Art of Message

Art of Message – May 30, 2023

An allure that feels like a promise

In sales and marketing related to technology, with solutions based on features, products, frameworks, plugins, approaches, concepts, APIs, datasets and platforms, a naming or labeling pattern has emerged.

Specifically, it’s easier to sell solutions if:

  • the name contains an easy-to-grasp “instant idea” that you can riff on easily – and can later attach to more profound, strategic thinking
  • their names themselves have a ring to them; plus, they often sound good when shortened

Sometimes more of one than the other but that’s the basic albeit ridiculous formula.

There’s an allure to them that feels like a promise.

Case in point – when my firm designed and sold custom solutions based on Drupal and Salesforce, I remember introducing a module to a client called “Organic Groups” to counter the problem of Facebook Groups luring away customer from their own platform. The name Organic Groups:

(a) suggested the  pleasantly natural evolution of affinity groups
(b) hinted at organic lead generation (“organic growth”, “organic traffic”)
(c) was nice to say on calls; it was easy to shorten to ‘Groups’ too.

In reality, Organic Groups was fatally flawed and a waste of time and money 8 times out of 10 – but its name held a promise that kept it alive for a bit.

Same with sales and marketing concepts like “Unique Selling Proposition”.

It’s a crisp idea based on a premise that you can easily bullshit on in a sales call – that buyers remember just one thing. And if you shorten it down to 3 letters, USP rolls off the tongue quite nicely – like IBM, NBA, MVP, etc.

The fact is though, that the person who coined USP, Bill Bernback, never produced any evidence that buyers “remember just one thing”. He just made it up.

The real challenge is coining a term with the properties discussed – but for something that actually delivers on its promise.

The message above comes from…
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