Have you ever considered how much your body image – your personal packaging, contributes to your business and personal success?

The multi million pound cosmetics industry is acutely aware of the value of packaging. You’ll know this if you’ve ever bought anything from those glamorous ladies whose counters are always just inside the front door of Department Stores.

However, from time to time we’re presented with surveys about the creams we rub on our bodies which take years off our age and make our skin as soft as a baby’s bottie. The surveys tell us “Buy the cheap stuff or the own label one from the supermarket, ’cause they’re all the same.”

But do we? Of course we don’t. Human beings are driven by emotions not logic and never more so when spending their money.

People buy with their eyes, we love packaging. The marketing and merchandising experts have it down to a fine art and know the colours and shapes that we’re most likely to buy. They then design their packaging accordingly and make sure it grabs our attention.

The product in the packaging has to do what it says it’ll do, however if it looks like it can do the business, then we’re more likely to believe it can.

It’s just the same with people. Whether we like it or not, people are likely to make judgements about us by our body image, the way we’re packaged.

They’ll then decide whether they like us,whether they’ll give us a job or even just believe what we say.

This seems to be so obvious. Yet I’ve seen professional speakers with scuffed shoes, business leaders with outdated suits and politicians wearing clothes that don’t fit them or suit their shape.

A few months ago I attended a function where an accountant was invited to speak about his business. He told the assembled audience how efficient his business was and about their attention to detail. However his tie was undone and his shirt looked like he was breaking it in for a smaller friend. His suit, though probably expensive, wasn’t the right colour for him and merely drew attention to the fact that its wearer liked his food. All of the things he was saying were totally contradicted by his body image.

Lawyers, accountants, plumbers or software engineers; it doesn’t matter what you do, other people are very liable to make a judgement about your abilities by how you’re packaged.

Your colleagues and your boss will all make decisions about the quality of your work and your promotion prospects by your dress and body image.

There’s the famous story about the 1960’s pre-election television debates between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. These debates were also heard on radio, which was much more popular at the time. After the debates a poll was taken of how TV and radio audiences had reacted to the two participants. The radio audience voted for Nixon, however the TV audience voted overwhelmingly for Kennedy. The TV audience liked the look of Kennedy better than Nixon – they liked the packaging.

We also tend to make decisions very quickly about people we come into contact with. Psychologists have established that we subconsciously make around eleven decisions about other people within the first six seconds of meeting them.

Personnel managers have admitted in surveys to making a decision about a job applicant within the first thirty seconds of an interview, these decisions being made primarily on how the people looked and carried themselves.

How we look will confirm or contradict what we say. First impressions are also lasting impressions and take a lot of changing.

Okay, so we can’t all have the perfect looks or the perfect body, what ever that is. It doesn’t matter what shape you are but it does matter how you package that shape, if you want to make an impact on other people.

How you package yourself can also make a huge difference to your self-confidence. Have you ever noticed how confident and self-assured you feel when you dress in something you feel good in? Particularly when someone genuinely compliments you. How you dress can have a huge impact on how you carry yourself and project to other people.

The problem is that many of us don’t have a clue as to what really suits us and compliments our shape. This is why so many business people are turning to an image consultant to improve their personal impact. This may seem like a costly luxury however consider the cost of restricting your career or possibly not winning a new account.

So what do you do? Well you could ask your nearest and dearest to be honest with you and tell you what they really think about what you wear. The thing is, you really need to listen and take heed of what they say.

Buy some of the fashion magazines and keep up to date on the latest fashion. It can also help to find a good clothes store where the sales assistants will give unbiased advice.

It’s also important to look after the details. Do your spectacles suit your face? Are you in need of a more modern haircut? What does that cheap plastic watch say about you?

Men need to be careful about novelty ties and fancy socks with a business suit. Women need to take care with make-up, colours and perfume.

You may have a lot more to offer than a jar of anti wrinkle cream or a packet of cornflakes; however no one is going to pick you off the shelf if they don’t like your packaging.