Please Don’t Sell Me a Solution

by Dave Nieuwstraten

The other day my son joked with me. “Dad,” he said, “I came up with a new name for a business.” “What’s that Ben?” “It’s going to be called Total Quality Solutions, Inc.,” he answered. Some might think that’s a great name. It says they offer total quality which is better than just partial quality…and it tells the world they offer solutions to what you need. It says it all. AHHHH! There is probably a company out there with that name but it has some problems, in my opinion. For one: quality is expected, and that word lacks personality. It’s true customers want quality but that doesn’t mean the word should be in your company name; it makes you sound boring and outdated. But what Ben really knows is that one of my least favorite words is “solutions.” It’s cold, stale, and overused. Here are some of the ways I’ve seen it used:

  • A grocery store had a “Meat Solutions” sign up in the freezer aisle.
  • A trucking company with a “delivering solutions” tagline.
  • A software provider that provides “solutions beyond innovation” (huh?).
  • A printing company that offers “strategic integrated solutions” (that’s painful).

What’s a meat solution? Sounds like something you would eat, but only if you don’t look at the ingredients. I certainly have never seen “meat solutions” on my wife’s shopping list. What’s in a truck carrying solutions? Do you mean you get the stuff delivered to the right place and on time or that you can ship anything? I’m not sure there is anything innovative about the word “solutions.” Maybe it’s just me but I think it’s time to put the word “solutions” on the list of cliche words for marketers to avoid. There is little to no vibrancy in the word; it has lost any punch or creative magic it had. No one sees the word and gets excited that they’ve found the answer to their needs or problem. As you are tempted to use “solutions” in your copywriting, do me a favor and think about more interesting or compelling words. You can do better.

I’m finishing this blog post in the morning. Time for breakfast. As awesome as it sounds, I think I’ll avoid the “nutrition solutions” and instead cook up some fluffy buttermilk pancakes, farm fresh eggs and maple bacon.

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