Are We Excluding By Not Including?

woman using cell phone

A few years ago I sat with two trusted colleagues and made numerous decisions about my company’s social media and marketing strategy. There were a few things that got added to the activities already in play. One of them, even though I was hesitant, was adding a company Facebook page.

Why was I hesitant? Well, I joined Facebook about 13 or 14 years ago, when a then-teenage nephew sent me an invitation. It’s never captured much of my attention or added any delight to my days. It had become one of those things for which I have a password but rarely, if ever, used.

The discussions with my colleagues had me thinking differently; their reasons for creating the company page were compelling. It was done. They agreed to help me monitor any important activity and look after posting worthy content. I developed a habit of using my phone to quickly check in once each day.

It’s important to note that this “quick check-in” didn’t necessarily include clicking on all the necessary icons and looking at all the important pages. And this is how I’ve excluded customers from reaching me. I’ve inadvertently sent them the message, “I’m not interested in you.”

What do I mean by exclusion? Are you also excluding customers, telling them you don’t want to work with them? And are you doing this intentionally?

While many of you will find this laughable, I’m not comfortable or confident with all of the Facebook icons. For me, the platform is not “user friendly” and this is one of the many reasons I limit my activity. But in my evening check-ins, I really did think I was doing all that was necessary. Then, while using Facebook on my desktop instead of my phone, I was startled to land on a page with two messages from potential customers … and they had been there, completely ignored, for six weeks. Yikes!

This is not my brand. This is not the experience I create for clients or potential clients … but it is now the experience of these two individuals. Intentional or not, I excluded them from my business by not paying attention to all my channels of communication. For me, this was yet another reminder of an ancient business lesson: “Once you own a business, it’s not about you. It’s all about your customer.”

My neglect occurred because I allowed my dislike of Facebook to take precedence over its role in communicating with customers. I know better!

This past week I’ve encountered similar situations with other businesses. One example … a portrait photographer with no phone number listed, only a form to fill out. While the photographer has been highly recommended to me, I have yet to fill out the form. It’s not how I communicate and it does not help me, as a potential client, build the relationship.

Another was a quick question I had for a supplier. Again, no phone number available on email messages or on the website. I sent an email, asked for the phone number and said I would call at their convenience. The response? A link to a video call. This made what could have been a one-minute conversation into a 10-minute task, and a distance was created for me, the customer.

Two things I do understand: 1) we can’t be everywhere all the time, and 2) we need to have some control over our own schedules and how we handle incoming inquiries. However, when we eliminate a channel of communication, whether that’s the phone, or text, or Facebook, we eliminate customers. We tell them they are not our target market, that we don’t wish to work with them.

What’s the answer? I think it’s important to be as confident as possible that the channel you choose to not answer/follow/check is not one where customers are looking for you. And even when this is true, I think it’s important to leave a sign, like a detour sign, letting people know where they can find you. Often, when I receive detailed business messages on LinkedIn, I respond and then redirect them to my email,  where I will reply more quickly.

And what about my Facebook page? The statistics indicate my target market isn’t looking for me on this platform. Over several years, there have been two requests, both from individuals I’m connected to in other ways. So … my detour sign is going up!

What is your experience? What are your thoughts and ideas? Let me know in the comment section below.


Closing a sale is the natural outcome of inspiring great conversations and listening intently to our potential customers.

This natural approach still involves a process – a plan that moves potential customers through a journey of discovery with you. So ... what's your process? And am I the right sales coach for you? Let's find out.

4 thoughts on “Are We Excluding By Not Including?”

  1. Mary Jane, this did give me a bit of a teehee moment when you mentioned the “I’m not interested in you”. My take away from this is that if a social media platform does not appear to work for communication, do not just let it sit there. That detour sign is so important in letting them know a better way to reach me … thank you for sharing!

    • Thank you, Cathy. Yes, social networks really demand that we participate. If we can’t, for whatever reason, we still need to communicate rather than create silence.

  2. This is so important. Sometimes we think that being on all channels is the answer. If u don’t have the resources or if u have a bias then a clear strategy conversation with yourself or your team can help ensure that we are not leaving customers ignored. I love the detour suggestion.

    • Thanks, Colleen. It is so difficult to be present on all the channels, yet so important that our potential customers can find us. So far, my “detour” sign on Facebook is working!


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