marketing - chalkboardI’ve spent the better part of the past 30 years (as well as the worse part) in sales and marketing. One thing that has always impressed me in perusing the web sites of the industry leaders is how I have absolutely no idea what they actually do.  Smart marketers learned a long time ago that when it comes to beating the competition, you don’t have to build a better mousetrap. You just have to sound like you build a better mouse. trap. That starts with the words you use to describe what your mousetrap does.

No industry has mastered this technique more than high tech. Ever heard of a little company called Computer Associates? Here’s what they do, in their own words: “CA Technologies provides robust management solutions utilizing closed loop orchestration of provisioning and configuration across physical and virtual resources.” It’s just that simple.

Or how about the 800-pound gorilla in the world of routers, switches and network systems, our buddies over at Cisco Systems. I wonder what they do. Here’s a description any seven year-old (with a graduate degree in Linux computer programming) could understand:  “Cisco’s Borderless Network Architecture is implemented as a five-phase plan that moves from baseline services to advanced policy management and integration that ultimately delivers the borderless experience for users.” 

But this technique is not limited to just the IT big boys. Check out this simple explanation of what Accenture does to help its clients succeed: “Accenture has continually increased our analytic sophistication and capabilities—from batch reporting to performance management solutions … to the creation of a dedicated information management services organization.“  

Of course nobody understands exactly what  Accenture’s “performance management solutions” means. And that’s the brilliance of this approach. Which do you think CA can charge more for – telling you your computers are running slowly because they need more memory? Or diagnosing that your mean time to failure is sub-optimized due to your network’s low yield tolerance thresholds resulting in inefficiently distributed data packets?

But you don’t have to run a high tech firm or Fortune 500 business to use this technique. Take fishing rods. Which would you rather own? A perfectly adequate fishing rod with an aluminum shaft that you can use for fly fishing? Or a triple-coated, graphite-reinforced, dual-track quick release casting system that increases your vortex flex by up to 75%? Now, perhaps you’re asking yourself, “What exactly is a dual-track quick release casting system?” Nobody actually knows, including the guy who wrote the copy. That’s not important. What’s important is that you must have it – if you want to impress your fishing buddies the next time you’re out on the lake casting for trout.

marketing - complex chartAnother idea: Consider adding a complicated chart to your web site with lots of arrows and colors like the one on the right. You could use the London subway map or a snapshot of your most recent electrocardiogram for all anybody cares. It doesn’t matter. The key is to make it confusing, colorful, and nebulously profound. And if you can keep it to say, a 4 point font, even better. That way no one can actually read it. Your customers won’t have a clue what the diagram is about, but they’ll be thinking “Gosh, this company must be cutting-edge. I wonder what they sell. I hope they accept VISA.”

The key to growing your business is to make sure that whatever it is that your business actually does, it can be explained in convoluted chains of three- and four-syllable words. Simply compile a list of impressive-sounding verbs, adjectives and nouns and use them in any random combination. To help you out, I’ve compiled a list of terms to get you started. Pick one of each:

Verbs (choose one): optimize, develop, benchmark, reverse-engineer, transform, synchronize, monetize, streamline, synthesize, integrate, leverage, aggregate.

Adjectives (choose one): scalable, innovative, mission-critical, next-generation, 24/7, real-time, world-class, platform-independent, transparent, turnkey, seamless.

Nouns (choose one): deliverables, assets, systems, yields, channels, solutions, platforms, technologies, revenue streams, synergies, metrics, convergence.

Now combine them into a sentence, upload them to your website home page, and BINGO – your profits will climb by 20% before you know it. Don’t worry if the words don’t seem to make sense or that they may have no relevance to your business. The key is to sound cutting-edge, innovative, highly sophisticated and hopelessly obscure. Trust me, nobody will ever ask you what you actually do. They’re too busy being mesmerized by your website’s impressive process flow chart, which unbeknownst to them is actually the electrical grid for Cleveland, Ohio.

Let’s practice, shall we? Say you’re a small neighborhood bank. You might say your business is to make loans. WRONG! Your bank has INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS to help your customers MONETIZE REAL-TIME YIELDS.

Okay, so you say you’re a small business consultant who helps companies by training their managers to be better leaders. Once again, INCORRECT! You help companies LEVERAGE SYNERGISTIC MANAGEMENT-BASED SOLUTIONS.

See how easy it is? But a word of caution. If you own Bongo’s fast food burger restaurant, do not put on your sign “BONGO’s – OPTIMIZING BEST-IN-CLASS, HIGH-YIELD BURGER DELIVERABLES SINCE 1987”. Just give ‘em the Bongo Burger and super size the fries, okay? Don’t over-think this.

marketing - toilet seatIf you want to grow your business in today’s competitive global marketplace, stop fretting about trying to improve your customer service or shaving costs by eliminating the toilet paper from the men’s room. If you really want the competitive edge, stop wasting your time on the small stuff. Focus on what really matters: obfuscation. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to ORCHESTRATING a CROSS-MEDIA, BEST-OF-BREED, LEADING-EDGE PARTNERSHIP MARKETING PORTAL guaranteed to produce a SUSTAINABLE LONG-TERM LEAD GENERATION PLATFORM.

Of course, you may be concerned that this has nothing to do with actually providing improved customer value or building a better business, and that this is all just marketing spin. To which I would ask – and your point is?

I should know a thing or two about marketing. My own company’s sales of mirrors are up 30% over last year, thanks in part to another brilliant marketing idea I came up with: For every mirror you buy, we’ll throw in a year’s supply of smoke.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

Ahem, what I meant to say was…That’s the analysis from this long-range observational platform. I leave open the potentiality that my assessment may not be conclusively determined to be in alignment with the actuality of current conditions.

Tim Jones - Profile at Safeco - TinyPS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a thumbs upor sharing this post on Facebook. And why not try out some of the marketing techniques I have shared in this week’s post? From the looks of how your business has been going lately, what do you have to lose? 

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2013

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