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
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
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
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
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
Promotion Online and Designing
Web Sites for Every Audience.
Sign up for the tips here:
©2004, Ilise Benun