Jordan Ogren

December 27, 2021

Templates work–until they don't.

Have you ever lost your pet?

I have. I won't get into the gruesome story here, but it's a grim experience.

Thankfully, an organization or group of people in Green Bay band together and help pet owners find their lost pets.

How do I know this?

When driving around, my wife and I see many "lost pet" signs. And my wife noticed something peculiar about them.

The signs all look the same. They have large color tape under the text, and the pet's image is in the right top corner.

At first, we thought it was a scam or some child trafficking ring. But then we realized it's the template they use for the lost pets.

💡 moment.

It made sense why all the signs–even on opposite sides of the city–look the same. 

Doing this has benefits:
  • Speeds up the pet recovery process by allowing them to create a sign quickly (without the template, people would have to come up with their own sign creatively)
  • Uses collective knowledge to design a sign that will catch attention and give people the info they need (they've probably made hundreds of signs, so they know what works best; we hope at least)

But using a template also has significant downsides:
  • People get accustomed to seeing the same signs over and over and fail to read them (it's like a common cold email that gets lost in your sea of unread messages)
  • Some dogs are worth more and should have more time spent on their sign to provide a cash reward or more creativity to draw attention

The same is true with the templates you and I use.

They are great for efficiency and leveraging past data. But they also inhibit uniqueness and the ability to stand out.

The lesson is not to never use templates. Instead, it's to be intentional when you do and know if a specific instance calls you to veer off the template.

This is a reason I hate Canva.

It creates template designers who cannot think.

This is a reason I rarely use templates when writing, other than structural templates (i.e., hook, body, conclusion).

It creates stiff writers who cannot think.

That's why I will never sell you a cold email or content template. I don't believe in them because I'm here to help you think better. 

Templates do not improve HOW you think.

They enable execution. But what's execution without a thoughtful strategy behind it?

I already hear the template warriors breaking down my front door. Please don't miss my point:

Templates have their place (i.e., sending thousands of cold emails). But don't use them without thinking.

Unless you don't care about finding your pet and simply want to get the signs up.

Marketeer Insights ⚔️
  • Templates can be helpful in the proper context
  • Templates that guide you rather than do the work for you are best (i.e., blog structure templates or website homepage templates)
  • To truly stand out, you need to break free from the template mold

🧠 + ❤️ // JO