What 2013 Taught Us About Getting Back to Communication Basics


In 2013, we saw a number of new and innovative ways companies are marketing to their customers. However, we also witnessed monumental communication gaffes that reminded us that sometimes it’s good to brush up on basic communication best practices.

The following is a few of the most significant blunders that could have been avoided if the company had used communication common sense.

Blunder: Blaming its target audience’s bodies for the apparel’s shortcomings, not the obvious sheerness of the company’s yoga pants.

Best Practice: Know Your Target Audience. When responding to a customer complaint it is always wise to keep your customer top of mind, acknowledge their concern and to offer an apology. Clearly Chip did not. It ended up costing him his job, and Lululemon customers and a bearish sales forecast as a result.

Blunder: Significantly publicizing and then launching a highly scrutinized website that was unable to support high volumes of traffic.

Best Practice: Beta Test. In the event of a website launch, or the launch of any digital channel, it is of the utmost importance that the site be tested thoroughly before going live. A website serves as the face of the company and is generally the first interaction customers have with a brand making it imperative that the experience is flawless. The introduction of HealthCare.gov taught us the importance of testing, even if it means pushing back the launch date.


Blunder: Latching onto tragedy to post about scones.

Best Practice: Do Not Use National Tragedy To Tout Your Brand. Time and time again brands feel compelled to leverage world events to market their services and/or products and…then it backfires. The only appropriate action: stay in the background and stay silent.

In 2014, there will undoubtedly be more marketing mishaps, however, if companies can remember some of the aforementioned basic communication best practices, they will be in a better position to avoid a misstep.

Photo courtesy of Brett Farmiloe on Flickr

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