Copy Cat

With all the resources at your disposal, it's easier than ever to create a killer marketing piece. And there's one method that makes the process almost effortless.

I spoke a few weeks ago for a local business development council, part of a national network of 39 regional groups, delivering a full-day marketing program to a group of small-business owners and key employees of larger companies. This is always a lot of fun for me, because whenever I have a room full of people who are motivated to succeed, they pay attention, they get what I'm talking about, and they start implementing almost immediately.

As we began the part of the program where we start working on the brochures, letters, and other materials they brought with them, I happened to catch a glance of the tri-fold brochure the client had used to get people to register for the event we were all participating in.

At first glance I thought the brochure looked familiar. As soon as I opened it up, I immediately knew why: it was copied from a brochure I had worked on with another group in the network - the one from Florida. And when I say "copied," I don't mean "loosely based on," I mean copied almost verbatim with only the name of the organization and the specific event information changed.

The reason I recognized it so quickly is that I had spent an hour on a private webinar with the first group's president and marketing director doing an extensive critique and rewrite of their original brochure.

Now, far from getting upset, I got a big smile on my face, held the brochure up high for the group to see, and praised the client hosting the event for being so clever. Why? Two main reasons with direct application to your business:

Don't Reinvent the Wheel - The programs I did for both groups were identical, so, naturally, the same brochure would work for both of them. When I agreed to do the second program, they already knew I had worked with their peers in Florida, so a quick phone call got them permission to use the brochure.

Start With Something That Works - Not only did they get to use a marketing piece that was already finished, they had one that worked really well because of the time I had spent with them designing it. As a result, the original program in Florida beat the precious attendance record by 56%, and actually generated 94% more revenue!

For these two reasons, it would have been downright foolish to try and create a new brochure  from scratch.

As you work on your own marketing materials, do everything you can to avoid starting with a blank page or a blank screen. Pay attention to what you see. Maintain a "swipe file" of samples you can use for inspiration. Participate in coaching and mastermind groups where you can get advice from people who know what they're talking about.

It's tough enough creating marketing that works - there's no need to go at it alone.