In my business, we are communicating with vendors, clients, partners and media outlets all day long, every day. There is a ton of back and forth. On average I receive 800 email messages a day. I’m often cc’d on email exchanges that go on and on with each party talking past the other. In those instances, communication is not taking place. My suggestion is always the same: Pick up the phone! (Something people are often reticent to do.)
This is coming from someone who loves to text and has never been a fan of telephone communication. I’m an in-person kind of guy. I like to see the person I’m interacting with. Yet, I know that there is a troubling trend right now where professionals are relying on email and text communication too heavily, and are reluctant to pick up the phone. Often a simple and quick phone conversation can negate the need for multiple email messages flying back and forth over a period of several hours. A phone call can shorten the communication cycle! If you worked at Jennings, you would have heard me say, on more than one occasion: “Have you tried calling them?” If someone isn’t responding to email communication, or you’re having trouble resolving a situation via email, try the telephone. Different communications tools work in different situations and with different audiences. Part of being a good marketer and communicator is recognizing that and adapting to the situation.
I recognize that there is an opportunity for miscommunication coming from a phone conversation. That’s why it is always good to send a followup email confirming the agreements made within the phone conversation. That’s the benefit of the old school conference report. Of course, the success of that strategy is dependent upon the other party reading the conference report and responding with feedback. To help with that process, I am a fan of embedding the content of the conference report into the text of a followup email message, rather than sending it as an attachment. Even that doesn’t guarantee that your conference report will be read, but it does give you something to go back to when things eventually go wrong. And you should not be held accountable for a colleague or client not reading his or her email.
I love email and text. Truly. Text was invented with me in mind. But there are times when a good, old fashioned telephone conversation is more expeditious. So when you’re not getting what you need from email communication, ask yourself if there’s another way. Taking a new tact might save you a ton of time and aggravation.