There are no products or services any more, only solutions.
This means one of two things, either the world is drowning in liquid mixtures in which the minor component (the solute) is uniformly distributed in the major component (the solvent), or we’re awash with problems we don’t know we have.

I think the liquid mixtures would be preferable, it makes me think of prehistoric ages when the planet was populated by simple sea creatures drifting around vast oceans.

My favourite “solution” of recent times was given to a friend by the builder who added an extension to the back of her house. His company did a great job, but then she wanted a dog flap put into the window of one of the folding doors. However he wasn’t content with that, he promised her an ‘innovative dog door solution’. Yeah, it was a dog flap.

Assuming you know your customers
Beyond my personal linguistic proclivities, there is a bigger problem with companies promoting their products and services as “solutions”. It assumes you know what your customer’s “problem” is (or if there is even a problem to begin with) and it immediately communicates a lack of listening. Customers want to be listened to, they want to chance to say what they want and for you to respond.

Promoting “solutions” is the marketing equivalent of someone approaching you at a party and saying “you know what your problem is…” It can seem arrogant to the point of aggressive.

Calling a spade an innovative earth digging solution
In today’s world of interactive marketing, cutting your customers off before they’ve even had a  chance to tell you what they want is a mistake. There are dozens of positive terms to describe your products or services that don’t assume you know what your customers want. If it’s a dog door call it a dog door. It might be easy, stylish, simple-to-install, durable, secure, fun, but it’s not an innovative solution.

  • Marie-Laure Feb 6, 2015 Reply

    Wonder if you have seen this article – http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/wikipedia-editor-has-made-some-47000-corrections-to-online-database-10024355.html

    Where do you sit? is Mr Henderson wasting his time?!

    • Bruno Mar 5, 2015 Reply

      It’s always a tough one. I love pedantry and celebrate the fact that someone is so dedicated to make 47000 corrections to just one error. However for me grammar is about making things clear. If the meaning is clear, and the word or punctuation use doesn’t detract from the message, then I don’t have a problem. Too often grammatical corrections are used as a put-down, to suggestion the superior intelligence of the corrector. But grammar is an evolving species, never static. For example not starting sentences with ‘And’ or ‘But’ was a late 19th century/ early 20th century fabrication – an attempt to make English more “latin”. It’s a completely unnecessary rule. There is no problem with starting sentences with these words. Moreover doing so can add useful emphasis. The ‘comprises’ ‘comprises of’ debate doesn’t impact the clarity or meaning. Hate it as Mr Henderson does, it’s probably just an example of how our language and grammar are changing.

      Having said that I adore hilarious errors that change meaning or conjure images. Like ‘Entertaining Dips’ in the post below. I gives me such pleasure every time I’m in the aisle.

  • Name (Required)

  • Email (Required, but not published)

  • Url (Optional)

  • Comment (Required)