Sales and marketing people have a tough time. How in a crowded global market place do you stand above the crowd and differentiate yourself from your customers?
Some companies build a better product and let it speak for itself, such as Apple did with the iPhone. Some companies, like Amazon, use aggressive loss leader pricing strategies to get market share with a view to long term market domination.
Other companies try and rely on sales and marketing to get their products ahead of the game, and this is where marketing speak comes in.
Have a look around and you will see the marketing at work, and if you look a bit deeper, behind the meaning, you can get some interesting insights into the inner workings of the business.
“20-30% off” – Sales that give you a hint to what the real profit margin is.
“End of year run out” – Sales that highlight poor strategies for inventory management.
“Everything must go” – Signals a serious cash flow crisis, and a last ditch attempt to keep the company afloat.
The one I love the most, out of all of these is the complete over use of a single, four letter word, best.
“Best fish and chips in Sydney”, “Best phone”, “Best car”, “Best customer service”, “Best price”.
When used by a marketer, “best” is truly a double edged sword that works both for and against them. They can use it because the word “best”, is completely subjective and not actually measurable. Ironically, when a company actually is a market leader, you won’t typically see the word “best” anywhere.
“Apparently love can be measured. And it keeps adding up to iPhone.”
So how do you measure if a company is truly great?
For some industries or market segments, it is actually very easy, airlines and motor vehicles being two great examples.
Skytrax is an independent, company that conducts independent market research for airlines, and airports.
Both of these companies rely on being seen as a reputable third party who conducts a truly independent survey, with clearly defined transparent criteria.
Gartner tries to fill this role in the IT space, but their, Magic Quadrant surveys completely ignore key software measures such as price, usability and application quality. They also focus on commercial products, ignoring commonly used open source alternatives.
Enter the consultants
When you don’t have products to sell, how do you claim to be better than your competition? How can your marketing team claim that you are the best? Simple. You claim to use the best practice.
Here is a real world example.
They must go hand in hand with world class best practices and services in your organisations to ensure success. That’s what makes the combination of [tool vendor]’s expertise in [buzzword] products combined with [service vendor]’s services expertise such a perfect combination.
Loosing your credibility
“Best practices” is right up there on the buzzword bingo list along with “Centre of excellence”, and “Cloud”. Smart people, see right through this kind of sales speak, and people that use this type of terminology loose credibility every time they use these terms. So use them at your peril.
I think that I’ll leave the final word on this to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison in reference to cloud computing.
“The computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than women’s fashion. … I mean, cloud computing. I remember I was reading W, and I found and read that orange is the new pink, and cloud is the new SaaS, uh, or, you know cloud is the new virtualization. It is the most nonsensicle, I mean, I read these articles, I have no idea what people are.. now, maybe I’m an idiot. I have no idea what anyone’s talking about. I mean, it’s really just complete gibberish.” – Youtube Video
 http://www.apple.com/iphone/why-iphone/ (March 2013)