Mistakes Are a Marketing Opportunity

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Mistakes typosMistakes happen. Someone mixed up a customer order or made up a bill wrong. You send out an email to the wrong list. There’s a bug in the rice. (This happened to me not so long ago.)

No matter how hard you try, how good your employees are, or how rigorous your quality-control process is, some things slip through the crack.

It’s how you manage after the mistakes where your company’s culture and customer support shows. How you handle the customer after she complains, or after you discover the mistake, determines whether you can manage to retain her.

When I got that tiny bug in my rice, the restaurant manager apologized profusely and when I refused another serving of rice, offered another dish as replacement. We were at a lunch buffet, but for the rest of the meal, we got served at the table. It’s been some months, and I still remember the incident, but I have mostly good feelings about that restaurant. In contrast, I’ve had many experiences at other restaurants where the wait staff made a mistake but were quite blasé about it.

So I found this recent email from the CEO of PowToon both amusing and admirable.

Hi! PowToon’s Chief Unicorn here,

I know I should really be sweeping this under the carpet, but it’s so hilarious (even if really embarrassing) that I have to share it.

He’s starting out by laughing at himself… you have the like the guy for that.

So I made a big hoo-ha about my book release last Thursday. We had a countdown and everything…

Well, 5 minutes after the release, I got the following email from one of the first readers:

“Thank you for the book and bonus workbook.
The word “xxxxxx” is misspelled on the cover…
I love PowToon!

See how cleverly he’s included proof that customers love PowToon.

So I think to myself: “That’s not possible! I must have looked at that cover 1,000 times – there can’t be a mistake on it.”
I browse to the book download page on my mobile phone and I must’ve gone completely white, because the friends I was with started asking if I was okay.
There it was, glaring at me! A spelling mistake a 3rd grader could spot.

So I think to myself: “Not so bad – the launch email just went out a few minutes ago. I can fix this before anyone really notices…”

I look at the download statistics and to my shock: 1,408 downloads within those few minutes!
“AAAAHHHHHHHH – How embarrassing! Here I am – big fancy author – releasing books left, right, and center – and I can’t even get the spelling on the cover right!”

He’s accepting responsibility. He’s not blaming an editor or anyone else — he’s not even making excuses (“I was busy” or “It’s not a big mistake”). He’s pointing the blame right at himself. That automatically makes you sympathize with him.

Long story short, we fixed it, but thousands of people have the version with the spelling error – so I apologize for that, and you can download the corrected version if you prefer.

I challenge you to find the error on the original download page – and while you’re at it download the book!  (If you can’t find the error, the solution is on the blog).

And this is how you make lemonade out of lemons. Turning a mistake into a game for customers? Original and creative.

If you find any more typos or if you have feedback, I’d be super happy to hear from you.


PowToon’s Chief Executive Unicorn

P.S. See the original download page with the typo and download the book

P.P.S. In case our Marketing Awesomeness Director has not let you know about this yet, there is launch special until June 30th, where you get a complementary upgrade to the Agency Plan when you subscribe to the annual Pro Account ($456 saving)

Ilya Spitalnik | CEO and Founder

And hey, why not include a sales call-to-action while you’re at it?

What do you think of this email? Have you seen other examples of brands using mistakes as a marketing opportunity?

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