19 Jun 2020

Marketing Matters: Customer! There’s an oops in my marketing!

They call them bloopers on social media. Short films, TV or video clip outtakes showing embarrassing gaffes, misspoken words, mistakes, or technical errors made by the cast or crew. Some are slapstick funny, but most just make you smile. And wince a little for the people making the goofs.

The Germans have a word for it: schadenfreude, the pleasure you take at the misfortunes of others. Except that here it’s self-induced, caused by not checking, assuming things are right, or not recognising errors when you see them. Some people make a habit of it! ‘Own goals’ we used to call them.

Marketing people seem especially susceptible.

During the week, I received a cheery email from one of the big names in the industry: ‘customer, Check Your Deatils’ it said in the subject.

Given the subject of the email, how could you miss the typo? And what a word to mangle! Was it a Freudian slip?

The headline was on target. ‘We only want to keep you up to date if your details are up to date’. It was a nice line but, despite the personal tone of the rest of the message, it addressed me as ‘customer’ – not ‘Customer’ – and not Hi Mike, Dear Mike, Dear Mr Rigby, or plain Hello.

The email was asking me about my details, but they appeared not to know them, or was it too much effort to use details like my name when asking me to confirm it was OK to keep them? From a marketing perspective, the combination was off putting and unintended.

Over the years, I’ve noticed this kind of annoying blooper is quite common in marketing communications. But why? A last-minute lapse of concentration? A reluctance to get down to the boring discipline of proofreading? Being too keen to get on to the next job to finish this one properly? Or an addiction to living dangerously?

Whatever it is, this weakness lets them and their company’s marketing down. Yet it’s easily fixed.

The turning point, if you want to improve your marketing implementation, is to accept that your strengths are in creative not details. Then you can either learn the discipline and focus of careful proof-reading, which may go against the grain, or ask a colleague who can, to do it for you. But don’t leave it to chance. Your marketing deserves better.

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