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Learning From Mistakes: A Classic Example

Disclaimer: This article is aimed directly at a specific business who have grown a huge following and one of the largest client basis for their niche. Despite it being around one off their muck ups, it's aimed around how they handled it and the lessons we can learn from the supposed muck up. 

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We get plenty of emails come into our "promotions and social" folder around some really great, relevant brands we follow each day. In particular, a few of us love personal goods and fancy stuff we can take home with us. In this case, it was the luxury, award-winning bed sheets designed and sold by Brooklinen.

By clicking on their website, you can already tell they've got a good handle on their marketing and design. It's essentially what got them so many customers in the first year. However, it was an email from them on Saturday night which really got our attention. 

"Usually I don't check my emails on a Saturday, especially when it's a long weekend but I noticed 'NEEDS APPROVAL' in the subject and instantly wondered why one of my team was working a weekend and sending me emails" Ollie, Director of MYF said. 

"It was when I opened it, I read quite possibly the best thing this year yet..."

"I won't lie, at first I thought this was two things; an incredibly stereotypical mistake, or a genius promotional technique" Ollie said. 

We shouldn't need to lay out why this email is bad, you probably get it, but how bad is it? Did this intern get the boot after this? What was their contingency around an email explanation? Did this grab more attention than just sending yet another promotional email out?

Let's break this down on why this is actually a brilliant email:

  • For an intern, his email is spotless! It's well put together and actually hits the points quick when you scroll down to his draft.
  • He's working a Saturday, most of us make mistakes on a Saturday!
  • Do interns really have 'intern' written in their signatures? Was this a set up?
  • All the links went to a page not yet live to everyone else...we got the deals early!

It's easy to say we're not surprised that someone in that position could make this mistake, it would be more of a shock if it were addressed by a C-Suite Executive, yes, but what can we learn?

Learn from others mistakes as much as you can

It's important to learn from your mistakes and this is preached all over the internet, however, it's OK to learn from others too. Here's what we thought:

  • If you're building websites to go out to your audience and these need checking, do them on a builder that asks over and over again if you're sure you want to send it.
  • A campaign builder like campaignmonitor.com will not allow you to send straight away, you must schedule it which allows even more opportunities to check.
  • Never send the email, simply pull the HTML link and email that for the users to review. 
  • Perhaps have someone work alongside new, young interns when the task involves your entire contact list!
  • Mistakes happen, sometimes they're even comical, so have some business continuity in place to deal with them...

What we noticed fast was their communication on the mistake and how they handled it. 

Ollie sent a reply email almost immediately:

Either that was the most elaborate marketing technique I've seen, or that's one unlucky intern... 😅Regardless, I think I actually like you guys more now...be gently on him guys!!

Regards,
Ollie

The reply was straight to the point and personal:

Hi Ollie!
Thanks for reaching out and for letting us know!
It looks like we made a bit of a mistake here and we spilled the beans about our sale that was supposed to go live tomorrow. Since the cat is out of the bag, our Founders decided to go ahead and make the sale available immediately to anyone who received the errant email...

Around 24 hours later, we received an email from the CEO of Brooklinen:

From the tone of the email, it doesn't look like Mark was going to be part of the next social event. 

It still worked

We love brands like this, consistent and beautiful with some fantastic imagery of what they sell. It was unfortunate that a small mess up like this happened but it didn't really cause any harm. In fact, we all clicked on the links, we all laughed at the honesty and we are now promoting them on our own blogs...even if it's less about their fantastic products and more about their adorable interns. The point being, you can use these mistakes to your advantage if you're quick enough. 

Over the 24 hour period, Brooklinen likely got more clicks on their emails than they ever had. The sale is probably doing great and Mark is probably Skyping his parents back in Michigan talking about how he'll never make that mistake again. 

The point is, everyone has a reputational responsibility towards their own brand. Be prepared for muck ups, be honest with your audience and maintain your tone when you apologize...customers will go off you if you pretend it didn't happen!



 

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