Templates – one size does not fit all

Templates don’t work. Says she with the template.

I came up with a template for planning out the upcoming year – #2021bringiton

But if following that exact template doesn’t work for you, that’s fine.


Here’s an example from my work this summer

I promise this is relevant, and not just a nostalgia trip.

You all know I’m a huge fan of Stu McLaren and his TRIBE programme, right? I might have mentioned him one or twelve times…

A key part of the TRIBE course is the Founder Member Launch – the very first time you put out there that you’re going to do a membership, when you say to people ‘I’m thinking about doing this, does that sound good?’

The people who decide to sign up at your Founder Member Launch get access to your membership for a very low price, as the first people to get on board. That’s the benefit to them.

The benefit to you is that at the stage of doing a Founder Member Launch your membership isn’t a fully-formed thing. It’s mostly an idea that your Founder Members help you develop by telling you what they need.

There’s even a template for what you say in emails. And it’s good stuff – but it’s ‘not for me’ stuff.

The template offers people a pay-once-keep-it-forever lifetime price for the membership. Usually several hundred dollars. I know that my audience doesn’t have the budget for that.

I also know that the idea of ‘telling me what they need in this membership’ doesn’t really work for my audience – they need me to tell them what they need!

I’m not saying that the people in my BUILD Business Club have no idea what they’re doing! They know their businesses well. But what I offer is some guidance, clarity, ideas, ‘things you didn’t know you needed’.

I very much take their feedback on improving BUILD as we go along, I just couldn’t ask them to tell me what it needed to be in the first place.


Thanks for the peek inside your office, Clair

OK, so you’re probably unlikely to be doing a Founder Member Launch for a membership any time soon.

But you must see offers for templates all the time.

And they sound really tempting – swipe files of perfect emails and social media posts that your audience will love.

I get it. I do. I buy some of them!

Thing is, how do the people selling them know they’ll work? How do they know your audience will love this stuff?

Do they have the same audience as you, and the same business as you, and the same brand identity as you?

Of course not. So it’s not one-size-fits-all. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some value in what they’re offering.

OK, this isn’t exactly ‘templates don’t work’. I said that at the beginning to get your attention #sorrynotsorry

They can work, but probably not ‘straight from the box’.

There’s two ways of using them.


Option 1

1) Understand your audience, your offer and your brand. You need a strong image/description of what all that is, so you know what you need from the start.

2) When you look at template offers, compare what they’re offering/suggesting to what you know you need. Decide if your response is ‘that won’t work for me’ or ‘that can work for me, if I tweak it like this’.

3) Then you either walk away, or take the template and make it work for you.


Option 2

Use the templates exactly as they are from the box.

*gasp* But you said…

Bear with me. It’s all about ‘what are you using them FOR?’

You don’t want to be a template, the same as everyone else. But you have to start somewhere.

In the early stages of running your business you likely don’t have a clear idea of your audience, your offer and your brand. So you likely to don’t know what’s exactly the right thing to say.

That can be a real block. Wanting to get it perfect*, but not knowing what perfect looks like… so you do nothing.

Templates are great for getting stuff out there and getting things going.

What you do next is key – analyse the response to them, to see what’s working and what isn’t.

Which posts got the most comments? Which got the best comments? Which were seen by the most amount of people?

Now you know what type of posts work for your audience. So now you can use those templates as best suits your needs.


So, do templates work or not?!

Well, it’s not a black and white ‘follow our template for instant success’ or ‘templates don’t work’.

Of course it’s not as simple as that, nothing is!

They’re absolutely not a one-size-fits-all, magic solution in a box. If anyone tries to convince you of that, consider ‘does that sound too good to be true?’ – and you know what we think about ‘too good to be true promises’ here at Plain Sailing!

It’s about knowing what you need and finding things that can help you with that.

As I said, the first step is making sure you understand your audience, your offer and your brand. Are they clearly defined? (I have a set of workbooks to help with that, if you need it.)

For example, you’ll see lists of ‘conversation starter’ questions to ask on your social media accounts, like:
– What are you grateful for today?
– What’s your favourite time saver?
– What was your last daydream?

The better you know your audience, the more confident you’ll be in choosing whether to post all, some or none of those questions.

Remember, you’re not just posting things and sending emails to fill up people’s timelines and inboxes. You’re doing it to get responses and reactions, to spark conversation and find out more about who your people are and what they need from you, and to show them how you can help with the things they need.


Let’s talk!

Do you use templates?
Don’t like the idea?
Have you tried and they didn’t work?
What would you love a template for right now?

Come over to Small Business Support and tell us all about it.


*there’s no such thing as perfect, so don’t worry about it anyway – start with ‘good enough’ and improve from there

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