What’s a Boilerplate and Why Use It?

Posted April 11, 2016 by Mark Perna

One of the simplest and yet most-neglected marketing tools I know of is the humble boilerplate. A boilerplate is a bite-sized blurb that can cost nothing to create — but can go a long way toward building positive public awareness. Your boilerplate can reach every audience you have, from potential students and employees seeking information about you to journalists and bloggers looking to pull a descriptive line or two for an article. Let’s look at what a boilerplate is and how to craft a great one.

First off, in information technology a boilerplate is a unit of writing that can be reused over and over without change. By extension, the idea is sometimes applied to marketing content that remains consistent across a range of collateral to build equity through repetition. Effective boilerplate language promotes messaging continuity as a signoff on the back of brochures and press releases, at the bottom of program sell sheets, on your website’s “about” page, and anywhere else a concise, high-level value statement about your organization is appropriate.

Here are some elements of a great boilerplate:

  • It’s short. A good boilerplate is deceptively simple; as Mark Twain once said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” We recommend keeping it at or under 100 words.
  • It’s clear. Tell your readers what you do and who you serve. Avoid industry-specific terms that the general public would not readily understand.
  • It’s branded. Your boilerplate should reflect your organization’s unique identity, including your tagline and communications objective in some form.
  • It’s impressive. If you have specific results that match up well against the competition, use them. Other ideas to build the wow factor are longevity in the community, various honors or awards, number of students served, number of programs, or anything else that sets you apart.

Great boilerplates take time and thoughtful preparation. After all, you are presenting your entire organization and value proposition in three or four sentences that capture your vision, credentials, and personality. Every word carries weight. If you haven’t looked at your boilerplate in awhile (or if you don’t have one), now is a great time to work it through the tips above. Don’t have time? My team can help! A dynamic boilerplate can be an impactful tool to support your brand and further your mission — so start implementing yours today!

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About The Author
Mark Perna
Mark C. Perna is a best-selling author and the founder of TFS in Cleveland, Ohio, a full-service strategic consulting firm whose mission is to share and support every client's passion for making a difference.
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