Just returning from a baseball spring training trip in Florida (Go Phils)…read a Southwest Airlines magazine article about the background of the word “boilerplate.”
“In the early 19th century, boilerplates were thin plates of steel used to make steam boilers. As regional newspapers started popping up, news syndicates developed and sold them stories, which were printed on thin sheets of metal that resembled boilerplates. Because of the medium they came in, editors had to publish the stories as written. So the term boilerplate came to refer to any kind of formulaic, unvarying text, often seen in wills, contracts, and other legal documents.”
I thought through the implications of “boilerplate” content that many companies use in their sales enablement materials (and those used for channel sales enablement).
- Consistency and repetition are good. The overall intention of boilerplate content is to ensure the validity and accuracy of the messaging being presented to salespeople as well as customers. But while we like consistency, “unvarying” is NOT good…
- Boilerplate doesnt allow for customization by audience. Sadly, many sales enablement assets (playbooks, battlecards, guides, etc) are simply repackaged collateral copy with a few competitive angles. That kind of boilerplate content isnt really helpful to salespeople who need to apply solution messaging in specific selling environments (by industry or persona).
- Channel organizations really understand the pain. Channel sales enablement professionals are too often tasked with taking general corporate collateral and making it work in a channel setting. If they’re not able to update contents and messages to apply to partners’ services and solutions–or to their unique view on the midmarket–then the boilerplate gets thrown out the window.
It’s also interesting to consider the newest concepts of “syndication” compared to early 19th century printing. Web and channel syndication is alive and well today (I’ve spoken to some leaders in channel syndication that are doing some exciting things with automating channel marketing). The intersection of channel enablement and web syndication will be the subject of future research and blogs!