Small Juice Company Faces Squeeze

Published: February 24, 2022 / No Comments

Last month, two refugee brothers from Guinea caught a major break when their ginger beer company, Ginjan, was featured on Humans of New York. With over 11 million followers, it was the Instagram equivalent of getting picked for Oprah’s Book of the Month Club. But opportunity quickly turned to crisis when their small business was overwhelmed by an avalanche of orders.

Ginjan’s website crashed within hours. Worse, many orders initially received were lost in the maze of technology. For a small business this was a make or break moment. The only way out was asking customers to stick with them through the hassle and delay.

What Rahim and Mohammed did next showed a level of communications excellence that would make any Corporate VP proud. They deployed open, clear communication and invited customers to stick with them for the very same reason they ordered in the first place – to feel like they were part of the Ginjan journey. Let’s break down how.

Five Lessons for Communications Pros

1. Speak simply

  • And be brief. Of course, sometimes that isn’t possible. Say so. Ginjan started their lengthy email by stating it “is a bit long ~ 5 minutes”. Bolding, subheaders, and a P.S. section ensured the main points stood out if skimmed.

2. Show integrity

  • Own your part in it so your action seems credible. Their admitting to not having “anything remotely close” to the capital necessary to meet demand is the kind of honest vulnerability we can all learn from. It helped the month-long shipping delay seem understandable.
  • It’s not about you. Don’t even think about starting with the word ‘we’. You’ve acknowledged what happened, make sure that includes how it affected them.

3. Be transparent

  • Acknowledge what happened. Even if you think they already know, show that you do. And do it in their language, e.g. “Where’s my product?”
  • State why it happened. But without playing the blame game. Only go into detail if it’s relevant to your action. Ginjan didn’t throw Shopify or their payment processor under the bus, but they had to mention them to explain why customers would receive a second invoice for expired orders.

4. Set expectations

  • Be as specific as possible. Say what you’re doing and anything they’ll need to do by giving common examples “For those of you that had your orders expire… “
  • Break it down. What and when and how. Give a timeline. State next steps. Address common what if scenarios “If you do not get your order or tracking email by March 10th, please email us.”

5. Demonstrate sincerity

  • Remain true to your story and voice. Now is not the time to reimagine your tone or try to be funny.
  • Remind people why they bought in by appealing to your supporters in a genuine way. Ginjan had the luxury of HONY telling their compelling origin story. That built rapport, but all brands have a story they can leverage.
  • Say please and thank you (and sorry). And remember that being sincere means being specific. What exactly are you thankful for, or sorry about?
  • No qualifiers, no hedging. Ginjan did a remarkable job of expressing their own emotions without using them as excuses “we felt heard, loved and supported… then we felt completely deflated at the prospect of letting you all down.”

Here’s How It All Stacked Up

Looking Ahead

We’re all rooting for Rahim and Mohammed here, but who knows how this will shake out. We’ll keep you updated by continuing to break down their winning communications as they evolve. In the meantime, we’ll happily wait for our Ginjan order to arrive (and encourage you to place your own).

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