When a crisis becomes an opportunity

English: Logo for Food Network

Faced with a crisis in your industry, what is your first thought?

A friend of mine sent me an interesting example this week of how one a piece of simple creativity can turn a crisis into an opportunity.

This one is courtesy of the Food Network who sent their subscribers the following email on Wednesday January 16th, 2013:

116 Homemade Burger

Say ‘neigh’ to shop-bought burgers and make your own at home. Whether beef, chicken or pork takes your fancy, layer between crisp salad, gooey cheese and a lightly-toasted bun

See our 116 burger recipes…

Out of context this won’t really be appreciated however if I tell you that this was the same week as it emerged that horse meat and horse DNA had been found in frozen beef burgers stocked by a number of leading supermarket chains, you will then appreciate the timing of this little nugget.


What marketers can learn from alumni associations (and visa versa)

Relational marketingFor years, marketing has been associated with very bottom-line, monetary, transactional processes. As my colleague Dilip Mutum posted in his blog back in 2009, there has long been an assumption that Marketing is the same as Sales.

This is no longer the case. As Dilip says, the perception of marketing has moved on tremendously over these last few decades, and more recently with the advent of social media.

In comparison, alumni associations have focused on providing the feel-good post-sales experience and emotional connection with the School/University and have often been accused of being all about the parties and socialising.

Just as Marketing has shifted its position, so Alumni Associations seem to be waking up to the need to be more structured and constructive for the School/University as a whole – establishing metrics for proving a return on the investment and exploring how to impact on areas of activity outside of the established alumni arena.

In this altered economic environment, now more than ever, there is a need for the marketing profession and alumni associations to learn from one another – taking the best of both worlds and creating a new culture of relational engagement and collaborative development.


Yesterday I responded to a marketing email from an online printing company I regularly use. I had an item in my basket that I hadn’t checked out (because of the added cost of delivery) and so they were ‘helpfully’ reminding me that I still had this item to check out and with the incentive of free delivery.

Now this seemed perfect, the very barrier stopping me from completing my sale had just been removed. Or had it?

When I went online to check out my item I couldn’t see how the free delivery was being applied. Now normally at this point I would just give up and delete the email but I thought ‘No, I am going to get to the bottom of this’.

So I called customer services, only had to wait a couple of minutes, and then spoke to the individual on the other end of the line. When I explained the problem, she responded immediately with ‘I’m very sorry but free delivery only applies to orders over £40’.

Now I’m sorry, but if you are going to send personalised emails about a specific item in your customer’s account then you should be sure that what the email offers, actually applies to the recipient.

I expressed my displeasure at this and at this point, wasn’t expecting anything else, however she responded immediately to say she couldn’t give me free delivery but could give me 50% off the entire order. This worked out as more than the saving of free delivery.

That is why I have called this post ‘redeemed’ – the company made a mistake with their marketing but greatly made up for it with their customer service, and ended up with a happier customer than if I had just got the free delivery in the first place.

So remember, everyone makes mistakes but the key to customer delight is to admit it and make up for it.

I will definitely be continuing to use that company in the future.