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Newsletter #918: The “Admit When You’re Wrong” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Not everyone likes to acknowledge when they’re wrong. They’re afraid it will attract more negative attention, make them look bad, or admit some kind of defeat. But mistakes actually create great opportunities for you to shine — if you can handle them understandingly, show some humor, and be transparent.

Here’s how you can admit that you’re wrong and gain more fans from it:

1. Laugh with them
2. Let everyone know
3. Show them how you fixed it
4. Check it out: Sharp Suits

1. Laugh with them

Chances are you know some true Internet Explorer haters — you may be one yourself. So what can a company with an awful reputation do to redeem itself from being laughed at by critics? Laugh with them. At least, that’s what Microsoft is doing with a microsite to promote the new version of their browser (that some people actually like). People are taking notice of Microsoft’s blatant campaign to not take themselves too seriously, and they’re loving them for it. They come across as more savvy, understanding, and cool by joking about their past failures and the comeback they anticipate.

The lesson: Sometimes humor is a great way to get your critics to give you another shot.

Learn more: Tumblr

2. Let everyone know

You might be tempted to handle errors quietly and out of sight so that no one knows you slipped up. Don’t hide your vulnerabilities — make them into word of mouth opportunities. Netflix sends coupons to their entire email list when they mess up, even if the mistake only affected a few people. That way, everyone knows they’re the type of company to fix what’s broken and apologize for it — which is much more meaningful than any attempt to appear perfect.

The lesson: Tell more people about learning from your mistakes and more people will be talking about how cool you are.

3. Show them how you fixed it

Apologies are great for making amends with upset customers — but showing them how you made it better could turn upset customers into loyal fans. For example, MarketingProfs updated their site’s home page to something easier to navigate — something most companies do every once in a while. But what most companies don’t do is explain how they made it better. MarketingProfs took the time to describe the changes they made with a behind-the-scenes article and explained why those changes matter.

The lesson: By showing your customers how you fixed a problem, you’re giving them a reason to trust you’ll do the same in the future.

Learn more: MarketingProfs

4. Check it out: Sharp Suits

Here’s how some Irish designers make lemonade out of lemons — that is, how they make art out of the crazy feedback their clients give them.

Check it out: Sharp Suits

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