As an early adopter of email marketing who now helps others harness the power of online and social media marketing to move their businesses forward , I felt compelled to send a little note to a company I follow on social media when I received their 2010 holiday email greeting.
I’m keeping their name to myself, for reasons that will become obvious to you:
“All of us at [Company X] would like to wish you and your family a happy holiday. [So far, so good...] If its [sic] Chanukah or Kwanza [sic], Solstice, harvest or December twenty-fifth; Peace on earth to everyone and abundance to everyone you’re with. Happy Holidays”
Yes, there are also usage, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization errors in the body copy as well, further tarnishing what should have been a welcome holiday greeting - reason enough to call them out. But to name no fewer than four December holidays and then to allude to Christmas simply as “December twenty-fifth” – well, I’m amazed. No, make that appalled.
With the stroke of a pen – well, the tap of a keyboard – they’ve just potentially offended fully one-third of their audience. Of course, that’s only if their reach is worldwide. But for this particular company, it’s much worse. You see, their market is exclusively the United States, which means they have potentially alienated over 75 percent of their market!
I can guarantee that a certain percentage of those receiving their email will not want to hear anything more from them after this slight – that is, they will opt out of future emails. Some will actually complain to the company, but others will share their anger online – on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other online forums – and they’ll name names!
Depending on how diligent the company is about monitoring these channels and addressing potentially reputation-wrecking complaints across the media spectrum, they will either rebound from this and maybe even win over a few new fans or they will experience the very expensive sting of watching enough of their future marketing efforts fall on deaf ears that they will be left scratching their heads and wondering why.
Your Takeaway: Please, please take extra care with ALL of your business communications. If you do not have someone on staff who fully understands the critical importance of your interaction with your prospects, clients, customers, vendors, employees, and others – and knows how to use that knowledge consistently to build and maintain your brand – your investment in outsourcing those responsibilities will pay you back tenfold.