You’ve spent thousands of dollars on advertising. You’ve worked with the media and bloggers to get your product featured. Your website is clean and functional and you’re a social media powerhouse. It’s all paying off: the orders are flowing in, and you’re on track to have your best year yet.
You might think that once you have the customer order in hand, you’re marketing is done. After all, they ordered the product, and if they are happy with it, they will come back again and again. Not so fast — you could be missing out on a prime opportunity if you aren’t using your shipping materials and packaging as a marketing tool.
Some retailers use printed boxes to let customers know who the package is from; most people can identify a package from Amazon or Target simply by the logo, for example. However, security concerns and cost have led many smaller retailers to shift toward using plain packaging, at least on the outside. That doesn’t mean you can’t use packaging on the inside to surprise and delight your customers.
Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String
We’ve all ordered items from major retailers and received non-descript cardboard boxes with the items tucked safely inside. It’s adequate, and sometimes that’s all you need.
But consider the last time you received a package that was beautifully presented. Perhaps it was an article of clothing that was carefully wrapped in tissue and topped with a golden sticker, or beauty products that came looking like a gift in a box filled with paper curls. You probably felt like you had received something special — and the next time you were looking for a gift for someone else, you went back to that same store.
As a retailer, you need to think about the packages you like to receive. Functional will work, but it’s the little extra touches that keep customers coming back for more. Consider ways that you can surprise your customers when they open the package. It might be as simple as adding a sticker to the outside of the wrapper, or as elaborate as placing items in a custom cloth bag, but either way, it will get your customers’ attention.
Impress Your Customers With Inserts
Even if you don’t have a huge budget, you can impress your customers and enhance your marketing efforts with unique packaging. For example:
Include a hand-written note in the box. Even if it’s a pre-printed card that members of your warehouse shipping staff can sign, or a simple “thank you” signed on the invoice, customers often appreciate a personalized touch.
Include a token gift. A few small pieces of candy or something with your logo, such as a pen or notepad, will surprise your customers and keep your name in front of them. Magnets are another easy and inexpensive option; you can include all of your contact information and logo. Consider including more valuable gifts in larger orders.
Add flyers with discounts on future purchases to the packing slips. In addition to exclusive discounts, your packing materials could include advance information about upcoming sales, printed catalogs or invitations to join your social media pages or follow your blog.
Your packaging and shipping materials can also serve as a means to let your customers know that you are committed to preserving the environment. Use containers that clearly indicate that they are made with recycled materials, are recyclable or both, and include a reminder to recycle the shipping container and packing materials. You might even offer a few ideas for re-using the packaging. Many craft supply manufacturers, for example, use packaging that could easily be turned into embellishments or become supplies themselves. For the most bang for your packaging buck, turn your packaging into a means of engagement with your customers: run a contest on your blog or social media looking for the most creative use of the packaging with the prize a gift certificate to the store.
As a business owner, you know that your marketing efforts never stop, but if you’re simply placing items in boxes and mailing them to customers, you’re missing a golden opportunity for marketing. Consider how you can strategically use your packaging to attract and retain customers — you might find it to be one of the most effective tools you have.
About the Author: Christa Jackson is a marketing expert who has written hundreds of blog posts on creative and cost-effective marketing.