Sunday, July 22, 2007

All Marketers are Liars. Well, we shouldn't be...

According to marketing guru Seth Godin, all marketers are liars. This is no attack on Seth, as I view him as a rock star in the marketing world, but I am writing this post to simply ask the question, wouldn't we be better off if we weren't liars? As I write this post, I am reminded of a second book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. We were taught then that lying is bad, so why is it accepted now?

We might be tempted to "spin" the truth when things aren't going our way, especially in crisis situations. However with the speed of information these days, the more you spin, the more likely you will be caught and exposed. The role of the citizen journalist has become paramount in the information age, and due in part to the popularity of user-generated content and newer technologies such as blogs, anyone can write an expos'e. So if you are caught in a crisis, avoid the temptation to spin.

Tactics for crisis communications:

1. If you have made a mistake, acknowledge it as soon as you realize it. We all make mistakes, and we have all been in situations where we have had to apologize. The first step in any crisis communications plan should be to acknowledge the mistake, own the mistake, and publicly address it in some form (i.e. an apology).

2. Transparency is the key. Many media outlets love a good juicy story. However, there isn't a story to break if you are the one breaking the news. Don't let the media beat you to the punch. Be as transparent as you can be. Don't hide or restrict information flow. It will get out, and when it does, you will look like you did everything in your power to prevent it, putting you in a compromised situation.

3. Seek feedback from your key stakeholders. After acknowledging the situation, apologizing for the situation, and keeping your stakeholders (or customers) updated, seek their feedback. Invite them into the process. You only exist because of them. You are there to serve their needs. If you haven't done that very well or have offended them, find out how you can be a better partner.

4. Release an action plan. There are those who will be satisfied by an omission of error and an apology. There are others who could care less about an apology, but want to know that a similar error will not occur in the future. They want action, and you in turn want to avoid the same mistake as well. So examine the error or situation, consider the feedback you received from your stakeholders, and develop an action plan to address the situation. And don't be shy with it...share it with all.

Remember, business is about relationships. Relationships with the press. Relationships with your stakeholders. Relationships with your customers. There isn't a business in history who hasn't misstepped. How you handle the misstep will communicate a lot to your customers. Although unfortunate and damaging, it can also be a perfect opportunity to solidify your relationships.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

In an attempt to personalize, make sure you don't offend...

I am a huge proponent of personalizing direct mail so that the recipient feels like the package and/or offer was developed specifically for them. I think the invention of PURL (personalized URLs) technology and digital printing have created great opportunities for personalized messaging. One word of caution however -- If you don't trust all the information in your database, be careful! When pulling information for personlized direct mail campaigns, make sure that the information fields you are pulling from are correct and complete, otherwise you might end up addressing the solicitation to the wrong name or no name at all. In which case, not only did you fail to personalize the package, you have also most likely offended the recipient.

The Arts Invade Second Life...

Would you like a very inexpensive way to display your artwork in front of over 7 million people? Can't afford a gallery space in the real world--why not open one up in Second Life. Check out this article in the The Art Newspaper about the art scene in Second Life.
For video tours of exhibitions and performances on Second Life, go to: