Does poor writing cause you to lose sales? You bet it does!
There are those people who see a misspelled word and think nothing of it, and there are those who groan in despair. Although I’m a terrible speller (the only English major REQUIRED to carry a dictionary to every class, a confession which, I know, ages me), I have to admit that I’m of the latter school. And it isn’t just misspellings; words that are used incorrectly, words that are accidentally left out, and poor syntax (word order) evoke the same emotion. Call me a snob, but anyone who can’t master the basics of the English language and/or copy editing loses a lot of credibility with me. They say to me that the writer is, at best, very busy (and might not be able to give my business the attention it deserves) or, at worst, is poorly educated (which is just not a good bang for my buck).
Yesterday I ran across all three of these errors. One of my favorite blogs had a post where the intended word was “enunciate” (to speak clearly), but the word used was “annunciate” (to announce). That evening I went to a meeting where the presenter spoke about using podcasting for business. He ended with a summary in bullet form. The last bulleted item used the word “leads,” but it was spelled “leeds.” Yesterday afternoon I began to read through some materials that had been passed out at a seminar that I had recently attended. The first sentence of the introduction read, “This book is primarily written for people who don’t work in the field Internet or on-line marketing and sales efforts.” Huh? (In this last case, maybe I was just irritated because the promotion for the seminar had seemed to indicate it would be something other than a basic introduction to Internet sales and marketing, but it wasn’t. I didn’t learn anything new. Sigh…)
I realize that we all make mistakes and, in the case of the blog, its writer seldom makes them. But in the other two cases, I thought to myself, “I will never work with these folks as they will surely make my company look stupid, and I will never purchase products or services from them because I don’t trust them not to be stupid.”
I know there are those who would disagree with me. With the advent of text messaging, the emphasis on using alternatives to proper spelling for the sake of brevity (e.g., “4” in place of “for,” or “u” in place of “you”) is understandable. And I know there are lots of brilliant people out there who just can’t spell. Just look at me. (Ahem!) But outside of texting and Twitter, there are no excuses. Having basic writing skills is the same as having basic math skills. You are expected to be able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide numbers. Heck, you’re even expected to be able to figure percentages and to know that an amount of money written as $.05 is the same as 5 cents. The assumption is that every kid who graduates from high school has these skills at a minimum. And no one wants to work with a businessperson who shouldn’t have graduated from high school.
My point? If you’re writing your own material, make sure it is grammatically correct, it has all the words spelled right, and it reads well. Write the piece and let it sit for awhile; then read it again. Don’t just rely on a quick computer spell check to highlight everything that needs to be fixed. If possible, have someone else proof it for you. If, on the other hand, you are farming out the work, make sure your freelancer writes well before you hire him or her.
Otherwise, you’re going to lose customers like me.