That’s just not true in a personal relationship.  You’ll rue the day you can’t say sorry to your partner.   Thanks Hallmark.

But it is a often bad thing – in fact a terrible thing – in internet marketing and in business in general.    In business, as a famous CEO once drilled into me: “..don’t every apologize to me again .. I don’t value  sorry .. I value fixed.”

In internet marketing however it feels like the wrong kids have been put in charge of the crayons.   One of the top ‘do not break’  best practices in communications is never never never never make a slight error much worse by apologizing inappropriately to a wide audience.  Sure, maybe if you are David Letterman or Elliott Spitzer and you  got caught doing something reprehensible, then coming clean with a mea culpa is the perfect way to move your public image past the problem.    Buteven then – you don’t see them jumping to do this until there is absolutely no other option.   And they do it quickly, sincerely and move on.

The bottom line is that there is absolutely no need to re-communicate to everyone what only a few people really noticed or care about in the first place.  Unfortunately,  I’ve seen a lot of evidence recently to support my supposition that this basic knowledge is lacking.  Perhaps because of easy access to marketing automation and blogging tools.

What is alarming about these examples below however is that these are not spammers .. they are from reliable household name companies who do this for a living and should know better! (I’ve changed the names to protect the guilty .. and me). For the biggest laugh – go to the bottom.

Here is one example, from a company that does online research surveying for a living.  My reaction: “guys ..having told me that you messed up you still want me to see the webinar? How arrogant is that?” 

“It has come to our attention that we recently sent out an email in error for a Webinar that was already completed. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused!  We value your time and certainly don’t want to send you any more emails than necessary.

If you were interested in the Webinar that was mentioned in the email, the presentation is archived and is available at the following location:
xxx.html You will not be required to complete a form to view it.

Thank you for your time and again, we apologize for our mistake!

Here is another I received from an airline telling me about a web outage I never knew happened .. until I got the email.     My reaction: “dude .. you are the ones that suffered from loss of business .. all I got was no web site and an annoying email..!”

An Apology to Our Customers

Dear Jeremy,

XXXXX Airlines experienced a computer system outage this past weekend that disrupted our operation, and we want to offer our profound apologies to the thousands of customers who were affected. We recognize we fell far short of our service commitment to you and are working diligently to determine the underlying causes of the failure to prevent a recurrence.

This is the classic out of control sales rep that seems to be the result of .. marketing automation vendors giving their reps access to the tool.   My reaction: “You are being offensive now …”


(Oops, that’s what got me in trouble the first time—isn’t it?)

My name is XXXXX XXXX and I love getting to know our customers here at XXXX! I have had a chance to get to know many of you today after an email I sent this morning that had “Dear [FIRST NAME]” in the header.

I made an unfortunate mistake and wanted to apologize to you all for it. I would love to tell you that this is the first time in my life I have made a mistake, or that it’s the last. I think we both know better–I have fingers that look like little sausages, see below.

I know you count on XXXX for many reasons, and attention to detail is one. I hope I haven’t diminished your confidence in us. If I can make it up to you, please let me know! My contact information is below.

[email protected]


P.S.  Just look at that meat hook I call a hand!

medium photo


Here is one I call the ‘lazy apology.’  My reaction:  start taking some energy bars …”

My apologies. Previous message was sent in error.  Please ignore.  Nevertheless, I hope you are doing well.

Best regards,
– xxx

Here is an IQ challenged apology.  My reaction: “So you have totally just lost your entire credibility with me folks …! What’s your IQ?”

Hi Jeremy,

Thank you for taking the Marketing IQ Test. Since its launch 2 weeks ago, the response has been incredible! Thousands of business owners across the world have taken the opportunity to evaluate their marketing. We hope you received some valuable tips and strategies that will make a big impact in your business.

We noticed, however, that some scores did not accurately reflect true the marketing efforts of a business. The total addressable market (i.e. the number of potential customers you are trying to reach) should be a determining factor in your marketing IQ ..

Ultimately however, this is my all time favorite.  A famous Web2 company sends me this email … (yes .. bad but I discounted it instantly).

From: “XXX” <[email protected]>
Date: March 3, 2011 9:38:55 AM PST
To: [email protected]
Subject: This weekend 113


We’ve planned a trip to Arizona the week of March Xth; we’d like to get together if you’re free. We’ll be staying at the XXX off of XXX Blvd. I’m not sure what our plans are for the week, however we’d like to get together for dinner one of the nights we’re there. Let me know if you’ll be in town that week and if you’re available any night for dinner. We have never been to Arizona and if you have some recommendations of places to visit let me know. Also, if you could recommend a few places to golf we’d very much appreciate that too.



Followed later that day  (when I had already forgotten about the first email) by …

From: “XXXX  XXXX” <[email protected]>
Date: March 3, 2011 4:31:57 PM PST
To: [email protected]
Subject: Please disregard today’s email from XXXX

Our apologies for the email you got from us this morning.  It was the result of an error in our marketing automation system – nothing more. But, again, we do apologize for any confusion or inconvenience it might have caused.

Best regards,


Director of Corporate Communications

Enough said.  My reaction: let me send you an email telling you what an idiot you are!