Damage Control–Managing Business Shortcomings, Pitfalls and Social Media Mistakes

The Business Wrecking Crew is Looking for You

There’s a business wrecking crew out there with your name on it working hard to disparage your reputation, destroy your credibility and bring your sales down to $0! (hope that got your attention) It’s called past mistakes, shortcomings and pitfalls. This stealth wrecking crew can attack your business when you least expect it, distract your sales efforts and halt progress and growth. If you’re lucky, there is not much material they have or can work with. However, as most who have been through a damage control campaign would attest to (ask pretty much any politician), it’s true that “The best offense is a good defense” in situations that call for it.

As you’ve been doing business for some time now, it’s likely you have had some business deals gone bad, issues beyond your control and/or personal events that have marked your past in an unfavorable light. In today’s socially networked world of instant access to tons of historical data, images, videos and immediate content broadcasting and re-broadcasting, there is always the chance that information about these events can become exposed and impact your business, quickly. It’s important to not be paranoid of this happening to you but rather fully understand the situation and implications as much as possible.

When SMART Marketing Solutions executes a strategic marketing exercise for a client, we ask if there are any hurdles, challenges, obstacles or objections that the company or product has to overcome with their marketing. This question is primarily for internal purposes only and stays “within the four walls of that meeting room.” The intent for exposing this at that time is to address any potential issues that would impact sales and marketing efforts and results and, when appropriate, meet them head on with marketing. Proactive, effective use of copy and/or creative that combats a hurdle or obstacle and ‘nips it in the bud’ before the competition can use it to our disadvantage, or a customer can form a preconceived determination, could lead to a second chance customer response and/or sale. For example, Company A had more sales than they could handle last year. They were so sales-busy and under-service-staffed, it inevitably resulted in severe customer service issues; poor response times, lack-luster quality responses and frustrated customers. Company A’s issue quickly became known within industry circles and among new and existing customers. Although, one year later, the issue had been resolved, the perception and ‘negative press’ lingered. By using marketing copy in upcoming marketing executions (i.e. print ad, website, direct mail piece) such as “We’ve increased staff to better serve you” or “Experience our new white glove, VIP service package” it helped overcome any objections due to a poor history or event.

How to Control Damage

So just how do you manage and control damage to your business? Following are a few suggestions to keep you on top of this and perhaps allow you to sleep better at night:

  • Take Inventory: Consider all personal and business events that could potentially have a negative impact on your business. Be acutely aware of those who would/could use it against you and for what motive. This includes photos, comments, videos and dealings. Be honest with yourself and answer the following questions: What is the potential magnitude of impact on my business? What are the potential consequences? Who was involved? How are they related to my business today (i.e. competitor, partner, employee, customer)? What’s the best current course of action for dealing with this?
  • Detect & Identify: Scour the web and social media sites regularly by doing searches by your name and business name. Check your @name tags on Twitter for any mentions of you or your brand. Think as if you were your own Private Investigator looking for any information on you.
  • Be Proactive: If you wait for the wrecking crew to find you, they most likely will and at the most inopportune time. Therefore it is suggested to be proactive when necessary. This could mean launching a PR or marketing initiative, as in the Customer Service example mentioned above, or deleting questionable comments/posts from social media, to name a few. In case you don’t know, regarding Facebook (from the Facebook website Help page):
  • How to remove a post or story from your wall
  • Hover your mouse over the story or post in question.
  • Click the “x” button that appears to the right of your post.
  • Select “Remove Post” from the dropdown menu.
  • Click “Remove Post.”
  • To remove a tag from a photo that someone else has tagged you in
  • view the photo and choose “remove tag” next to your name. The photo will no longer be linked to your profile.
  • If you have permission to view a photo in which a Page you admin has been tagged, you will also see the “remove tag” option next to the name of your Page.
  • You can also remove tags you have made of other people. However, you may not see this option after you’ve tagged someone else’s photos. In that case, the person who was tagged or the owner of the photo can remove the tag.
  • To Delete a photo:
  • While viewing it by clicking “Delete This Photo” at the bottom of the page.
  • You can also delete multiple photos in an album at once. Go to an album you have created and click “Edit Album” and then “Edit Photos.” Check the box under each photo you want to delete and click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the page.
  • You will not be able to delete a photo if you did not upload it yourself. To stop a photo from appearing on your profile, choose “remove tag” under the photo next to your name.
  • Consult case studies of similar situations that were handled correctly. Where I don’t condone the action, it’s quite interesting to note how David Letterman’s sex scandal was received by his audience vs. Andrew Weiner, for example. Was it the work of a good team or the timing and how the issue was dealt with?
  • If the damage to your business is in is far too great or reconcilable you may consult a professional PR firm that specializes in crisis management and/or damage control and knows your space. The added expense could be worth the relief of distraction.
  • Think Carefully Before You Act: I know this is easier said than done but you don’t have to look further than the latest politician’s sex scandal to know that a simple Tweet, image and/or relationship could cost your career, personal life and business. Just as when email emerged there was a certain etiquette, the same holds true for various forms of social media and professional interactions. The more you carry yourself with integrity, professionalism and control the less risk you’ll have of being in a precarious position that you’ll be digging your way out of in the future.

You have too much riding on your business and have worked too hard to let some wrecking crew have their way with it. Don’t let a shortcoming, pitfall or past mistake impact your sales and efforts for one second. Be prepared. Act diligently. And, it’s likely you will not have to ever face the issue again.  

About the Author

Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Naples, FL since 2001. He has helped create and execute marketing plans and integrated marketing solutions for companies such as Playtex, Bic, Rogaine, Tauck, and over 35 colleges and universities, to name a few. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and has taught Marketing at New York University for over five years. For more information or to learn more, email him at abiasiatsmartmarketingllcdotcom  (abiasiatsmartmarketingllcdotcom)  , visit www.smartmarketingllc.com or call 239.963.9396.

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