How to Describe This Business

When you get to just about any web site, you get a description.  Many sites don’t need a description.  They’re the site you know like eBay, Microsoft, Craigslist, or Amazon.   You know what those folks do.  But, when you start looking at software technology — it can be just about anything.  Tons and tons of software companies.  Public companies, tech start-ups, sole proprietors, and everything in between.  There are so many tech companies across so many sectors across so many continents. It’s just impossible to keep up with all of them.

That’s why I was real suprised when I heard about Versata.  I had actually heard about them, but not in this context.  My good friend Phil had sent a note over to take a look at their company description on the home page.  Here’s what it says:

Versata provides enterprise software solutions that deliver business results,
performance and scalability while dramatically reducing IT spending.
Versata’s patented solutions decrease IT expenditures by reducing hardware
and associated maintenance, leveraging open source technology, and
accelerating value delivery to business customers.

Huh?  Go ahead, read it again. 

Is it possible that it reads worse the second time than the first?   I really can’t describe where exactly it goes South, or maybe more importantly, what were they thinking.   I have no idea what they do.  But, regardless is anything that hard to describe.  Did they think that SEO ranking would be affected by it?  Did a consultant write it?

I’ve met marketers from this company, and believed was that they were good people.  Not sure they were involved in this messaging though.  So, what the heck happened?   Well, the best I can really do, is offer a few replacement suggestions.  Yea, sure these don’t describe the company like the existing piece that describes the company, but I can pretty much guarantee, people will get it or they will enjoy it.  So here goes:

  • We make great IT stuff, call us so we can sell you some
  • Yes, we have competitors, but ours is better
  • Come buy our IT wares, they’re grrreeeaaaaattt!!!!
  • There’s IT software, then there’s IT software
  • We can’t explain it, but trust us people like it
  • Don’t spend another dime until you’ve seen what we can do

Any of which is better than what I’m seeing on this site.  And, no doubt my suggestions are improper too. Perhaps you know the folks or executives at Versata?   Perhaps you know how you’d also like to improve the Versata home page?   At this point, almost anything would be an improvement.  But, I would just start with 1 sentence that explains (i.e. a description) of what you do.  At least people would know instead of scaring them away.

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One thought on “How to Describe This Business

  1. Thanks to the IPO of Versata, my mother owns a nice little cabin on the coast of Gualala. A long time ago, and for a few short months, the “folks” at were, literally, one of my folks.

    Nonetheless, you are probably right in all of your said and unsaid conclusions. This banal, lifeless and confusing sentence seems a product of a golf retreat: seven half-drunk guys set out on a horse, but return on a camel.

    However, I tend to be humble about these things. Sure, I enjoy catchy and effective positioning, messaging and competitive differentiation. But — especially in Enterprise software — artists tend to appreciate these arts more than markets. Rarely can you causally relate positioning or messaging to the success of any company, yet these are often the first scapegoats for company failure.

    eBay and Amazon spend millions establishing and maintaining their brands. To compare those efforts to Versata’s is like comparing Walmart to Joe’s Autobody shop: both retailers, but in very different markets, with different means, and very different ambitions.

    Bereft of real market metrics, how are we to know if Versata’s positioning fails? Because our gut tells us it’s wrong? Because it violates our experience? Because it would have failed the positioning test on that Marketing 101 test back in 1991? Even our anecdotal impressions are irrelevant: neither you nor I are within Versata’s target demographic. Perhaps they use the confusing statement to separate casual surfers from real prospects following up on literature left behind from a sales rep.

    This stuff ain’t easy. It’s damned hard to produce decent positioning. Even once you’ve nailed the right tone and content, you have to sell it up and across the organization — which often entails some degree of compromise. But more importantly, it’s a bit silly to focus on one-size fits all marketing messages in an age where liberals watch MSNBC and conservatives watch Fox. I don’t have to tell you that products like Lithium allow companies to break up their monotone marketing — allowing marketers to target and engage a multitude of different audiences. Versata’s site fails the alacrity test, but does it have a ton of diverse content ? Is it divorced from the “old” marketing axioms? Does it segment its content better than even Lithium? I’m not judging either marketing effort — I’m just pointing out that it’s conjecture either way, and every house has glass.

    My 2c, though it may be worth less. Hell, it might have cost me a job.

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