Your firm is not the solution


Does your firm proudly announce itself as a solutions provider? You’re not alone. In fact, ‘solutions’ is now right near the top of the trendy, overused buzzwords list. I’m sorry to be the one to break the news, but this word has joined the ranks of leverage, synergy and other wildly successful business terms that enjoyed such a meteoric rise in popularity they quickly became comical icons of marketing buzz-speak.

Like its predecessors, ‘solutions’ is vague enough to be used everywhere and sounds both serious and important. It carries with it a sense of being somehow science-related, along with the subtle implication of a disciplined approach. It’s a good word. Unfortunately, it’s been done to death.

If you doubt this claim, take a gander at your website, your competitors’ websites, and your junk mail. What do they have in common? Solutions are everywhere! Today I received yet another unsolicited catalog full of useful household items, and emblazoned on the cover are these trademarked words: Affordable Kitchen and Home Solutions℠. Do you really want to be classed with Tupperware and shower caddies?

More significant than rampant overuse is the fact that ‘solutions provider’ gives no insight into what your firm does for clients. Do you make them Kool-Aid? Do you show them answers to crossword puzzles or algebra problems that have them stumped? Do you sell knives that never need sharpening or offer payday loans? All of these things are solutions, without a doubt, but none relate in the least to your service offerings.

While you no doubt hear the word ‘solutions’ used frequently, you’re not hearing it from your clients – not unless they’ve adopted it from you. Your potential clients are not going to sit down at the computer and type in “accounting solutions,” “cloud-based business solutions” or “M&A solutions specialist” when they’re looking to hire a CPA, IT firm or business advisor. They’re just not.

It’s time for a fresh approach that respects the truth of your value to clients more clearly than ‘solutions provider.’ It’s okay to be yourself! Embrace what you actually do and present it in simple terms that mean something to your clients. You won’t look out of date or unprofessional; quite the contrary. You’ll appear refreshingly straightforward and understandable – two attributes clients desperately crave from their accountants (and consultants, lawyers, engineers, IT professionals, etc.).

Will I still write web pages that prominently include the word ‘solutions’? Of course, if my client is committed to using the term. And it’s not necessarily something to avoid in every situation. But for establishing rapport with potential clients – and helping them find you in the first place – it’s far more effective to use your audience’s language than to hope they’ll adopt yours.



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Sarah Warlick

Sarah Warlick founded Proof Positive Content to provide professional service firms with high-quality content that resonates with their target audiences. Sarah's writing appears in books, on the websites of over a dozen Top 100 Accounting Firms and in Accounting Today, Forbes and other leading publications, but usually under another name. Ghostwriters rarely get the glory - their clients do!