Over the summer of last year, I paid for a foundation to be added under part of my old home. It cost a bit of change and was one of those “invisible” fixes I can’t easily show off to the neighbors. I’m sure they’d rather see a flashy improvement, like taking the house’s patchy exterior from five colors to one or two. But it was a necessary investment. The addition only had a few wood supports with a rotted plywood skirting, and the contractor told me he was surprised the structure hadn’t already collapsed.

You don’t need me to elaborate much further on the value of a good base, whether we’re talking about houses or our careers. Investing resources and time to shore up and build upon our current knowledge and connections will always be a worthy spend. At BRANDPACKAGING’s Packaging That Sells conference, we aim to help you do just that, in a relaxed atmosphere with branding, packaging and design’s top people.

The 2013 sessions were lead by many brilliant and gracious brand owners, designers, researchers and manufacturers who are deep in the trenches of branding and package execution on a daily basis. Their expertise levels and ability to share the nitty-gritty of what it takes to expand your brand benefitted us all. I personally enjoyed seeing students and agencies speaking directly to CPG managers after each assembly, and brand owners visiting the booths of suppliers showing the latest-and-greatest in the networking breaks.

The pre-show polling of the packages you thought best carried out the brands’ missions continued with onsite voting, and a People’s Choice trophy to Bodybuilding.com’s microwaveable meals and Editor’s Award to Ernest Supplies were passed out on the second day. The products displayed at the show were narrowed down even further and placed into our Design Gallery annual. Those interested in having packages featured will be able to start sending entries in once May rolls around.

We’ve got some truly exciting adjustments planned for 2014’s conference, without sacrificing anything you already love about the show. Registration opens soon — signing up early does come with its benefits, and speaker proposals are being accepted until March 3. You’ll find a submission form and sample topics at www.packagingthatsells.com.

 I’d like you to set aside Oct. 13-15 now so you can join us in Chicago at The Drake, because a strong and up-to-date foundation is an excellent selling point to those with which you do — or are looking to do — business. Register and see the agenda at www.packagingthatsells.com.