When Did Talking Go Out of Style?
In 1990, United Airlines ran a very memorable TV commercial titled "The Speech." And it was a great one that many people remember to this day. The first part goes like this.
"Got a phone call this morning from one of our oldest customers. He fired us. After 20 years, he fired us. Said he didn't know us anymore. I think I know why. We used to do business with a handshake – face-to-face. Now it's a phone call or a fax."
Let's take that scenario out about 24 years. Now it's an email or a text message.
Everyday I run into a situation where I say to myself, why didn't Greg meet with us or call to give us the good news that our agency was chosen to handle their advertising and public relations? Or why didn't Ellen call to let us know that our agency was not chosen to develop their website (so we could find out what the final deciding factors were)? Or why didn't Brian call to explain and apologize for not meeting our client's printing deadline? Instead, these important and often critical messages are received through emails.
As part of my public relations classes and training, it was impressed upon me that face-to-face or at least voice-to-voice communication was a critical part of building good relationships. When working with a reporter, for instance, I was taught that the best way to get your story printed or broadcast was making sure that you developed a good working relationship with that reporter or editor. That way they get to know you and trust you – trust that you are giving them good information.
These days, however, it appears that most business relationships are built through email or texts.
When we talk about contemporary marketing, we usually speak in terms of "engaging" with the company's target audience and the need to create conversations. What better way to converse than face-to-face, or lacking the ability to easily do that, then at least voice-to-voice?
The business world these days is like a roller coaster going faster and faster all the time. Emails come in 10 at a time, seemingly every minute of the day and people expect answers immediately. Perhaps we can slow that down some with more in-person conversations.
I received a cartoon recently that showed a Dad giving his son a non-digital camera for a family trip. Because the camera didn't have the ability to look at the pictures readily or delete them, the son wasn't sure how to work it. Let's hope the same thing doesn't happen to talking one-on-one.
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