AdvisorVault, thankfully, rarely experiences a system-wide problem. But we did have one Thursday afternoon between 1 and 6 p.m. ET. We received 11 calls from advisors expressing concern. The problem prevented users from being able to upload files. I apologize to all of our users and thank the 11 users who called in. While tech companies rarely tell you what caused an outage, I want to tell you what happened to make a point using transparency in marketing.
Steve Gordonson, an engineer who’s built several very stable, widely-used tech systems for RIAs as SVP of Technology at Advisor Products since 1997, explained the cause of the problem like this:
The way an error was being handled by AdvisorVault changed after a Windows update, which had been installed last Sunday. We didn’t see any problem in the staging or production severs until yesterday. Then, it caused the database server log file to grow rapidly, until it consumed all the disk space on the log drive of the database server. It happened fast, as we check disk space frequently. We had to patch the database server.
I’m telling you this to give you insight into what you pay us for here at Advisor Products. Moreover, I am demonstrating how transparency provides a marketing advantage.
Tweeting about it when your firm makes a mistake attracts people.
My connections on LinkedIn and Twitter will see my tweet saying something about, “the problem that prevented uploads to AdvisorVault between 1 and 6 p.m., Thursday.”
Who could resist clicking to learn more? Admitting you made a mistake makes people pay attention. For the same reason we all rubberneck, admitting mistakes involuntarily draws people's attention.
You obviously can’t use this as a marketing gimmick because you just cannot be sending emails to clients about mistakes you made all the time!
But use such occasions wisely, to tell your contacts about something more important than a rare system-wide glitch. For example: my message in this 30-second video