Imagine going to a local dinner theater. You and your significant other are shown to a table where a waiter promptly says, “Welcome, here are some product listings and here is the list of products that come in a glass.” You order and enjoy your meal. The waiter asks if you’d like any sweet product to complete the meal. You politely pass and she says, “Excellent, well, thank you for using us tonight, the content portion of the evening is going to begin in about 10 minutes, you folks enjoy.”
Wait, none of that sounds right, does it? Of course not. You were going out to dinner and to see a play. No waiter would ever talk like that. Yet we see those words used all the time in customer-facing language as if it is no big deal. Now you may be thinking, “Oh boy, the word police are here.” Words matter, fuck off. (see how offended you were by that ‘fuck off’?). Let’s take a look at each of the words used above and why they suck, shall we?
Interview after interview with chefs of all stripes sees them talking about sourcing the best products and even worse, talking about being able to serve the best product to their customers. In fact, go to the 1:50 mark of this interview with Chef Dave Pasternak of Esca in New York. You’ll notice that he refers to both ingredient and final dish as “product” in the space of about 10 seconds. Sorry, but if a chef can’t be bothered to talk about the food they are preparing in more than reductionist terms, I don’t want to eat there. After all, they are signaling to me that, to them, I am just a consumption unit.
Likewise, when talking to consumers about your app, service, and/or product, perhaps you should try to look at it from their perspective. What are they actually buying from you? Yes, Uber is an app but it’s really a quick way to get where you need to go at a great price. Blue Apron is a subscription meal ingredient kit, but it’s really a way to quickly get a healthy, high quality, home cooked meal on the table without the hassle of grocery store runs. And yes, Nest’s thermostat is a smart thermostat, but really it’s a way to automate your home for both maximum comfort and energy efficiency.
I wrote about this nearly 4 years ago but I will repeat it until I die: Stop referring to…