Banish Solutions

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In my day job, I help IT vendors create marketing materials and campaigns. Although you probably would not guess it from reading these columns, what I do most is write.

Marketing sometimes garners a bad reputation. (That is "sometimes" as in "the earth sometimes revolves around the sun.") However, I still believe that what I do is useful. It allows prospective customers to discover how my clients can help them capitalize on opportunities and solve problems, opportunities and problems that companies otherwise might not capitalize on or solve. Hopefully, my writing is clear, concise, and honest, and it helps people make informed buying decisions.

The preceding serves merely to introduce what I am going to go on about today. You would probably understand the rest without the introduction, but they pay me by the word, and this tirade is running a little short. I hope that everyone else will excuse me, but I decided to use this week's tirade to deliver an open message to my clients. The message is this: Please stop forcing me to use only the word "solution" to describe what you sell.

There is absolutely no shame in selling "products," "services," "software," "applications," "utilities," or any other non-solution word, other than maybe the words "crap," "rubbish," "drivel," or some variation on that theme. Customers would be happy to buy accounting software or manufacturing software. You don't have to always refer to them as accounting solutions or manufacturing solutions. (I don't currently have any manufacturing or accounting software vendors as clients, but I didn't want to single out any existing client. I would like to hold onto a little of my business.)

Let me say that I really do believe that my clients sell truly wonderful products and services, many of which really are head and shoulders above the competition. Of course, my clients pay me to believe that. It is just that no vendor, whether a client of mine or not, would ever admit publicly to trying to sell something that does not fulfill any customer requirement whatsoever. And, let's face it, most products and services really do solve some problem or need, small though it may be in the case of your competitors' products. Maybe the competitors' products or services don't perform as well as yours does or maybe they don't provide as many benefits as yours does, but they do provide a solution to something. So, all products and services are solutions. The word is superfluous.

I am not saying that we should never refer to your product or service as a solution. It is a solution, so we should not be afraid to use that word occasionally. It is just that, after a while, refusing to allow me to ever use any other word in your marketing material becomes very tedious for both your prospective customers and me. (Especially me, but that's OK. That's why you pay me the big bucks.)

The second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, published in 1989, included 291,500 entries. I'm sure that if we work together, we will be able to find at least three or four words that we can rotate through your marketing text to identify what you sell.

Now that we have got that out of the way, let's talk about the word "advanced"....

P.S.: After this column appears, I may not have any clients left. So, if any IT vendors are reading this, please call me. I can provide advanced solutions to fulfill your unique marketing communication needs.

Joel Klebanoff is a consultant, a writer, and president of Klebanoff Associates, Inc., a Toronto, Canada-based marketing communications firm. Joel has 25 years experience working in IT, first as a programmer/analyst and then as a marketer. He holds a Bachelor of Science in computer science and an MBA, both from the University of Toronto. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. He provides marketing communications solutions.

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