No Bonehead Mistakes (Issue 523)

In which we are reminded that even small mistakes can fatally undermine our credibility and effectiveness with prospects

So… I bought a new pair of shoes from an on-line provider.  Not your basic New England conservative black or ox blood penny loafer, mind you. No! Shoes with MUCH more style and swing to them – enough that my very socially-aware son commented, “Nice shoes.” Life doesn’t get much better than that. Really stepping out.

And, being the care-taker that I am, I wanted to know how to maintain and care for the shoes, The leather is a little different from what I’m used to. So, I went to the manufacturer’s web site, found the “contact us” page, wrote my questions, and sent the message to the company.  A big company, I might add, a very well known, been-around-a-long-time shoe company.

About 5 minutes after I sent the email, I received an email from the company, in return. “Ah,” I guessed, delighted, “a confirmation email” which read, when I opened it…

Thank you for your inquiry.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Nam cursus. Morbi ut mi. Nullam enim leo, egestas id, condimentum at, laoreet mattis, massa. Sed eleifend nonummy diam. Praesent mauris ante, elementum et, bibendum.

…faux Latin gibberish –  filler text used by web graphic designers while waiting for the real text.   An odd response from a shoe company, I thought.

Well, that’s not EXACTLY what I thought.  I thought, “How could such a sophisticated shoe company make such a bone-headed, obvious, trivial mistake…. And if they aren’t getting THIS right, what OTHER sorts of mistakes are they making?”

Frequently, our prospects (and, sometimes, our customers or clients) have to look closely to differentiate between us and other providers of products and services.  It’s the “tip of the ice berg” problem.  They can only see the small portion of us and our companies that they can see during their buying process – sales calls, emails, web sites, etc.

So an oversight or a mistake, no matter how trivial, can be blown out of proportion in the prospect’s experience with us because the mistake raises the same question – “If they aren’t getting THIS right, what OTHER mistakes will they make it I buy from them?”

And, once that question is raised, our prospects begin looking for other mistakes to validate their hunches that we don’t have our acts together. The odds are good they will find  them and count them against us when they compare potential providers.

So, any time we communicate, write an email, send ANYTHING to a prospect, we have to remind ourselves: No Lorem Ipsum and no bonehead mistakes.

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