Turning Lemons Into Lemonade

Make lemonade from lemons


Messed up? Make lemonade.

We’ve all been there. You check your work once, twice, three times … you read it aloud, ask a trusted employee to review it, save it and give it a final review first thing in the morning with a fresh brain and rested eyes. You pronounce it ready and emphatically click send.

And then: Nooooo! You see the spelling mistake, the missing word, the broken hyperlink. Or something worse, like the price that was supposed to be introductory — but you forgot to add the disclaimer.

Sometimes it’s not our fault; it’s one bloody auto-correct tool or another, thinking it knows better than we do, sneakily messing with our words.

Even the most eagle-eyed among us can miss a typo. So stop beating yourself up, accept that mistakes happen, and make lemonade from lemons. Read on for a few “lemonade recipe” examples. 

Autocorrector gremlin at work

An optometrist’s office conducts in-store promotional events to encourage foot traffic. Sales representatives from high-end designers are on-site with new product lines, limited-edition frame styles and special event-only discounts.

These events are heavily marketed and their success provides an important revenue stream for the business. An upcoming event was promoted with an odd email announcement:

Designer Frames Truck Show – One Day Only!

Needless to say, the autocorrector gremlin was hard at work here. Not a truck show, but rather a trunk show.

So (after you’ve taken a few deep calming breaths), what’s the best approach in this situation?

You could make a decision to do nothing. Since most people scan emails, rather than reading every word, many may not even have noticed the error. Or, you can sheepishly point out the mistake and capitalize on the typo as a marketing opportunity.

While open rates for email newsletters vary by industry and company, there are probably many recipients who don’t open your emails. What if you could leverage your error and get more of your audience interested in your trunk show?

Make lemonade: In situations like this one, don’t be afraid to be playful. A follow up email which expresses some personality is likely to garner more email opens as well as increase engagement. Resend the email with a subject line like one of these:

Oops – wasn’t wearing my glasses!

Yes, we’re selling trucks in addition to designer eyeglasses (LOL)!  

Include an amusing image of a cartoon truck wearing high-fashion eyeglasses and consider offering a promotion for anyone who mentions the typo when purchasing at the trunk show event.

Yeah, sorry, I slept through New Year’s

A children’s summer camp conducts an annual marketing campaign to drive registrations for their seasonal programs. While many elements are similar from one year to the next, there are also new offerings, promotions and technology to encourage early signups and payments to help manage cash flow. A well-honed email announcement kicked off the campaign with a visually appealing design and a compelling offer. It generated high open rates and click-throughs.

The problem? The website landing page hadn’t been updated and reflected the prior year’s calendar, programs and pricing.

Make Lemonade: A lighthearted response is the best approach. Add in a little self-deprecating humor and you’ll likely increase open rates, memorability and click-throughs. Top it all off with a giveaway or promotion to make the best of an awkward error.

First (obviously!) fix the landing page to include the current information. Then use your email marketing metrics to follow up only with those who have opened the email and clicked through to the incorrect landing page. Use a humorous subject line like,

Brain cramp … sorry about sending you back to the future!

Party like it’s 1999? Oops, we meant 2018!

Offer a discount that relates to the error, such as honoring the prior year’s rate for the first session registration for each customer. Or provide a free downloadable asset like a summer camp packing list or tips for first-time overnight campers.

Accidental puns

As a child, our vacations were spent on the road, packed into the family station wagon. We traveled through a lot of small towns with miles of open landscape — a blissfully peaceful vista to our parents, but desperately dull to my siblings and me. It was the olden days before electronic devices kept back-seat children occupied, so when we weren’t instigating trouble with each another, we gazed out the car windows for something of interest — really any trace of humanity or population. One very memorable sign of civilization amused our young selves then, and is a family joke even decades later … a service station with a small food counter proudly displaying a large sign which stated, “Eat here – get gas.”

Such unintended puns can appear anywhere — from printed menus, to aerial banners behind planes, to news photo captions online or in print.

Make Lemonade: While inadvertent, since you made the joke, you may as well fess up and make the best of it. The service station of my childhood travels probably realized their error, but figured leaving the sign in place generated some word-of-mouth advertising. To capitalize further and deepen their brand personality, they could serve an antacid with every food purchase.

If your business authors an unintended pun, leverage it with a humorous response that creates a stronger connection with your customers. And don’t be afraid to throw in a free pack of Tums while you’re at it.




  1. Bill McElhiney


    “Eat here – get gas” is the best. I laughed out loud – it was as good as Mary Richards at the funeral service for Chuckles the clown.
    Have a nice weekend,

    1. Online Amplify (Post author)

      Thanks Bill! A good laugh is the best way to start a weekend.

  2. Lisa Egan

    Hi Nancy, I enjoyed this article and liked all of your vivid examples as well. I always learn something new or gain a fresh perspective from your posts. Thanks and keep ’em coming!

    1. Online Amplify (Post author)

      Thanks for your comment, Lisa — I’m glad you find the article useful. Since those cringe-worthy mistakes are a sure thing sooner or later, finding a way to turn them into a positive result can be a handy strategy.

  3. Anonymous

    HI Nancy,

    I can really relate to this article!!

    1. Online Amplify (Post author)

      We’ve all been there! They key is to make the most of these situations!


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