A Response is Marketing

Have you ever pushed a crosswalk button a thousand times because you’re in a hurry and you’re concerned it “didn’t take?” Today, in Toronto, I pushed a button and it lit up to tell me, “Hey, yes you did indeed push me.” Wow, I thought. A response. crosswalk light

Sometimes, I have email in my inbox from people who have sent me email a few days before. They’re pushing the same button. They’re saying, “I really hope you’ll respond soon.” I’m that black crosswalk button without a light to tell them they’ve been seen.

A Response is Marketing

One of humankind’s greatest needs is to feel wanted. An extension of that is the feeling that we need to be seen. From early childhood, we start this dance of “mama! Mama! Look at what I’m doing!” I feel we never really grow out of this.

It’s also courtesy. I’ve said something. You acknowledge me. Right?

Responding is marketing, is business, is an opportunity. How often aren’t you responding? How often aren’t you marketing?

It’s amazing how many times people say to me this: “I can’t believe you replied to me!” Every time, it’s like I’ve performed an act of magic. More often than not, though, it’s the opposite, “Just sending you a follow-up, as I haven’t heard back.”

Like anyone, I have a long way to go until my responses match my marketing. What about you?

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  • Karine

    Your post resonates with something that was on my mind this morning.

    I’m curious: what happens after you respond? I get a fair amount of emails asking for advice. I try to respond as much as I can, but I’ve noticed that 3 out of 4 times people don’t even bother to send a quick thank-you via email. Since you get so manyrequests, I was wondering if you run into this kind of situations as well.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Sure I do. But honestly, I want fewer replies. Don’t you?

      • Karine

        Not sure whether or not I should have replied to your question ;-) But, thank you – helps me put things in perspective.

    • http://selfstairway.com/about/ Vincent Nguyen

      I noticed this as well. My assumption is that people don’t “want to bother you” and feel like they’re intruding. The funny thing is that the initial request doesn’t feel like that but the second or third one does.

      Either that or people are ungrateful, but I hope that’s not the case. :)

      • jon_mitchell_jackson

        Me too but I’m not sure that’s the case :-)

    • jon_mitchell_jackson

      Don’t worry about the “thank you” because it’s beyond your control. Just do what you know is right.

  • jon_mitchell_jackson

    I’m spending more and more time each day “responding” and frankly, it’s work. In fact, that’s one reason I was up at 5 a.m. this morning. I needed to take care or getting back to people. Most people are not willing to do what you’re talking about (especially my lawyer friends) but it connects and pays off in relationships and trust and worth the effort. Now way up on top of my biz “to do” list :-)

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      To me, those opportunities to reply, when I can manage them, are gold. If nothing else, they extend the relationship. When I miss the opportunity to reply, I consider it a few points off on my side in the relationship bank.

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  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    My dad responds to every email he receives, which is amazing, given the volume of emails he receives.

    However, too often I feel that the emails I get are mass produced fishing lures looking for a response from anyone, not just me.

    While I don’t want to be rude, I also have a lot of obligations to current clients, co-workers and family. At a certain point i have to say no. And no may mean not responding to that generic sounding come on that could be from a mail merge.

    IDK…maybe I should stop commenting on blogs before I have my first cup of coffee. ;)

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Beats me. If it’s a mail merge, it’s much less important to reply.

      • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

        I’m also less tempted by “Dear Sir/Madam.” Maybe it’s just me/I.

        • http://startupsavant.com/ Startup Savant

          It’s not just you!

  • http://raulcolon.net/ Raul Colon

    I have always responded but collaborating with you helped me tweak my replies to make sure they are brief and to the point which usually get me better responses and results.

    On another note when I hear or read someone talking about connecting and reaching out and then I have a one to one talk with them and they tell me to email them and never respond It bothers me a lot to the point where I might not want to do business with them.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Brevity is so vital.

      And as for that, it happens to me. I miss it sometimes. And that’s the worst.

  • Patrick1986

    I like this Eye opener because it shows how simple things can be. Nice one.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Everything I preach is simple.

  • http://jefmenguin.com/ Jef Menguin

    Yes, and thank you for the reminder. I realized that we keep on marketing our products but we sometimes fail to reply quickly to a request.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Which is marketing. : )

  • jonmikelbailey

    Love this. At our office we answer the phone every time. People are amazed by this.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Fancy that. Quite the game changer… answering the phone. I’m being facetious, but I’m not. Right? You’re willing.

      • jonmikelbailey

        Ha! Yes, we are groundbreakers here! We even schedule our own appointments!

  • Steve Freeman

    Chris, I totally agree. I met with a mid level manager several weeks ago. I made a short presentation and he was interested. I needed some information from him before I could complete my proposal….nothing, 4 followup emails, 2 phone calls, nothing.

    It leaves me wondering….what, I got bad breath, what?

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  • http://everydayemstips.com Greg Friese

    Responding, especially the unexpected reply, is so rare it is a great opportunity to delight the recipient.

  • Nametag Scott

    The speed of the response IS the response. Nice one, Chris.

  • DavidBrentJohnson

    Such a simple, powerful thought. I think we complicate because we want “success” NOW, not realizing that doing that next right thing will take us (and keep us) there faster than anything else ever could.

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  • http://www.rizzotees.com/ Chris @ Rizzo Tees

    “Just writing (my canned sales email to you), as I haven’t heard back from you.”

    I’m sorry to say, but this makes me want to respond less. I know there’s some boat I’m missing here, but there does come a tipping point (especially for someone like you, Chris) where responding to everything would have you accomplishing nothing. “Simulating forward motion,” as Tim Ferriss once called it.

    So, there are times when I simply don’t respond. When salespeople ask if I’m the person in charge of our office phone system, my nonresponse should signal that I am not. It rarely stops them from continuing to try to sell me an office phone system.

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  • http://www.mcgrawmarketing.com/ patmcgraw

    A part of marketing, yes. Effective communication has always been about providing others with fast, easy access to relevant and accurate information in a timely manner. We just tend to overlook some opportunities where that might be appreciated – like the button for walking across a street.

  • Lucy Chen

    With our company, we would likely lose a job if we reply to the inquires too late (later than 2 or 1 day).
    I hope I get so many emails or messages etc. with my own art business soon :) haha!

  • Geri Richmond

    Hi Chris,

    In today’s world everything is hurry up and rush, rush, rush. I always respond to my emails personally and to any social media platforms with a thank you for a RT or whatever it is. If someone took the time to share for you, then, the least I can do is thank them.

    The top gurus (for lack of a better word), should respond ASAP, but, a lot of times, that’s not the case. We are all busy, but, I believe it’s just common courtesy.
    Great reminders of how we should be. :)

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  • http://marketingstorytelling.com/ Rhonda @ Mktg Storytelling

    This reminds me of that moment whenever I ask the customer service rep “how are you today?” as I pull out my purse to make a payment. They are not expecting shoppers to care about them. So they frown and just respond with a “fine”.

  • Gary Coulton

    I suspect that few people actually take the time to notice and understand what they feel when someone recognises and responds to them. They are often too wrapped up in their own stuff and hence they do not know how to reciprocate. All of life when it works well is about reciprocation. If that’s marketing I’m all for it!

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  • Peter White

    Great Site and very informative. Thanks Pete

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  • http://rallyyourgoals.com/ r/ally

    The fact that people are surprised at a response might be an indication of how few and far between they are some times.

  • Alex Mugica

    Yes, I think sometimes we focused too much in new tools, new methods and we forget the basics! First one is communicate well and in order to do that: listen, acknowledge and answer! Use the methodology you fancy/can/time enables you: email, sms, phone, … but behave as a polite human being.
    It is amazing how technology by multiplying the amount of info received sometimes makes us forget the basics while it should be the opposite, helping us: hear more and answer better and more timely.

  • James Call


    This is awesome.

    While I believe that some requests we get are bogus, most are not. Especially if we don’t have a huge lead net.

    I owned a children’s clothing store in Mexico before doing real estate websites and we had a few “looky-loos”, but most of the folks who came in were there to buy.

    As a real estate agent, I would also get bogus contacts who were time wasters, but that is just part of owning a business. Someone has to be a filter.

    I have really seen over the last year or so in my work that answering phone calls, and responding to emails in a timely way has given me a ton of clients.

    I actually did a blog post riffing your article this morning.

    When I did a google search for “realtor won’t answer phone” it was staggering the number of results.

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  • Online making money

    Great writeup. This post is really informative. Thanks for sharing this great piece of article with us

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  • http://www.leasefunders.com/ Lease Funders

    Replying is very very important to a business. I can’t point that out enough.

    We’d had past experiences of clients losing interest just because their email or query wasn’t responded to. Some people don’t reply because they don’t have the answer. But acknowledgement is an important courtesy (just as Chris said above) to the recipient, even if you can’t give the perfect answer right away.

    It just means that you took the time to read their message. You spent a second, or millisecond of your busy time for them. That counts a lot!

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  • Spook SEO

    Don’t you just love it when you get quality answers from salesmen? This
    is the same when you are marketing online. You just have to build connections
    to the possible clients. Let them feel that the only thing that separates you
    is a computer screen.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      We agree for sure. : )

  • Al Hannigan

    This acknowledgement to emails is very important. Sometimes you just need confirmation that your email was delivered and seen. My partner and I often follow an email with a text message letting the other know we sent an important email that needs attention. Even if the email requires more time for a detailed answer, a short “I got your email and will be back with a reply soon” is helpful. That way your attention doesn’t get stuck wondering if your email ever got read.

  • http://jefmenguin.com/ Jef Menguin

    A response is a statement that you recognize the importance of your audience.