Take a guess? Collaboration, Proven, Open, Scalable, etc. ? Nope. “Solution” is the most overused word today in marketing technology products. Why? I’ve identified two main reasons which I’ll describe later. However, I’ll be the first to say that I have contributed to the solution epidemic. Additionally, I’ve actively marketed a product with the word “solutions” in its product name (Sabre Business Travel Solutions), and have referred to my company’s products as solutions as well. However, a couple of years ago when I received a press release from a new partner and realized that “solution/s” was mentioned 17 times, I diagnosed this epidemic and I began my research.
The Two Main Reasons for the Solution Epidemic:
1) Lack of Knowledge and Understanding
My first diagnosis is that technical marketing personnel either don’t fully understand the technology or cannot succinctly articulate their products or services. So, instead they refer to their products as solutions. They have not done justice and many times missed the opportunity to explain to their readers (mainly prospects, customers and media) what the product is and does. It is hard enough to get your products in front of your target market, so why blow it when you get there? Tell your readers exactly what you have.
Here’s an example: One of the largest ERP’s in the world recently launched a new product with the word “Solutions” in the name. The reason why I sat down and wrote this article was because I needed to know basic information about this product in terms of what it actually does. I read all the available marketing material (e. g. , Web site content, marketing collateral, presentation with notes, etc. ) on this new solution. I’m still scratching my head on what it does (and I’m not alone). The word solution is used so many times that I’m thinking they don’t know what the product does either.
Nonetheless, get smart about your products and services. Call it an application, system, tool, or something instead of solution. Ask a lot of questions until you have the knowledge and can incorporate it into your marketing messaging and materials. As with my ERP example, if the product seems to have no direction, then help define one. If it’s comprised of multiple functional pieces then explain that so the reader understands what it includes. Sharpen your knowledge and gain a better understanding of your products versus taking the easy way out and using “solution” to describe your product. Which brings me to the second reason – we are lazy.
Yes, we are all lazy. Our peers in Biotech marketing need to work a lot harder than us in order to communicate their products. They just can’t continue to say that their biotech solutions will revolutionize the way medical science will evolve. In many cases, they have to define the science and then be able to communicate what their technology does.
If we are on staff or hired consultants/marketing firm, it is our job to help convey who the company is and what their products and services do. And, I’m telling you that by using the word solutions early on in your descriptions and key messages – you’re not working hard enough. Also, don’t type the word solution and then click on your Thesaurus and try and find a similar word. You will have to get smart and work hard to eliminate solutions from your marketing literature.
When should you use the word Solutions? Ok, by now you may be pulling out your marketing material and circling the number of times the word solution appears. There are times when it is “ok” to use the word solution. When you refer to your competition, use the word solution instead of naming their product. You know the old PR rule; never mention your competition by name in an interview with the media, etc. You don’t want to give them any free publicity.
You need to follow this as well in your writing. If you’ve done an excellent job at explaining your products upfront and created a strong visual with the reader, he or she can identify what you offer. Then you can throw in a casual solution to assist you in summarizing your offerings.
Since I diagnosed what I call the solution epidemic, I’ve shared it with my peers and staff. The goal was to heighten awareness of this epidemic and help out a fellow marketing peer avoid this trap. Bottom line, as technical marketing experts we have a responsibility to communicate what our product is and does – early and often. If we can successfully explain what our product is, how it benefits the customer and answer questions regarding its features – within our array of marketing material, we will differentiate ourselves from the competition and ultimately lead to more sales. Which is the reason why we have marketing positions, right?
Wendy Gibson is the Chief Operating Officer for Skywire Software. As COO, Gibson is responsible for all marketing activities, HR, and strategic planning for Skywire Software and its affiliates. Gibson has also assisted with Skywire Software’s six acquisitions to accelerate the company’s growth.