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The solution to all your problems

Sometimes, you don’t realise there’s a problem. You know, you’ve been doing something the same way for years, and then someone comes up with a new way of doing it and your life is revolutionised. Well, you save a minute or two anyway.

This is usually described as a ‘solution’. Problems need solutions, and solutions are good things. The word comes from chemistry – where a solution is a solid substance dissolved in a liquid. Solutions make your problems ‘dissolve’.

All that is fine and dandy, but there are just too many solutions out there in the land of marketing speak. Drilling solutions, hydro-excavation solutions, plastering solutions, consultancy solutions, the list is endless and makes my blood boil.

These things aren’t solutions. In some cases, I don’t know what they are but they don’t solve problems. I’m unaware of too many people complaining of their hydro-excavation problems in the pub of an evening, and the main ‘solution’ I can see in consultancy is to the question ‘who can I bill next for my time?’.

The use of the word ‘solutions’ has become the lazy copywriter’s way of sounding like they understand. I remember being required to write some text involving the words ‘total marketing solutions’. I complained that we weren’t offering solutions, rather we had high quality, differentiated services that provided people with ways of doing things more efficiently that they already understood pretty well. Still, I was junior enough to be forced into it, which is a source of lifelong regret.

Much of the marketing copy in the construction field is written either by those who don’t write a lot of marketing copy or by those who don’t do a lot of construction. This means both groups reach too quickly for the familiar words – the ones the competitors use. It’s easy and other people do it, so it must be okay, right?

No. Prosperity and profit are brought by differentiation. You need to look different to your competition, otherwise you will end up competing on price. Don’t allow your lazy, feckless copywriter who wants to finish off and get to the pub just copy the poor language choices of your competition – you’re better than that aren’t you?

Here’s the solution. No more solutions.

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