Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (Marketing Memo, June, 2004)
A recent Boston Museum of Fine Arts exhibit featured Paul Gauguin's colorful Tahitian paintings. His enigmatic Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (1897-8) poses questions that all businesses should periodically ask. If you are unfamiliar with your origins and destination, how will you be able to get to your destination? How will you be able to communicate to customers and vendors what you are all about?
You may use the web and other online sources to identify prospects and vendors. Using these sources, you often don't know "what business they are in." Information found in electronic databases and in traditional directories is often vague and inconsistent with information from web sites, which themselves may have multiple contributors providing conflicting information.
WHY BUSINESS DESCRIPTIONS ARE OFTEN INADEQUATE
Changing Conditions: To keep up with changing business conditions and changing customer needs and preferences, companies must evolve. Once, IBM "pumped iron." In the eighties it focused on software. Now, IBM is building up its consulting and financing services.
Complexity: High tech products and services are hard to describe and hard to understand, tempting people to resort to jargon, which baffles people outside the industry.
Multiple Offerings: Most companies provide too many products and services to summarize in the proverbial one-minute elevator speech.
Perspective: Like the blind men with the elephant, your staff just know about the parts of your business that touch them. Which products or services are included in descriptions reflect this phenomenon. Business descriptions are a reflection of the department that creates them.
CREATING EFFECTIVE BUSINESS DESCRIPTIONS
Like old photos, old business descriptions merely capture the past. Therefore, you should:
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