce it from the products. Just the way with bone and marrow, they go together. When you change your packaging, you also change the UPC code, you change where it can be sold and you change the product.

If you’re focusing on developing products, you need to think about the packaging. The packaging is integrally connected to how you’re going to sell that product. If you’re doing an eCommerce business and you’re expecting that product to ship and arrive safely, you need to think through the type of box it will go in. If you expect to build a brand where you’ll get repeat orders on those eCommerce purchases but you have no branding and you send your product in cheap boxes, what’s the interpretation of that person has of that product? “This is a cheap thing. It doesn’t matter who they are. I don’t have to buy from them.” Without a strategy regarding how you will sell that product and build your brand and create re-orders, you in some ways are not aware of what business you’re in. If you are that person who wants to be an artist and you don’t care whether you get paid for what you’re doing when you’re developing products, then packaging does not matter.

God bless those people who want to design and create, but if you want to own a business then everything is about how you’re going to sell the thing at the very end. Having a very comprehensive strategy can make light years of difference. It’s like being on the defense versus being on the offense. A lot of people think that packaging is the last thing in their process before they go to retail. They don’t think about it at the very front as a part of their backdoor strategy. It means that a lot of people leave money on the table. It means that people are victims of circumstance rather than creating an opportunity for themselves. Our company does that. People come to me with either existing product lines, new product lines, extensions that they’re doing, or they have an idea that they haven’t yet started to commercialize. We have services that help a person to define how they’re going to sell their product with packaging. We think it’s integrally connected to product development so we call ourselves a packaging and product development company because we get your idea of selling fast with these services.

Would you say that when somebody comes to you, you help them with not only their packaging but their whole look and feel, like how they’re presented to the world or is it just packaging themselves?

Packaging strategy is not just about finding a box or a jar. The visual representation of that, we call it brands, your brand and your logo, it has to do with your ethos and spirit of your product. That calls to a person and creates identity when they make multiple purchases and when they visit your website and helps to create an impression that’s memorable and faster than words. We all know that the back of our head, they say the primal part of our brain reacts to shapes and colors faster than it can process those things into words. It’s the fight and flight response. Your brand does that. It connects to the deepest part of a person’s brain and you want to have a strong brand if you’re trying to sell a product that’s identifiable when they’re visiting your website and when they’re opening the box. That way they can associate that great feeling they have with your product and your company so they make purchases over and over again with you.

OTS 136 | Product Packaging
Product Packaging: The packaging opening is the first experience the consumer gets before they digest your product.

 

We offer services to develop branding which is a visual element of packaging and then secondarily, we would do artwork. That is once you have a brand creating the actual application of that brand to that product line, that product line extension, your website, there are different ways that you’re going to be using your logo or maybe having photos of the actual product on the box. You might have a club pack or a small boutique pack. Each time you need a different type of design of packaging to help push that product through the stores.

The second service that we do is visual packaging artwork and the third one is structural design. There are a lot of design agencies that may think very heavily, like high-design thinking about making something look very expensive, but we think from a structural design of manufacturing. What would this cost the person who’s going to have to buy it? A lot of our services are focused around educating whoever comes to hire us about what the different costs are across different mediums and different materials that they could use and what different lead times are. There are pros and cons of different mediums. You could use plastic, cardboard, rigid setup boxes and glass. If you’re not an expert in packaging and you don’t have enough money in your company to hire a procurement person or maybe even your procurement person is not the most creative person.

They may be thinking about the price but not thinking about the ROI of spending a little bit more money on a different box, then you need an adviser and you need someone who’s going to help to think through how to sell your products. That’s what we do in our third service is we sell structural design where we get someone to write samples, dye lines, mock-ups, costing and lead times. Get them to the place where they literally are ready to sell their product with a mock-up and place a purchase order for a larger mass production run. I don’t know if that’s a very riveting information but those are just three things that we do.

Big Boxers, there are a couple of things I don’t want to fly by you because that was a lot of info. First of all, if you work with Emily, she’s going to help you get deep inside the head of your consumer, which I thought that’s very cool. Secondly, and I’m sure that this whizzed right by the Big Boxers out there, we talked about it a million times and Emily passed by it. I want to reiterate that the look and ethos and spirit of your product, it has to be the same on your product, on your business card, and on your website.

If a customer sees your product and then they go to your website and has a completely different look and feel, they’re not going to think that that’s attached to you. They’re going to think that maybe you’re buying from them and repackaged it. It just doesn’t give them that feeling of wholeness. Emily mentioned that and the things that she was talking about look and feel and the ethos and the spirit across all the mediums. I think that’s super important. Lastly, people come up to me all the time and say they just want to shove their stuff in the box and put it on the shelf. When Emily was talking about structure and structural, you may not know this, but that goes into how the product sits inside the box.

People buy what they feel and what they want, not what they need. Click To Tweet

Emily, I’ve been thinking long and hard recently about there are two types of customer experience. Customers react differently. I’m interested to hear your take on this. There is a customer experience and this is the most common one where they go into the store, whatever kind of experience they have, good or bad, it will play on their ability or their interest in coming back. The second experience I think is when they buy a product they get home and they open it and the experience of opening the box and pulling stuff out, that experience is either going to be wonderful or it’s going to be neutral or it’s going to be horrible. If it’s neutral or horrible, my feeling is that personally affects how they feel about the company and the store.

There is a primal thing in purchasing products that you’re describing. We feel something we don’t even put into words when we’re opening the packaging. A lot of people remember the moment they opened an iPhone the first time, the box, the anticipation that built as they lifted off the top of the lid, the feeling of something special being unwrapped as you took out the earbuds, you took out the phone and each little tiny piece of packaging was very carefully thought of and perfectly constructed. I’ve seen a lot of emerging brands that missed the boat on that concept of what it feels like to open up the product and use it on a daily basis. A lot of people I know who buy packaging don’t get mock-ups beforehand and don’t use those things as if they were the consumer. That is an important part of the strategy because the packaging opening is the experience, the first thing before they consume or digest your product.

What does it feel like when you’re opening it? Is the bag of chips deflated and all of the chips are broken at the very bottom or is it filled with a gas flush that it feels full and you bought something worth the $3 that might be put towards that bag of chips? It’s an intriguing thing because we forget about this piece as we go about it every day. When we’re rushed as business owners and people who are getting into big box stores, it’s a lot of pressure and a lot of fires burning and taking a moment to connect to that experience is challenging to do. You need someone to remind you that it’s important. It helps define a brand because it’s connected the feeling. People buy what they feel, not what they need. They buy what they want so you want to create that when you’re designing the packaging. You’ve got to keep that in mind.

My daughter is the ultimate in unboxing. She loves that moment and in fact, she needed a new computer recently. She wanted a Microsoft Surface. She wanted a top-level surface laptop. They came out and had already opened the outer packaging because they figured she wanted them to set certain things up. She was so upset that they went back and get another one that wasn’t open and she said, “No, I don’t need any help setting it up.” She wanted to go home and cut the plastic and wanted to open it up and set each piece out.

She just turned sixteen and this may seem extravagant for some few out there but 16th birthday, you’re going to think about that for a long time. She wanted a Gucci watch so we got her one, but the box comes in this beautiful black Gucci box and then you slide the actual box out from under the outer box and there’s another padded black Gucci box that comes in and you open it up and the watch is wrapped around this beautiful pillow. The whole process, she just savored it. That’s what I’m talking about and not everybody’s unboxing a Gucci watch or a computer but it has to give you some satisfaction. That’s a word she’ll use all the time, “That was very satisfying.”

That’s a great description. That’s what packaging is because you’re going to pay a premium for it. We were talking about the difference between a corrugated box that doesn’t have any color, it just has product specs and something that will be more expensive to purchase, it will cut away at your margin but in the long term, it creates a customer experience. There is this balance of an ROI where a smart person who doesn’t want to be flash in the pan investor in this product and wants to build something that brands loyalty that they can when they sell their company or that they can sell their products for more, that investment in packaging is where you get that ROI. It’s more expensive to buy. It takes a little bit more time to be carefully thought through, but the rewards are building a brand that has a value that can’t be knocked off. It can’t be stolen because there’s loyalty there and an emotional connection.

Anytime anybody buys anything, they’re already all in. It’s in their cart. They’re going to buy it, no matter whether it’s a sponge or whatever, they’ve chosen it and so they have some investment now in it. That’s why I would always tell my clients, “If you’re going to say that your product is a competitor to something that buyers are purchasing, do not degrade what they’ve purchased because they’re invested in that, they chose it.” All you want to talk about is how your product compares or maybe how you’ve built on what’s already been out there and maybe how you’ve expanded on what’s currently on the market.

OTS 136 | Product Packaging
Product Packaging: What people really need is a resource to bridge the gap between manufacturing a box and creating something that will help to move and sell their product in stores.

 

You’re not saying, “That’s crap.” Obviously, it’s not crap because people are buying it. This is how we’re different and this is how we’ve made advancements on what’s currently there. That way they don’t lose face and the last thing you want to say is, “Our products just crushes this.” You’ll never know. Everybody has those meetings where all of a sudden, the buyer turns stoned-face in the meeting that last maybe 30 minutes less than it’s supposed to last. Then you leave with nothing and you don’t know that you made them defensive. They’re trying to protect what they bought and they’re going to stick to it even if it is total crap.

That’s a great point. That’s a great coaching tip for a sales rep because you can get excited when you’re selling products. I’ve sold a lot of different products into stores and you can get excited and carried away and over-promise on stuff that could put a person off.

The other thing we just talked about, which is a huge selling strategy too is I always talk about the customer experience of this product. If you have nothing, for instance, you’re just making a better widget, maybe you’ve figured out how to shave some money off it but you don’t have a lot of uniqueness to make it better. Then your packaging needs to be better. Your experience has to be better and then you can talk to those. I have a question, I always talk about the three Ps: Pricing, product and packaging. I always ask people that are in this field, what do you think of the three Ps? From the platform that you sit on, what’s the most important?

You’re asking the packaging girl because my answer is going to be packaging.

I’m interested to know why you think it’s more important than the product and/or the pricing?

I 100% believe it and it’s not theoretically or philosophically, I think it’s the most important thing to have a great product philosophically. In a perfect world, I would love it if only the best thing were sold. You buy only organic products. Why would we even need organic certifications if things were sold with the best intentions in mind towards the product? The challenge is that in this age, there is so much information going on. There are so many different products, there’s a lot of competition. The average consumer doesn’t even know what to buy. It’s our job as people who sell things to educate the consumer about why our product is better and it’s going to meet their needs. We have to educate our consumer why they should buy our product and that is the job of packaging.

There are so many different products. There’s a lot of competition. The average consumer doesn't even know what to buy. Click To Tweet

I’ve seen a number of brands make it very far in the world becoming huge and end up being sold, and their product was not superior to other things in the market. That is the weird phenomenon. In any competitive category, it is true is that the packaging of a thing can tip the scales and it can be more important than the ingredients that are inside of it. It’s a bummer but it’s also a fact that the display and the care with which you communicate the value of your product is how people perceive it. Before I was in packaging and product CPG development, I was an economics student and I was getting my Master’s degree in Economics. I’m a total econ nerd and people remember this from school, what determines price? It’s not actually the value, it’s the perceived value. It’s the demand. Demand increases the price.

If you have a product that costs you $5 to make and you’re selling it for $10, if people really want it, there is a way that you can make a world where someone’s willing to pay $100 for that product. How do you create increased demand? It has to do with your sales, it has to do with the packaging that communicates the value of that product, the perceived value of that product. I think the packaging is the most important thing. If you have great packaging, you can sell a crappy product. Not that I’m trying to recommend it.

You can save a crappy product. Let’s say you ripped off 10,000 of these and they’re in your garage and you don’t want to dump them. Go to Emily and have her help you with your packaging and just repackage them so that you can sell them is what you’re saying. You’re not advocating crappy products, but it can tip the scale for sure.

Imagine a person with a great product. How much more can it make the difference? I think packaging will determine what you can charge and it can ensure that your product can be of good quality. If you can’t sell your product, you can’t make a great product, you can’t buy great ingredients. Packaging is a super important investment, it’s going to determine whether or not your product can be successful and sold at a premium.

Perceived value is an interesting thing. I worked for five years for David Oreck. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Oreck vacuums, the eight-pound vacuums. He never thought in a million years that he could sell a $400 vacuum through the mail and he did, and he could. The biggest thing was this little crappy cordless iron that he offered for free when you bought his vacuum and people would go bonkers if they got their vacuum and didn’t get their iron. I don’t want to give it away but they don’t even give it away anymore. It was just this little crappy iron but the perceived value of this free cordless iron would make people buy a $400 vacuum through the mail. Anyway, let me ask you this. Do you think that packaging can change your customer’s mind?

OTS 136 | Product Packaging
Product Packaging: There’s a primal element of where our minds are connected to the visual interpretation of things, and that’s even more important than having a ton of descriptive words.

 

One million percent. I think that has a lot to do with a primal instinct that you have about evaluating the value of things and how fresh something is. There’s a primal element of our minds that are connected to the visual interpretation of things. I think that’s even more important than having a ton of descriptive words. There’s something called a romance in the very back of a box and very few people read that romance they’ve found. The callouts are more important because we don’t have time to sit and read it but there’s something instinctive where our brain sees the words sugar-free or low calorie or the thing that’s top of mind in our priorities and we respond to it very quickly in a guttural way.

Making clear the value of your product is really important, number one. Number two, having colors that are contrasting and that pop and cause your eyes to be attracted to it. In a landscape, a lot of designers design in a vacuum. They design on one computer thinking about one packaging and that one product. They don’t go out into the shelf and look at the competitors that are out there to see, “If I put this product out there, will it stand out?” I’ve had a number of customers come to me after having already paid tens of thousands of dollars for branding. They say that they got their final product and when they finally took it out there, they went into a grocery store near their house and they just popped that printed packaging into the space where their product can one day be carried and they were disappointed because they realized, “We just pay tons of money and this will not stand out against the competition.”

In the freezer section is a great example. One client showed me her bags and they will not stand out against competition with the color scheme. They looked great on a computer but they don’t look good on the shelf. I told them that it was smart for them to go back and do a revision because they’re going to miss the opportunity and make all this product. It’s a short-term loss, a long-term gain. Just to throw away one more nerdy fact about economics. They did a study where they put two options in front of a person and they said, “Would you like to buy a subscription to The Economist Magazine for $19.99?” I cannot remember the exact dollar amount but this is approximately it, “Or you can buy a year’s subscription for $20.99 and you can get a free eNewsletter.” People are consistently choosing the cheapest option, so they thought a person’s making choices strictly based on one thing being more valuable than another. They went forward and added a third option that was in the middle. It was in the middle in terms of pricing and it had the same things. It had the subscription and less of a newsletter for free and people started choosing option B.

Packaging is a super important investment. It's going to determine whether or not your product can be successful and sold at a premium. Click To Tweet

People were totally willing to pay more money than option A and all they had to do was start exploring offering different options and repackaging it. They just changed the way that they described it, they offered more value that didn’t cost that much money. They are able to take and capture more profit just by changing the options that they gave. I think that’s something that you can think about with your products. A lot of people designed one thing with one packaging artwork to go and present at the next sales meeting. There’s no reason why you can’t show two or three different options of your brands if it’s a high-volume in a big box store.

If Costco told me, “We want to buy a truckload of your product but we like this packaging version and it’s the same cookie on the inside,” you can’t tell me that you wouldn’t rather go with the different packaging option. One way of applying this principle that packaging changes a person’s mind is to think about it from the buyer’s situation. When you’re walking into a buyer meeting, if you know that this is a high-volume store, are you presenting the same old stuff and give them just option A and option B?

My clients that sell the most into Costco are people who bring multiple options and allow Costco to be a part of choosing what packaging is going to end up being on their shelf, because they know the category, they know the competition, and you’re not just selling the person on the floor who’s walking those aisles, you’re also selling your buyer. If your buyer is onboard and likes this product, everything can be identical except for perhaps the colors or the fonts that you’re using or the artwork and it’s more likely to help you close a purchase order. That is a great use of your time. Just a few hundred dollars paying someone to do a second version of that front-facing artwork label, what a great opportunity to get more sales. I think packaging changes the mind for the consumer and also for your buyer.

I’m pretty sure I read that same article and just giving somebody the ability to compromise between two things increases sales. I was riveted to that article when I read it. What do you think is something that you definitely want to leave off your packaging? For instance, if somebody came to you and they’ve done their own packaging, you saw this one thing that you would be like, “Whoa.”

Are you talking about packaging artwork or are you talking about structure?

In my mind, I was thinking artwork but it could be either.

This is actually an old trend where a brand will buy new product lines or a brand might have one name and one logo and then they have a product line that doesn’t match it. Especially a lot of international imported products will have four logos on the bag and it’s really unclear who’s selling it and why they’re selling it. Nabisco and Kraft is a great example of how you can get that right, where you put that company logo on the very back but you build a brand around the product line. Everyone knows the Nabisco or Kraft Macaroni and you focus on building your brand, that product line independently of the mother company. You do that by telling the story in the very back of the label saying, “This is the company that owns this brand and this is our story.” Making it not so confusing for the average customer to be able to identify what the logo is so that you build brand loyalty for that product is a really smart strategy.

I would leave off tons of logos and another thing that is a little overwhelming at this moment is the number of call-outs that people are placing on their packaging artwork, “Non-GMO, kosher, gluten-free, and sugar-free.” They’re trying to swim in every single lane and it’s confusing. I don’t know what you’re selling anymore. Are you selling water and what’s your target audience? The smart strategy with it is to be very clear on it, two or three call-outs maximum, and know your target audience. What are they looking for? Why are they buying your product? Only call out those three things because you can’t expect the person to read all of it. It’s cluttered and it’s confusing. I just can’t help but believe that a lot of people are also over-promising things that are not true.

People are getting called out on that lately.

I hope so because it’s unfair to the consumer. What is it made of if there’s nothing in it? It’s got to be made of air and there’s no way that we can all be buying air, it’s impossible.

Contrast to that question, what is something that you absolutely think is a deal breaker if they don’t have it on the packaging as far as artwork goes?

If we’re talking about consumable foods and drinks, I think the nutritional elements, either the benefits or the sugary downsides, I think it’s important to really be upfront with your consumer. Just because we’re getting healthier doesn’t mean people stopped buying snacks. There are just many people who want to buy treats and sweets. Being upfront about your nutritional claims, whether it’s organic or not, and finding benefits to add to your products that it’s healthy is a super smart long-term strategy. There will continue to be a lot of accountability about the ingredients that people are putting into their products.

It’s challenging for an emerging brand to source and identify what products and ingredients are going into their goods. You have to have a strong conversation with the procurement of your factory to make sure they don’t change ingredients when you’re going on a second or third run just to save money. A lot of times, the way we avoid that is on the operational level of having product specs, “We buy this type of pomegranate syrup and that’s what we put in our product. It’s made by this company and that’s what we insist on,” that so we can protect your product to make sure that it consistently is having the highest quality ingredients. I think that’s something that’s really important now to have on the outside of your packaging.

Packaging communicates the value of the product. Click To Tweet

I agree with you and I tell people all the time, I know they don’t want to but you do need to go to where your product is manufactured probably four times a year. Just your presence being there keeps a manufacturer honest and making sure that the production changes aren’t happening without you knowing about it. It’s important that you show up on your product’s manufacturer. I know there’s a ton of people that just don’t do it but I think that you need to for exactly the reason that you’re saying.

You and I find all these things the hard way. No one thinks about it until something goes wrong and so it is a great strategy. There’s nothing that trumps you walking around on the floor. Nothing will beat you having your feet on the floor talking to people. You’ll find that information you never knew that was important about your own product.

You were telling me that you have a downloadable template of some sort that helps people sketch out what they’re needing and wanting. What is that?

We found that a lot of people who come looking for packaging either don’t have the experience or they just haven’t had the time to stop and remember that this is a part of a larger strategy. We created a PDF that walks you through the essentials of what you should think through before you start redefining your strategy. It asks a bunch of questions. It’s a free guide. There are no strings attached, no email prompts. You don’t have to give us your email. We just want it to be something that you can download and read with your team or read among the other co-owners to ask yourselves those questions. Where are we selling our product? Who is our target customer? It leads to the next question. What type of packaging would reach that store and would reach that customer? We’re trying to help people think this stuff through so that they can better understand how to sell their products. It’s a free download. It’s very simple to use. We hope to help people to sell more products and understand what can get them to the next level so they can be on the offense.

When you’re going to hire Emily’s company, it will be cool that you have this already filled out and ready to go. We’re always in a group of people and they find out what we do and they ask that question, “What’s the one thing I should look out for?” If you had to boil it down to one thing people should pay attention to when they’re having their packaging done, what would that be?

The one thing that a person needs to think through when they’re considering their packaging is that I think a lot of people are surprised that it costs money to buy packaging that is really beautiful. They maybe don’t have it in their price structure yet. They’re considering, “Should I spend more money on this?” A lot of times they go with the most value-oriented option because it seems upfront. When you’re paying for stuff upfront before you’ve had a sale, it seems like the smartest thing to do. I just personally have seen that backfire. It can be a very weak position to be in because you didn’t invest in your brand up front. The first sale that you’re getting, the first customer experience can be a cheap shoddy one and it doesn’t build your brand. It cost so much money and so much time to get in front of a buyer and to get in front of a consumer and to get on the shelf. You can waste that opportunity by not doing something bold, outrageous, attention-grabbing and that’s not confident.

OTS 136 | Product Packaging
Product Packaging: It cost so much money and time to get in front of a consumer and to get on the shelf. You can waste that opportunity by not doing something bold, outrageous, and attention-grabbing.

 

If you come into the CPG space and you don’t have a strong strategy, you’re whitewashed on a wall of a thousand other competing products. Having a sales focus, not procurement, money hinging focus on packaging is important. Having said that, I’m not trying to say spend as much money as you can. Also, there’s no ROI in just spending wild amounts of money. That’s what my company tries to do is to help coach people through the process of, “This is worth it, this part is not worth it.” Here’s how you can save money and here’s where you should not skimp out on it because in my experience in packaging. you may not know whether you’re getting a good price or that price for what type of thing you’re attempting to do. That’s what I would say is to think about packaging strategy.

It’s the first place that a customer who’s never heard of your product is going to see what you’re selling and that includes your buyer. You walk into your Costco meeting and you showed them a sample, they aren’t taking your product right off the bat. They’re looking at your packaging and when they’re walking down the aisle and they’ve been to Costco million times, they’ve got their kids in the cart, they are not sitting here wondering whether they should try your new thing. Your packaging has to grab their attention. Putting money upfront into the actual product, not just money but also time and strategy is crucial to being successful. I would say take a long-term strategic moment to look at your offensive strategy for packaging that would be my number one piece of advice.

You have to take a look at the key parts of what you’re doing and allocate money for that. I’ve been so many times with clients down the opposite side of that hill where they didn’t do that. They bought tons of product and it cost them far more money to deal with what they have than it would have if they would have just invested money and done it right the first time. The one that comes to the top of mind for me is I had a client, she was a lady. She had a couple daughters and they all had the same disposable razors and they never would know whose was who. She developed these cool grips that went onto the razor with cool colors that you could easily fit if you had multiple razors. Everybody had their own color. Two problems, one, somebody gave her the advice to buy something like 6,500 units. That was her first initial buy of this product.

Secondly, it turned out that nobody in the store knew what they were, no matter how much the packaging showed it. It turned out that it would have been much better to have designed the packaging with one disposable razor inside. Here she was with 6,000 units and we couldn’t even sell them to T.J. Maxx or HomeGoods for the simple reason that there was no frame of reference. At T.J. Maxx, you could find whatever on a side cap but because there was no razor with it, they couldn’t and they don’t sell disposable razors. There was no attachment and it just was a disaster. Had she spent and maybe spoken to you, she would have found that out early on and saved herself 6,500 units that she can’t get rid of. Sometimes you might think that it costs a little bit of money to do it but in the end, it could save you much more money than that.

That’s such a good point. I completely agree and the other thing that a lot of people have been doing lately are QR codes where you can get someone to go back to your website to show them how to use your product and you can watch video footage that explains it. That’s another thing that can be done with the new emerging product. It takes some thinking strategically about, “How am I going to use my packaging as an entree to long-term customer purchases?” I feel sorry for that customer of yours. I hope she ends up finding a place to put those products. It’s a good warning to anybody developing new things that thinking through how you’ll sell your product can save you money.

There's nothing that trumps you having your feet on the floor talking to people. Click To Tweet

My big pet peeve with QR codes is the QR code needs to go to something specific, not just to your website. Please don’t do a QR code that just goes to your website. Make it go to a video that begins playing immediately or anything that’s pertaining to your product. Don’t make them go to your website and search for something. The QR code that goes to your website is worth nothing. Emily, thanks so much for coming on. I want to tell you and this is not just me gushing on you, but talking to you in the time that we spent personally but also here, I just have this feeling that you have a real passion for what you’re doing. It comes across in what you’re saying and I would even hazard a guess that you get super involved in your client’s packaging and it’s personal for you because that’s the way it sounds like when you talk about it.

That is such a great compliment. That is 100% true. I think that business in your heart should be connected. You do care about the dollar and that’s what any of these customers, these people that you’re talking to on the podcast and anyone that I work with, they care about the dollar but they also care about their product. It’s why I enjoy what I do is because we’re making a dream possible, we’re making an idea, something that can be commercialized and making it a reality. 100% I get very caught up and so does my whole team and the success of the product that we’re launching and the packaging we’re doing. Thank you for that compliment, I really appreciate it.

It comes across to me loud and clear. I think that anybody that works with you is going to get everything that you have to offer, which is a great thing. One question left for you that doesn’t have anything to do with either of the things that we are talking about. This is the question I ask all my guests because the organization has not always been my strongest suit. I’m always interested in how business owners like yourself keep it all together. How do you keep everything straight? Do you have a to-do list? Do you use apps? Do you have a planner? How do you keep it all together? What do you use to keep it all together or not use? Do you just keep it all in your head? Your appointments and all the to-do and all the things so they don’t slip through the cracks, how do you do it?

I literally just had a consultant come on board to try to help us with our organization and she talked about all these different software programs to purchase that do project management and to be honest, none of them had been effective. I hate buying new software and no one on my team ends up using it. We use Google Documents and we make changes directly there and we assign tasks on that project list to people and then we delegate it. The actual outcome, the notes for updating the team on where we are is someone else’s responsibility and they have to update it. Every Monday and Friday we have a check in on that list where we update where we’re at. I don’t know if that’s very impressive compared to probably other people that you’ve talked with but that is what we do.

I’m actually talking about you personally though. You don’t need to open up your planner online here or anything but how do you as a leader of your company and then you have a personal life. You’re doing a bunch of things and meetings. What do you use personally?

If you’re not talking about organizational strategies like Google Documents, I would say I try to stay strictly focused. I’m a person who believes that there is a deeper meaning to all of life. When we’re doing business, our goal is to make money and make amazing products and stretch our purposeful selves to be the greatest version of ourselves that we can be. We only encounter that when we challenge ourselves and come into new space in business, life, marriages and raising our children. I think that’s why it’s important to get spiritually centered on, “Who am I and what is it that I’m going to bring to the world every day?”

There are so many things that get busy and it challenges your morals or challenges your mind where you don’t know how to figure out a problem and having a centered belief that these things are working together for a good purpose, this is who I am and this is how I’m going to encounter every problem that I have I think is what allows me to not be overtaken by the challenges that I think truly and sincerely exist whenever you’re an entrepreneur. There are always fires burning and to be centered is the most powerful thing that you can bring to your business and can give to your partner and to your kids. It takes dedicating little time every day to setting an intention for who you are and what you’re going to bring.

OTS 136 | Product Packaging
Product Packaging: There are always fires burning, and to be centered is the most powerful thing that you can bring to your business.

 

I talked to somebody and if you can believe it, they write down everything in an Excel spreadsheet with a date on it and then what they do is every day, several times a day, they sort their list and they do the things right at the top. That’s how they keep super old school, using an Excel spreadsheet. I interviewed a guy once that he still uses a regular calendar and he writes everything in these little square boxes on the calendar and that’s how he keeps track of what he’s doing. Me, I switch all the time between all kinds of different things, trying to find something that I enjoy doing consistently. When I’m working on many different things, there are many different pieces. For me not to lose track of all of them where I catalog everything and keep it all straight, I’m changing constantly, which is why I ask the question. It’s really selfish of me because I’m trying to hear what other people do.

In terms of keeping track of actual tasks, I use Google Documents to track all business-related items, even my own personal ones. With regard to the other way that I remember for the day, what needs to be done, my office is surrounded by glass. I write on the glass in very sloppy handwriting, I should have been a doctor, what my top priorities for the day are and I ask myself a question. “Emily, what’s the most important thing you’ve got to do if you do nothing else?” It’s usually two or three things that must get done. Once those things are done, I go back to my project lesson and the stuff there.

The whole thing that you talked about was awesome, down to writing on the glass. I’ve started separating all the things I do into two categories and I call those categories grow and maintain. My top priorities of the day are always things that grow, either my business or the people I work with that business. If I have extra time, I do the things that maintain things like phone calls or tasks that don’t have super big due date priorities but they’re just maintaining the business. I always think that you’re either working in the business or you’re working on the business. A lot of times, I think people work in the business so much, they forget to work on it and that’s why their business doesn’t grow. I separated out things that make it grow.

Some things are fertilizer and some things are just water. I’m playing around with that. I don’t write on my window because my office is not surrounded by glass, but I have a huge whiteboard and I write my top three things on that every day. In that, we have in common. Emily, thanks so much for coming on. It’s been a real pleasure to talk to you and I’m sure we’ll do this again sometime. I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to any of our Flash Topic podcasts or gotten a chance to do that, but I would love to have you on as a panelist on one of our upcoming Flash Topics, which if you haven’t listened to those, I do one a month.

I’ve heard about them. I haven’t listened to one yet but I did hear about them from multiple people who said that they love them. I would love that.

Occasionally, the panel just can’t be there and so we bring in substitute panels. I would love you to be able to have you come in and be a panel on that if you’re up for that.

Of course, it would be so much fun. I would love to discuss these things. It’s fun talking to you, Tim, because you’re a kindred spirit wanting to help people grow their companies. You get lit up with it the same way that I do, talking strategies and sharpening iron whenever we talk. Thank you for having me on your podcast.

It’s been my pleasure and I look forward to speaking with you soon and/or seeing you at another event at some point.

I’d love that.

Take care.

Thanks, Tim. Bye.

Emily is the real deal. I had a great time speaking with her. I think that you can tell now what I was talking about regarding her passion, how it’s part of her. She brings to life and comes to life when she’s talking about breathing life into your product. I was captivated and I hope you were too. I hope you learned a lot. I hope you had a chance to understand how important this thing we call packaging is. We’re going to keep hammering this home until we feel like it’s no longer an issue and until we feel like people are giving it the importance it deserves. When I say we, I’m talking about myself and all the people that understand it and want your packaging to be the very best, not just on the outside too. Remember, we’re talking about the experience, the unboxing.

Remember when we were talking about that and my daughter unboxing her Gucci and her computer. It’s the whole package. From the outside to the inside and what you do and how it comes out, that’s all very much important and it’s a big part of building your brand. I hope you guys got that out of it. That’s what I wanted for you. I wanted you to hear that and understand it. Emily, my many thanks. I enjoyed our conversation. I’m looking forward to having you on a Flash Topic. I’m also looking forward to having you back on the show just to continue the conversation because I feel like we just scratched the surface and I’m excited to continue that.

Big boxers, down to a little business. Please leave some comments. Let’s start creating some conversation. There are a couple different ways that you can do that. One, you can join our closed group, On The Shelf “Now” on Facebook. Look for the closed group and hit join and you’ll be part of the continued conversation. Also our brand-new Facebook page. Please support that by going to @OnTheShelfNow, our Facebook page and liking that and sharing that with your friends. What you’re going to find on there is our very first Facebook Live where we talked about pricing and program costs. Take a listen to that. That was super fun and then keep an eye on our section called What’s Up Next? on OnTheShelfNow.com. Please go to each, join the group and like the page, listen to and share the Facebook Live event. We would appreciate that. We also have a new Twitter account, @OnTheShelfNow. Follow us on Twitter, we appreciate that and we appreciate your support. If there’s anything that we can do for you, any service that we can provide to you with regard to questions that you might have, issues that you might be having, getting your products up and running, please reach out to us.

We’re getting great questions all the time and we enjoy having that conversation with you and then potentially using those questions on the podcast. You can reach out to us now through a multitude of different ways. There are several areas that you can either suggest topics or ask questions and you can do that there. You can always reach me through my other website as well, TLBConsulting.com. Don’t forget that one and we look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for spending some time with us. We appreciate it. We appreciate you. We know you are all doing great. I’m looking forward to having our next conversation. Until then, we look forward to seeing your products On The Shelf.

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About Emily Page

OTS 136 | Product Packaging

Emily Page, is CEO of Pearl Resourcing, a packaging and product development company and has managed and

Emily Page has over 9 years of experience in developing packaging and sales strategies for consumer brand products in the food industry. She is the CEO and founder of Pearl Resourcing (http://pearlresourcing.net), an international packaging and product development company where she has launched multiple 7-figure brands in Costco, Williams-Sonoma, Kroger, and Amazon.

That’s why she and the team at Pearl Resourcing is passionate about your packaging strategy – it is the last place of real estate where you get to sell your brand and convince a customer to buy your product. Are you confident that your current packaging strategy is maximizing your product sales? Pearl Resourcing is here to talk about it and create vision to get to the next level.

Emily has BA & MA in Economics and Game Theory from the University of Southern California. She also is the co-founder and CEO of Jocko White Tea (https://www.amazon.com/JOCKO-WHITE-TEA-RELOAD-100/dp/B01KP8PCOU/), an organic custom team blend for best-selling author and podcaster Jocko Willink (http://jockopodcast.com) sold exclusively on Amazon.

For more information about her or her company visit:
http://pearlresourcing.net | https://www.linkedin.com/in/emilypage/
You can watch videos on product development here: Start To Sold https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtfOEEdY1BT0xxrAupY_oag

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