Marketing has never been an exact science. The moment we get comfortable doing things a certain way, some visionary pops up and disrupts everything. Visionaries always seem to ruin complacency.
For this reason, it can be difficult to stay on top of media planning, especially if we have to start from scratch for each project. With limited budgets, it's easy to see why some marketing teams are getting stretched thin. Talented employees who have spent their lives learning to design creative content and master social media platforms are now subjected to tedious tasks like putting together a slide presentation.
Of course, not all tedious tasks are created equal. There is a certain amount of copying and pasting that will always be there no matter what we do. But for creating a presentation, we could save a lot of time and money by putting in the initial work to create a template that can be easily manipulated for future presentations, or by seeking guidance from those who have already mastered the craft.
Media planning templates are a popular way to address such an issue.
To build our own
The traditional process of building a template has many benefits as well as some frustrations. Different markets have different standards, so creating a template that targets one market may not necessarily work for another. However, many forms of presentation share key elements with one another, and this is the foundation on which we begin our template.
Bahar Martonosi of Princeton University provided a presentation coincidentally named How To Give A Good Presentation. In it, we learn about the similarities of different presentation types. The types of presentations Martonosi notes are driven more towards the realm of academia, but the following provided examples show striking similarities to modern marketing presentations:
- Quick, 1 minute "what I do" talk - known in marketing as an elevator pitch
- 25-minute conference paper presentation - 20-25 minutes is a good number for many presentations
- Project presentation - pitch
- Thesis defense - still kind of a pitch
- Job talk - or job interview, or a pitch
The next step is to pull out the common factors in each presentation format. The first factor is that none of these formats will ever allow us to be as detailed as we would like. If it's our project, there's a good chance we are stressed about every part of it down to the technical details, but taking the time to focus on such things diverts attention away from our key points.
The trick to understanding how little and how much information to use goes right along with the digital marketing understanding of keywords. If someone does a Google search, they aren't going to type in long sentences when a keyword or two will get them faster and likely more accurate results. In a presentation, we want to follow that same philosophy. We want our audience to lock in on the words and ideas we want them to see.
If we decide to write full, drawn-out sentences that hog up entire slides, we're adding unnecessary information that does nothing to further the goal of the presentation.
The second common factor among presentation formats is to remember that any visual aid is only a tool; it is not the presentation. We are the presentation. What we want to project in a slide is a simple idea that can be read by the audience in seconds and expounded upon by us in a minute or two. But if they can read the entire presentation on the slides, there's no reason for us even to be there.
These factors offer great insight for anyone wanting to build their own presentation templates. Because the slides are not meant to go into detail, we can simply create templates that allude to the information we know will go in the most common forms of a presentation.
As an example, let's say we have a topic that we've narrowed down to three great keywords. After a slide to introduce ourselves and provide any necessary background information, we can start to focus on our keywords to narrow in on each specific category of our pitch. Perhaps we have a slide that is meant to display a comparison to our competition. If our competition is currently bigger than us, we want our audience to remember us regarding future projections instead of current revenues. Doing so will divert them from the competitor's previous prowess and draw their eyes towards our potential.
Visual tips for slide templates
It's true; it's not all about the words. What the audience sees around those words will have an effect on how they view the words, and ultimately how they view us as the presenters. Some visual tips we should consider for each unique presentation scenario include:
- Use color profiles and themes that fit the subject matter; clown colors only work if we're selling clown services
- Find a readable font that is not necessarily a standard font that we see every day, but also one that isn't visually distracting (no comic sans, unless your goal is to polarize the room)
- Size the slides to best fit the expected content
- Properly align any objects or symbols; use tools to create custom objects and shapes to fit presentation
- Embed websites and multimedia into presentation - rather than just showing a link, embedding the actual website or video allows us to provide the information without having to jump away from the slides
- Bring presentation on laptop - normally we would want to make sure all fonts and images are saved properly so that they can transfer easily to a different computer, but it would save everyone a few headaches if we just bring our own hardware.
Using templates from industry leaders
Wouldn't it be great if there was someone out there who already did the work for us?
As it turns out, there is, and letting someone else do it for a minimal cost could turn out to be a big saver of time, money, and sanity. Normally there would be some concern that the template we purchase is coming from some kid doing freelance work in his basement. But the demand for this service has grown enough over the years that some of the most brilliant leadership minds have put together media planning templates that we can use for our proposals.
Guy Kawasaki slides
Guy Kawasaki was the chief evangelist for Macintosh - and also the person who made "evangelist" a thing in marketing - from its very beginning. Since then, he has been highly influential in the marketing world as an author and venture capitalist. He has pitched, he has been pitched, and now he has used that knowledge to build a template that he believes can give marketers an entrepreneurial edge. All we have to do is fill in the blanks.
Kawasaki's three presentation rules are as simple as 1, 2, 3. Well, actually it's 10/20/30, but still the same idea:
- 10 slides (if necessary, maximum of 15)
- 20 minutes
- 30 point font (minimum)
Pitching 10 slides in 20 minutes may seem like it's not nearly enough to persuade anyone of anything, but Kawasaki's 10-slide template provides broad categories from which we can zone in on our keywords.
- The first slide is simply an introduction where we present our company name, company tagline, and our contact information.
- In slide 2, we want to present the problem or opportunity of which we plan to address. This can, and sometimes should be no more than a sentence or phrase.
- Next is our value proposition, which is the innovative way that we plan to address the problem or opportunity from the previous slide.
- Kawasaki refers to the 4th slide as the "underlying magic." We've already told them why our product has value, but what else can it do? This is where we take a presentation that addresses their concerns and take it to another level by exceeding their expectations. If the company needs a baseball player that can play any of the eight positions in the field, we show how our product does that in the previous. Slide 4 is when we casually reveal that our product can also pitch.
- This is the business model, otherwise known as the way our product will make money. Will we sell the product outright or as a subscription? What will we charge in either case?
- Slide 6 is how we will take our product to market. This should cover what channels we plan to use in our sales efforts.
- Next, we want to show how we compare to our competition. We don't want to overload with too much information here, but a few key areas where we provide more value will suffice.
- Slide 8 is the management team. That's us. We should make sure we have a good picture.
- This one gets a bit deeper, as it addresses financial projections and metrics. There will always be some "numbers" people in the audience, so putting this near the end not only keeps the rest of the audience engaged for most of the presentation, but also rounds out our ability to address different personalities.
- The final slide is all about showing what we've done to get to this point, and where we plan to focus our energy in the future.
Wrap it up
The final slide works on multiple levels. It provides key information that could be critical to extending the conversation, but it also leads to a natural presentation ending. We don't want to find ourselves lingering, looking like we might have something else to say but not knowing how to end it.
John Coltrane once asked Miles Davis how he should end an improvisational solo. Miles, in his iconic raspy voice, told him, "Try taking the saxophone out of your mouth."