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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