When Can a Non-Response Be Taken as a “NO”? (Almost Never)

George Bernard Shaw

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw, Born Jul. 26, 1856.

The guy who gave me a career in copy (Andy Jenkins, RIP) was a big fan of this quote, and he used it a lot when I worked for him. Mostly in a managerial context.

But it's highly relevant to the field of persuasion, too. Especially the measurable, marketing variety.

See, when you publish a message, and it doesn't get the result you wanted, is it that the message failed?

Or are you certain that communication actually occurred?

Here are some ways you can insure that failure of the message is an actual failing of the message, and not just a case of non-communication.

1. Was there a mechanism for the prospect to reject the message? If not, you can't consider a lack of response to be a negative reaction.

2. Was the message repeated? People miss stuff. Even when they see it. But if they see it a few times, they spot it as a pattern and react. Repeat the message. If not verbatim, then give it a unique spin, so long as the goal and desired outcome are the same.

3. Was the message delivered at a variety of times and in a variety of mediums? You're trying to meet your market where it is, and if you don't already know, test to find out what they will consume and when.

That's it. Follow those three tips, and watch two things happen.

One – You'll see increased response immediately and more over time. Because chances are, a lot of your followers would have reacted positively to your message. It just didn't penetrate the hard, outer shell of their lives. Repetition is the slow blade that penetrates the shield.

Two – You'll lose prospects who weren't going to be good customers anyway. That's okay. It makes room for people who love what you are putting down and will respond to your offers. Losing followers freaks some people out. I promise it's a good thing if they're not a good fit.

That's it. Don't be fooled into thinking communication has occurred. Make sure it has. Almost to the point of being mildly annoying. Or else you're not really TRYING to market.

Agree? Or do you let people off the hook for missing your messages?

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