Shouting at Nobody Are You Wasting Your Best Stuff on the Peanut Gallery?

A beautiful sunny autumn day in Southeastern Pennsylvania and the local strip mall was crowded with shoppers enjoying themselves…

All except one.

I couldn’t help noticing him because his voice was raised in a tone of an extreme argument. What’s weirder, he was standing alone — except he had his cell phone with him to keep him company. I’m not sure that was really a good thing, though, because he was carrying on (and how!) a strenuous disagreement with someone via the phone.

His variation of verbal tone and volume expressed magnificently that he was plenty upset with someone about something. And his expressive body movements fully complemented the effect. Except, of course, that the roughly 30 people actually present who had to hear and see him had no reason in the world to care what he was talking about.

The person he was arguing with, who may or may not have cared what he was talking about, was probably getting an earful. But that’s all.

An Earful Isn’t Enough

Telecommunications in general, and cell phones in particular, do not enhance communication. They only make it more convenient. They digitize and industrialize it. And there’s no question that the conveniences they enable can be fairly amazing and useful to those of us who reach out to multiple people on a daily basis. Our jobs as planned giving professionals would be light years tougher if we had to forego these advantages.

But our jobs would be impossible without communication. Real communication. The kind of communication that’s only possible in a face-to-face meeting with a prospect. Interpersonal communication.

The angry guy with the cell phone had a message to send, but almost none of it was getting through the phone to the intended recipient (who had probably tuned the shouter out at that point, anyway). Most of his performance was just bothering the crowd at the mall. And we just wished he would shut up and go away.

When you personally call on your prospects, on the other hand, all of the immediate communication vectors are fully enabled. Not just what you say (and how loudly!) but how you look, how you act, your body language, the way you dress – a million communication cues, big and small, subtle or obvious, come into play. And all of them can work for you in cultivating the prospect and moving towards closing that gift.

Can You and Your Message be Miniaturized?

Another notion: Look at your cell phone. It’s a dinky little thing with somebody else’s name on it. Is that little electronic widget big enough to communicate the whole you? Is it big enough to carry a marketing message as multi-leveled and persuasive as you want to convey?

Is it big enough for you to get a proper sense of your prospect through? Do you think your prospect would agree that it is?

Just because personal, face-to-face marketing is old-fashioned doesn’t mean it’s ineffective. Just the opposite. It may be the most powerful, results-getting modality you have access to. It’s closer than your cell phone can ever be. And it has your name on it.


Categories: Planned Giving Marketing, Relationships

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