You can learn more than a few solution marketing lessons from travel.
For example, a friend recently checked into a new hotel that had only been open for one month. And he was the first person to stay in his guest room… imagine the “new guest room smell”. As he entered his room, he did the usual scan to see what was what… bathroom, closet, a thermostat by the bed with up and down buttons below.
As he got ready to go to sleep, he went to turn down the shades to block out the light. Simple right? Not exactly. Turns out the shades lacked pull cords. And as he scanned the room, he couldn’t locate the cords or an obvious on/off or up/down switch for the shades. He called the front desk which offered to send someone to check on it for him.
He turned back to the thermostat. He was certain that the buttons below belonged to the thermostat, and, having had bad thermostat experiences in the past, he was not about to touch the buttons. But he decided to throw discretion to the wind and push the down button anyways – et voila, the shade went down. No need for the front desk to send someone up. And he was able to get a good night’s sleep.
So what happened?
Whoever designed the hotel room assumed that guests would understand the purpose of the buttons. The buttons lacked a label or an information sheet about how to move the shades up or down. And it’s not that a label was really necessary – had the buttons been placed near the windows their purpose would have been obvious.
It’s easy for we solution marketers to do the same as we talk about our solutions on websites, in collateral, sales presentations or just about anywhere else. Too many solution marketers assume that the other person will understand what we are talking/writing about without thinking it through. But if you know your customer well enough, you will understand everything about them – how they think, what they do know, what they don’t know, the terms and jargon they use. And you’ll use that knowledge to communicate to them in their language, not yours – without making assumptions.
I have always found that when I do that, I increase credibility (“Hey this guys understands me and my problems”) and can have more meaningful and successful discussions or marketing campaigns with my target audience. And you can too – when you avoid making assumptions about what your solution buyer/user knows or does not know.