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What to do when marketing goes wrong

April 18, 2022 -  By

Marketing is communication that seeks to level up your brand with customers. Occasionally, it can miss the mark and create doubt or stir up unspoken fears. All these outcomes are learning experiences, more so if you track and record
these events.

(Photo: Hispanolistic/E+/Getty Images)

(Photo: Hispanolistic/E+/Getty Images)

As I write this article, inflation is rising and Wall Street is shedding considerable value. It’s uncertain how this situation will affect our industry in the coming months.

Early in the season is the time to plan your marketing for potential scenarios, especially resistance to price increases and product and service delays. What are clients saying? If everything seems to be going well, make note of that, but be specific as to why.

Keep a record

Whenever you invest in marketing it’s helpful to record relevant information for later reference and training. I recommend recording the following:

  • Market conditions.
  • Messaging content and tone.
  • Calls to action.

This information allows you to build on your successes and respond to potential pushback. Economic and political instability are expected this year. So, if you are not experiencing its effects in your communities, you should record why.

Unlike tracking production costs, tracking marketing is subjective. It nevertheless pays to record what you believe clients are thinking, feeling and doing. Later in the year when conditions have changed, you can use these observations to inform your decisions.

If your communication channels are unusually quiet, you may have a problem. Maybe that price increase isn’t sitting well with your clients. Talk to customers to understand what’s on their minds. That may be enough to steady their confidence for a few months.

Act quickly

When you discover your marketing was not received as expected, it’s necessary to act. The more swiftly you move to right the wrong, the more easily you will get everything back on track.

Steve Jobs once explained Apple’s rationale for taking swift action to fix customer problems, despite imperfect results.

“If mistakes are made it means decisions are being made, and that’s good,” he said. “We support customers and learn from those mistakes. Some will be unhappy, but it’s a proven way of getting there.”

Lessons learned

My landscape company once made a marketing mistake when we notified our customers that we were no longer doing homeowner association (HOA) work. Our intent was to strengthen our commitment to our core customer base of residential homeowners.

Somehow that message which was intended for homeowners was delivered to all our clients. HOA clients were surprised and some were angry.

So, we developed a plan for doing what was right — telling them the truth. Some companies will dig in and defend their position. That’s a choice, but stepping back to consider other viewpoints may be enough to acknowledge you can do better.

We were getting out of HOA work, but not until the following year. There were some tense moments, and we assured these clients that we appreciated their past loyalty, but our company was simply not positioned to serve them profitably. Most of them understood our decision and thanked us for that clarification.

Marketing triggers emotions that inspire action. This is true for marketing that works and marketing that has gone wrong. Consider the actions you seek and the messaging that will trigger them to further your business goals.

Jeff Korhan

About the Author:

Jeff Korhan is the author of Built-In Social, founder of Landscape Digital Institute, and a Duct Tape Marketing Certified consultant. Jeff works with service companies that want to drive growth and enhance their brand experience with digital platforms. Learn more at www.landscapedigitalinstitute.com

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