When a reporter for a national news network did his reporting by video chat from home, he sported neat hair, a light blue sports jacket, and a fashionable tie, but there was one oversight in his outfit—no pants. With the camera backed off a little too much, you could see his bare legs just outside the edge of his jacket. Twitter went wild with light-hearted teasing, and the reporter handled it with an equal dose of levity, calling it “hilariously mortifying.”
We all have to promote ourselves and our businesses, and funny “fails” like this remind us that, whether we’re running a multi-site printing company or a mom and pop shop, we’re all human. In your (and your clients’) marketing, whether you are sending direct mail and email, using social media, or sitting in front of a camera, we all do silly things. Here are three areas to check carefully before you send any marketing communication.
Spelling, grammar, and punctuation: One of the easiest mistakes to make is overlooking spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Clothier H&M, for example, released a branded t-shirt reading, “Genious is 1% Inspiration and 99% Perspiration.” Truly, genious. But perhaps no worse than Miller’s billboard-sized “Tasty Contraditcion.” Proofread carefully, and get multiple sets of eyes on the copy to ensure nothing gets missed.
Social media content: One of the marketing channels offering the most immediate gratification but also the fastest ways to slip up is social media. Bootea Shake had an embarrassing moment when one of its Instagram influencers posted its suggested copy, including instructions. The influencer’s post read: “Here you go, at 4 PM, write the below: CAPTION: Keeping up with the summer workout routine with my morning @booteauk protein shake!” Yes, he posted the whole thing. Pop group Little Mix didn’t fare any better when it bombed a “spontaneous” Instagram post marketing its branded perfume by including the publicist’s “launch event tomorrow” at the end. Carefully monitor and preview all of your social media posts...before they go live!
Language translation: If you have an ethnically diverse customer base and are translating your copy into other languages, make sure you get the translations right. When Coca-Cola first started marketing in China, for example, its brand name was sometimes (and hilariously) mistranslated as "Bite the Wax Tadpole." Then there is the mysterious: “Please present your octopus” at a Chinese train station that has become marketing (and Pinterest) lore.
These examples are funny, but they offer serious warnings, too. Regardless of the marketing channel, proof, proof, and proof again.