Copyright 2013 Deah Curry PhD
Last week as I was putting the just-bought groceries into my front seat, a soccer mom approached my car, waving some small stack of apparent coupons to get my attention. I figured she was helping her kids in some school fundraiser.
But the ice cream was melting and I wasn’t really feeling receptive to hearing about the need for new uniforms or band equipment. And my mind was on trying not to forget to get the low tire checked, and call insurance adjuster about the water leak in the trunk.
Nonetheless, I put the window down to politely say, no thanks – and she surprised me by saying, I’d like to invite you to our church.
What? This invitation was making no sense to the images in my brain of Harold Hill’s 76 invisible trombones marching to Les Schwab’s tire shop where Chunky Monkey dripped into my trunk.
The thought of church at this moment – as it does so many times – completely disoriented me. Soccer-Mom Suzy, however was not ruffled by my confusion. I imagined she encountered confusion in her parking lot crusade quite often.
I’m from the church across the street, she explained, and we are inviting the community to join us for…….
By now my disoriented braincells had retrieved their composure.No thanks, I smiled, I’m a witch. By which I meant to convey that I wasn’t really in the market, at the market, to add a cup of church to my groceries, and that I followed some other non-churchy spiritual path, so please don’t follow me home.
Ooooh, she empathized. I could hear her thinking, is she calling herself a Bitch? She clearly was having her own disorienting moment now, and offered me her comfort: Oh, that’s okay, you’re welcome to come, you’ll enjoy it, she soothed, in that tone of voice reserved for children who are crushed by the disappointment of not getting a pony.
I could see her struggling with the realization that I was her pony, and knew she was soothing her own disappointment.
Fully in command of my faculties now, I could see I would have to be firm with Suzy, so I started the car. No thanks, I don’t do church, I said, offering her what I hoped was a friendly pagan smile, and started to pull out of the parking slot.
As one eye made sure not to run into other cars, the other watched her walk away trying to figure out what had just happened. Four blocks down the road, it dawned on me that I’d just missed the opportunity to provide a little laser coaching on her marketing technique.
Here’s why this approach is a waste of your time, I should have said.
It’s the old AnyWarmBody technique where your pitch doesn’t connect with the needs and motivation of the population you encounter.
Worse, your approach interrupts their train of thought at a moment when that train has some importance to them, and in that space you’re trying to deliver a message that they weren’t tuned into caring about.
So basically your approach creates resistance if not annoyance, and ends up being counterproductive.
And then I should have handed her my card, and an invitation to call me for marketing coaching.