Do you copy and paste enough?
Updated: Sep 16, 2020
A few years ago I was mentoring someone, helping them with their marketing. They told me that one of the things they always struggled with was constantly finding different ways to write about their business. For every new item they produced, be it a brochure, flyer, landing page or direct mailer, they were desperately trying to come up with something different to say that wasn’t already on the website or in some other marketing material. They asked me how I constantly came up with fresh content. My answer was, “I don’t.”
When you first start working in marketing, you immediately learn about the importance of consistency. We’ll look more into that in a second. But from the start of my career, I became very familiar with Ctrl C and Ctrl V, because whatever you say on your website, you should also say it in your brochures, in your social media summaries, in the main info on your direct mailers etc. Campaign content, yes that can differ, but the heart of your brand and the general words you use to describe your company should always be the same.
When I asked my mentee why they were constantly trying to find new ways to write the same thing, they told me they thought it looked poor if you repeated yourself over and over. The thing with marketing, though, is that nobody notices. In fact, as a general rule, it takes someone about 7 times of seeing something before it does register with them. So not only is someone unlikely to notice repetition, but they’re unlikely to notice much at all until they begin to engage with it. This could be a long time after you’ve first started trying to communicate with them.
This is also where repetition is a strength. If it takes someone about 7 times of seeing something before they take notice, then they have to see the same thing over and over or it will never register. How many times have you seen an advert, but it isn’t until a few times of watching it that you actually realise what they’re selling or who the company is? Okay, sometimes it’s because adverts can be a little abstract, but mostly it’s because we’re not really paying attention. It’s just an advert. It’s just someone trying to sell to us.
Even with the adverts we all talk about, it still takes time to gain traction. How many years had John Lewis been doing Christmas adverts before people started to look out for them? How long had Coca Cola been driving that red truck around before it properly made us feel festive?
The Coca Cola example is pure copy and paste with just a slight polish up every now and then. But it really works. And John Lewis may change the subject matter, but the sentiment, the execution and the general ideas behind what they do never alters. It would be very bad for their branding if they did try to re-invent it. We trust what we know as consumers.
When we talk about branding, people always think of logos. Yes, you need a consistent logo and colour palette. That’s all part of branding. But I write content for a living and I work on branding all the time. That’s because the wording around your business is just as important. Having some boilerplate copy that truly sums up who you are, what you do and what value you offer to customers is key. Then copy and paste it everywhere. No one will think, “I’ve seen that written before.” They’ll start to recognise the wording as your brand identity. You’ll come across as professional; a brand that knows who it is and what it does. A brand that has a consistent approach always looks more reliable. Chopping and changing sends out an erratic message. Such simple actions alone will affect your brand perception.
Do you have boilerplate copy? This is just a few sentences that you can use over and over. By repeating yourself everywhere, your customers will get to know you more easily. It shouldn’t be a bland statement reeling off your products or services. It should summarise your brand story and convey the value you offer to your customers. It should be compelling and informative.
If you don’t already have this, then I’d highly recommend adding it to your to do list immediately. This basic task will transform how you present yourself.
If we look at this more practically, you may have come across businesses with multiple social media accounts that use different wording to describe themselves on each platform. What they say on Twitter differs to LinkedIn and differs to Facebook. I’ve never been able to understand why they do this. Not only is this poor branding, but it actually takes longer. Writing something once and then copying it over and over is much faster. And it’s better. But writing new things seems to be a trap many businesses have fallen into. It may be to try different things to see what works or it may be because things have been set up at different times. But to the outside world it appears mismatched and confusing.
Therefore, I challenge you to go and look at your social media accounts and check their consistency. Make sure they all say the same thing. Literally the same thing. And make sure the wording also mirrors what you say on your website and your other marketing materials. Copy and paste the hell out of it. It takes less time and it’s better for your branding. I’d say that’s win win!
If you'd like any help with creating boilerplate copy for your business, please get in touch.