How to turn a complaint into a marketing win

Today (Monday June 28th) marks the start of Wimbledon 2021. The Championships are returning to SW19 for the first time in two years, having been cancelled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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For tennis fans, the start of this famous event will bring back memories of tournaments past, whether it’s John McEnroe’s “You cannot be serious!” tirade back in 1981, or Andy Murray winning it for the first time in 2013.

During the summer of 2015, it was actually Murray’s mum, Judy Murray, who made the headlines (well, in the social media marketing world at least) when she took to Twitter to complain about the amount of mint in her glass of Pimm’s.

“I love to Pimm. But seriously, what’s with the foliage overdose? #pointless,” she tweeted.

Instead of ignoring it, Pimm’s used this as an opportunity for some free publicity and got people talking about its brand in a marketing masterstroke.

It used this chance to explain exactly how much mint should be used in the ‘perfect serve’ (three British-grown mint leaves per glass) and warned bartenders to “proceed with caution when using the herb”.

The following year, Judy reemerged in a promotional video as the brand’s Chief Foliage Officer, and Twitter went wild for it. It was a fun and silly way of turning a negative into a positive and provided a good example of how you can use social media to give your brand a bit more personality.

Humanising your brand

Looking at it simply, marketing is about finding ways to connect businesses with people. This human element is the reason many of us choose to work in the industry. Seeking to understand who the target audience is and creating content and campaigns that communicate effectively and meaningfully with them is both interesting and rewarding if you’re a people person.

We often talk about a company’s values and mission as well as the personas that represent its target audience. However, we should take this a step further and look to humanise brands as a whole, as ultimately at the heart of every business is a bunch of people who have senses of humour and get things wrong sometimes.

When we go to work we always try to remain as professional as possible, but we’re still only human! However, this sometimes gets forgotten about, especially in the B2B space, where it’s easy to get lost in unnecessarily formal, jargon-heavy modes of communication.

The truth is, unless you are in search of something very product-specific, that kind of communication is inaccessible and runs the risk of becoming a lifeless blurb.

It can work in our favour when we are more honest in our approach, and that includes acknowledging when we mess up a bit. As we all know, no matter how hard we try in life sometimes, we make mistakes. Every one of us has accidentally upset or annoyed someone, whether it’s friends, family or work colleagues. It’s also important to recognise that not everyone is going to like us and sometimes people have bad things to say. But ignoring this negative feedback often tends to be counter-productive.

Image credit: iStock/oatawa

Discover negative brand perceptions – and then change them

In digital marketing, we have tools that enable us to listen to what people are saying about our brand online – both good and bad. When we see a bad review or negative feedback we should think about how this can be turned into an opportunity for a positive outcome.

When bad things happen it’s tempting to try and erase them as soon as possible, but in marketing, it’s better to face them head-on. People often vent at businesses due to a lack of visibility; a failure to see the people behind the corporate facade. So show them you’re human too.

For example, maybe you put all your energy and passion into running your restaurant, only to see a few bad reviews damage your rating on TripAdvisor. It’s a good idea to reflect on the issues that gave rise to these reviews and think about how they can be addressed.

Respond to your critics quickly and publicly to apologise for their experience (just be nice about it) and then engage with them privately saying that you will address the issue and then invite them back another time so you can prove this to be the case.

On the other hand, maybe it isn’t something as serious as direct negative feedback; perhaps someone is just having a general moan about something to do with your business. If you’re keeping your ear to the ground you can listen out for the little gems, turn negatives into positives, and gain some of the unexpected traction Pimm’s enjoyed thanks to Judy Murray’s disgruntled tweet.

If you’re looking for specific advice and support with your social media marketing, Axonn can help.

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