The Ethical Marketer’s Guide to Naked Apologies

The ethical marketer's Gide to Naked ApologiesYou made a mistake.

You screwed up.

It’s time to apologize, but you still want to salvage the situation.

How do you do it?





What is with the headline?

Before I get into the meat of the post, there is a great marketing manifesto written by Danny Iny of Firepole marketing, it is all about being naked. By that, It mean baring your all, showing the good and the bad, not worrying about your flaws, and being rewarded for being authentic.

This post was written with that in mind, actually it is a personal story as to how I screwed up. Yes it’s been a rough couple of weeks and a few things I wanted to accomplish got dropped (including my submission to this manifesto). So I thought hey, I know I am not the only one who needs to apologize, and there is a great section in www.NakedMarketingManifesto.com about relationships. What is the best way to fix a strained relationship? Appologize. More appropriately, apologize properly.


If you like this post, give it the thumbs up below. I highly encourage you to check out the other posts in the manifesto. They are put together by a bunch of great writers, with valuable and key insights.


What is an apology?

Webster describes and apology as an admission of error or discourtesy accompanied by an expression of regret. It’s more than that.

A proper apology can go a long way to helping diffuse a mistake. It can’t make everything good, what it can do is to give you another shot. It is up to the receiver of the apology if it is enough to help move past the situation.

We are going to use two examples to help illustrate the different ways people apologize and how many people don’t do it right.

  1. A lunch missed with a friend at a casual restaurant due to a lack of proper scheduling
  2. A project that was forgotten about and key dates missed


How not to apologize

Buyoff apology

This is the over the top, I need to salvage this situation at whatever the cost. So I will show how bad I feel by going way above and beyond, therefore they have to forgive me and trust me again. Yes, the cliché is right you can’t buy trust but you’re going to try anyway.

For our examples it goes something like this:

Steve, I can’t believe I missed our lunch. Let me take you out for dinner and drinks at super fancy steak house tonight to make up for it.

Danny, I can’t believe I forgot about our project. Here are some tickets to the baseball game, to make up for it.

Make me stop begging apology

An apology by groveling is the most annoying type of apology. When someone apologized by groveling you can’t help but assume they are thinking. If I keep saying I am sorry, then they will have to forgive me.

In both examples it basically becomes: “I am sorry, I am sorry I am so sorry, I can’t believe I did that. I am sorry; I am SO sorry, etc.” This then goes on for a few minutes.

It wasn’t my fault apology

The lack of responsibility apology is where they never use words like have to apologize and give excuses. This apology is all about how it’s not their fault they screwed something up. You see this most often in the political arena. Look your not running for office, own up to your mistakes and move on.

Steve, I have to apologize I missed our lunch. Traffic was bad, work was crazy, oh it was a Saturday two blocks from my house and I didn’t work that day? My shirt was wrinkled, my hair needed washing. So yeah, I have to apologize for that.

Danny, I have to apologize, your project is late, I was travelling, and my boss said I need to do this other thing, and I was going to work on it on the weekend and my kid needed me to do something else, and did you see this news article? So we’re good?

The proper apology

It consists of five parts.

  1. State you are sorry.
  2. Give a reason ( or optionally state no reason is good enough )
  3. Tell how this reason will never happen again
  4. Actually implement step 3
  5. Drop the subject, it is never to be brought up by you again

For example:

Steve, I am sorry. I missed our lunch. There are no good reasons as to why. This will not happen again. I am going to be placing all of our lunches into my calendar, so I don’t forget them again.

Danny, I am sorry I didn’t work on our project. I was super excited for it and when it came to implementing it, I forgot about it. In order to ensure that this will never happen again, I am implementing a project management system.


Once you have made the apology then implement what you said you would do and drop the subject, don’t continually apologize repeatedly for the same thing ( if you made the same mistake again, then look at rebuilding your credibility).


Where to apologize

Apologize in private, but they tend to work best in the following order:

  1. In person
  2. Call
  3. Hand written note
  4. Email/text message
  5. Other twitter PM, etc.

The flip side, accepting an apology

Be nice be polite and don’t make them jump thought hoops. Accept it and move on. Now that doesn’t mean you instantly trust them again, it means you accept it and give them a second chance. If they fail at chance #2, there better be a real good reason for it.



You have learned how to apologize and how to move forward with it. It’s up to the receiver of the apology if they listen to your message or not. At this point you have done what you can. It is time to move on and work on the next project, or next thing. If you dwell on past mistakes you’ll never move forward with your life, your job or your career.


What have you been meaning to apologize for?






  1. Jeremy

    So true. Apologize like you would like to be apologized to. Forgive as you would like to be forgiven.

  2. Kraig

    Thanks Jeremy. It all boils back to the golden rule.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>