Basic Marketing 101: Don’t make the customer mad

I couldn’t believe this story ; I thought for sure it had to be a hoax. After all, Microsoft has the economics, savvy, and operating experience to do marketing right.
But apparently not.
Here’s what happened:

Microsoft wanted to raise awareness of it’s licensing program. Makes sense. Probably everyone thinks their many vehicles are more complicated than they are. They’ve made major improvements over time, so getting that knowledge out there makes sense.

It launched an online web campaign to allow those that answered 5 relatively easy questions to get a USB drive. Sounds like that’s good interactive marketing.

But when ‘too many people’ participated, they didn’t fulfill the demand.

They THEN sent out a note to retract the offer.

So a couple questions do come to mind:
1. Do they not know that web counters are available?
2. Did they not think to mention the limits on supply earlier on?
3. Once they had a high acceptance rate, why not find the program dollars to buy what must be relatively cheap items when bought in bulk?
4. Did they think of saying they’re sorry?
5. Where was the project manager during all this?
Thinking through the implications of a program and planning for it is typically a 101 comment so not worth mentioning to my clients. But just in case, I thought this story would be an educational reminder of what can happen to the best marketers.

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