Don't Get Caught With Your Panties Down &
How A Big Typo Made Me Huge Profits
By: Sandi Krakowski
The year was 1999 and our kitchenware business had just passed a record in profits. Things were booming! Our list had grown to over 30,000 customers, we were publishing a regular newsletter 4x per month, doing regular direct sales campaigns and everyone was tickled pink with the products they bought!
Weekly products were mailed to my house to review for possible sale. Blenders, gadgets, oven inserts and more! Books came on a weekly basis as well!
We had our regular meeting set to roll out our weekly plan. My staff (one other working at home Mom) and I created a newsletter, set sale prices, came up with special promotions and got ready to send out the sales campaign. This became so automatic every week that we could dictate a certain percentage of profits. Add direct mail and things were rolling along smoothly.
At that time in my career I had not taken any copywriting classes yet but wrote all of our copy. Frankly I didn't even know that was what it was called- copywriting! I just wrote from my heart to my customers and figured everyone did it that way.
Positioning a new book we were introducing and linking a special offer of a mixer, grainmill, breadpans, yeast, dough enhancers and vital gluten had us all excited about this week's promotion.
My company at the time was built on two philosophies: Free shipping on every order over $100 and promotions that mirrored the seasons of the year.
In June it was a "You Can Bake Even In The Heat!" sale with tips on how to make amazing homemade breads and cakes even when it was hot outside. Included were tips for high altitude cooking, special ingredients to add and even exclusive recipes to my favorite custom-created coffee drinks with ice and organic whipped cream!
The campaign went live at 8 am ET and by 8:45 am orders were already trickling in! But something was different. It seemed as though more people were reading this week because the amount of replies that came in were already over our personal company record!
It wasn't a holiday so I began to look for clues of what it could possibly be. The email was sent to our list the way it typically was. Pictures were beautiful but nothing out of the ordinary. Pricing was amazing but it was within the range that we always gave on discounts.
What could it be?
I began reading through some of the personal emails coming in and one man's email caught me by surprise. "Did you really mean to write that or was that some sales technique I've not seen before?" was the subject line.
"Oh brother," I thought to myself, "Who could this be?" It was most likely one of my more conservative customers who dotted his i's and crossed his t's and always had time in his schedule to give me his opinion, I assumed. But this time was different. Right in front of my eyes was the mistake. I had really blown it big time!
A brand new book had been released which talked about stocking your pantry for times of emergency. Lists and shopper's guides were given for spices, ingredients, food items, quantities and more making what many times seemed like an enormous task easier to complete. The book was called, "Don't Get Caught With Your Pantry Down."
But that is NOT what my title of this week's news said. No, not at all. I had sent out to over 30,000 people who in many cases were faith based, conservative, modest and upright a header that said,
"Don't Get Caught With Your Panty Down". What a typo that was! *snicker*… I can laugh now but back then I was mortified! Until the results came in that Friday.
We had generated the biggest week of our entire year. $85,000 in sales in one week and it was directly related to that typo. Apparently our customers got such a kick out of the typo that they took some extra time to see what it was we were offering. The people who might have typically overlooked the promotion had taken a few extra minutes to read the details and made a purchase!
What I thought might ruin my reputation created a healthy sense of humor, a ton of emails that were from laughing clients telling me they loved me even though I had made a funny mistake and of course, enormous profits!
So… how do you handle the errors you make in business?
Many times people come into my WP class and have this erroneous belief that they have to get 'everything just so, all perfect and every duck in a row' BEFORE they can get truly serious about their business.
While I am a stickler for order and will not tolerate a business being run in a less than professional manner. But there is one thing I've learned through the years that trumps order and everything else every time- Your customers will love you if you serve them well, be open and transparent and create a culture that is like family.
And… when you make a big mistake they might just buy more than you ever thought they would! They'll also be your biggest cheerleaders! Can you understand now why I love what we do? It is such a passion of mine to serve all of you!
So…. move forward, keep working hard and remember that the next typo you make could be the biggest break in your business!
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