The Cranky Product Manager has decided to start a vendetta against the Marketing Cryptospeak that is so freakin’ common in the software industry.
You know… those meaningless, boilerplate-ish, hyper-generic, jargon-oozing, designed-by-committee, ridiculously cryptic descriptions of what a product (or company) supposedly does?
Those nonsense-filled sentences that leave readers so confused about what type of product this actually is (is it a toaster? a really cool foam hand? or project management software?) that they simultaneously hold their noses and reach for the dictionary?
Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 is an integrated suite of server capabilities that can help improve organizational effectiveness by providing comprehensive content management and enterprise search, accelerating shared business processes, and facilitating information-sharing across boundaries for better business insight. Additionally, this collaboration and content management server provides IT professionals and developers with the platform and tools they need for server administration, application extensibility, and interoperability.
Oracle Fusion Applications leverage industry standards and technologies to transform organizations into next-generation enterprises. Oracle Fusion Applications are service-enabled, enterprise applications that can be easily integrated into a service-oriented architecture and made available as software as a service.
Contrast these to this Good Description that clearly states what the product is, what it does, and the benefits — all free of jargon and blah-blah:
Trusted by millions, Basecamp is the leading web-based project collaboration tool. Share files, meet deadlines, assign tasks, centralize feedback, make clients smile.
Alas, Crypto-Descriptions are much more common than Good Descriptions.
Thing is, no doubt the Marketing Weenies for these companies think these Crypto-Descriptions are Good Descriptions – just with even MORE Wicked Awesome! After all, the Crypto-Descriptions probably took weeks, if not months, to concoct, and were born from some kind of all-inclusive, cross-functional, meeting-laden “product positioning” process. And some Crypto-Descriptions even appear to follow that Geoffrey-Moore-approved Positioning Statement format (which, by the way, was never intended for external communication, but the CPM digresses).
So, in theory, these Crypto-Descriptions should Rock the Casbah. But they stink. Even the Cranky Kid can smell their foulness, and his/her nose has no nerve endings left after spending years in diapers.
So what’s the issue? How did this happen?
Lack of Courage, that’s how. Too many companies are afraid to clearly state “we do <X>” when <Y> is the hot, new thing all the prospects are asking for and all the Gardener/Forrest Ranger ho-bags are writing about. These spineless companies think that if they slap on a wig, lipstick, and a prissy dress on their tired old pig of a product, that everyone will be fooled, the product will rank in the “leader quadrant” (or whatever), and money will just start rolling in the door.
In effect, to attract the minuscule “Stupid Buyer” segment who are 1) dazzled by bright, shiny objects, 2) write big checks on whims, and 3) need drool cups, these companies opt to ALIENATE their core target market — those buyers that actually HAVE the problem this product solves — by obfuscating what the product actually does and is good at.
What a great strategy.
Please join the Cranky Product Manager in her Vendetta against Crypto-Descriptions and start a “Crypto-Description Hall of Shame.” Her first nominees are the two above examples, from Microsoft and Oracle. Join her and nominate others for entry into the Hall of Shame!