I'm looking for support for a new rule that restricts marketers from using the trendy "solution marketing" term until they can demonstrate that they know what problems their buyers want to solve. I don't know how this rule gets implemented, of course, but isn't everyone tired of the idea that a solution is just an internally convenient combination of products and services? How many marketers have used Microsoft Word to perform a "Find and Replace" function, substituting "solution" for "product" and, presto, the company is selling solutions!
Microsoft made my list of companies vying for a place on the short list of solution marketers when I saw this article in Redmond's Online Channel Partner last month. Apparently the company's 2007 go-to-market campaigns will be "inspired by what businesses need to accomplish rather than what Microsoft wants to sell." The article is written in the voice of their partners, those who have had to make up their own messages about why a particular buyer persona would care about the company's enterprise server applications or dynamic ERP solutions. Could it be that a company as big and successful as Microsoft has recognized the folly of messaging that is irrelevant to their buyers and confusing for their partners?
Microsoft's new strategy is to target specific non-IT business roles, such as the project manager or customer service director, delivering fewer campaigns and well-researched talking points by persona. The reaction from the partners who have always had to develop their own tools to communicate with the market? The tone of the article suggests guarded optimism. Me too.