What ever happened to good ol’ products and services? And when did companies stop selling them in favor of “value-added” somethings?
Today, everyone wants to think they’re getting more for less. And maybe that’s why so many companies have started selling “solutions.”
So many, we can’t tell them apart anymore…much less know what they really sell.
- Marketing Solutions
- IT Solutions
- HR Solutions
- Communication Solutions
- Industrial Solutions
- Climate Solutions
- Cross-Cultural Solutions
- Psychiatric Solutions
- Old Age Solutions
- Skin Solutions
- Hair Solutions
- Lawn Solutions
- Bamboo Solutions (It has nothing to do with panda food or funky placemats but everything to do with SharePoint. Go figure.)
- Serials Solutions (No help for mass murderers here. Just some database search software for librarians.)
- Thinsolutions (Don’t get your hopes up. It’s an IT services company.)
Google any word along with “solutions,” and there’s a good chance you’ll find a company that sells it.
But here’s my favorite: The Solution Store.
Know what it sells? Office supplies. (The names “Office Solutions,” “Office Supply Solutions,” “Paper Solutions” and “File Solutions” were already taken.)
Of course, if your problem is a slow network, a strong-willed child, raccoons under your porch or a weird allergy to bananas, The Solution Store won’t have your solution.
And that’s my point.
“Solution” doesn’t really mean anything. At least nothing tangible.
“Solution” is Corporate Blah Blah for a product, a service or a combination of the two. And those details are what people really want to know. When you say you “provide solutions,” you make people dig to uncover what you really do.
Oh, So That’s What You Do
A few years back, I was talking to an acquaintance about his employer, The Timken Company. I really didn’t know much about the company — just that they made bearings. But the acquaintance quickly corrected me. Timken didn’t “make bearings.” They specialized in “friction management and powertrain solutions.”
Ah. That cleared things up.
Months later, when writing for the company, I realized in how many places Timken described itself the same way, as a leader in “friction management and powertrain solutions.”
I’m sure somebody had a good reason for using those words, but wouldn’t something like “We sell bearings and everything they need to work better” be easier to understand?
I know it’s not the whole story, but it would have made a clearer introduction.
Evidently, someone else at Timken thought the same. Today, Timken’s About Us page begins: “The Timken Company is a leading global manufacturer of highly engineered bearings, alloy steels, and related components and assemblies. Our technologies and products turn up virtually everywhere equipment moves or power is transmitted.”
Now I get it. So that’s what friction management and powertrain solutions are: really good bearings, steel and more.
The Problem That “Solutions” Can’t Fix
With so many solutions available, there must be a lot of problem solving going on. But here’s one problem that “solutions” can’t fix: obscurity.
Corporate Blah Blah loves to be obscure. It uses all the “right” words — like “solutions” — without really saying anything. So, avoid it.
Write in Real People Talk to be as clear and direct as possible. And you won’t need any more “communication solutions.”