One definition of “smother” is to stifle or suffocate, or cover over to exclude air. Let’s see how this can be applied to business.
Offline Marketing and Sales
Here are two real-life examples:
- You drive into a car dealership and before you’ve parked your car several salesmen swoop down on you all talking at the same time trying to get your attention and business. How would that make you feel? Just visualize it. Wouldn’t you feel like covering over your head with the hope that they would all be gone when you open your eyes. You get the feeling you’re suffocating.
2. You drive into another dealership and there are three or four salesmen standing and smiling at you waiting for you to decide whom you’d like to help and support customers.
I’ve had both experiences, and when I encountered the second scenario I was compelled to ask the salesman with whom I had an appointment for an explanation. He explained that it was a management decision as they recognize that the scenario in 1) had the opposite effect on customers and prospective customers, which made them feel as if they were under attack or being smothered.
Here are two more examples:
1. You walk into a furniture store with the intention of purchasing as easy chair and perhaps a painting for the space over your mantle. A salesperson greets you then proceeds to ask numerous questions. As you walk from one display to the other she continues talking and asking you questions. You are ready to walk out because you feel smothered; you have no opportunity to think.
2. You go down the road and walk into another furniture store and you’re greeted by the salesperson who asks what items you’re looking for. She quietly walks with you and shows you where the main display for these items are, and lets you know that there are others displayed in various settings around the store. She says the words you long to hear, “Take your time. I’ll be right over there if you have any questions.” You breathe a sigh of relief because you know you have support without feeling smothered.
Online Marketing and Sales
If you are building a community and have people on your email list, then you have customers or potential customers, so the rules of customer service also apply.
While the above examples relate to offline businesses, it’s possible to smother your clients or customers online by sending them autoresponder and broadcast messages too frequently. You want to be there to provide support through answering questions via email or if you accept telephone calls but you want to avoid smothering your customers or clients.
Your customers may find it even more stifling if every time they open your email you have something for sale. It’s important to recognize the difference between supporting customers and smothering them.
Do you have an experience you’d like to share when you felt you were being either supported or smothered? Please feel free to do so in the comments.