Not too many years ago, there was a thing called a “telephone table”. It was a little desk-like bit of furniture, designed to hold the family telephone and to provide a place to sit for the person speaking. I remember my Grandparents had one in the hall outside the living room. I say the family telephone because extension phones were rare in private homes.
The telephone table, long a mainstay of the North American Home, fell victim to extension phones. Where once we had one phone, in the hallway, now we had one in the kitchen, living room, and the master bedroom. Once the phone company stopped charging an exorbitant fee for extension phones, the cork was out.
I bring this up today as I contemplate huge shifts in how we communicate. As most of you know, this site started life as a pitch for a job. In today’s job market you need to cut through the clutter, same as you need to with your marketing. And really, isn’t applying for a job just marketing yourself? Once I found that I’d made it to the next step in the application process, I started my own version of “waiting by the phone” for that next step to be scheduled.
Back in the telephone table days, when waiting for an important call, one, “Waited by the phone”. Literally. You hung around the house, and kept within earshot of the ringer, so as not to miss that important call when it did come. You didn’t want to go into the basement or out in the yard.
That started to change with extension phones. It really started to change once cordless phones became common in the 1980s. Suddenly you could visit the basement or the yard while still “waiting by the phone”. You were, of course, still stuck at home.
All this seems so out of place compared with our incredibly connected society. Most of us now possess devices, in our pockets, that can access the entirety of the world’s knowledge and contact almost anyone else that you would care to communicate with. Once we became a mobile society, terms like “wait by the phone” became irrelevant. No one says that anymore. Now, waiting by the phone for an important call consists of making sure your phone is charged, and making sure you don’t wander outside your carrier’s coverage area. Since much of the populated portion of North America is covered, you can wander pretty far afield without worrying about missing a communication you may be expecting.
As I wait by the phone in my pocket for that important communication, ponder this: does your marketing use terms that should long be retired? Do you say things like, “wait by the phone”? There’s a certain younger portion of the population that has no idea what that means. In your display advertising, do you use pictures of desktop phones? A lot of people don’t even have home phones now. What’s a “tape”? Soon enough, it will be, “what’s a DVD?”
Things change. In fact, things change much faster than they once did. If your marketing uses phrases or images that are not current, you don’t connect as well as you could. Do an inventory of your message. Is there anything in there that doesn’t relate to today’s world?
Know your audience, and know how to talk to them!