Right Hand, meet Left Hand

The contest wasn’t a big deal, but I thought the prize package was worth a few minutes of my time. So I obeyed the publication’s instructions and visited the website.  

“We’re sorry! Our new site is under construction!”

What? Maybe I had an outdated publication. But no, it was dated for this week. The ad said to go to the website to enter, but I couldn’t do that.

I lost out on an opportunity to win a fabulous prize package. The company behind that package lost the opportunity to capture my information, along with that of hundreds of other potential prospects.

Just as important, they left me with the impression that they were a disorganized, poorly run company.

You know what happened. One department didn’t communicate with another, and the proverbial ball dropped. It happens frequently in large companies. In this case, marketing and IT weren’t communicating, so there was no coordination. The ol’ right hand had no idea what the left hand was up to.

But this situation didn’t take place in a large company. Given that you could count the company’s staff on one hand and not use all the fingers, it was more like the pinkie wasn’t working with the thumb.

I don’t mean to pick on this particular company, which is why I’m not mentioning them by name. This problem affects companies and organizations of all shapes and sizes. I’ve seen so many instances when companies leaped out with a powerful flight of marketing messages, only to discover that the folks who actually had to deliver on those messages weren’t ready to handle the responses.

For some organizations, it’s a way of life. In my college days, I worked for a retail chain that distributed boatloads of newspaper circulars and mailers every week. But they never bothered to see if any of the advertised merchandise was actually in their stores. Week after week, the employees had to deal with irate customers.

Think about that: every week, that chain spent a fortune to draw customers to its doors, and then proceeded to drive a large number of them away.

As for the company whose contest I couldn’t enter, I’m sure their new website was a necessity, and I bet it’ll be a humdinger. But suppose that I was someone who needed the services they offer and was ready to buy just as soon as I got a little information. Would I have waited a few days or weeks for their new site to appear, or would I have moved on to a competitor?

They could have left the existing site in place while they developed and tested the new site in a hidden corner of their web server. Once it was finished, they could cut it over in minutes.

Or Ms. Thumb could have told Mr. Pinkie that he should delay that clever contest until the site was ready. The delay may have been frustrating, but it would have been far less damaging than losing so many prospects.