Social Media Marketing

The Importance of Being Understood

I’m a fairly average person. I work, I play…I am a mom. I am a wife. I am CEO of an online marketing agency in Atlanta. I advocate for victims of CSEC (the commercial sexual exploitation of children). I have a lot of lovely friends and do fun stuff with them whenever possible.

So I’m busy and I value my time. Just like everybody else, I would imagine. I’m not complaining…in fact I wouldn’t have it any other way. But today I got a phone call that really got under my skin. The gentleman was very difficult to understand but it basically went down like this:

Heavily Accented Guy: Hello. May I please to tell you that this is NOT a sales call. I would only like to know if Mr. Bex Mit…Mit…Mitch…Michelle, still the CEO of your company, Social Butterfly? I would like to extend an invitation to him to join our conference.

Me: (Thinking, “Ok, Archie Bunker…not all CEO’s are men. But nice try.) But I said, “Thank you for calling, but we’re not interested.”

HAG: You don’t understand! This is not a sales call!! Is Mr. Bex Michelle still CEO of your company or not?!

Me: **click**

Ten seconds later, my phone rings again. REALLY. He called back! Thanks Skype, for making it so easy for people to make cheap international calls.

HAG: DO NOT DISCONNECT THIS CALL AGAIN. It is not a sales call! (cue his haughty voice) You need to understand that I am only verifying that Mr. Bex Michelle is still the CEO of Social Butterfly so that we can extend him an invitation to our conference.

Me: (…pausing to allow my tongue and brain to catch up with each other so that I don’t go unnecessarily off the deep end with this tool.) YOU need to understand that Bex MITCHELL is not a man. She’s a woman. And you are speaking to her. And it is simply not possible, based on the quality of this call, that you are going to invite me to anything I would be willing to attend.

I hung up my iPhone, wishing that I had been on a land line instead so that I could have hung up more loudly than just silently pushing a button on my screen.  I was angry, for a few reasons.

Let’s take the gender thing out of it. Yes, I think that he assumed that because I’m a CEO I’m a man. And he was probably rude to me because he thought I was “just” an assistant and/or secretary who didn’t matter (wrong again…had he spoken to anyone on my team like that he would have gotten the same or worse reaction from me).

This guy sounded an awful lot like someone who lives in India. I have no problem with people from or in India. In fact, I have friends I adore from there. But if you are going to market to me, shouldn’t I be able to understand more than 60% of what you say??

My company offers online marketing to other firms. So I get the whole outsourcing thing. We offer SEO and social media solutions for companies big and small. We also create websites that our search engine optimized. We are, for many of our clients, an outsourcing option for them. But we match our resources carefully with our clients demographic. And the most primitive consideration there is language. So we do not “offshore” these jobs to India (or any other place). We homeshore them by working with people who have matched interests and background with our clients demographic. Also, I’m an American and I work for American companies. So…I like to hire other Americans to help us out.

I think that the call I had today is a great reminder of why it’s important to remember that the people who engage your fans and followers in social media, just like the people who make cold calls on behalf of you company, are the face of your company to all who encounters them. The first message your clients, fans and prospects receive shouldn’t be “we don’t really understand each other.”