How to Share Bad News with Customers and Clients 

Often, marketing focuses on sharing good news. You might be highlighting the positive aspects of a brand (like a new community initiative), or you might be advertising news about a special event (like a sale).

But what happens when you need to share some news with your mailing lists that they might not be too happy about?

This kind of communication is harder to master, especially if you want to mitigate loss. You might define that loss as people unsubscribing from your mailing list, or you might be worried about a decline in sales. You might also be simply be worried about people holding, and sharing, a negative perception of your brand.

When you have bad news to share, the first step (as it is in most cases) is to define your goals. That includes outlining what “loss” looks like to you. What are you most afraid of? And how much is an “acceptable loss”? Would you be okay with a 3% unsubscribe rate? Would you rather soften the blow, but not be fully transparent (which could come back to bite you later)? 

Depending on the goals and risks that you define, you can plan a strategy to best address these concerns. If you were worried about losing customers, for example, you could pair your bad news with an incentive to stay engaged. 

Here’s an example:

Let’s say that you’re no longer going to be offering your very popular “Discount Tuesdays.” 

First, you might want to look at your data to see if you can determine how many customers only shopped on “Discount Tuesdays.” They are the ones you might be worried about disappointing.

When you reach out with the bad news, you could offer a one-time discount code that could be used the following Tuesday as a way to soften the blow. Maybe it’s not as good as the previous deals used to be, but it will give people a reason to stick with your brand a little longer! They will also feel like you understand (and that you are addressing) their disappointment.

Or, you could simply tease some big news coming in a future email, so that people will stay enrolled and engaged. Maybe your “Discount Tuesdays” are ending because all of your prices are about to be reduced, because you’re under new ownership, or because you’re making room for new, higher-end products.

However, sometimes being sincere is the best way to go. Expressing your genuine apologies about a situation and giving a full explanation can give customers and clients a sense of trust that is hard to replace in a marketing relationship.

Every situation is a little different, and your relationship with your audience is unique. To touch on the exact right tone in a sensitive situation, we are happy to help with your wording, delivery method, and assessment of the situation to reach your exact goals. 

Mad 4 Marketing can help you turn bad news into a positive outcome with your most important customers and clients.

Your company might be running smoothly and handling its business needs efficiently, in-house. You might have a whole department dedicated to marketing, or you might rotate duties among a small staff, piecemeal. Whatever works for you might be working–for a while.

But every once in a while, it simply doesn’t work. Sometimes, you hit an unexpected rush. Or someone leaves. Or you begin offering more services on top of your original roster.

Whatever the case may be, we know that consistent, high-level marketing is one of the first things to fall through the cracks. That’s true for every company, of all sizes. Marketing can seem like a very high-demand area whose best results require a little too much time and energy from talented staff. You might need people focusing on the day-to-day, not long-term strategy.

Sometimes you are doing all you can just to get by. Well, as the saying goes: Sometimes you need to get by with a little help from your friends.

It’s OK to ask for help…even if it’s just for a little while. Even companies with in-house marketing teams often outsource their needs. That can be need-based, as described above, or it can be want-based. For example, you might want to work with a team that has a specialty in a certain area that your broad-based, company-focused unit doesn’t do in their daily work. You might simply want to consult with outside thinkers to contribute fresh ideas and experiences to your brand. All of these are perfectly valid reasons to outsource some of your marketing work.

We believe it’s useful to know, in advance, who you’d call if the need does strike. The last thing you want to do when things are already at high capacity is start from scratch trying to find a marketing team that you can trust.

Some things to think about are:

  • Finding a match for your company culture (and meeting up to consult about your audience and objectives)
  • Making room in your budget, or determining what your ad hoc budget might be
  • How closely your new marketing agency should work with your existing team, and how the dynamic will play out

Whether you want to outsource a single project, a long-term campaign, or your entire department, it’s important to find the right match for your brand. If you do, it will never feel like a crisis when it’s time to reach out for help. It will just feel like bringing in the cavalry. 

As always, your friends at Mad 4 Marketing are just a phone call away.

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