Having a compelling value proposition means taking a stand. It means having the courage to not sound like everyone else in your category. It means having incredibly powerful insights and knowledge about your audience, so you know how your solution will make a difference for them. That makes you confident about being different. Too often, B2B software companies can’t or won’t offer a value proposition worth a damn. So they settle for cliché, uninspiring, forgettable messages that are just like what everyone else is saying. And they wonder why their conversion rates are so low. And why they lose so many deals to the status quo – to no action at all. If you can’t articulate something compelling on the hero panel of your home page, you honestly don’t deserve strong lead gen. So take a look at your home page right now. If the value proposition and message you’re presenting relies on any one of these 5 words, you really have no value proposition
- Modern. This one has become more popular over the last few years. Its verb friend Modernize is another interest killer. Apparently the idea is that saying Modern Anything (fill in with your product’s function – CRM, contract management, Security, Accounting) somehow makes it enticing. As if getting something that’s new means it’s inherently better than something old. New flash – older software is sometimes better. It’s been tested, proven and accepted. Secondly, modern is something any software can claim. Modern relative to what? Any software is modern relative to a paper-based system. Marketers need to ditch the promise of modern and go deeper. What is modern promising that makes it more enticing than just being newer. Evil synonym: Next-generation.
- Easier. This one is perhaps the laziest of all software marketing promises. Software that promises to make a process easier is like a car promising to transport you faster than walking. Is easier not implicit in the idea of using ANY business software? Has any software ever claimed to make a process harder? Come on, man! Easier is also not something that attracts a budget. When your CFO asks why you need the software and your response is, “To make it easier” see how likely he/she is to fund that project. Easier is not something that has a business value. Evil synonym: Simpler
- Efficient. We’ve harangued on this before, but it’s one of the most frequently touted benefits of software, so it’s worth repeating. Like easier, efficient is implicit in any enterprise software. Less efficient is not a promise I remember hearing any software company make. You’re just like every other software that has ever existed. Worse, efficiency is not usually the main reason to purchase something. For example, what if I promised you a more efficient salt shaker? It will reduce the number of shakes you need to do to season your food by 25%! Think of how many shakes that saves over a year or even two! It will be expensive, it will take time to get it customized just right for you and your family. You’ll have to train everyone to use it properly (many of whom will keep trying to use the old shaker). But all those efficiency gains are worth it, right? Right?… I’m guessing not many of you are buying. Efficiency is just one of many considerations for any purchase, and it’s rare that it’s so vastly more efficient that it’s worth the trouble. It’s just not a big enough promise. Evil synonym: productive
- Smarter. Lazy. Lazy. Lazy. Smart implies a combination of efficient, modern, and easy. A smarter customer support solution. Smarter construction. Smarter Accounts Receivable. It’s a generic descriptor/benefit. And as such it’s meaningless. It implies that if you aren’t doing things with this product, you are dumb – which can be off-putting to your audience. Smart is in the eyes of the beholder. The same process at two different companies can be smart for one and dumb for another. It’s a very subjective word that isn’t differentiated in any meaningful way. Smarter isn’t. Evil synonym: AI or AI-powered. Sorry, just because your software uses AI it’s not better.
- Leading. When I see “The Leading (insert software category here)” as the main panel message on a web site, I am absolutely gobsmacked. This is the most imaginative sentence you could come up with? Listing your category, and putting the word leading in front of it is what you think is going to motivate someone to engage with your brand? Because if you say “leading” (or “The leader”) in a category, then it must be so, right? Not like any company who wants to call itself the leader in a category can’t do that, too? And what does leading mean, when everyone claims to be the leading ________ software in their boilerplate messaging? Guess what? Leading might be a nice way of giving yourself a pat on the back, but it means absolutely zero to any prospect. If your “leading” solution can’t deliver something I need, then it leads to nothing. No one really cares if you are a leader. They care what you can do for them and their business. Evil synonym: Top-rated or Gartner Magic Quadrant. Ratings only matter if what you’re promising is actually valuable. People look at ratings to justify the choices they are making, not to make the choices. Just because Gartner loves it, doesn’t mean a prospect will.
The overarching problem with these words? They do nothing to differentiate you from the competition. Think about it. Your competition can claim any and/or all of these things. Probably any software in any category could. These words aren’t memorable, they aren’t meaningful, and they don’t resonate with customers. If anything, they are frustrating words. They force a motivated prospect to dig deeper and deeper into your site and materials to try and figure out what’s different or valuable about your offering. Lots of clicks, downloads and reading to understand whether you’re in any way useful to them. If your competitor is making it easy, making them read less and click fewer times to understand a value proposition, you are at a big disadvantage. Why would anyone bother to read YET ANOTHER undifferentiated offering? They will pass on you and pick something that says more than just, “We make the same kind of software as everyone else.”
You can’t afford to be generic in your promises and benefits. You need to offer specific benefits that are relevant to what prospects need. Something that only you can claim. Something that helps them understand how your product will change their world – how things will be much better for them if they use it. And it starts with the first impression they get with you – your home page. So avoid these lazy, undifferentiated marketing words and make a bigger, better statement from the first moment a prospect engages with you. Your lead gen will thank you.
Got any other naughty marketing words to add the list? Please add them in the comments.