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Newsletter #939: The “When Stuff Goes Wrong” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

By now you know that negative word of mouth can turn into a great opportunity to earn raving fans. But what about the other negative stuff you can’t help? Stuff like burglaries, website disasters, and other inevitable crises that threaten to ruin everyone’s day?

Here are three examples of companies who turned a bad situation into word of mouth marketing lemonade:

1. Do something nice for your fans
2. Use the existing word of mouth
3. Ask your fans to help
4. Check it out: Here Is Today

1. Do something nice for your fans

What went wrong: Computer hardware manufacturer Razer got thousands of online orders when someone discovered an accidental promo code for 90 percent off.

Razer’s remarkable solution: Instead of telling their customers the company couldn’t honor the fluke promotion, Razer agreed to approve at least one of each item ordered for everyone who took advantage of it. That way, every customer still got a great deal, just not mass quantities of it.

The lesson: Razer took some big losses on this shopping cart error. But by putting their customers first, they earned new fans and fantastic word of mouth instead of backlash from the community.

Learn more: The Verge

2. Use the existing word of mouth

What went wrong: When a burglar hilariously attempted to rob a Kent’s Meats & Groceries in California, the surveillance video went viral.

Kent’s remarkable solution: The grocery store capitalized on the word of mouth already surrounding the surveillance video and made it into a commercial about the crazy things people will do to get their sandwiches.

The lesson: Kent’s Meats & Groceries could have seen the viral video as bad publicity and released a boring PR statement about safety or legal action. Instead, they seized the opportunity to jump in on something people were already talking about and show their sense of humor.

Learn more: The Huffington Post

3. Ask your fans to help

What went wrong: When clothing retailer La Redoute published their online catalog, they missed an important detail: a naked man in the background of a children’s clothing photo. Yep. A. Naked. Dude. Their customers caught the embarrassing slip up and La Redoute caught a lot of heat on Twitter and Facebook.

La Redoute’s remarkable solution: After apologizing and removing the photo, La Redoute admitted their online catalog might have more mistakes they missed. And the company recruited their fans to find and report the “mistakes” (some were planted, like an alligator in a family pool) to win a new outfit.

The lesson: Simply apologizing for the blunder would have been nice. But by turning it into a crowdsourced scavenger hunt, they brought fans on their side and opened the door for conversations with them.

Learn more: Augure

4. Check it out: Here Is Today

When stuff goes really wrong, sometimes it just helps to put the day into perspective. shows you how small 24 hours look compared to all of history.

Check it out: Here Is Today

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