3 things Startups can learn from that Adshel saga…

- June 1, 2011 2 MIN READ

To say that yesterday was probably one of the most stressful for days for Steve McCarthy (CEO) and Elvira Lodewick (Marketing Director, and the poor sod with her name and details on the press releases) would be a bit of an understatement. For those who don’t know to which saga I am referring, basically Adshel made a decision to remove a particular campaign that was running for the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities that depicted a gay couple, fully clothed embracing in a hug and holding a condom packet. After an unconfirmed amount of complaints were made, later to be discovered as a tactical campaign orchestrated by a Christian Lobby group, the ad was removed from all Adshel spaces.

Of course as is the age of the internet, outrage filled twitter, Adshel I am sure had an influx of phone calls, emails and people protesting the decision and we could assume current clients of the company may have also expressed their distaste. Not to mention if I was working for Adshel being a gay male myself, I would have probably seriously started to question if I was really working for an equal opportunity employer and if I really wanted to continue doing so.

Late yesterday afternoon a second press release was issued stating that after discovering the news about the Christian Lobby Group that the campaign would be reinstated immediately. The whole activity has turned out to be a complete waste of time and money for Adshel, lucky they are not a startup and can afford the costs.

So what can Startups learn from what went on yesterday?

1. Ask Questions

I am a simple guy, I am not the most financial person, I am not the most technical person and I am most definitely not the most creative, but if I don’t know the answer to something I know who I need to ask to help me make decisions around these particular subjects. When it comes to customer complaints, especially if you are a start up, you need to ask questions, why was the user unhappy?  what are their motives behind the complaint? By digging a little bit deeper, maybe Adshel would have found out information sooner and avoided the whole situation.

2. Implement solid processes

When we think of processes and procedures in a work place we immediately go to those that relate to HR and those that we are legally obligated to have present within a business. A complaints procedure is not something we usually have from the beginning when starting up, as quite often we are so caught up in our offering we can not see the things people may not like about it. Prevention is always better than cure. Always know how you will be handling a situation in case it ever arises.

3.  Have your clients back

I am not sure how loved the QAHC are feeling right now from Adshel, but I am sure the dynamics of the relationship would have shifted a bit over the last 24 hours. Your clients are your income, they allow you to keep doing what you are doing. Love them, support them and back them up. Sure if there is a potential issue alert them to this and work with them to solve it – this type of action will get you more clients. Imagine if Adshel went to QAHC and said they have received complaint, lets both go to the relevant organisations and ensure we are complying with all the required standards…

What did you learn from yesterday?