TEMPLATES: THE PROS AND CONS
Full disclosure. We offer clients creative templates as an option to our marketing services. That is, we’ll give any client who wishes it, a template for social media postings on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, a blog template for their website and other templates for such communication formats as newsletters, email blasts and more. We’ll design the format, suggest color choices, visuals, a copy style and even offer mini-tutorials on how to use these templates effectively. All for a highly affordable one-time fee.
Sound like a good deal? Well, that all depends.
It is an excellent opportunity as long as you understand that templates are just guides. You’ll still have to research, create and proofread all the copy and visuals for every posting, blog, email, etc. that you do.
On the other hand, if you’re able to produce copy content that’s as interesting and compelling as that of a professional writer, have the visual eye and artistic talent (not to mention 25 years of training and experience) of an award-winning graphic designer, plus the knowledge of a professionally-trained web technician to analyze and suggest keywords, word placement, and visual formats to increase SEO – you should do just fine. Of course, all of this does take a certain amount of time. And effort. And continuing education. (Did we mention that Google changes its algorithm every day?)
In truth, templates are sort of like recipes. How well they taste depends a lot on the cook.
Let’s face it, not everyone writes well. And graphic design isn’t just about picking out colors and a nice typeface. It also involves knowing how large or small the type should be, how it should break on the page to maximize understanding and aid readability. Whether a visual has a negative connotation that will put off the very audience you most want to attract. Then there’s the challenge of showing just the right mix of men and women of different races, ages, and interests. If stock visuals are used, (they usually are because of cost considerations), you have to make sure that they’re not too similar to those your competition or vendors are using.
What else? How fresh are the images? Will they make your communications look old and tired? (Retro may be interesting, but last year’s images say you’re a step behind.)
Why does all this matter?
Because all of these choices determine the quality of your brand.
Every communication format you use – brochures, blogs, social media postings and certainly copy content – will either add to or detract from your brand image. Notice we haven’t talked about copy yet? As hard as it is to select compelling, fresh and appropriate visuals – creating great copy content is even harder. When you hear the phrase, “copy content is king” it doesn’t mean blogs that read like sales sheets and social media postings that are mini-ads. It’s just the opposite.
Blogs are personal articles about things of special interest to your target market.
Creating them requires research. Reviewing and reading articles and other people’s blogs (including your competitor’s). Studying recent surveys of the market. Interviewing current and potential clients. All of this is aimed at discovering what your target audience cares about most. Once you know that, you can begin defining what they’re most likely to search for on Google so they find you. What are the problems they’re seeking to solve and how can your products or/and services help them? Finally, it means creating stories (yes, STORIES!) about people and situations that demonstrate your value in meeting these challenges.
Can you do it yourself? Sure. But do you really want to?
Writing and designing take time and effort. Time you could be spending on what you do best – building your business. Yes, in the short term, using templates may save you money. The question is, will using them expand your client base and increase your profits? If the copy you write and visual elements you produce, can’t compete with those your competition pays professionals to do – how much do you think you’ll gain? And how much more will you lose?
You may have noticed that our slogan at Crux is “Bravery required.”
We mean it. Creativity – real creativity is not for the faint of heart. It takes, time, talent, training and the courage to chance failing. Because the kind of creativity that makes a brand memorable has to involve an element of risk.
Want an example? Aflac’s marketing agency suggesting that a duck represent the company.
Can’t you just imagine the first reaction of Aflac’s board members to that concept? Yet because Kaplan Thaler Group, (Aflac’s first ad agency), dared to do something different, a company that no one knew or cared much about became part of everyone’s consciousness. Would you have thought of having a duck quack for an insurance company? If not, think of all the business Aflac would have lost. Business that a competitor probably would have gained by coming up with a creative approach of their own.
Remember, no matter how good the template, ultimately its success will depend on you.
We can make suggestions, give you examples to follow and help guide you along the way. Yet, we still can’t give you all of the instinctive intuition that we’ve gained through 60 years of accumulated experience and education. As much as we want to help you, our creative gifts can only be fully utilized when we do the work ourselves. The way we look at it, marketing a company professionally is worth the investment. We know the board members of Aflac would agree. We hope that you will, too.