Marketing Vocabulary: What if we all say the same thing

I have judged technology competitions for years and have reviewed countless (alright, hundreds) of applications during that time. Almost all of them describe themselves as easy to use, fast to deploy, scalable and revolutionary in their utility. Some even tell you what they do. Too often the positioning and description are abstract enough to permit users to either disregard the generically described solution or they lead prospects completely astray with imprecise descriptions of utility. If your application matters, then so to should your position of its’ utility. Which brings me to my central point. Most people have something in mind when they are evaluating solutions. They may very well want solutions that are easy to use, fast to deploy and scalable but as they pertain to what? A CRM solution, a Communications Switch, a Firewall…

I attended a CMS tradeshow several months ago and approached a number of vendors asking each of them to help me understand where they fit within the CMS ecosystem. Surprise, they were all easy to use-to-use, flexible and fast. They all allowed non-technical personnel to manage and deploy content to enterprise-class websites. I politely pressed each vendor asking them to help me understand why I would switch a development team from my current platform(s) of choice to their solution and was greeted with a series of weak answers. Positioning does not (and products do not) exist in isolation. Within the enterprise, firms are coming from something. There are institutional and behavioral impediments to switching from one technology or platform to another. There are switching costs in the real world and impediments to adoption that transcend the importance of incremental functional capabilities. Failing to understand the perspective of your target audience is whistling in the wind – and is akin to participating in a tradeshow where everyone is saying the same thing and the attendees aren’t hearing you.

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