If you’ve been following the News Corp media ethics inquiry, you may feel just as frustrated as I do about Rupert Murdoch’s continued stance that he is not really responsible for the actions of his company.  Nobody wants to hear excuses.  If you are at the top of the chain of command, you are expected to take responsibility for the whole chain.  We don’t really care whose fault it is – that’s your problem.  There are some good examples that I can think of in B2C products where the company took responsibility even though it wasn’t their fault – the 1982 Tylenol incident and the more recent Enfamil issues come to my mind.  I’m sure there are a thousand examples.  The ones who take responsibility see the issues go away quickly and those who don’t (like Mr. Murdoch) just see it grow into a bigger and bigger issue.  It’s Public Relations 101.

There is a lesson for marketers in there, too.   If you use a marketing automation tool of any kind, you probably know how easy it is to screw up your marketing campaign.  If you don’t, I’m sure you’ll soon learn.  You might mix up names on personalized emails, send the wrong emails to the wrong list or at the wrong time, or have a link pointing to a wrong or dead location.  It happens to the best of us.  When I did my very first marketing automation campaign, I had set up the automated workflow wrong.  My list (thankfully it was a small one) got the first email requesting them to download something.  They immediately got a second email saying “We noticed you didn’t download that yet – you really should do that.”  I didn’t setup the timing right so it waited a week and then checked the responses before sending out the reminder.  Doh!

So how do you respond when you screw up?  In my case above, we decided not to do anything because it was a small list and chances are no one would notice.  They would take more notice if we drew attention to it.  In other cases, it’s best to just take the blame (no matter whose fault it is) and send out a correction.  If you don’t, you may leave your prospects with the impression that you can’t even get a simple email right.  But if you do correct it, they are usually very forgiving and you haven’t done any harm to the campaign.  Make sure your correction is simple and straightforward.  No one cares what happened or why.  Just simply state that there was an error and give them the corrected version.  Or if you sent the wrong campaign or to the wrong list, just simply state an apology for the error and ask them to ignore the previous email.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly the issue will go away!

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