William's home for discarded gems and concepts-in-progress.

Welcome to William Van Winkle's blog, home for everything from notes on his latest ebooks to leftovers from his articles in CPU, Tom's Hardware, Smart Computing, and other media outlets. Check out his author pages at Amazon and Smashwords!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Save Us From "Solutions!"

In the tech industry, the words "product" and "solution" have become synonymous and interchangeable. I dislike marketing buzzwords in general, and "solutions" in particular, because of what it represents for those with fewer resources to spare in a challenging economy. Here's a snippet from my book-in-progress on personal finance:

In traditional marketing, demand was driven by “the four Ps:” Product, Promotion, Price, and Placement. Imagine a pint of blueberries (product) advertised on special in the Sunday paper (promotion) for $1.99 (price) and showcased on a table at the grocery store’s front entrance (placement). You can apply this model to practically every good or service. In an economy where we were buying mostly essential goods, it was important to create a high quality product, promote it by exposing consumers to the product, make sure the price was competitive, and have the product be readily available.

However, as the things we’re buying move from essential to non-essential, marketers are shifting from the four Ps to SIVA: Solution, Information, Value, and Access. In a consumption-based age, the old paradigms need updating. Now we have solutions to problems that you may or may not have, information (such as the “news”) that you may not need, value that may not exist, and access to a world of stuff you may not want. . . .

Do you see the difference between the two marketing models? Before, a product had to stand on its own merits, and that was fine when products met essential needs. But now we all have problems, and we all want to get rid of problems, therefore a “solution” must be the answer. Whether or not that solution addresses an actual need is irrelevant. How can you tell the difference between real and false needs? If you repeatedly felt that a good or service would be beneficial to your life before seeing an advertisement for it, you probably had an actual need. If the desire for that good or service never passed through your head until seeing its advertisement, you're dealing with a fabricated problem.

As an ironic aside, I can’t be the only person who’s noticed that Siva (also spelled Shiva) is the Hindu god of destruction. Clearly, marketing courses don’t include comparative religious studies, yet the link between modern marketing and destruction of personal finances remains.

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