Banish the bull — and the ‘solution’ — to tell it like it is

One would think that by now, the word “solution” would have run its course as a direct marketing and sales word. But it remains everywhere: in direct marketing, in advertising to both consumers and businesses, on websites, in technical documentation, in press materials for marketing services companies, in executive presentations and even in the very names of some companies. From technology to bedding to coffee filters, marketers hawk their solutions.

Yet its ubiquity is precisely why the word solution has utterly lost its value, and why all of the more meaningful words that solution inappropriately replaces go unused.

Moreover, even if solution were distinctive, it still would be the wrong choice in marketing and sales for two important reasons: it is ambiguous and presumptuous. Ambiguous because, except in the chemical and cleaning supplies businesses, it does not describe the product or service. Presumptuous because only customers have the right to tell marketers what constitutes a business solution. 

You may be thinking, “If not solution, what word can we use?” How about the straightforward noun or phrase that actually describes what your product or service is? Software? Office furniture? Direct marketing program? Optical
equipment? Everyone understands these phrases. Moreover, because they understand what it is and what it does, they are more likely to consider it and buy it.

Likewise, delete “award-winning” from your marketing and sales repertoires. In both b-to-b and consumer realms, this overused adjective self-congratulates products and services ranging from software technical support to bread to car dealers, in each instance eliciting a yawning “so what.” Recognize that an award is your decoration, and people don’t buy those. Better to tell prospects and customers what they get from you and how they benefit.

While we’re on the subject, let’s lose a few more words and phrases for good measure: State-of-the-art, world class, cutting-edge, next generation, best-of-breed, leading, value-added and unique.

There are so many grand words in our language. Let’s market with the ones that are truthful and make the most sense to our prospects and customers. 

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