Packaging, schmackaging?

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Published March 8th 2018 in Photographer Stories by Team AR

Packaging, schmackaging. What does this say about you?

If we want our clients to see the value in what we do and the products we offer, then how we deliver them tells the full story. DO we practice what we preach?

I’ll admit, I’ve always thought bubble wrap around a canvas is plenty. But after the latest Yarning with Jannah, I realised the $580 canvases I have delivered, in bubble wrap, on numerous occasions, have been less than ideal. Worse, they could potentially have lost me untold repeat business.

How do you deliver your products? What does this say about you and your studio? Have you even thought about it?

📌 Packaging your products nicely is essential, and easily boasts their true value. Michelle from Bespoke Packaging pops by and yarns about how she noticed no one was offering small businesses consistent packaging... and so decided to do it herself 🏋🏾

Jannah x

Full transcript:

Michelle: I used to spend ages looking for boxes and packaging to make these things look beautiful and pretty, and I'm like, "This is ridiculous. I should be able to find a website I can buy all this stuff. Just order it, it just comes to my desk. I don't have to spend my whole Thursday night or weekend running around the shops and finding what I need."

Then, you buy it one time, and then you go back to [Lindcraft 00:00:22] or Spotlight, or whatever the store, crafty store you went to, and they don't have that ribbon anymore, or they don't have that box. Or, you can't get 12, or you get 20 the same. Do you know what I mean?

I just thought at that time, and it was just before I left that position, I'm like, "I should be able to do this." I'm like, "You know what? I think I'm going to.

So I'm like, "I'm just going to start this little packaging business. I'm just going to supply these things." I told my partner at the time, who is now my husband, that. He said, "Oh, you can just be my PA for a little while, until you start this thing, and whatever."

I never did a day of work for him, ever, because once I actually launched it, there was such a need for what we were doing, to help photographers with this niche area of presentation, and it just went nuts. It was great.

Jannah: Hi everyone. Welcome to the third episode of Yarning with Jannah, where we like spin a yarn and tell a story, and we spread it around the world. Today, I've got the beautiful Michelle from Bespoke Packaging, popping in from Brisbane, and we're going to chat all things packaging, so hang in there. Chat to you soon.

Michelle: Always a yarn, while we pack. There's always a yarn.

Jannah: Lots of yarns.

Michelle: And it’s such an Aussie thing.

Jannah: It is, but for those who are watching around the world, Yarning is a story. We just tell stories. Catch up, for a yarn.

Michelle: Yeah, bit of a chat, bit of a story. Sometimes a drink.

Jannah: Yeah. Well you guys. Sorry, for those who don't know you, so you're Michelle from Bespoke Packaging. Tell me some more. Tell us the next part.

Michelle: Okay, I'm Michelle from Bespoke Packaging, and we run a packaging business to basically supply mainly photographers, but we're also working with a lot of small businesses to deliver their products to their client. So not just about a box, but it's about the whole experience that you give your client at the end. The last thing I receive from you.

So, we try and work with all our customers to make sure they're getting the best experience. Obviously once we've helped them get that sorted, we're just an online store that they can jump online and order what they need. But, we're also there to help as well.

I run the show here in Brisbane. We travel around, do a few trade shows, show everyone our products in person. We also have a U.S. website and a U.S.A. market, so we run them separately. Same products, but one is priced for the U.S.A. market, and one here for the Aussie people and other internationals. So, yeah.

Doesn't sound like I do much, does it?

Jannah: I find it interesting to understand why people eventually get into something that they're passionate about. So I'll say, what got you into packaging?

Michelle: Well, I guess I've always loved the crafty type tactile, creative thing. Creative industry's always been my thing, so I was a national manager for a scrapbooking, paper craft, wholesaler industry for nearly 10 years. So, the background in that creative industry and all the contacts that I made there.

Then, I was working in the photography industry for a couple years as a BDM, for an album company. I just saw this gap in the market, and I thought, everyone's making these gorgeous products. There's heaps of suppliers making beautiful albums, making canvases. All of these different products for photographers, but no one was really helping them pull it all together and make the experience for their clients amazing.

It was the little bits and pieces, and we often say, "the little details are the most important," because they really are. There was just this gap, and there was nowhere to get what you needed.

Jannah: As a photographer, someone wouldn't know that this would be a good thing. Honestly, there'd be some photographers that are like, "It's perfectly fine just to deliver something like a canvas in bubble wrap," for example.

Michelle: Yeah.

Jannah: But do you notice that some of your clients, have they told you the difference that it's made?

Michelle: Yes, definitely. Especially, not that I want to pick on the guys, but especially the guys. It's probably, "It's fine like that, just turn it over like that. I don't know what the problem is." So, I've had discussions. There was one photographer, he was like, "Well, I just put it on an easel, and when they come into my studio, it's there."

I'm like, "Yeah, but you're not actually creating that experience for the client."

He's like, "Well, I want to see their face, when it happens."

I'm like, "But, is the experience you're giving for your client, or is it for you?"

Jannah: Ooohh, that’s a tough question.

Michelle: Yeah, and I said, "Well to me, your client's the one coming to you. They're the one paying the money. It's all about the experience you give to your client. It's not really you. To me, you need to give them the best experience you can, and you want the unveiling, or the unwrapping, or the whatever, to be the best experience for them."

So then he said, "Okay, cool." So he took my advice. He said, "I'll give it a go. I'll give it a go."

I said, "Look, give it a go. If it doesn't work I'll apologize, and I'll stand back. But if it works, I really want to know."

So he wrapped up this canvas, put some beautiful branded ribbon around it, and then he presented it to the client. They were over the moon excited, and they hadn't even unwrapped it yet.

Jannah: Oh wow! Oh my God.

Michelle: So a little thing in the client's brain, see? So when they see it wrapped like that, they're like, "Oh my God, this is amazing! How exciting!" And, while they're unwrapping it, the excitement level's rising and rising. So then when they do unwrap it, they're even more excited, rather than just walking in and going, "Oh, that's it." You know what I mean?

So yeah, so we do like to help our customers. They give us the opportunity. Help them work out what the best way, and what they can do, because everyone gives different products. So even if you're handing over a USB drive with digital images and some prints, or an album, how you hand that drive over, and how you hand that album over, is also important to your client. I mightn't be important to you, but you have to think from the client's point of view.

Jannah: Yeah.

Michelle: And it doesn't have to cost a lot either, but it can also make the difference between your client going, "Oh my God, you're amazing, and I'm going to Instagram the hell out of this and tell all my friends," and how good is that for your business? Compared to them going, "Oh cool, thanks. Awesome. See ya."

Jannah: I wonder about, because I look at how data is stored and delivered to people has changed so much, in the last 10 years. I remember I used to make DVDs for people, now our computers don't have DVD drives, and we're actually saying move away from USB as well. So it'll probably get to the point where perhaps if you are only delivering digital files, that a customer will just be open to download something from a link, which is really impersonal, isn't it?

Michelle: I think we're still probably a couple years away yet, from the USB changing as we see it today.

Jannah: Yes.

Michelle: I know a lot of the Mac computers and things have now got that universal thing. So we're actually starting to introduce the little adapter things that you can put a USB into, so you can put it into those computers. So that'll be available from us soon.

But I think what will happen is when all of the computers change over, because it's going to be a universal thing with PCs and MACs, once they change over and everyone has that universal thing, that USBs will change to adapt that.

Jannah: Yes.

Michelle: I don't think that it will go totally Cloud based for a long time yet. We've discussed it with our manufacturers, and that. There are USBs now, that have dual ins. They don't look very pretty though. It hasn't really gotten that far yet, and it's not really at that point yet. But, it will happen. Like we changed from floppy disks to DVDs or CDs to DVDs, and then now USBs. It will change, but I think it will take a little while.

Jannah: Take a little while, yeah. I think you want to get something physical for a wedding. It just ...

Michelle: Definitely, definitely, and I'm a fan of don't just hand over that USB. Make that look pretty, make that ... We put it in a beautiful box. We tell them to give it to them in something, so they feel like they're getting something, for their couple of thousand dollars, or whatever. But print some photos as well, and put it with it. There's plenty of products where you can do a mix of both.

I think you have to have something when you walk away. To walk away with one, little, flash drive in your hand, after you've paid for a wedding what, $4,000, $5,000? And you're like, "Hm, great. This is what I got."

Jannah: "This is what I got." Just the idea of it being a link one day. It blows my mind. It's just so important to give something physical.

Michelle: A link can be so much ... It's so easily lost.

Jannah: It's so impersonal. It's just not personal.

Michelle: Yeah, definitely, definitely.

Jannah: So you do custom packaging for a particular event, or is it something that you just do mass quantities of something for a photographer? Or, do you do a customize, like say if I had a wedding for Jen and Steven, or something this year, would you do the packaging particularly for that, or ...?

Michelle: We can do it either way. So some photographers do personalized. So, they would have a drive, and a box, and I would put the client's name on it and whatnot. Some, actually, I've got something here, I'll show you. I don't know who this couple is, but they got married about six days ago.

So this is like a box where it's personalized. So photo on the front. I don't know, can you see that?

Jannah: Yeah that’s awesome.

Michelle: Now I'm blocking things out. Then photo on the USB as well.

Jannah: Oh, lovely.

Michelle: Then, we've got some timber prints in here. I just dropped one on the ground, hang on. So timber prints, that's full color or it can be black and white. Then, there's a little stand that comes in the box, so you can put it on an easel, but there's a little stand that you can set it up on.

Jannah: Oh that's-

Michelle: So some clients, some photographers, will actually do that. A personalized product. Some will have standard product where it's just the photography name on the USB, and a box with their logo on it. Which is still great, because at least it's something of substance. It just depends what way you want to go with doing it.

You can also get a smaller box and print the photo of the client, or just their names on it. So there's all kinds of ways to do it. It's the photographer's choice as to what they want to go. Some have a standard package, and it might depend on what level of package they booked, as to what level of product they get, too.

Jannah: Correct, excellent. What's your turnaround on something like that, that's custom?

Michelle: That's five to seven business days.

Jannah: What?

Michelle: Yeah, so it's all online. You just login online. That's one of our timber box sets. Login online, upload your cover photo. Upload your photos for your prints. Upload the photo that you want on the USB, or whatever you want on there. Order online, send it in. We print it, it's all printed here in Brisbane, so it's all printed here locally. Print it all out for you, and off it goes. It's pretty quick, so if you've just done the wedding, and you work a couple of photos for that, we can have it all printed and to you. Yeah.

Jannah: In that time. And, tell me the finish on it. Can you just show me again? Is there a lacquer on the top? How is it?

Michelle: No, that's a raw timber, so ... Can you see?

Jannah: Yeah.

Michelle: So that's a raw timber box, and that's a UV color print on the top.

Jannah: Oh, beautiful.

Michelle: So there's no lacquer or anything over it. We've done lots of testing on the prints as well. I'll show you that one, because that's easy to see as well. We've done lots of testing on the prints. Can you see that.

Jannah: Yeah, that's really ... I can see the texture in it. It's lovely.

Michelle: Yeah, you can actually see the texture of the timber. It's a fairly light timber, and it's fairly thin. We've done lots of testing. We've put it in the sun, and whatever. The good thing about this, is it doesn't fade, because it's a UV print. It won't fade if you've got them out, sitting out around the house.

Jannah: Oh , I was going to ask you whether it was better to have them in black and white or color, or it's fine either way?

Michelle: Doesn't matter. Yeah, either one, it doesn't matter. The thing is, you can handle them and touch them, or whatever, and there's no effect on the print. It doesn't change it or anything, which is good, if you've got it sitting out in your house. Obviously if kids are touching it, you can use that product for family portraits as well, so the kids can touch the photos and play with them, and feel like it is actually a nice little memento.

Jannah: Yeah, lovely. Are they available for your overseas customers, as well as your domestic?

Michelle: Yes.

Jannah: Yes.

Michelle: Yeah, they're on the website there. I won't quote prices, because they're slightly ... One's in U.S. dollars and one's in Australian dollars, but it's very affordable. It's around the $100 mark for the whole set. So it's actually very affordable, and so therefore allowing the photographer to put their markup on their package, or whatever.

Jannah: Yeah, excellent. If I was to get say, some studio ones, that were branded to me, and I got a bulk order, would that bring the price per unit down?

Michelle: They're printed per box, at the moment. We are about to, you actually caught me there, because we are about to offer a studio sample discount on one of those box sets. So we're going to send out in the next few weeks, a sample offer, so that people actually order one and have a sample in their studio, to show their clients. Yeah. So we're going to do a discount off the price, so that it is a good incentive to order that.

Jannah: Excellent. So we can also get the boxes say, with our logo on top as well, and just have an empty box? And then get our own prints and put them in?

Michelle: Yeah.

Jannah: Yeah.

Michelle: Yeah, definitely. So you can order the boxes separately. There's two different sizes as well. That one I showed you is the smaller one. There is a larger box, and you can order just the box on its own, and you can put your own prints or album, or whatever you want in there. You can make up your own little package. So you can order your ... Put a logo on it, or just put a photo on it, and that's all, and you've got all your other bits and pieces that you do yourself.

Jannah: Yes.

Michelle: We try to be pretty flexible.

Jannah: Yeah, very flexible. What about the depth? Does the depth change with the bigger one as opposed to the smaller one? Or, is the depth of the boxes the same?

Michelle: Yeah, the bigger one's 10 by 10. That's the bigger one there.

Jannah: Yeah.

Michelle: And that's quite a bit deeper, as you can see, so that's a 10 by 10. So the difference in depth is quite a bit there.

Jannah: Yeah, you can get the printed one as well. So the custom one with the print on top, and prints inside, on the 10 by 10 as well?

Michelle: We only do the one size of prints, so with the 10 by 10 one, what we recommend is do 5 by 7 matted prints, and some matted prints inside.

Jannah: Lovely.

Michelle: There's enough room for that. Or, it could be a small album inside there, so yeah.

Jannah: So you're getting ready to go over to Vegas. WPPI, again this year?

Michelle: Ah, yes. We just came back from PPA in Nashville.

Jannah: Oh yes.

Michelle: Only two weeks ago, and that was great. We're looking to going to WPPI again and doing the trade show there, so yeah, we're looking forward to it. It should be good.

Jannah: Yeah, and when can we see you around Australia?

Michelle: At the moment there hasn't been a lot happening, so we are going to try and attend some of the prop fairs, which there's one coming up in Sydney. We can't make that, because it clashes with WPPI. There's one going to be in Melbourne, I think, later. So we'll try and make the Melbourne one, and definitely the Gold Coast one. But yes, there's not a lot happening yet around the country as far as that goes, so I might have to look at doing some kind of road show or something, where we just travel around, I think.

Jannah: Oh, that sounds like a good idea. I'd be up for that. I could go on a road show.

Michelle: Yeah, I think so. We mentioned that a while back, I think we actually need to pull that one out of the closet, get that happening.

Jannah: It's so true. I think it's so important for ... I know for myself, as a photographer, to be out, and to touch and feel something, to be able to, it’s... you need to be able to touch it, to understand it, to know whether or not that's something that you want to have. Yeah.

Michelle: Yeah, that's right, yeah, and there's so many options now that yeah, actually just being able to see it is a great help. Although with a lot of our products, it's not like an album, where it's a major expense. With some of our packaging items, they're fairly inexpensive, so you can actually just order one on the website to have a look at this box, or this folder, or what-have-you. Or, with ribbons and things like that, we send you a proof, so you can see what your name looks like on that color before we print a roll, and things like that.

So with a lot of our stuff it's not too bad, but with some of those products, yeah, it's definitely worthwhile to have a look at them.

Jannah: Touch and feel. Excellent.

All right, so thank you very much for popping by on the show.

Michelle: Thanks for having me. I hope that, that was useful, and that there's some things that people picked up out of that. Maybe can just increase their customer experience a little bit. It can help increase their business a lot, so ...

Jannah: Yeah, yeah. I have absolutely no doubt about that. I will admit that I'm not great at this. I need to make an effort. Again, I just didn't really think about it, but with canvases especially. I've just always thought bubble wrap. Bubble wrap, bubble wrap, what's wrong with that?

When I think about it, you just explained it, it's like $1,200 for a canvas, here it is in bubble wrap. It just doesn't make sense, really, does it?

Michelle: Yeah, and that's the thing, is that we're thinking about it from a business point of view, where you go, "Here, I'm delivering the product." Whereas the customer thinks of it slightly differently, and you want them to have that wow factor at the end. That's the last big sha-bang before they walk away, and you mightn't see them until they come back to you, if they're happy and if they're amazed. Or, if they refer a friend, because you were so awesome. So I guess that's the difference that you want to make sure keeps happening. Or, they give you a glowing review on Facebook, or whatever. You want that.

Jannah: Yeah, beautiful. Well thank you very much. Have a safe trip over to the States, and we'll catch up again soon.

Michelle: Yes, thanks Jannah.

Jannah: Thanks, Michelle.

See ya, bye.

Team AR Written by Team AR

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