Short answers can backfire

small business marketing strategies done wrong

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use. -Emily Post, author and columnist (1872-1960)

Most preach expediency. Today’s technology tools bolster it. Anyone who’s been successful in sales knows how much more powerful listening than talking is. I’ve certainly argued the importance of tight editing. Brevity is best, when it works. Often, it doesn’t.   

If you think quick and short is your best approach to communication, you might want to consider what’s best for the recipient before you default to what’s easiest for you.

small business marketing strategies done wrong7 pet peeves on brief small business marketing approaches

  1. I continue to be amazed at the thumb-exercise craze. If you ask you a simple question, why can’t you provide a sentence with words (instead of numbers and emoticons) as an answer? Don’t give me a research project by sending me a link. Take a moment to honor my time and with more than a second of yours.
  2. Think you’ve seen it all with voice mail messages? Apparently there’s another guru out there preaching a ‘proven to blast you out of the water’ cold-calling technique. I’m sure it comes for just $97 and a promise that ‘you, too, will be raking in six figures with this simple tip.’ What are they doing? Leaving a phone number only (no name, no company, no relevance) with the message ‘it’s urgent you call me.’ Right – I’ll jump on that one.
  3. Want to be reconsidered as a potential client, vendor or alliance partner? Send dozens (then dozens more) one or two line e-mail messages with your stream-of-consciousness thoughts on – well, everything. Make sure you include a link in almost every one. This may be the easiest way for you to communicate, but the hours required to translate, research and synthesize all this chatter begs the question, is it worth it to me?
  4. Are interviews on radio programs part of your small business marketing strategy? Answer every question the host asks you with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and you’ll not only bore the audience but also frustrate the producer enough to warn others about booking you. While you don’t want to annoy your host (and the listeners) with long diatribes (or worse, repeated sales pitches), good radio interviews require conversation.
  5. Are you too busy to provide an intelligent response immediately? That’s fine.  It’s OK to admit that and offer a reasonable time frame for a cogent reply. It’s better to say so and wait until you can formulate an appropriate answer (just stick to the commitment you make on when) than to throw something together instantly that makes you look careless, foolish or vacant.
  6. Do you ask someone to invest a lot of time on your behalf who is a subscriber, volunteer, friend or business contact? If you want them to think twice the next time you make a request, be the briefest of all by not acknowledging receipt of their effort.
  7. Need to do more research before you have what’s needed to answer a prospect’s or client’s concern? Here’s where a short answer might make more sense. ‘Let me get back to you’ is a better move than winging it.

Today’s immediacy mantra is a myth. People will appreciate you more if you take the time to think about a response. This is particularly important with small business marketing. Quick is rarely the best approach for longevity. Thoughtful and considerate responses (or outreach activities) will do a lot more to build confidence and credibility.

What quick responses have you received lately that had you shaking your head? Please share in the comments below (and click the easy to use social buttons to the left to spread the word if you liked this post). Thanks!

6 responses to “Short answers can backfire”

    • Thanks for taking the time to read this post and comment, Joyce. It is amazing how often we forget that ticking off our to do list items fast may make us feel good, but how we do it affects how others respond, isn’t it?

  1. I was at an event where a sponsor offered a free interview on their radio show. Before they ever contacted me to set up the interview, a sales rep was calling to sell me an upgrade. He left a voice mail. Kind of felt like a bait & switch.
    Sorry, but I did not respond to his call.

    Thanks. ~Debra

    • I can’t blame you, Debra. It’s so much better to be open and honest in how you deal with prospects. If you’re offering something for free, provide it without strings or deception. It always seems desperate to me when people start selling with first (or in your case, I guess it could be called second) contact. There’s something about signing up with a provider that’s so hungry they’re beating you over the head from the start that’s uncomfortable.

  2. Hi Nanette,
    I like your article. Yeah, short answers can backfire sometimes, I definitely agree with you. We as business people have to learn how to answer questions with our prospect in mind first. Also, do not be afraid to answer a question with a question if you need more clarity. Thanks for sharing.

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