“Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment”, part four of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”  provides a path for changing attitudes and behaviour, which is after all the main objective of advertising and marketing communication.

Whether we are discussing leadership in an organisation or thought leadership in an area of professional expertise, great brands are leaders in consumer advocacy in their product or service category.

Here’s the original list compiled by Dale Carnegie:

1.   Begin with praise and sincere appreciation.

2.   Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly

3.   Talk about your own mistakes before criticising the other person.

4.   Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

5.   Let the other person save face

6.   Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement.

7.   Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

8.   Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

9.   Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

One of the most powerful techniques in selling, be it in person or through communicating in any media, is asking questions and either letting the audience arrive at their own conclusion or suggesting one for them! “Tired? Stressed? You’ll Feel Better on Swisse”.

Brands that have admitted their mistakes and promised to learn from them tend to have recover quickly but those that try to defend their actions and shift the blame tend to lose trust and damage their brand reputation.

Things will go wrong in business and mistakes will happen, and today in the world of social media, where there is nowhere to hide, the strength of a brand’s relationship with its customers is about how it deals with failures.

Domino’s pizza did this in 2011. In the ads, Domino’s admitted that its pizzas were terrible, explained that it redesigned them, and asked people to give them a try.

“Viewers of these ads described them as “bold” and “refreshing,” and gave the company credit for acknowledging what everyone already knew. More important, people tried the pizza and found they liked it. The result: store sales rose and quarterly profits doubled. Domino’s took a failure point — its horrible pizzas — and made it a rallying point. The company saw negative comments as a gift from customers, an opportunity to improve the product, rather than a liability.”

Ref: HBR Blog Network: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/03/the_art_of_admitting_failure.html