I’m sure we’ve all been there. We’re following the instructions on a cleaning product package, and everything is going smoothly. Apply thoroughly in a circular motion? Check. Let stand for five minutes? Check. Make sure to check small inconspicuous area before widespread use? AARRGGHHHH. Sure enough, the entire area you were cleaning is now dull and discolored. Sigh.

You would think that the “warning” would be listed first, before the cleaning process is even started. I’m not going to get into the art of technical/how-to writing, but there’s a valuable lesson to be learned here that can be applied to all information on a package: Make sure the consumer knows the most important facts first. Getting the hierarchy of information correct could be the difference between getting a sale or losing it to a competitor. You’d be amazed at how many products we come across where this simple guideline isn’t properly executed.

Say you’re at The Home Depot® shopping for windows. Sure, you need to know things such as which ones offer Low-E glass, if screens are included, etc. But the four most important facts that should be displayed most prominently on the packaging are Use (new construction or replacement), Type (double-hung, casement, etc.), Size and Material (vinyl, wood, etc.). Use should probably be the most prominent thing shown/listed, but the hierarchy of the remaining three could vary depending on how the store’s millwork department is organized/laid out. Just keep in mind that the overall goal is to give the consumer clear and concise direction so they make the correct purchase the first time.

So next time you’re in a store, any store, take a look at some packages and see if they successfully tell you what you need to know. I think you’ll discover that while there’s no doubt that eye-catching graphics ignite the sale, it’s the information and how it’s presented that closes the deal.

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