Broken GlassWe’ve all been there. Doing a little too much in the kitchen. Maybe not paying enough attention to some of the basics. And suddenly there is that feeling of helplessness as we watch a glass careen from the counter down to the floor followed by the unmistakable sounds. Up next of course is a pause (insert a few swear words here…) followed by the first few thoughts:

  • Is anyone hurt?
  • How important was that glass to me? or am I in trouble?
  • Where do I start with the cleanup!

Recently in my household we had this experience as a result of our little boy getting a bit taller. (And yes, fortunately he was fine.) So of course you are wondering what does this story have to do with marketing? The truth in there are some really great lessons to pull from.

1) When you are rushed you are going to make mistakes. Having little kids in the house, everything is a rush. That does not mean you get a free pass on the course of nature – when you go too fast you make mistakes. Usually they are not a big deal, but on occasion you will break a glass or two. The same holds true for your marketing efforts. When you are rushed, when your digital pipeline is too full or when you are constantly in a mad scramble to keep up, on occasion you will make some mistakes. On occasion you will break some glass. Is this preventable. Of course it is, but much like the way you clean your dishes if you do not have a plan in place and you are simply stacking your dishes up willy nilly, you are probably going to loose a few items. The same holds true for how you market.

2) Not accounting for change. Our son grew. We knew that it would happen one day. We are thrilled that he is growing up to be a “big boy” but we also did not spend enough time accounting for it. What was once a child safe kitchen was no longer so due to the fact that he got bigger. The same holds true with your digital efforts. Perhaps your own online efforts are starting to pay off and you need to evolve your strategy. Perhaps a close competitor has done a few things that are leaving you with a ton of broken glasses. Perhaps your audience has changed. Perhaps there are new technologies available (social media marketing really did not exist a few years ago). Whatever the case if you are not paying attention you could have a pretty big cleanup job on your hands.

3) Not all glass is created the same. In our case we lost I think four glasses. None of which were a big deal. But for a moment we thought we lost something really important to us and we were really bummed out. The same holds true when in your own digital space. Sometimes you might miss an opportunity to tweet back a thank you or an opportunity for an interview with your local paper and that is survivable. Other times though you might be late to recognize that you have an irate customer who after commenting, tweeting, emailing and calling you has now resorted to heading over to Yelp! and torching your company – suddenly you have a much bigger job on your hand. Are you up to the task? Have you taken the time to consider how you can cleanup a much larger scale mess? Not only that but have you considered how hard you are going to have to work to regain that hard earned trust that you lost? Maybe some glue early on (early intervention) could have prevented you from losing this cherished piece of glass to begin with?

Turning Glass Into Art4) When is okay to break glass? When you have kids the answer is never, but at least we got a nice takeaway from the entire episode – we now are on broken glass “high alert.” In business it seems only fair to acknowledge the fragility of the entire thing. In order to do business you need to have some shiny objects on display. And frankly the entire digital experience is a fairly breakable one in many regards. You do not have total control over everything – I mean even things as simple as a browser can get very complicated (Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer all render differently) and that is the tip of the iceberg. The truth is if you are going to put yourself out there, and do it in a way that is meaningful, practical and hopefully effective you are on occasion going to lose a glass or two. The trick of course is to be able to learn from that and possibly even to create a new piece of art from the remains.

Finally, a shameless plug… Feel free to contact us if you need some help managing your broken glass pipeline.  We are big believers in managing the process in a customized manner that is specific to each client that we work with.  One of our specialties is business proofing businesses to help minimize the amount of glass you break so that you can spend your online time generating business rather than cleaning up after it.

Now it’s your turn. Feel free to share some of your own “broken glass” marketing moments below.