Don't Gimme No Solutions
by June Campbell
Ever thought that this whole technology thing is just too confusing for the average person to understand? Ever visited a web site to learn about a new computer product only to leave the site muttering, "I don't get it. It's way too complicated?"
Well, if you have, you're not alone, and the problem may not be of your making. The way I see it, the technology marketers on the Information Superhighway are spinning their wheels in a morass of jargon and hype. The result? A phenomenal tendency to say much and communicate little. When these Marketer Persons put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, who the *^&* knows what they're talking about? Not me, and certainly not the end user, the person who might actually want to buy the product, if they knew what it was and what it cost and how they might use it.
For example, after spending ten minutes trying to interpret a press release that somebody sent me, I gave up in despair and went to the company's Web site, where, it was promised, full details would be provided. What did I find? You guessed it. After clicking my way through several pages of slowly downloading Web files, the only thing I knew for sure was the name of the owner of the company and the fact that they were launching a wonderful new "solution" that they believed would solve somebody's problem. But who's problem? And how? Don't ask me. How much does it cost? That's top secret information, apparently. How do I buy it, supposing for some perverted reason I wanted to purchase a mystery product? Classified information.
Here's a tip, gratis, for all you people who are trying to promote, sell or market technology related products. FORGET THE JARGON AND DESCRIBE YOUR PRODUCT IN A WAY THAT EVEN AUNT MABEL COULD UNDERSTAND! Because just maybe Aunt Mabel might buy it if you lost the spin and told her exactly what it is you've got for sale.
Let me give you an example. Wade through today's collection of junk mail. Do you see anything from McDonalds inviting you to phone them and ask for details about their proprietary, integrated nutritional solution, developed in-house and designed to accommodate your daily basal metabolic requirements for dietary supplements? My guess is you won't find that. You will find information about their HAMBURGERS AND FRIES. You'll even find the prices mentioned right up front for the whole world to see.
This unusual approach, which involves actually stating what it is you are selling, and how much it costs, and how a person can order it, has apparently worked well for outfits like McDonalds, and GAP and Ford and the other big names in retail sales. How about giving it a try in the technology industry as well?
The ability to spew forth jargon like a volcano spews molten lava might impress other marketing people and possibly government employees. But remember, gentle launcher of a new product, it is not other marketing people who will become your customers, and it is not other marketing people who will read your press releases. It is the public, the great unwashed, who you want to reach with your marketing message. And they won't waste their time trying to figure out marketing material that comes chock full of 'bummph', a term coined by my grandfather, which loosely translated, means 'bull droppings.'
Don't waste my time telling me that you're launching a "remarkable new solution that promotes integrated data management of media content that will realize better return on investment (ROI), and that, in fact GISTICS has evaluated potential ROI to be as high as 16:1. (GISTICS, 1997) with general benefits translating from enterprise to workgroup to individual users, and ultimately represent new revenue streams, a reduction of resource requirements, and less down-time between projects…."
Tell me what the dickens it is you are selling, why I might need it, how it'll help me. Say it plainly. Give examples. Lose the word "solution," which has become a mean-nothing, over-used term if ever there was one.
Oh, and one last thing. Tell me the price. When I stroll through the shopping malls, every item on display has a clearly marked price tag. To my untrained eyes, this approach to selling seems to work well, based on the numbers of people who load their carts at shopping malls, boutiques and supermarkets. Speaking of supermarkets, did you ever notice the items that are displayed for sale beside the cash register? How many people would buy that magazine or that package of gum if they had to email away a request for pricing and ordering information and then return two days later when the information had arrived? My guess is, sales of Juicy Fruit would go down, down, down.
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