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56 . Glasgow Business September/October 2013

BIG TALKS Sharon Mars Account Director at The BIG Partnership

Bin the buzz words – no more ‘solutions’

» Let’s get back to some straight talking, says Sharon Mars W

orking in PR means I regularly encounter a range of businesses representing a full spectrum of shapes, sizes and

sectors. It’s one of the aspects of my job I most enjoy. Increasingly, however, I find there is one word which rears its ugly head on websites, press releases, presentations and marketing collateral. So much so, I fear this vast assortment of commercial creativity is starting to rely on a homogenised gloop of repetitive jargon to get its messages out to the market. Te offending word? Solutions.

“Resorting to lazy catch-all phrases like 'solutions’ might feel sophisticated and professional, but it doesn’t do anything to help your customers ”

See for yourself – Google ‘solutions’ and

out spews everything from “financial solutions”; “residential property solutions”; “IT retail solutions”; “transport solutions”; “contact lenses solution”... Okay, I’ll let that last one slide. It’s become commonplace for companies to

offer ‘solutions’ in a bid to market themselves as problem solvers and align themselves with good customer service. But ‘solutions’ tells me (and everyone they

are targeting) absolutely nothing about their business. How do I distinguish one HR solutions provider from another? What are they actually offering me? To take one genuine example (I’ve omited

the company name to spare any blushes): [Name of company – rest assured, it includes the word ‘solutions’] is a leading solution provider,

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specialising in the provision of total information solutions. We have a proven history of successfully serving customers and boast an impressive repertoire of successful project implementations in numerous sectors including government, banking, education, healthcare, and industrial. [Insert company name] seeks to inspire clients by helping them create vision enhanced by business and learning technologies. We empower them to change the way they do business and learn by providing them the right solutions at the right time. I blame branding agencies. (Yes, I’m aware

of the irony, thank you). I imagine about ten to 15 years ago a trendy marketeer (wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap, Fred Flintstone t-shirt and sneakers with his freshly pressed business suit) advised one of his clients the word ‘solutions’ was a more sophisticated collective term for expressing its day-to-day operations. I’m sure he was right – and had numerous brightly coloured, highly stylised charts to prove it – but having a sophisticated brand doesn’t necessarily support your botom line (which, if you’re a business is, well, the botom line). Resorting to lazy catch-all phrases like

‘solutions’ might feel sophisticated and professional, but it doesn’t do anything to help your customers understand your business and the ‘solutions’ you’re offering. Subsequently, any value you hope to communicate through your years of experience, specialist expertise and market innovation is lost in a soup of jargon – leaving your customers with no real basis on which to compare you with your less-experienced, less-informed, less-innovative competitor (who may well be cheaper). I’m calling time on ‘solutions’, and

its frustratingly opaque brethren (see ‘learnings’ and ‘facilitate’). Te commercial market is tough enough without businesses creating

Sharon Mars speaking out against jargon

problems for themselves by not using clear, precise language to effectively communicate their proposition. As my mate Bob once said: “It’s good to talk”... but only if the people you’re speaking to can interpret what you’re saying. So let’s leave the lacklustre lexicon behind

and get back to some straight talking – who’s with me?

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