Tactics & Culture

The Temple of Templates

Six weeks ago, I was working with a company that had a rather extensive staff manual. Something about it reminded me of something else, but I couldn’t quite place it. But then about page 74, there it was – the point where the copy and paste replacements fell apart, and the name of the company they had stolen it from was in the remainder of the manual.

Templates are great. Nobody needs to reinvent the wheel. Obviously, in the effort to save time, templates are huge. Heck, I have templates available for anybody to use. However – let’s be reasonable; every business is different. Even if you inherited the business from your uncle, the templates that were passed down need to be changed to reflect your leadership. The words that are used, the policies that are in place, the way things are handled, all of these need to be customized.

Why? I’ll tell you why. In front of me, right now is of hardcopy of an offer from Frank Kern. Frank is a marketing genius, we all know that. The offer in front of me is almost directly lifted from David Ogilvy. How do I know this? Because I studied David Ogilvy’s marketing books – and so did Frank. He’s quite clear on this. But Frank’s offer, although it has the same format as David’s, is still written with Frank’s exuberance and energetic language. He modernized it by using mind map tools and website suggestions and texting offers. What if Frank Kern had used the same language as David Ogilvy? It would look something like this:


It’s factual – and boring. When I think of Frank Kern, I think of somebody who’s perhaps overly excitable. Smart, enthusiastic…. I do not think of the original Mad Man David Ogilvy.

What I’m saying is, you have to brand everything – even your templates. It’s too confusing for the staff, and definitely too confusing for the clients. When I say “Begin as you mean to go on”, what I mean is, create your brand and insist that everyone use it, both inside and outside your company.

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