Everything Is Awesome!

Unless you work at Apple, Amazon or Uber, please stop using the word disrupt in your PR or marketing.

(I’m exaggerating, but not by much.)

I wish I had a nickel for every press release or blog post I read where Company X is “disrupting” the Y industry.

Some companies are bringing innovation to their industries and driving positive change. No one doubts that. But every company saying they’re disrupting an industry is like the teenager who tells you everything is awesome (or dope or sick or whatever). The word soon loses all force and believability. It starts to sound…phony and inauthentic.

Making matters worse, the very companies talking about disruption are the same ones that tend to use a heaping helping of jargon and in-group language that doesn’t appeal to customers (buyers) at all. In most cases, customers ignore their press releases altogether.

If that’s the case, then who is the audience for these press releases? It’s hard to say.

If companies must write press releases, at least make them relevant to the intended audience. Or, better yet, write press releases, but keep them for internal use only at the start.

That’s what Amazon does.

According to Ian McAllister, General Manager at Amazon, Amazon often takes a “working backwards” approach to developing new products and features.

In his words:

“We work backwards from the customer, rather than starting with an idea for a product and trying to bolt customers onto it.”

So, how does this work in practice?

Well, for new initiatives, a product manager would write an internal press release which would announce the finished product. This would be centred around how it solves a problem for the customer, how current solutions (internal or external) fail, and of course, how the new solution will blow existing solutions out the water.

The idea is that the Product Manager then keeps iterating on the Press Release until they have something which is ready for production.

As McAllister says, “iterating on a press release is a lot less expensive than iterating on a project itself”

In my unscientific sampling of Amazon press releases, I didn’t see the word disrupt make an appearance, though other media outlets refer to Amazon “disrupting” this or that industry. Instead, we see clear language focusing on customer benefits, like this:

By using Amazon.com Web Services (www.amazon.com/webservices) developers can build applications and tools that will allow them to incorporate many of the unique features of Amazon.com into their web sites — free of charge.

By following Amazon’s lead and focusing on customers first, you won’t need to tell customers you’re “disrupting” the older, stodgier ways of doing things in your industry. They’ll just know.

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