Oops, The Intentional Error

By: Dan Kennedy on: September 7th, 2010 8 Comments

Sometimes it’s fun – and profitable – to use a marketing gimmick.

I believe in the John Kerry microphone malfunction about as much as I believe in the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction. At first I did, but with a few days’ observation and thought, I concluded Kerry’s mistake was intentional.

It was a way to get a position and statement put forcefully into the market that could not be done simply and straightforwardly.

Not long ago, Gold/VIP Member Jeff Kaller mailed a mountain of postcards driving people to call – the wrong number. Followed by mailings apologizing for and correcting the mistake. And getting better than ever response.

Another client, who shall remain nameless, sent out a sales letter and registration form for a very pricey event to his best customers, with the dates, place and price missing. Nearly 70% called to inform him of his mistakes: some irritated, some trying to be helpful. This put 70% on the phone with his three telemarketers, who closed half during the calls; net 35% registration vs. best ever prior sign-up rate from same customers for comparable events, 15%.

I recently had a client test it with the dollar bill letter…Copy says: “As you can see, I’ve attached a real, crisp, new $1.00 bill to this letter…” However, to 25 of the 50 sent, he attached a $10.00 bill. To the other 25, a $20.00 bill.

Only two called to report he was mistakenly attaching bigger bills, and offered to send theirs back. No one else mentioned it. But response was 4% better than when same letter was sent with the dollar bill attached. What does that mean? Maybe something, maybe nothing.

Joe Sugarman gave discounts and rewards to people who found the most mistakes in his ads. The technical term for this is: involvement.

My “Mr. X” is a gimmick. The contest is a gimmick. Or are these ‘hooks’? A fine line.


Dan Kennedy is internationally recognized as the 'Millionaire Maker,' helping people in just about every category of business turn their ideas into fortunes. Dan's "No B.S." approach is refreshing amidst a world of small business marketing hype and enriches those who act on his advice. For more money-making marketing tips, tactics and strategies, go to www.GKIC.com

8 Responses

  1. Adam Hommey says:

    “Typos” and “errors” can be extremely effective in jarring the reader into a form of “misalignment” that makes them pay closer attention than usual. As a result, they’ll actually take note of what your conference / event / product / course / solution is all about and be more likely to take the actions you want them to take (more conversions for you!)

    Think of it as the exact opposite of why typos and errors get there in the first place. When reviewing your own copy, after 4 or 5 re-reads you see what you intended to say, not what you actually said. So your mind “corrects” it so “ot” actually is “to”, “isn’t” actually is “is”, and “from” is actually “for” (along with larger and more significant typos).

  2. Rob Anspach says:

    I sent out a letter with about 30 typos and grammatical errors, well one of them feel into the hands if an English teacher who red marked gave it a grade (sorry I failed) and sent it back with a scathing letter telling how much I wasted her to time. I called her on the phone apologized and ended up with a very nice sale!

  3. Adam Hommey says:

    Rob, you raise an excellent point. I’ve learned…don’t assume a complaining customer is on the warpath. Assume they simply want someone to listen to them. When she sent you the letter, she was asking you to hear her. You did, and now you have the chance to change her life. I used to blow off customers with “off the wall” responses – no more.

  4. […] Since we’ve been talking about turning mistakes into marketing gimmicks, I want to switch gears and focus on regulating our own personal […]

  5. Elizabeth Hendry says:

    To think that, in the past, when I have unintentionally made a mistake, like leaving out vital information, I have simply apologised and sent out the correct information. Never again! In fact I’m going to try out an intentional mistacke today. Thank you.

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  7. I wrote a sales letter to my current customers giving them information about upcoming events in haircolor and some skin care specials. I received a response from a copywriter that was so exasperated at my typos and general mistakes that she had to send me a letter offering me her services! At least I got a response. I called her and she became a client and spent some serious dollars with us. I told her it was on purpose. Well, some of it actually was and the other mistakes were not intentionally done and I was in a hurry to get it out the door to the list by deadline. It’s about action not perfection. BTW I had a huge response to my sales letter.

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