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Learn From Your Marketing Mistakes

As hard as we try, sometimes business owners, managers and marketing directors make marketing mistakes. Sometimes they cost us money and sometimes they cost a piece of our reputation. Is a marketing memory or nightmare popping into your head right now?

The important thing is that we acknowledge and learn from the mistakes, so we don’t make them again. Let’s learn a lesson from a couple of big companies:

British Airways

Social media bit British Airways in the bum this year when a disgruntled customer tweeted “Don’t fly @British_Airways, Their customer service is horrendous,” after the airline lost his father’s suitcase. After 24 hours (first mistake), British Airways replied stating that they only operate between normal business hours and he should go the next step and contact someone in the baggage department (another mistake for an airline that operates around the clock).

What “woulda, coulda, shoulda” British Airways done differently?

Social media is a critical piece of any marketing plan, but it’s a 24/7 ballgame, so if you’re going to play, you better step up to the plate when your name is called. Had British Airways responded promptly, rather than 24 hours later and not made him take yet another step to the baggage department, the customer would have felt valued and may have tweeted again, this time with a positive comment!


Ikea learned the hard way that sticking to your company values is important. Swedish government officials questioned the retailers commitment to women’s rights after realizing they airbrushed women out of their catalogs in Saudi Arabia. Although they expect women to be covered in public, Saudi Arabia does not prohibit depictions of women in advertising. Ikea later admitted, “Excluding women was a “conflict with the Ikea Group values.”

How could Ikea have avoided the controversy?

Ikea should have stuck to their core company values, even if it meant investing in an additional photo shoot that featured a woman with a covered head. That decision would have been inclusive, but respectful of the culture and therefore, the Ikea brand.

What is your biggest marketing blunder of 2013 and how will you avoid making the same mistake in 2014?

Published on: November 4, 2013