Did I just see you on Crimewatch?

As a social worker, I learned there was one question you should NEVER ask a mental health patient service user client personage entity…

“So… how are you feeling today?”

Asking a patient that was the equivalent of asking the gabby old dear in front of you at the Post Office:

“So… tell me about everything that has ever happened to you in your entire life…”

It’s like being sucked into a never-ending vortex.

Ask “How are you feeling?” and Crimewatch will be appealing for your safe return before you get an answer.

You’ll no doubt have discovered conversational “No Fly Zones” in your life too.

“Remember, don’t ask Dave about his athlete’s foot. If he puts that rancid thing on my futon one more time…”

The reason we avoid these questions is because we already know the answer leads somewhere we don’t want to go.

The first time Dave enthusiastically whips off his rubber sock so his foot sweat cascades on your face as he generously invites you to “have a proper whiff of that”, it’s too late, but…

You make a mental note never to ask again.

There are plenty of these “No Fly Zones” in marketing too – conversational cul-de-sacs you’re better not venturing down.

For example, anything that causes your customer to believe:

“I think I know what this is… it’s not for me” 

… before you’ve had a chance to explain your offer.

You don’t want to go there.

Similarly, when you make a bold statement in the hopes of building some of that rapport, like:

“As a professional wedding photographer, I know you hate editing photos”

… you give people something that could make them think “No I don’t. You really don’t get me.”.

As a social worker with a caseload of clients veering close to triple-digit territory, I had to be real picky about the questions I asked.

“I see you started daycare last week… what was it like being around new people?” is a high-quality, effective question that cuts right to the chase.

I know social work and marketing aren’t totally comparable.

You don’t do social work to the masses, yelling “How’s everyone’s depression tonight?” from a stage, for example, but the idea of:

Only ask questions when you’re happy with the full range of possible responses you might get.

… is a pretty good one to adopt in your marketing.

Have a good week,

John Holt