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  • Penny Clark-Hall

Failure: a lost opportunity

We live in a digital age of information where businesses are constantly struggling to get cut through to a generation whose bullshit radar is on high alert, are craving authentic experiences and their values are their new religion. 

Businesses need trust to have a Social Licence to Operate (SLO) so understanding your stakeholders is important. While trust needs to primarily be earned through meaningful and consistent stakeholder engagement, most businesses have tended to go down the marketing automation route to get bang for their buck - taking their stakeholder relationships for granted until there is a crisis. 


How a business handles itself in a crisis has to date been their biggest downfall when it comes to trust and their SLO. Their is a general failure to respect stakeholders enough to be honest and transparent when it counts. When businesses fail, the trend is to go into recovery mode rather than acknowledge the failure or spend long enough in that uncomfortable space to learn anything from it. 


When we fail, there’s no more blending in, you are the focus of attention and how you behave in your darkest hour is very telling. Suddenly, the problem of getting cut through is no longer an issue, you have a captive audience. Before you go into damage control, think first about how a ‘good human’ would respond.


Rather than think of your failure as the worst thing that’s ever happened to your business, why not see it as the best opportunity you’ve ever had to earn trust with your stakeholders? They’re definitely listening now.


We spend so long selling our brand to people that it falls on deaf ears, and fails to earn us much credibility. Now, you have a captive audience expecting you to do the standard, ‘sorry, not sorry’ response, why not give them something different, like a genuine apology before it’s demanded and a clear detailed plan of how you will make sure this never happens again? 


Front-foot it. Open the door, let your stakeholders in and listen to them. Ask them to be a part of the solution and let your behaviour reflect their values. Without your stakeholders you don’t have a business. So get brave and show that you value them and the impact you have on them. Being genuinely open and honest about your failures is a far more effective way to rebuild trust than a marketing campaign about how good you are.

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© 2019 by Penny Clark-Hall of Social Licence Consulting. All rights reserved.

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