IT’S LAME: “Solutions”
In our recent survey of business editors, 68% rated the word “solutions” as overused in press releases and other business marketing communications. This is not to conclude that the word is meaningless. Problem-solving is an expected part of the sales process, and in many cases, it’s a critical element of a product or service where there is application-related “value-add.” Too bad that “solutions” has been ruined by overuse, especially by producers of standardized, off-the-shelf products.
Web home pages and capabilities brochures are peppered with it; we’ve seen as many 6 or 8 uses in the first few paragraphs. When it comes right down to it, everything you really need to buy is a solution. A paper clip is a solution. So there isn’t much punch or insight that comes from calling it a solution.
Substitute words you could use? “Answers” or “remedies” … or simply leave the word out. Example: “ABC Company provides business software solutions that help…” can be edited to “ABC Company provides business software that helps…” without losing any meaning or clarity.
It’s even more dangerous to rely on “solutions” to anchor a tag line, or even a whole branding strategy. In his article No more solutions, please in the February 12th 2007 issue of B-to-B magazine, Mike Stefaniak comments: “By 2000, the term was quickly becoming devalued from overuse. Today, it’s dead—void of any capacity to differentiate a company’s brand.”
“Solving problems is now as expected as quality, speed, innovation, ‘highly-engineered’ or a host of other prerequisites for competing. Nonetheless, far too many business-to-business companies continue to stake their brands to entry-level attributes. And ‘solutions’ remains at the top of the list.”
In this era of business collaborations and partnerships, how do you describe two people or business entities that are in sync, working together as events and opportunities unfold. “Mapping” is a novel term. It connotes both “tracking” where you’ve been, and also looking forward…breaking new ground. In the right context, it can impart a sense of achievement. Speaking of which, we’d like to do some mapping in sync with your thoughts and wishes. Please feel free to contribute power words or sour words (lame or game), or information on resources for business-to-business communicators.
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