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Ilise Benun is an internationally recognized expert on self promotion and marketing for freelancers, creative professionals and small business owners. She is the author of Self Promotion Online and Designing Websites:// for Every Audience. Through her Marketing Mentor program, she works closely with the self employed to help them avoid the feast or famine syndrome. Read more about that here:
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Based in Hoboken NJ, Benun is also a national speaker and has been featured in national magazines such as Inc. Magazine, HOW Magazine, Self, Essence, and Working Woman.

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20 tips on silence and a few interesting ideas on what it means
from the readers of Quick Online Marketing Tips and brought to you by Marketing Mentor, Ilise Benun

In late June 2004, I sent one of my regular Quick Online Marketing Tips with the subject line: What does the silence mean? Here is the text of that message:

Recently, a colleague gave me contact info for a woman he thought would be interested in having me speak about self promotion to her group. So I emailed and then followed up with a call. I haven't heard back. Not a peep.

Last month, I submitted a proposal to a prospect to revamp his web site (yes, I do that). He seemed very excited about the project, but when I tried to reach him to get an answer, all I got was silence. He "should" have responded too, but he hasn't.

I was dying to jump to a conclusion. I started to think, "It must have been too expensive for him," or "he chose someone else." But then I stopped myself, because I was basically making up stories in my head, stories that have more to do with my own "issues" than with the project at hand.

Do you make up stories in the silence too? More important, can you stop yourself? Because the reality is: you don't know. Most of the time, the silence means they're busy, maybe even overwhelmed, dealing only with what's on the top layer of their desk.

The most you can assume is that they can't deal with you now, and even that is not for certain because you don't know if they actually got your message. Maybe it was filtered out. Maybe they accidentally deleted it. Maybe they're out of town and haven't reached the bottom of their email yet.

Most of us are not nearly as responsive as we'd like to be. But because of the nature of email, my expectation of a response is higher because I know they could respond right away if they really wanted to. Plus email carries the illusion of a conversation —I feel like I'm saying something to which they should respond - when it's actually more like a letter.

One more thing: I also notice that suspecting the worst about their silence seems to be in direct proportion to how much I want the project, which is related to how many prospects I have (which is inextricably linked to how actively I'm promoting myself). More prospects in the pipeline, fewer stories in my head.

So if you want to be a priority to them, it's your responsibility to remind them they are interested (even if they don't respond) until they're ready to continue the conversation. I'm not saying be a pest. I am saying, don't give up. But where is the line between the two? To follow are some ideas abut just that.

The balance of this article is the best of what I got back in response to my request. Part 1 compiles the practical tips people offered on how to deal with the silence that is inevitable when you are marketing anything. Part 2, a bit more philosophical, follows with some really clear insights and often opposing points of view on the meaning we give to the silence.

I am grateful to all who contributed their ideas. And if you like what you read, reach out to these people and start a conversation. You never know where it will go ...

Click here to read Part One

Click here to read Part Two


From Quick Online Marketing Tips by Ilise Benun, author of Self Promotion Online and Designing Web Sites for Every Audience.


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2004, Ilise Benun

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