I was just spending a little time catching up with Joseph Jaffe @jaffejuice and caught this great video he put together called The Black Hole of Marketing
Joseph talks about the importance of responding to people in this video but there’s more to his words than I can summarize. Let me say that this video is very important for companies and brands that hope to some day engage in a positive manner in social media, but also for firms and consultants that engage in social media marketing.
What is the Black Hole of Marketing?
It is essentially the process of sending a request for proposal, or the actual proposal or even just a message to a business client, business customer, or even a partner that never receives a reply.
The message is lost in a black hole.
Bad Economy, Bad Communications, Bad Manners, Long Memories
One of the things that makes this situation worse is that many companies need help. They are working with reduced staffs and reduce budgets. They need to get 5 times as much done to right the financial ship of their company with 1/5th the staff, and don’t even get me started with the lowered budgets.
But when they reach out for that help through traditional channels, the prices typically have changed much. When they then reach out through social media looking for the ‘bargain’ that must be there in those new fangled social networks, they might receive a proposal back that is more affordable but still not within their lowered budget constraints.
So what happens?
Nothing happens, they don’t respond. They can’t pull the trigger because the trigger is too expensive to pull. But they often make the mistake of not sending the message back that now is not the right time. Instead it gets added to the pile on a desk, it gets added to the open emails on their desktop, or it gets added to a task list that might not ever be cleared.
The person or firm that sent the proposal may never ever hear back. That creates a negative sentiment that might be associated with that firm and especially that person in the firm for many moths if not years to come.
Sometime in the future, if that company or firm needs help again, they might find that there is less goodwill the next time they seek a proposal or request. Sure it might not come across in a verbal tone on the phone or in an email, but it could very well come across in the extra effort that might not be there, it could come manifest in a number of ways. Yes that may be unprofessional, but it does happen. When a relationship is damaged, it is damaged. The person that creates the damage, needs to do something to repair it.
But that damage and the need to repair it could be completely avoided.
All year long I have seen this play out over and over again. A large number of companies I have worked with this year suffer from the symptoms that create this black hole of marketing.
But it happens on the other side of the fence too. In fact I am as guilty of it myself as many other consultants, contractors and social media workers.
When you are working everyday to maintain connections on facebook, twitter, several blogs, email, phone, voice mail, text messages and more, and you are trying to create and foster new business opportunities on multiple fronts in a difficult economy, all those pans in the fire create a level of diffusion that triggers some emails to be missed, some voice mails to be returned late, some tweets, @ replies or Retweets to go without a timely response, maybe even a birthday or two on Facebook even.
The Solution – Follow up Late is Better than Never
Sure it can be a little embarassing to reach out to someone that you are late getting back to. Yes, some damage to the relationship may have occurred, but any response is better than none, even if it is simply to apologize for the late response. Truthfully, excuses or situational reasons are optional. We all have the reasons. There’s nothing abnormal about people failing to follow up when situations get out of their control. There IS only so much time in a day.
But do try to follow up even after the fact.
For me the hardest thing to follow up on is email. I’m not talking about all email, I’m talking about those complicated emails that you open up in your desktop 8 at a time in the morning as you are identifying the fires of the day.
As you proceed to leap into the first fire and work through them one at a time all day, the last couple might not be put out before EOB. They then stay open and tomorrow, 8 new fires creep in. By the end of the week, you have 10 fires that have been accumulating all week long.
If you are like most members of the new economy, you work all weekend, so there is no rest, not even a day to catch up, because new fires roll in on Saturday and Sunday too!
The Email Crash
For myself, it inevitably happens. At some point, I accumulate 15-20 open emails that haven’t been dealt with and then a terrible thing happens. My email or computer crashes and all those emails are closed prematurely!
Where did my fires go?
I know I have them. They are in my inbox somewhere, but they date back over 2 weeks!
This is the problem that I still have not found a good solution to resolve it. Sure I can find some of them, but I can’t remember all of them. I get 300 emails per day. I’m not saying that is a lot, but to search back through 300 x 14 days = 4200 emails over 2 weeks and find the 15-20 emails that are still the fires I need to fix is not easy.
I do use some tools to mark my emails as I open them, but none are as easy nor as fast as they should be. Plus, Outlook doesn’t have a recover and reopen recent emails feature.
So that means some of my emails that were, Hell they ARE! fires don’t get put out.
The only solution for this is that my contacts whether they are partners, clients, customers, potential customers, etc need to follow up with me.
“Hey what about that email I sent you last week?”
That’s all I need. Something quick to remind me to open that email back up and deal with it (not add it to the new list of open emails but deal with it!)
That is also what I HAVE to do and every other worker in social media has to do as well. Don’t worry about being perceived as a pest, as needy (of work) just be polite, professional and persistent, and send a follow up one more time.
Today, I closed 2 deals with partners/clients that I have been trying to close for almost 9 months. It wasn’t easy, but my persistence paid off, even when I went months at a time without a reply. Psychologically, it was not easy, but on a personal note, I realize that we are all in the same boat.