Tuesday, September 21, 2010

MABUSHI Spotting

Rohan raised a great question about resolving a dispute over what constitutes MABUSHI.  Who's right and how do you support or refute the claim?  To answer that, I'll first go deeper into how to recognize and test for MABUSHI.  My next blog will take the examples below and provide alternatives and how you would derive them.

Here are some examples of MABUSHI I've seen recently on web sites and at trade shows.  I'm not making this stuff up (anymore).

Fourth Generation Data Cloud

Innovation Leader in providing Mission Critical Software Solutions to the Global Alternative Asset Community since 1993

Maximum Operational Flexibility

The above have failed one or more of the following tests:
  1. Huh?
    If you have to follow what you said with the statement, "And what I mean by that is..." chances are pretty high that your message will not resonate with your audience - if they even bother sticking around.  Gobbledygook is an insult to most prospects and the fastest way to have them leave your web site forever.  Even if you have a technical product, talk to the value in straightforward language.  Don't force them to ask for definitions - they won't bother.
  2. The Spouse Test
    My wife is smarter than I am but isn't close to hi-tech.  If she can't understand what I've said, then it's not going to fly with customers and prospects.  If your spouse is "in the business," find a friend or more distant relative who isn't and try your message out on them.  Even if they aren't your target buyer persona, they should at least be able to understand what you said and know if it is relevant for them.  The language of value is universal.

    (Note To Self for future blog: getting prospects to select OUT is as important as selecting IN.)
  3. Who cares?/So what?
    Value is not communicated by using fancy phrases or impenetrable jargon.  Value is communicated through relevance and clear language. If your ideal buyer persona doesn't understand how it could benefit them, then you've missed the mark.  And don't let them connect the dots on their own.  State your feature and its inherent benefit in one phrase.  (See Note To Self, above)
  4. Crickets
    If your message is relevant and understandable, then you will have an engaged audience.  They will request more information, ask questions, make corollary comments, suggest other uses, etc.  If you get blank stares, quizzical looks or the sound of crickets booming through the silence in response to a presentation or conversation, then what you have said either totally confused your audience or had no relevance to them whatsoever.
It's easy and fun to do these tests on other people's marketing efforts.  I do it all the time at trade shows or when I'm surfing the web.  It takes bravery and honesty to apply them to your own or your own company's work.  I got into an argument with a product manager over one of the phrases above and he stopped talking to me.  He eventually dropped the phrase when enough customers told him they had no idea what it meant.

At the end of the day it goes back to grokking what your buyer persona needs, how they think and what is important to them.   Spend your time developing and understanding your personas and MABUSHI will become a thing of the past.

Next up: MABUSHI Before, Good Marketing After


  1. TJ,

    In addition to the Spouse test, I like to test any new messaging and/or positioning with my top sales reps. If they re-use it and secure more deals, that's a pass. Anything else is a fail.

    Looking forward to your next post.


  2. Bertrand,

    Thanks for the message. I would only take it to the sales force after I was reasonably comfortable that it was close to the mark. But, yes, field testing it in a real situation is a great was to separate the good marketing from the MABUSHI.