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Don't be a Lionel Hutz marketer

Everybody loves Lionel Hutz, the adorable, inept lawyer on The Simpsons. In addition to defending your life, you can also get your shoes repaired, buy some real estate or have him babysit your kids, all in the same location. Isn’t that convenient?

However, much like that Mexican restaurant that also offers Sushi, it does make you wonder whether he’s good at any of those things (or whether you’ll end up with food poisoning). Now we know in the case of Lionel, the answer is most definitely no. But isn’t that the case with most comprehensive solutions?

Yet, ironically, comprehensive solution is one of the most common brand positionings chosen by companies. 

We can handle all of your problems.

People come to know brands for the problems they solve. But decision-makers worry whether the comprehensive solution will solve any of them.

There are certainly benefits to having one throat to choke. But clients really desire best of breed. “Can you solve this problem that is hurting me the most today?” 

If they can get multiple best of breeds from one vendor, that is great. However, your credibility drops with each additional offering you float to the table.

So if your marketing includes inspiring language like:

  • “A wide array of solutions solving the diverse needs of our clients”
  • “Our team has created a broad array of client solutions”
  • “Solving all your diverse needs in a timely manner”
  • “Looking to be your comprehensive solution across the enterprise”

Know that your approach is instantly setting off your audience’s bullshit filter. And that is never a good thing. 

Are they really good at any of these things they claim to do?” 

A brand that talks about all the things it does, but isn’t clear about what it doesn’t do, normally is spread way too thin. And who wants to work with them?

Now if instead you focused on how your offering helps them get more for there money (value provider offering) or helps them be more efficient or effective (operational excellence), then you have their attention. The fact that you’re comprehensive can be a key reason to believe your claim is true, but you’re not leading with it. Never lead with it.

Can you succeed in business as a comprehensive solution? I suppose. Lionel Hutz did always manage to find himself clients. However there are only so many Homer Simpsons out there. 

Is that who you want as your clients?