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Choosing How To Package Your Advisory Matters

When I started my first consulting business, one of the very first things I did was collect the brochures from each of the largest competing firms in my market.My goal was to understand how they positioned and marketed themselves so I could be sure to create something completely different.

Which turned out not to be so hard: the only way to tell them apart was their name stamped across the front.

Every single one had the same array of smart-looking faces, with practically identical copy about the brilliance of their people, processes, technology, yada yada yada.Bor-ing.Maybe the big firms had a vested interest in looking alike, but I knew the only way for our little start-up to go head-to-head with the big boys (and they were all boys back than) was to present something completely different.So we positioned ourselves as the funkier alternative: a firm filled with MBA women trained by the big firms, but jonesing for more flexibility and creativity. Our “brochure” was a 1-page manifesto that we lived and breathed in every possible way.

We packaged that feeling into every aspect of the firm, from our office space to our marketing to our business cards.

Not everyone loved us, but no one ever forgot us.Packaging matters. Think of packaging like this: it’s how you physically and virtually present your business (and of course yourself) to your world. Especially when you’re selling the intangible, which—let’s face it—is the very definition of consulting, advisory and coaching services.It’s the feeling you give your audience.But that feeling doesn’t come from just one decision—it emanates from literally dozens of small decisions you make as you build your firm.From the fonts, colors and images you use to the copy— your messaging—you set the course for how your business will be perceived.If your packaging is looking a little uninspired, it’s time for a new strategy. Think of the process as including three critical decisions. Position your firm first. Brilliant packaging isn’t an after-thought or about picking pretty colors. It’s strategic.It should bring your big idea, your belief system—your essence—to life. It should be exquisitely designed to appeal to your ideal clients, while reflecting your own unique brand personality.So before you spend a dime on a graphic designer, be clear on who you are, whom you want to attract and where you’re going with your business.Related: Why You Need A More Powerful Brand Invest wisely. The right investment in packaging will pay for itself many times over. Thought-provoking visuals with lackluster copy (or vice versa) are wasted—spend the money to create the right complete package.But know too that beautiful packaging need not be reserved exclusively for those with boatloads of cash. Just spend that tiny bit of extra time to make your downloadable PDF free of typos and grammatical goofs with an easily readable font and maybe a pop of color. Take some calculated risks. If you want to be remembered, you’ll need to push the boundaries of your industry here and there. Just because you’re a serious financial advisor doesn’t mean your marketing collateral has to put your audience to sleep.Just remember to tie your risks to where you want to take your business. If you’re an introverted rocket scientist-type, you don’t want your packaging to scream crazy rock star. But you do want to push the concept of your deep research in market-friendly ways your competitors aren’t.Creating packaging that doesn’t suck is the very least you can do to market yourself and your business.Who knows? Maybe it will incite you to be downright unforgettable.