Ah yes, another post wherein I hop up on my soapbox. See, every now and then, a story gets me so riled up that I have to talk about it on here. Today’s edition of pissed-off-geek-rant is brought to you by Paul Christoforo, courtesy of Penny Arcade.
If you’re not yet familiar with the situation, you can read the whole thing on above Penny Arcade link, but in brief, Dave, a customer of Ocean Marketing, emailed Paul, the President of Ocean Marketing, about a set of PS3 controllers he’d ordered in early November, which he’d believed would arrive in early December but hadn’t. Paul gave incorrect dates, then gave vague answers about the shipping and manufacturing process, then when Dave (the customer) mentioned that the site is now giving new orders $10 off, Paul started talking trash, name-dropping, and talking himself up (all with deplorably poor grammar, might I add).
As this situation has unraveled (and my has it), the very names Paul dropped have publicly responded to note his unprofessionalism in their dealings, their unawareness of who he is, or that they do not support Paul or his company. Furthermore, whatever name he thought he had in the online world is.. well, just Google Paul Christoforo. Which reminds me of one line that I particularly loved:
Welcome to the Internet ? Son Im 38 I wwebsite as on the internet when you were a sperm in your daddys balls and before it was the internet, thanks for the welcome to message wurd up.
That’s directly quoted. I’d add in the [sic], but it would get redundant. And yes, that’s what Paul, the president of Ocean Marketing, PUT INTO WRITING.
Honestly, there was a very simple solution to this situation: give Dave a straightforward answer about the date he should receive the product. Honestly, a simple “We’re not sure when this will be available- the product development process hasn’t gone as smoothly as planned, but we look forward to getting it into your hands as soon as possible. I’m so sorry for the inconvenience, and as you can see, we’re offering $10 off of new purchases, so if you could please send me the necessary information, I’m happy to extend that offer to you as well as a thank you for your loyalty and patience” probably would have sufficed. IT’S NOT THAT DIFFICULT, PEOPLE! Okay, so the credit or reimbursement could get a little complicated, but it could have saved him from this whole debacle at any rate.
Honestly, how this guy is president of anything is beyond me, but he’s provided some fantastic takeaways for all you PR and marketing folk.
1. Don’t Lie.
This should be obvious, but apparently it needs to be said. If you can’t give a precise answer, be honest about it and say so. People appreciate honesty, even if the situation is frustrating. At the very least, they get to know what’s really going on and can make a more informed decision about what to do next.
2. Be Sincere.
If you’re really sorry, show it. In this case, extending that same offer that new customers are getting to the ones who are still waiting on their order is a pretty solid show of good faith in my book. In other scenarios, go back to #1. HONESTY GOES A REALLY LONG WAY.
3. Don’t Name-Drop.
Even if the name you think you have to drop is a close, personal relationship, no one likes to be spoken for. Furthermore, it makes everyone involved look bad and it’s just plain tacky.
4. Don’t Disparage Your Target Audience.
This includes assigning them a stereotype, by the way. The thing about target markets is they tend to have a lot in common if they’re buying specialized products like this, and when you isolate one member of that market, the rest of the market sees themselves in that person. In this case, you get the gamers and geeks of the internet mobilized against you. It’s not pretty.
5. Use Proper Grammar, for God’s Sake.
Your credibility drops to zero when you can’t string a sentence together… or in this case, you string eight sentences together without punctuation. Spelling counts, too. Especially when it’s the spelling of what you do. Paul’s Twitter handle is @OceanMarketting. WITH 2 T’S. No joke. How embarrassing. Furthermore, YOU DON’T SPEW OBSCENITIES OR RESORT TO NAMECALLING! I mean, come on. What a gimme.
6. Don’t Draw False Comparisons.
When Paul asked if Dave whines about bigger game launch dates being pushed back, he made a HUGE error in a couple ways. First of all, he compared himself to a situation that he can’t hold water to. When a launch date is pushed back, usually the company will give a reason, estimated date, and apology. On top of that, those companies usually haven’t accepted the payments in full for those products. For example, reserving a copy of a game before its release usually involves about a $5-$10 holding fee, not the entire cost of the game. He opened himself up for even worse criticism, not to mention that he showed the world how out of touch he really is with his target market.
7. Keep Your Customers Updated
This entire thing could have been completely avoided if Ocean Marketing had broadcast the production/shipping delay, which could be in the form of a PR release on the product site, an email blast, a Tweet and/or a Facebook post. I’d recommend all of them, so when these kinds of questions arise, you can say “Here. This is what you’re looking for, but sorry again.”
The more I think about this story, the more I keep thinking of the white iPhone 4 situation. There were tons of delays, but at least the customers had notice about it, and more to the point, they weren’t made available for purchase or pre-order because they didn’t yet exist. They kept their potential or ongoing customers in the loop and able to make an informed decision.
A couple more highlights before I go here:
1. This guy’s Twitter description says his company is “a Premier Social Media Company and SEO Company.” I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
2. Paul promised a Penny Arcade smear campaign. Not only did he not follow through on that promise (big surprise there), but he just made himself look bad. Really. Really. Bad.
3. One of the last things he said was “you have no clue who I am.” That’s usually not a good thing, Paul. Worse yet, we all know who you are now. Again, not a good thing.
While I’m not a gamer, I’m a proud geek, and this has me seriously fired up. What would you have done in this situation?
And I’ll step down from my soapbox now. Ahem.