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Creating the Ultimate Package Design

When it comes to boxing up your product, don't cut any corners.

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This is how it ends: A brilliant array of colors, clearly typed instructions, detailed descriptions and high-resolution photography. Yes, the ultimate package design. So how did you get there?

It all starts with the price of your product. If your product costs $199 at the retail level, then you'd better invest in a package that lends itself to selling the message of that higher price point. Don't cut corners at this stage; it will only hurt you in the end.

On the other side of the spectrum is the $10 to $19.95 item that does not require much. However, good packaging is still king. Your package should say it all in simple instructions and a strong call to order, with a focus on the features and benefits of your product. Show the product being used by the end user. For example, if you have a cooking product, show it being used (and making life easier) in the kitchen.

Developing your package design can become quite pricey. You'll shell out money for the graphic design layout, box engineering and structure design, professional photography, models, high-resolution scans of photos that will be turned into camera-ready art, text- and script-writing, and minimal volumes of printing (usually around 5,000 units to get a marketable price for your box).

Remember, you can't sell your product for $19.99 if the cost of your product, including your packaging, exceeds the wholesale selling price for your product. The market will only bear perceived value; however, great packaging can increase the perceived value of your product. You should be comfortable in allocating 3 to 5 percent of your product's wholesale selling price toward your package budget.

A perfect package design is one that says it all and keeps the consumer's attention on all four sides of the box. Ask yourself: "If I were a consumer, what would I want to see? What would make me take it off the shelf and buy it?" Sometimes the package may cost as much as the item itself to produce. At the same time, there are many instances where a more elaborate package will allow you to demand a higher suggested retail price point from retailers.

When choosing a printer for your packaging, always ask for a press check. Most printers will ask you to sign off on the final design of your package. Bottom line, it's not the printer's job to check your spelling or grammar. Check it yourself several times, and also have a third party review it.

Keep in mind, many buyers make their decisions based on perceived value and suggested retail price points. If your package looks cheap, it will stay on the shelves.

Dave Dettman founded Mr. Product LLC ten years ago and currently serves as president and CEO.

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