Ahh, what a sad, sad story to read. A small gaming company comes out with a fancy new controller that is anticipated to be a big hit among gamers and an easy-to-use option for handicapped and disabled gamers. The company, N-Control, hired social media management company Ocean Marketing to manage PR and customer relations during the launch of The Avenger. Likely the biggest mistake N-Control will ever make (if it is able to get through what happened).
It all started with an email chain between a customer and Paul Christoforo of Ocean Marketing. The chain starts with a very polite email from the customer, Dave, who is inquiring about the delivery of two Avenger Controllers that he had pre-ordered. The responses he receives are curt, unhelpful and highly unprofessional.
Feel free to cancel we need the units were back ordered 11,000 units so your 2 will be gone fast. Maybe I’ll put them on eBay for 150.00 myself. Have a good day Dan.
(Please Note: The customer’s name is Dave)
Dave finally sends a last, well thought out and eloquently stated complaint and cc’s Mike of the highly regarded and widely read gaming blog, Penny Arcade.
You show a surprising lack of business polish for someone who’s quite established, AND an lack of awareness of your customer base: Hardcore gamers. We’re a demanding, vocal customer but the flip side is we’re loyal and eager to spend.
And, loyal to the gaming community, Mike (of Penny Arcade) posts the entire email chain on his blog, which you can read here. I must warn you, marketers, sales folks and consumers alike will cringe at this exchange.
Now, when one looks at the Ocean Marketing website, their services include, among other things, Reputation Management. In fact, their homepage wisely quotes a somewhat known blogger, Allan Jenkins. “Your Brand is no stronger than your reputation — and will increasingly depend on what comes up when you are Googled.” Oh the irony of it all.
But the one who really loses out in the end is the brand. Though it’s possible they still have their 11,000 back orders, the product’s review on Amazon has dropped to a 1 star, their name has been dragged through the mud of the gaming world and, well, just go ahead and Google “the avenger controller.”
Brands, be careful of the companies you hire to represent you and market your products. Any goon can call himself an expert. Follow your instincts, do your homework, and choose the right partner. Cost efficiency is a great added benefit, but don’t sacrifice smart, quality service just to save a buck. The results could be disastrous.