Messaging Dictates For Whom the Bell Tolls

By Stacy Cornay for the Times-Call
Publish Date: 05/12/2013

Cutting edge phone technology entered our house when I was 12 years old.

The technology came in the form of a 20-foot phone cord that gave Mom freedom.

Mom often was trapped in our kitchen by a neighbor who phoned to filibuster on rumors, gossip and carrying-ons in the community. Because mom is a kind and caring woman, she could never get off the phone graciously. Mom depended on me.

TWhenever mom waved frantically in my direction, it was my job to run out the front door and ring the doorbell. Then mom could proclaim graciously, “I'm sorry. Someone's ringing the doorbell and I have to go.” It didn't always work. Sometimes mom was a captive audience until I showed up to pick up her signal. Mom's freedom depended on my attention span.

Dad solved her problem by introducing new technology into our lives. He bought an extra long phone cord. The cord was so long that mom could walk out and ring the doorbell herself. Problem solved. Mom was liberated.

The point of this story is that people will find ways to tune out your messages if you become a nuisance or unwelcome distraction in their lives.

One of the most common questions/complaints that I hear concerns people abusing Facebook, email and other social media tools. On the plus side, social media tools provide excellent means for promoting your business and for expanding relationships with customers/ clients.

On the minus side, social media carry the seeds for turning away current customers/clients and for dissuading new ones from checking out your products or services. Those on the receiving end of what you're sending have the power to shut you down, block your posts or unsubscribe from your email lists.

I encourage people to practice excessive moderation. Know what you want to say, then make sure your messages are tasteful and on target. Don't put out information if it isn't interesting, timely or helpful. Don't repeat the same message endlessly to the point of boredom. Don't spew out information solely for the sake of spewing out information. The point of using social media is to build awareness of your business, products and services. It is to create sales and promote loyalty. It's not to annoy or irritate those on the receiving end.

Strong relationships are built on give and take. It's not all about you. Successful business people value their audiences. They use focus groups and surveys to determine what people want to hear. They also let customers/clients know that they welcome input and feedback. The objective is to build relationships on mutual trust and respect.

Take a critical look at your messages and motives before hitting the “send” key. Reflect on what you like or don't like about the emails, tweets and posts you receive. Use focus groups to determine what approaches and phrases resonate and which are better left in the bad ideas closet. Above all, don't put all your marketing eggs in one basket.

Customers/clients can be found in many audiences. Different media reach different audiences. Relying on and then over-using one medium won't get the best results.

Many people are like my mother. They won't let you know when you're a pain in the neck. Instead, if your business pops up on their screen, they'll just hit “delete” and send your messages to the recycle file.

If you somehow hear the sound of a doorbell in the background, you'll know for whom the bell tolls.

Happy Mother's Day Mom!

Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising. 
Visit or call 303-651-6612.