Tuesday, September 19, 2006

We Clean Blinds

I have rarely if ever worked for a company with products that are easy to explain. My products have tended to be complex and/or required a new way of working (and we all know how much people like change) and/or they were so high-priced that, no matter that no amount of explanation could help the prospect over the sticker shock.

And all of this was compounded, of course, by the rage for talking about features, not benefits. (We have to say that this product will improve your top and bottom line. Who cares what it actually does?)

So it was with great envy that, on my Route 128 commute, I’d occasionally spot a van that said on it “We clean blinds.” Every time I’d see it, I’d sigh and think, “Gee, I know exactly what they do. I wish I had some blinds that needed cleaning.” Just looking at that tag line, I could figure out the benefits on my own. Yes, it would cost me something, but the result would be time savings and very likely cleaner blinds than I’d get if I cleaned them on my own.

I went to a trade show recently, and I saw a technology company that explained just as clearly what they do: “We buy, refurbish, and resell Cisco gear.” I didn’t need to stop in and ask them what they did. I am actually not in the market for any used Cisco gear, thank you, but if I run across any business that is, I’ll sure know where to refer them.

For most of us marketing complex technology, there'll never be "We Clean Blinds" (or "We Refurbish Cisco") clarity. But we should never lose sight of the power of simplicity and directness when we describe what our products are and do.

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