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Over the past three weeks, I’ve been sending out quite a few emails and leaving several voice mails for story and presentation pitches on behalf of a client. As diligent PR professionals do, I created a spreadsheet to track my progress and activity. Yesterday, I reviewed the overall status and one ugly fact was abundantly clear, most people are not responsive and it’s not just industry organizations and publications. This trend is clear in my day-to-day business activities too.
I get it – we live in an information age and are inundated with emails, Facebook posts, LinkedIn mail and activity, tweets, texts, cell phone and land line calls, not to mention the actual work we need to accomplish, our volunteer commitments and, most importantly, our family life and activities.
I called my good friend Keith Wewe yesterday to discuss his interest in assisting with a planned LMATX mini-conference in the works for 2014 and was venting a bit about people’s general lack of responses these days (as a sole proprietor, I tend to seek input from any and every one – that’s fodder for another post ). I told him that I remember, even when I was in-house at big law and fielding 300+ emails a day, that I always sent at least a brief reply – “Now, is not a good time for me to focus on WONDERFUL PRODUCT #1,999. Please check back with me in a month.” And, that was for the unsolicited sales pitches. I’ve always tried to send a response quickly. Keith said to me. “Lisa, you’re an anomaly; most people just aren’t that responsive.”
So, that got the old brain wheels turning. Am I an anomaly? That’s pretty cool if true – I’ve always like being different, prided myself on marching to a different beat, but I digress. Like any good journalist, I sought more input. My next call was with my attorney client on whose behalf I’ve been making the pitches. Thankfully, due to my client’s great responsiveness, excellent writing skills in assisting me to craft good pitches and the long prospect list we prepared, in spite of so many unreturned emails and phone calls, we have been able to generate some wins. After discussing the wins and knowing how responsive she is, we discussed the lack of responsiveness by so many these days. She said her clients expect instant answers and she provides it. So, it’s not just me but it is something rare. And, for a marketer, rarity is something to be mined – more on this later.
Back to the instant answers – that’s a pretty high standard. Do people really expect instant answers? I think they do. In an information age, people want answers now. Just last week, I recall my daughter wanting some information from my daughter-in-law so she texted her and stared at her phone wanting an answer. Now, my daughter-in-law has an infant. There are any number of things that could prevent her from responding within seconds. Literally, within 30 seconds, my daughter was already talking about other ways she could find the information. I reminded her that Barbara could have her hands full at the moment and I was sure she would respond soon. ”Patience, grasshopper,” I counseled.
Another example of the demand for instant answers involves another client project this week. I was working on creating social media profiles and had to change my client’s password due to a lost password. I texted him (he is great at responding to texts), told him what I needed to do and why, and asked him to send me the code he would momentarily receive via text so I could do what needed to be done. He sent me the code and I got things changed, went in and did the necessary work. Within 20 minutes, I was done and writing him an email to provide the new password and the information he would need to access all his new profiles. As I was composing the email, I received two texts and an email from him requesting the new password. So, yes, people do expect instantaneous responsiveness.
And, yes, many people are not responsive. Mine that rarity! As a marketing consultant, I always ask my clients to describe what distinguishes themselves from their competitors. One area where you can easily shine is to be responsive – even if it’s just a quick note to say you need to do some research and will get back later or that you are in a meeting and will respond more fully that afternoon (and make sure you deliver what you say you will – fodder for yet another post ). Respond quickly and communicate. People want to know you’ve received their message. Responsiveness says they matter to you and shouldn’t every client feel that way?