Engaging CultureStrategy & Marketing

The Importance of Packaging

When I was a kid, television meant three channels. Whoopee! But on our satellite TV system today, my children have a choice of five hundred channels, and online that number is nearly unlimited. The difference is extraordinary and very important.  My production experience in a five-hundred-channel universe indicates that people take less than five seconds to decide to watch your program. That’s it. Think about how quickly you handle a typical TV remote and what little chance you give each program to grab your attention.

Audiences today are sophisticated and aren’t willing to put up with programs that don’t interest them. Therefore I always advise my media clients that how a program is packaged is just as important as its content. For instance, no matter how brilliant the program content might be, it has to be packaged in a high quality, contemporary, and compelling way. Otherwise the viewer won’t watch long enough to hear the content and you’ve lost the audience.  In the same way, you need a compelling “package” in order to be perceived as powerfully as possible. What elements combine to make your package great? Here are a few to consider:

How You Look

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. —Mark Twain

My father used to say, “If you dress like a pauper, you’ll never get an audience with the king.” Although styles today are much more relaxed than in the past, there are still strong feelings among people about clothes and the impact they have on perception. Even in Hollywood, where jeans are considered “business attire,” if you look closely, you’ll find those jeans are often accompanied by an exotic leather belt, an expensive linen sport coat, a designer T-shirt, a pair of alligator loafers, and a twenty-thousand-dollar watch.

But understand that it’s not about money; it’s about a style that’s appropriate for the situation. Don’t become a clothing snob and use them as weapons to elevate yourself above others. No one respects a person in the office who uses clothes as a label to separate them from everyone else. But do know and learn the power of how to dress appropriately and how clothes can be used to give you access to people, places, and events.

How You Speak

Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening. —Dorothy Sarnoff, opera singer

At the highest levels of corporate America, you rarely hear the sound of regional accents. A Southern accent sprinkled with local mannerisms may sound cute in your hometown, but the more you travel beyond the city limits, the more you’ll sound simply out of place. Talking like a cast member of The Sopranos may be desirable in parts of New Jersey, but in parts of Texas you could be shot on sight.

Proper grammar is another basic issue that frightfully few take the time to fix. If you want to increase your value and perception in the eyes of other people, never open your mouth unless you’re speaking proper English and using grammatically correct sentences. Remember that in most business situations, your speaking voice and writing abilities are your most important communication tools, therefore poor grammar muddles up your meaning.

No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to improve your communication abilities. A quarterback wouldn’t neglect his passing skills, because that’s often the key to his success. In the same way, your brilliance and business expertise will never be known or understood if you can’t express those ideas clearly and accurately.

Appropriate Behavior

Those that are good manners at the court are as ridiculous in the country, as the behavior of the country is most mockable at the court. —William Shakespeare

Knowing instinctively how to act in a variety of situations is a critical element to increasing perception. Some football coaches are brilliant on the field, but at a dinner party they become bumbling fools. In the same way, I’ve met doctors who are internationally known for their medical skills in the operating room, but act ignorant and uncouth in other situations. Learn to become comfortable in a wide variety of circumstances and your chances of success are greatly improved.

At a board meeting, a formal dinner party, a local football game, or church, in a casual social situation or on a business trip, does your behavior reflect the level of success you’re working toward? And please don’t think the value of perception is the ability to hide the fact that, in reality, you are unethical or dishonest. Ethical and moral behavior matters. It creates trust, loyalty, and integrity, and when damaged, reputations are tough and often impossible to rebuild.

Everything communicates. – —Brad Abare, branding and organizational consultant

Start today recognizing opportunities to jolt your perception in the eyes of your superiors, your customers, and your associates. A business genius who neglects the value of perception risks appearing to others as simply average, or worse, a fool. On the other hand, even a relative novice in business and leadership skills can dramatically improve his standing among his associates through an investment in the art of perception.

Who you are is important—but you can never underestimate the impact of how you are perceived.

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  1. Great practical and common sense info here for anyone wanting to communicate great packaging for future successes. I used much of this info + in the modeling etiquette classes I taught last year for young women & men, including the character issues you bring to light…. all in your Branding Faith book. Of course, I gave you the credit Phil!

  2. Great post – love the supporting quotes. This is so important for all orgs including and especially churches to consider. Tweeting this one for sure. Cheryl Marting everythingspeaks.com

  3. So Phil, How-many-of-you-know that how-many-of-you-konw preachers are performing a Neuro-Linguistic-Programming (NLP) witchcraft trick of the lowest (or highest to the dark side) order?

    How-many-of-you-know preachers may follow your above rules, break break the worst rule of “don’t hypnotize your audience, unless they paid for it in a Las Vegas hypnotism show! Can-I-get-a-amen?


      1. – How many of you know that how many of you preaching is Neuro-Linguistic-Programming (NLP) shenanigan work? It is also known as Parenthetic Brain-Bashing. Rather than a speaker giving logical discourse, the speaker begins with “How-many-of-you-know (xyz)? What happens is very subconscious. As the speaker streams out the how-many-of-you-know question, the mind notices no hands are counted “how many.” What’s the point? For the speaker to assume “teacher-control.” To always ask known, simple questions.

        The same ploy can be hidden with simple questions getting the audience to agree. I bet a lot of you have been camping. It gets cold at night, right? Can I get a yes on that? Parenthetic Interruption is a deep and terrible way to control people’s minds and emotions. It is high witchcraft and brain-shrinking. How many of you know it’s good to donate? !!! 😉

        To worry about “packaging” and not NLP witchcraft is to major in minors.

        1. Further: A classic example is to tie Parenthetic Interruption with NLP Spatial Anchoring. First, the speaker takes the audience through a tough thing (How many of you have needed a job? Spoken to spot left of audience.) Then he says a bright thing (But I’m here to tell you, God is good! Spoken after having paced to a spot right of audience.) This Hamsterl-Pipe-Preaching is repeated ad infinitum on spot left (How many of you have ever felt bad?) then to spot on right (God is good!). Finally on spot to left (Howmanyofyouknow it’s hard to donate money to a ministry?) Spot on the right (ButI’mheretotellyou God is good!) Spot on left (Howmanyofyouknow it’s better to give hundred or a thousand dollars than just ten dollars?) Spot on right (ButI’mheretotellyou God rewards a cheerful giver!) Spot on left (Howmanyofyouknow it’s hard to donate to a ministry using your credit card if you don’t have the right kind of faith?) Spot on left (ButI’mheretotellyou God has helped lots of people pay off their mortgage!) Voila: NLP-Witchcraft-Parenthetic-Interruption-Brain-Bashing. Sheep so taught are easy pray for politicians. Double-down duped!

          1. Phil, as you quoted Mark Twain, so will I:

            Twain’s Huckleberry Finn said we “got to decide, forever, betwixt two things.”

            Perhaps we can help broadcast churchianity escape its shackles of “How-many-of-you-know” preaching NLP wile-craft deception by exposing it for what it is: strange mind and emotional control done without the audience’s consent. Perhaps we can say, with irony as did Huck when he went against his religious upbringing and helped his friend Jim escape slavery, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell.”

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