The Cost of Nonspecific Promotional Literature

It’s hard to deny that templates tend to make things easier. In fact, that’s their entire purpose. It’s tedious and unnecessarily time consuming to have to recreate the same elements of a group of things that share a common core over and over again. That’s also not the only reason that we do it, though. The templates that we create for ourselves tend to be for reasons of not wasting time on the recreation of elements we’ve already put the effort into creating once. The templates that we make for others, however, we tend to create more often because we’re generating something that those people are unable to generate on their own.

One of the most common examples of this phenomenon can be found in documents, especially ones whose templates can be stored electronically. Via a simple online search one has the ability to access countless templates for writing a resume, for instance. Some formats may appeal more to us, some may appeal less, but all share at least one thing: they have the potential to be used in exactly the same way by a number of other people.

Everyone’s Seen Cheap Business Cards

A business card can be the catalyst that help you acquire new clients/jobs, or a piece of paper your clients pick their teeth with.

This could not be more glaringly true than it is with business cards, for instance. With a few simple swipes of the mouse, we can be online and prepared to order a set of hundreds of business cards from a number of pre-designed and pre-existing options, all of which have been printed thousands of times before in exactly the same way with someone else’s name and information on them. It is inexpensive and inefficient to do it this way. And, there’s always the chance that if you pick one just unpopular enough, you and your clients will never come across anyone else using exactly the same business card design.

Not every type of handout, leave behind, or tri-fold brochure has enjoyed the same attention to variation and creativity that business cards have over the years, though. While a particular company may have the ability to offer virtually hundreds of different pre-designed business cards, they probably don’t offer the same breadth of selection when it comes to pamphlets and fliers. The result of this is that the design of most commercial promotional literature ends up looking very common and generic in design if it has not been individually designed by a professional graphic designer.

Design Copycatting is Bad; Content Copycatting is Worse

Copycat branding/packaging existed for years

The same is true, and to a much more dramatic degree, with template-style text content. Just like visual graphics, samples of generic textual content are often sold, shared, and transmitted in a “canned” or “cookie-cutter” format that essentially lacks any creativity or individuality. This type of advertisement is essentially a death knell for your marketing efforts.

Even if they have never seen that particular text before, customers tend to pick up on non-specific sounding text almost instantaneously. In the very best case scenarios, it still lacks the semantic punch to leave a positive, impactful impression with your potential clients. In short, “canned” textual content will either actively turn your customers against you or it will bore them into ignoring you.

While originality and creativity are not necessarily the same or even mutually inclusive, there is certainly a correlation between the two. When you hire an individual graphic designer or writer to create original content for you, the chances of receiving something more creative rise exponentially.

Experts Agree Creativity and Originality are Key

In fact, according to Ogilvy & Mather Germany’s chief creative officer, Stephan Vogel, “Nothing is more efficient than creative advertising.” The element that makes it effective is the consumer’s ability to recognize it, whether or not they can readily and consciously articulate that. To the consumer, even if they’re not sure why, they just “know” that non-specific promotional material looks or reads generically.

Customer gut feelings and marketing research aside, it just makes more logical sense that original, specialized content and design are going to better represent your company, your vision, and your products than content and design that were created without any knowledge of your situation at all. Would you rather have a diagnosis of your health concern from a doctor who has seen you personally or from an internet article that sounds like it vaguely resembles your symptoms?

In his hit book “The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Commercial Freelancer in Six-Months or Less”, Peter Bowerman explains how the greatest tool in his toolbox for creating effective and appealing content for his clients is knowledge that he gains from the client about who they are, what they do, and what their customers are looking for. If you’re having your design and text content produced without providing this information, how can it possibly be reflected in your promotional materials?

Sell Yourself, Not Some Generic Idea

One of the interests that you share with your client is your company’s identity. When you use non-specific promotional material, you’re not providing information about who your company is, you’re providing information about who some company is. And that’s exactly who you’re encourage them to take their business to: “some company.”

Your voice, your vision, your quality, and your philosophies are all the things that are really going to sell your company to a potential customer. If they wanted the same thing they could get from fifty other companies, they’d be with one of those companies already. So use your promotional print materials to express all of those things that mean so much to them and so much to you.

Sometimes all the opportunity you have to meet a potential customer is the time it takes them to grab your brochure and walk away. Make sure that the message that your printed materials send is an original one that leaves a lasting impression, not one that sounds and looks to your customer like they’ve heard it and seen it a million times before. Those are the ones that hit the trash container before your customer hits the corner.