Why Your Long-Forgotten Boilerplate May Hold the Key to Your Marketing Strategy

Perhaps some of you have participated in scenes like this: your B2B company needs some marketing boilerplate copy—you know, the stuff that appears at the bottom of press releases, in the “About” section of your home page or on some evergreen sales collateral. You convene some hasty brainstorming sessions and your marketing or PR person (if you have one) knocks it out like a quick and painful homework assignment and, after a few revisions, it’s baked. Then nobody thinks about it ever again because you’ve all got more important things to do.

Months and years go by, and as you produce more content for your company, each addition deviates slightly from your messaging more and more, based on whatever inputs are strongest at the time: the most recent strategy, the latest hot trend-related blog post, the most recent “A-ha!” moment from leadership, or what have you. Congratulations. You have now succumbed to “message creep.”

The core of a marketing plan is the diligent hours that you spend with your team analyzing your product and service in the marketplace and formulating your unique competitive position. The first and most important reflection of this position is a statement of 50-100 words that crystallizes this position. Any potential client, investor, partner or journalist should be able to read it and quickly grasp what you do, whom you do it for, and why you’re the best at it. If it’s just a bunch of vague buzzwords and non-essential, self-congratulatory information you came up with on the fly, you’re wasting the interested party’s time.

Boilerplate isn’t the end of the document; it’s the center of all documents

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Your boilerplate is a guidepost for producing strategic content for your brand with less brain damage and more strategic punch. I’ll give you an example: last year Fusion Marketing Partners did an overhaul of our core messaging. As part of this effort, we got everything we knew about ourselves up on a whiteboard and distilled all those thoughts, through multiple revisions, into a single, polished gem. When I’m working on a page for the new website, the first thing I do is cut and paste that boilerplate into my Word file. If how I’m describing our services doesn’t align with the company we described in that boilerplate, then I know I’m going off course.

I didn’t reproduce the boilerplate verbatim; I translated and expanded on the differentiators there. As a result, the new content lines up with the positioning we chose, and, as we add more pages to our new site, we’ll have more and more content that consistently expresses the key differentiators that make us a unique choice in the marketplace. That’s the strategic essence of the boilerplate. And it’s a time saver for when you’re writing. Why reinvent your company from scratch each time you sit down in front a blank page? Define your position as a key part of your marketing strategy and then mercilessly reproduce that value message, in some form, every time you’re developing new content.

Take a look at the universe of material that your company has generated. Do you see the expression of your core positioning reflected in each web page, each sales sheet? Does it even sound like the same company from instance to instance? If not, you have a messaging and positioning problem. Take the time with your team to succinctly define your strategy in words. Then staple those words to the forehead of everybody on your company team who has to write market-facing copy for your company. This turns your boilerplate from a long-forgotten homework assignment to a vital strategic tool that helps you fashion a coherent, compelling brand and market more successfully together.

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  • Al Shultz February 8, 2013   Reply →

    An important reminder, Christopher. Many if not most B2B companies today have lost sight of their core market positioning/differentiation message — and a great many never had one to begin with!

    In the age of SM and generic “content” marketing, just spreading “stuff” out into the marketplace often seems to be all that’s needed. Just more and more blah-blah-blah with perhaps the company name thrown in somewhere…

    Differentiation marketing is fast becoming a lost art — which is why so few B2B marketing programs get break-through results these days.

    Al Shultz

    • Christopher Ryan February 11, 2013   Reply →

      Al, thanks very much for your comment. Your point about the ineffectiveness of spreading indiscriminate content into the marketplace is right on target. An equally dangerous strategy is to be so precise about the content produced that little of it gets to be seen in cyber-space. The key is to be differentiated and prolific.


  • Nick Stamoulis February 13, 2013   Reply →

    What a lot of marketers forget is that they can update their boilerplate as needed. Say for instance the company wins a prestigious award, or adds a new product line. The news should be incorporated into the boilerplate to make it reflect the company’s current achievements. A boilerplate is also a great place to keep links back to the company’s homepage, and so every time you update the document, make sure your hyperlinks are still in tact.

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