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Meaningless buzzwords... And how to avoid them

The thing about networking events… You collect a lot of business cards. I was going through them the other evening. Yeah I know. Rock n roll, huh? But hey, I was in a sorting kind of mood.

Anyway, one hideous word kept popping up. In fact, this word isn’t just on business cards. It appears with such mind-numbing regularity, in absolutely everything, that I’ve decided to have a bit of a rant.

That word is… Solutions.

Seriously, it’s everywhere. IT solutions, business solutions, marketing solutions, stationery solutions and even (I kid you not) office Christmas party solutions.

What’s the problem?

Well, that’s the point. If you’re promising solutions, you have to understand the problem. And, equally as important, whether or not your customer actually has one.

Let’s take `stationery solutions’ as an example. Do their customers have stationery problems? Do they lie awake at night worrying about paper clips? No they do not. Their customers want paper clips and the stationery provider meets that need.

But hang on…

OK, some businesses solve things. IT people, for example. You’ll usually contact them in a crisis and let’s be honest, you really (really!) need a solution. Your laptop has gone kaput so you can’t work and there’s a deadline coming up. You’ll lose a client, won’t get paid, the mortgage is due. But don’t worry - they’ll fix it in a jiffy. Phew! You won’t get repossessed.

And then there are the benefits. Streamline your office technology and hey presto, everyone can communicate effortlessly. Their lives get easier. Your staff are happier, more productive and profits go up.

You’re getting my drift... This overused, blandly meaningless word can’t tell your customer how they’ll benefit. So why should they care? The word `solutions’ doesn’t even get close to demonstrating what you do, or how you can meet your customer's needs. In short, they’ll ignore you and go elsewhere.

Next time you’re tempted to use the word `solutions’… Please, just don’t. Instead, think about what your customer really wants from you, the pain points that you can address head on. How will this person benefit? What will they save, gain or achieve as a result of the product or service that you offer? Explain this in plain, simple terms and you’ll get their full attention.

OK, rant over. I’ll get back to those business cards. Hmmm…. `Innovative’….

Helen Beckingham is an SEO copywriter at Keyword Copywriting. Expert scribbler on websites, blogs and e-books, rather good bassoonist, terrible singer. Contact helen@keywordcopywriting.co.uk here