Keep communication UP and failures DOWN

When it comes to business, having solid communications is VITAL. Your customers need to understand you. For this to happen, you need to have clear, simple and well-thought communications. Sadly, many business owners don’t entirely understand this. And it’s their customers—and their brand’s reputation—that suffers.

Why is it important to communicate effectively?

We communicate every day. But for the most part, we don’t think too much about it. We share words, and don’t give much thought to how effectively we did it.

But at Think Pickle, communications is king —we’re your friendly neighbourhood phone specialists (supporting 1300 numbers, virtual phone numbers, call centre outsourcing and 1800 numbers in Australia). So, we know one of the most dangerous mistakes you can make in business is not communicating well. And many companies (even the big ones) make this mistake every day!

Why? Well, typically, it’s simply because the business didn’t think it through. and this can lead to BIG mistakes.

Why do businesses fail to communicate well?

Usually communication failures happen because a business: • Didn’t consider how their audience will perceive the message • Didn’t own up to their mistakes and right wrongs • Didn’t effectively plan • Lost sight of why their customers love them and keep coming back

That’s why here at Think Pickle HQ, we want you to communicate well. So, to help you avoid unnecessary communication breakdowns, we’ll show you what not to do . . .

Here are our Top 5 communications fails of all time:

1. Toyota’s tricksy bakes

Faulty car Brakes

Any Toyota owner will know the extreme frustration of this mistake. With numerous models hitting the market with faulty brakes, Toyota avoided and downplayed it—until Consumer Reports withdrew their recommendation of eight different Toyota vehicles (ouch)

When Toyota finally recalled the millions of cars, it was too late: their brand had already suffered. Owners were infuriated with the miscommunication and failure to fix the mistake in a timely fashion.

2. BP’s Oopsie.

BP Oil Disaster - Gulf of Mexico

PR is certainly not a magic wand—which is the lesson BP learned after their disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010. Part of BP’s ill-thought strategy was to create a series of very expensive advertisements, apologising.

The public was outraged, wondering: why didn’t you just use the advertising money to fix the actual problem? Things only worsened when one of BP’s executives made the disaster about him, stating he “wanted his life back”. The public were shocked at his lack of respect—particularly for the people who’d lost their lives in the incident.

4. Cartoon Network’s Boston bomb scare

LED Cartoon Network - Fail

Once, Cartoon Network decided a brilliant way to market one of their TV shows would be to place suspicious-looking LED devices around Boston. Spoiler alert: it didn’t end well. Residents panicked, fearing the devices were bombs. The campaign had the opposite effect to what they intended, even causing then-boss Jim Staples to lose his job.

5. KFC coupon riots


When promoting a new line of chicken at KFC, Oprah offered free coupons on her website. The response was overwhelming—something KFC hadn’t accounted for. When customers couldn’t claim their free chicken, riots ensued. KFC eventually had to reimburse those who missed out with rain checks.

6. Coca-Cola’s new Coke (no joke)

New Coke

With up-and-coming rival Pepsi nipping at their heels, Coca-Cola decided to launch a new line of the beloved soft drink. But instead of making themselves appear new and exciting, customers panicked. They loved the original and were outraged with the change. Eventually, the company brought back the original line—but it severely impacted the brand’s public perception forever.

What can we learn from these examples and prevent communication failures?

Think very carefully about new products and services, and their impact on your customers.

PLAN—for the best and worst-case scenario (and everything in between). If you make a mistake, own up to it—and fix it.

If in doubt, get insight from your customers and ask them. Because as they say, the customer always knows best!

Scott Bouquet

Head of Marketing at Think Pickle

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