Red on Marketing Blog

“Solution” is not the solution in B2B marketing communications


By Robert Celaschi

I won't buy your product or service if you don't tell me what it is.

Fun and games!

Here’s a fun game:

Guess what each company is selling, using these lines from their press releases.

“…an expert in the image solution arena.”

“This is a result of an improved customer focus and strong actions to improve our solution competitiveness.”

“… delivers business-aligned solutions

“… a provider of mobility solutions”

And my favorite of the moment:

“… a trusted solutions provider to customers in manufacturing, health care, financial services, public safety, transportation & logistics, and other industries.”

Believe it or not, these companies sell specific things: elevators, servers, computer consulting services, camera phones, iPhone applications.

Drifting off message

I know how we got here. Back in the mists of the 20th century, some truly brilliant marketing folks got the idea that their company did more than push a product out the door; the product actually solved a problem for their customers.

“Mr. Customer, we aren’t just selling you a widget polisher, we are providing a solution to your scuffed-widget problem.”

But somewhere along the way, companies got so fixated on “solution” that they forgot to say what they are selling.

Think about the marketing material you are writing right now. When it falls into my hands, it may be the first time I have run across your company, and I’d really like to know what business you are in. But I don’t have time to play detective. Tell me the specific product or service, preferably near the start.

If you want to call it a “solution” later on, that’s fine.

Reality check

Here’s your homework assignment: Pick up some of your marketing materials and look at them through the eyes of someone who never heard of your company. Is it clear from the start what you are offering? Or are you merely providing vague “solutions” for an undefined problem?

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