'You're not selling a vacuum cleaner, you're selling peace of mind.'
In many settings sales is about tricking people, and for some reason those who practise such trickery think we're all stupid enough to fall for it. I could tell that Candice, the sweet but dopey real estate agent who sold me my house, had been to this school of thought, when, upon ushering me into a pokey dining room, dramatically announced 'imagine yourself reading the paper in the sunshine by the window while the children play in the fully-enclosed yard.'
This isn't just a dining room, dammit! It's a lifestyle! I didn't have the heart to tell her that we don't have kids.
So now we're offered not treated pine timber, but 'decking solutions'. As if that wasn't enough, to get a step ahead some smart-arse avant-garde advertising agency began pitching the term 'strategic' so that we could appear to be even more capable. There's a TV ad in my town where an enterprising curtain and blind manufacturer is offering 'strategic window dressing solutions'.
In the world of communications things have taken an equally crapful turn. Marketing and communications businesses (you know, the ones who aspire to be on Gruen) offer us strategic marketing solutions. It's the same stuff they've always done, mark you, but presumably now that it's strategic it'll be even more effective.
In these cases 'strategic' is redundant. It's lost its oomph. What Wellington did at Waterloo was strategic. The D-Day landings deserve the term too. But developing a logo?
Many will defend the use of the word to the death. They'll say, ahh but what we do is different. We tailor our services to suit the client's needs. We have a meeting in a boardroom and everything. If you don't believe us you can download our ebook.
Give us a break. Where did all the smart people go? If you have a good product or service to sell, tell me about it. If you're particularly clever at something show me how. Explain why I should choose you over someone else's offering. What's in it for me? Telling me that you can meet all my business needs ain't too helpful.
See also The barenaked truth about strategy documents
Serious stories about communication
told in a silly voice.
Me: Bruce Ransley
I dig a little deeper than most comms folk. From science at university, to a cold-and-wet career as a commercial diver, to working underground, and for the past 13 years as a communicator-at-large, I've had my fair share of weird experiences in all sorts of situations. It's given me a fair-to-middling grounding in all things explanatory.