For those who may not be aware, we had a bit of a storm on the east coast. Thankfully our municipal services were prepared and many cities and towns are already drying out and getting on with life. Some places fared better than others, as is the case with any major weather event. Often events like this bring out an altruistic side in society and we often behave like our grandparents did - neighborly and friendly.
One thing that can snap us back from this simpler time is an ill-timed email blast or scheduled tweet. Much has already been written about tweets that show poor timing. Many of these tweets have been directly written at the time, such as Gilbert Gottfried's Aflac snafu or Kenneth Cole's Egypt gaffe. Lesser known of the "oops tweets" are those that are pre-scheduled and run their course at an inopportune time. This often happens during emergencies when marketers do not have enough time to cancel the schedule or they downright forget.
In most cases, this is viewed as insensitive, but the flare-up dies down a few days later as most consumers are aware that it was an honest mistake. There are some instances, however, where this could be used to the advertiser's advantage. This thought occurred to me recently as I received two emails from a nearby bar. The problem with these emails was not content, more it was that the bar is partially underwater.
The emails were advertising two different parties during the week. One party is a welcome back party for students and the other is a Labor Day party. Neither email mentioned a flood, the bar being closed, or the bar re-opening. In fact, the emails were painfully void of those details. I immediately deleted the emails with a chuckle, and didn't think about them until a few hours later.
It was clear from both the timing and the content of the messages that these were scheduled a few days ago. It was also clear that whomever scheduled the emails was too busy bailing water out of the basement to remember to cancel the scheduled email. I imagine that most people chuckled and deleted the emails, as I did at first. What if the bar had taken hold of this opportunity to craft a message that spoke to their recent misfortune?
Even though the bar is only going to experience a closure of a few days according to their owner, by not mentioning the event in their emails it makes the message seem cheaper. Assuming that someone from the bar could have spared a few minutes, how much of an impact could the same email have had if the message was about their recent events? What if the bar had made the bold statement that they are currently closed but would be having a re-opening party for their loyal fans and customers? Instead of appearing forgetful or downright ignorant of their plight, the bar could have kept themselves in the good graces of their email list.
Given that this bar is in a part of town that skews younger, the bar will probably not suffer any adverse effects from this brief closure. Not all businesses may be so fortunate, however. Given the variety of ways a business can communicate with customers (both existing and future), it takes a savvy marketer to seize opportunities like this and make lemon drop shots out of lemons.