Tired as we all are of terms like "innovative", "strategic" and "leading-edge", such endless repetition is understandable -- in the marketing lexicon there are only so many words and phrases available to describe the particulars of the business world.
Lately I've noticed that I'm suffering market-speak fatigue with another word: "passion". Apparently every company on earth has a passion for what they do. Somewhere there must be a kitchen utensil company claiming they're passionate about making shrimp deveiners.
Some of these claims are certainly genuine, but many companies are just trying to cloak their brand in a human emotion rather than admitting that every decision they make is driven by their bottom line.
Don't get us wrong, we're big passion fans. Many of the world's most useful products and inventions wouldn't have seen the light of day if not for someone's inspiration and perseverance born of passion. But all the passion in the world can't get a product to market if the world isn't ready for it, or is not in need of it.
Then there's the blind passion (read: overconfidence) that leads companies to invest heavily in a rush to corner the market, never imagining that customers could have any reason to reject their product. Or maybe their gut is right about their product, but they're going after the wrong audience, or their message/look/name is misguided.
You see, even with all of your passion, smarts, and perhaps past successes, there are facts and insights that only professional market research can dig up.
Passion only gets you so far -- you still need to understand the marketplace.
Know who was a pioneer at knowing where passion left off, and understanding the marketplace began? Picasso! Here's what ol' Pablo had to say about it:
"I have not the courage to think of myself as an artist in the great and ancient sense of the term. Giotto, Titian, Rembrandt were great painters. I am only a public entertainer who has understood his times..."
Imagine that. Basically, Picasso was just an artist who understood his time -- or marketplace, if you will.
The most successful companies know how and when to harness their passion, while using market research to reveal valuable data about their current or potential markets -- data that frankly couldn't care less about their company's goals, sales projections, or yes, passion.