Well, we’re at the end of our 11 days of the top 11 mistakes of 2011. We hope you’ve enjoyed the funny but kinda dumb mistakes we’ve seen in the last year. Now for the grand finale. This is the granddaddy of all that we’ve featured because it is wrong on so many levels, including mistakes made in branding, social media, marketing…you name it.

Netflix had an ongoing saga in 2011 of upsetting customers, making major mistakes in marketing, branding and social media… and apparently becoming a great case study in the process. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Global X


Netflix announced that it was drastically changing its pricing plan to split its two services—DVD in-home delivery and streaming video. Previously, you could order packages that including one or both of the services. With the split and corresponding price increases, some customers saw their rates go up by about 66 percent. This made them less than pleased and they let Netflix know it by griping on social media, sending angry letters and cancelling their accounts. Even non-Netflix customers got disgusted with the ordeal (probably because it filled up their Twitter feed). The company responded with a letter that was intended to confess its own lack of communication but actually came off as a little smug and disconnected.

 

The sudden price jump with very little communication was bad enough but it got worse…

In response to the backlash, Netflix decided to announce that it was splitting its services into two different companies. Customers would have two separate accounts, two video ques, etc. Netflix would remain as the streaming video provider but the DVDs would now come from a company called “Qwikster.” The weird thing was, the branding colors would remain the same but the name would be different.

As absurd as all this sounds, it got stranger. People immediately searched for Qwikster on various social media platforms and were probably pleased to see a Twitter account set up with that name. What they didn’t realize is that it had nothing to do with the company. It was a single, pot-smoking, womanizing guy who, needless to say, was not exactly good for Netflix’s image.

 

After all that drama, Netflix decided to drop the new company, stick with the original plan but not drop rates. Recent sales reports show a drastic drop in profits for the company and we aren’t surprised.

Lessons learned: Where do we start? Don’t devalue your customer base so much that you don’t communicate effectively with them. Don’t be a jerk when you do communicate.

 

The lesson here: If you start a new brand, company or product line, Google the name. Search for it on all social media. Research it to make sure

A) It’s not taken by a pot-smoking womanizer (or anyone else)

B) It doesn’t have some weirdo connotation that would be sure to offend or confuse your customers or

C) It generally doesn’t fit your goals of increasing profits.

 

So, is there something we missed? What faux pax would you nominate for a top mistake in 2011?