As with most manufactured "holidays," you probably don't know that this Sunday is National Sandwich Day. (Or maybe you do, since that's also the day Popeyes' celebrated chicken sandwich returns.)
But the folks in the Chick-fil-A marketing department clearly do.
Earlier this week, customers in the Chick-fil-A One loyalty program received an email that said:
Some prefer it grilled, others fancy the original.
No matter which Chick-fil-A sandwich you love, order yours on November 3 for National Sandwich Day.
Standard marketing: Tie an action to an event, create a sense of urgency (however thin), provide a justification for reaching out, and, maybe, on the day, divert a little attention from Popeyes' chicken sandwich relaunch.
Except for one problem. Chick-fil-A legendarily keeps its stores closed on Sundays. (Except in at least one case.)
Making it really hard for customers to choose their favorite Chick-fil-A sandwich on National Sandwich Day.
That's why those customers received another email yesterday:
We recently sent an email that included a message about National Sandwich Day, which naturally we were very excited about. We didn't realize it falls on Sunday when we are closed. We apologize for the confusion and hope to see you soon (Monday-Saturday).
No excuses. No justification. No hedging. Just simple, straight, and to the point.
Which also sounds like standard damage control. But, then again, think of how many times you've seen long-winded, multi-paragraph company apologies -- or denials that a problem even exists -- that do more harm than good.
That contain phrases like "I'm sorry, but ... " or "I was wrong, but..."
As my grandfather used to say, "Anything after 'but' is BS."
When you're wrong, just say you're wrong. (You have nothing to lose, especially when people already know you're in error.) You won't lose their respect by admitting a mistake; you'll gain it by owning that mistake.
When you're sorry, just say you're sorry. We all make mistakes, so we all have things we need to apologize for: words, actions, omissions, failing to step up, step in, show support ...
So just say you're sorry, and never follow an apology with a disclaimer like "but I actually messed that up because ... " or "but I had no way of knowing ... " or "but I assumed someone would double-check before the email was released," or any statement that in any way places even the smallest amount of blame on someone else.
Say you were wrong. Apologize for being wrong. No more, no less.
While people might laugh at your mistake -- because it is kind of funny that at least a few people at Chick-fil-A forgot they are closed on Sundays -- they'll respect the fact you owned that mistake.
Making them laugh with you, not at you.
Turning what could have been an embarrassing misstep into a little publicity. And providing an inadvertent reminder that Sunday closures reflect a core value of your business.
We all make mistakes. How we respond is what matters.
And is what people remember.