1 Good Reason - Internet Marketing

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Case Study Recommendations- Small Business Crisis Mgmt.

Be sure to read this post first to gain the full perspective of the case study these experts are commenting upon.

Here is the full text of the replies I received in the order they were received:

I don’t think his words were misunderstood at all. When we write a note that says a benefit is “Saving the neighborhood from unwanted elements…” we leave the translation of what an unwanted element looks like to the reader. Clarity is missing.

If I were Jack, I would send out another note explaining that his previous message wasn’t clearly communicated and that using a phrase such as “unwanted elements” was an error on his part. He should apologize for using that phrase, which can be read a hundred different ways, including meaning excluding buyers in ways that are both unacceptable and illegal in the U.S.

Jack got the flack he asked for when he added the benefits statements. He should have stopped his card after he described the house and leave benefits implied.

Lewis Green, Chief Communications Officer and Founder


Chris, I think it’s simple – Lefkowitz shouldn’t have sent the postcard in the first place. If he’s that concerned over it, he could have tried to raise the funds to buy it, whether from the owner or at auction. Engaging in these sorts of scare tactics is never the way to go.

David Berkowitz http://www.marketersstudio.com/

Hey Chris,

This is a tough one. The most pertinent advice I would have for him is to hire a professional communicator to handle outreach in the future. It’s obvious that he’s only worsening the situation by offering up long-winded explanations and justifications as to why he sent the first mailing. Sure, he was misunderstood  the first time. He’s only going to be misunderstood the second time by many because the message isn’t clear. Of course, I’m not sure I would have recommended he send the first message to begin with.

Jason Falls http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com

Hi Chris, this is definitely a teaching moment, but I’m not sure Lefkowitz is all that interested in hearing what you or any other experts have to say. But if he were to ask me, I’d tell him for the future:

  • Outline your specific goal to be achieved.
  • Review the law and other regulations covering housing/real estate in your area. Make sure it’s adhered to in substance and spirit.
  • Have a professional marketing writer/consultant write the copy, tho there is a certain charm that  right be lost.

Roberta Rosenberg http://www.copywritingmaven.com/

I think there are a few lessons to learn from this situation.
1 - Every communication counts.  Make sure you have an expert review and prepare your copy.  The money you spend will be worth it and avoid potential problems.  I know many people at all levels who think they can write marketing and sales copy.  They can’t.  To produce results hire a professional.  Then have someone else read it again.

2 - Understand who your target audience and make sure you communicate with them appropriately.
3 - know your list/database

What he could/should have done:
In this case Mr. Lefkowitz should have simply issued an apology on your blog and explained his side.  Debating the issue or side stepping the questions makes him look suspicious and defensive.  I don’t know if the follow up mailing was necessary but if anything it probably added salt to the wound.  If you are going to send something out refer to my early point.  These communications probably hurt his brand and reputation more then they helped his sales effort.
I am not a fan of using this sort of fear ever.  However, the emotion of fear can be a powerful marketing trigger but it must be used carefully and appropriately.
Josef Katz http://www.trumpuniversity.com/blogs/marketingmaestro/index.cfm

First I commend you for taking this a step further. I remember reading your post about the initial postcard. It’s incredible some of the terrible promotion that people come up with.  While I’m not biased in the same way that you are, I’m not sure that Mr. Lefkowitz is interested in getting any advice about his mailer.

However, if he were interested in doing some follow-up to the mailing for crisis communications I would recommend:

1. Cleaning up his list.  While I personally disagree with the tone of his message, there probably is an audience that would be receptive to it. If people in his neighborhood are like-minded to him then he should limit his mailing to some kind of opt-in group and just stop mailing everyone else that would be offended.
However, since this seems to be more about making a quick buck than preserving the integrity of the neighborhood, that’s probably not something he’ll do.

2. Determine if anyone in his market is reading the blog coverage. While I support the concept of engaging with bloggers, his market may be unaware that a controversy exists. If that is the case, he may want to send a quick email to you, or simply ignore the coverage. If no one he’s doing business with is reading, then the controversy isn’t affecting his business.

3. Proofread.

I hope this is helpful. You can clean it up if you don’t want it addressing you specifically.

John Johansen http://originalcomment.blogspot.com/

Hi Chris,
Sounds like this has gotten out of hand on a number of fronts! It was fascinating to read through the comments and see how this played out.

Anyway, my recommendation, for what it’s worth, would be:

  1. Reach out to the person who directly and put forward your point of view — keep it conversational
  2. Suggest you meet work through the issues a point at a time, to clarify
  3. Work with the medium in which the issues were raised — if it is a blog, respond in that format (or as part of the comment stream)
  4. If you feel uncomfortable in dealing with the blogger (or other person involved), engage a local PR firm to act on your behalf

Have a good weekend!

Gavin Heaton http://www.servantofchaos.com/

It seems to me that initially, if he really was so concerned about the neighborhood, this should have been handled less from a business perspective and more from a community perspective. And to most effectively deal with the “negative elements” he feared creeping into the neighborhood, he needed to start 30 years ago.

However, he can’t turn back the clock. Now that the cat is out of the bag, and because he’s already dug himself a hole with his unprofessional mailings, he’s got to deal with the situation he’s in.

Now, since I’m not a lawyer, I can’t speak to the legal ramifications of what he’s already done. But because of that, I would tell him to immediately do two things:

  1. Shut up until he hires and consults with a reputable lawyer.
  2. Hire a reputable lawyer.

I don’t know his entire situation, so I wouldn’t presume to give him further advice into what he must do until he addresses the legal situation. If he truly may be legally liable for something, talking (or writing) more without legal counsel may get him into further trouble.

Hope that helps.

Cam Beck

What the Experts Recommend: Let it go (ignore it).  So a blogger wrote about you.  There are very few bloggers you should be concerned about, and even those aren’t read by the majority of your audience or target market.  Of course, you have your own blog strategy to ensure his bad post isn’t brought up when people search for your name, right???

Who do you Call? If you call anyone, it should be apologetic, and assuming the best.  Expect to not get anywhere, but it’s a nice gesture.

What Should The Follow Say? ???

What Should Be Done Now? Totally let it go, get on with business.  Give me a break, this is the type of distraction that a real CEO doesn’t  need to chase, only to dig a deeper hole.  It’s clear from the PDF that this person doesn’t understand crisis communication (it reads like a poor marketing pitch).  Who wants to read a 4 page whiner’s letter?

Jason Alba http://www.jibberjobber.com/blog

Hey Chris,

To be honest I don’t think you are going to like what I have to say, but you asked and well.. you know how the saying goes.

I honestly do not think that this campaign was designed in-house. He is using a very specific (and touchy) direct marketing approach, yes, based on exploiting people’s fears and ruffling feathers. It’s actually quite effective, which your email here proves. The style, the follow-up, the post-it note.. I have seen it all before. I’ve gone to workshops specifically on this style of copywriting.

The housing market is stagnant and this man has employed a marketing strategy to get people talking about his listing and advertising it for free. Its viral and it’s working. It’s marketing.  Again, like I stated in my blog comment, you and I may not agree with the connotations, but the connotations are what have gotten a lot of free word-of-mouth and online advertising for this property.

Chris, you are actually advertising his property for him and that’s why I said that your email proves that his marketing is effective. I don’t think he gives a rats a$$ what you are saying about him, because it is fueling his marketing campaign. It IS his marketing campaign. In fact I highly suspect that the next mailing he sends will be some sort of ‘final warning’ ‘final letter’ or ‘final notice’…. And it will infuriate you. It will make you want to ‘do something about this right now’.

What I recommend: He (or someone else) contact the Asbury Park Press (I think that’s out there right?… it’s been a long time since I lived in Jersey) with the story and let the newspaper bash him about his inappropriate behavior on the front page in an editorial. The housing market is a hot topic and the newspaper loves juicy stories. Controversial? Yes. More free marketing for the listing? Absolutely!

Look at it in a nutshell.. the advertising message is such that the neighborhood is so ‘well to do’ that they can select their own neighbors by ‘bending’ rules/laws. People hate seeing other people ‘get away’ with that type of blatant disregard for ‘the way things should be’ and that is EXACTLY what is fueling his marketing campaign. For the cost of some postcards and paper for his laser printer, he is getting WAY more advertising in return.… and in your blog to boot.

Maybe I am completely off target here and you are his copywriter, which in that case, I am impressed. You are taking it to the next level by empowering other bloggers to blog about and advertise this man’s behavior (and real estate listing). Or maybe you are truly appalled by this man and I just completely insulted you… not sure which. My intention however was not to insult. Just answering a question ;)

happy bloggin….


Cheryl Waller National Marketing Manager Real Tour Vision http://virtualtourcompany.blogspot.com

Hi Chris
The bad/weird/cheesy content of the postcard is so “out there” in my opinion (and I am not being a snob just a person that has approved lots of ads) that I don’t know if his case is a real case of a small biz person dealing with the media.  I realize you are not asking for my opinion but I agree with you 110%.  I think it’s noble you are trying to be fair but geez this guy doesn’t have the same ethics.  I wish I could help you but this guy put himself out in front for the firing squad by using such extreme tactics in his ads.

Michelle Lamar http://www.michellelamar.com/

Chris,Here are my thoughts.


Okay, let’s face it. This was a disaster of an idea.  It was not well thought out and it was not well executed.  I am not going to get into the whole profiling aspect of the discussion.  That’s for someone else’s ethics and morals to decide.

>From a pure marketing perspective…let’s look at the facts.  Anyone who can live in a neighborhood of $2+ million homes is being bombarded with direct mail.   The one Jack sent out looked amateurish.  It was badly written and designed.  Odds are, most people didn’t even read the headline before it was tossed in the garbage.  They’re used to a much better class of junk mail!

What should Jack do, now that he has himself in this pickle?

Stop.  The way you are pre-judging potential buyers makes you look racist.  You are damaging your credibility and your brand.  It is going to impact your business.

If you won’t stop, then at least do the following:

  • If you insist on writing them yourself, get an unbiased professional proofreader to not only check your grammar but also to check your tone, word choices and implied meanings.  It will be well worth the investment.
  • Produce them professionally.  Have some respect for your audience.  Don’t send them something that is photocopied to illegibility and then hope that they’ll respect your opinion.
  • Create a campaign with scheduled mailings — one is rarely enough

As for how you should handle the criticism on a blog or elsewhere — you needs to acknowledge the comments, if they are valid — say so, and share how you’re going to do things differently moving forward.  No whining, no excuses.  Just say, “I hadn’t thought about it from that perspective” or “you’re right, I can see how that could be perceived as offensive” or whatever you are  reacting to.  The calmer and more professionally you handle it….the quicker the sitr will quiet down.

Long term, I can’t see how pursuing this campaign is going to do anything but hurt you.  In today’s world, words like “the right kind of people” spoken aloud is not widely accepted.  One of the first rules of marketing is know your audience.

I would suggest that once you’ve broken that one, the rest is just semantics.

Drew McLellan http://www.drewsmarketingminute.com/

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