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The New York Times appears to be making a mistake with Wordle. Stock photo
Ask Mr. MarketingColumns

Word(le) to the wise

Wanna play Wordle? Don’t have the New York Times app? You’re in for a surprise.

Invented in 2021 by software engineer Josh Wardle (yes, that’s his real name), Wordle was bought by the Times to attract millions of new subscribers to their website. Today there are numerous rip-offs, outgrowths and extensions of the game.

Search for the Times version, though, and you’ll encounter an entry screen with instructions, a log-in and a play button that takes you to a gray screen that says advertisement. In the lower corner are the words “Continue to Wordle.” Press the arrow and you’re in.

Wait…what? This screen was obviously set up to generate revenue by showing visitors a commercial. Is it possible someone screwed up?

As Curly from the Three Stooges would say, “Coitanly!”

The thing is, in the next 24 hours I can expect to be exposed to several thousand marketing messages, advertisements and promotions.

Meaning, in the interests of retaining a quiet corner of the world, I should probably keep my big mouth shut about this.

Yet with newspapers in desperate need of advertising revenues to help keep their doors open, it pains me to see this apparent oversight. Besides, I’m guessing these guys will be creative enough to show me an ad that holds my interest.

What a dilemma.

Okay, stop laughing at them. Because regardless of what you’re selling, someone within your organization is almost certain to do something equally foolish at some point. And while you’d find yourself in such august company as the New York Times, it’s probably a dubious honor…at best.

To avoid this scenario, double the number of people looking at every piece of your messaging. This will greatly increase chances that you’ll catch oversights like this one.

You’ll also minimize factual, grammatical and typographical errors.

This strategy should apply to not only your social media and collateral, but also every page of your website. Ask employees, friends, colleagues and clients to go into your site looking for problems, as well as at the design or copy.

And if you feel really adventurous, encourage people to try and break your site. Odds are good they won’t be able to, but wouldn’t it be better if you knew about it from a friend?

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

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