Poor grammar costs more than you think

There are a number of factors that can affect your business image and public perception including branding and logo design, customer service and, most importantly, marketing.

According to a recent article on RealBusiness.co.uk, 59% of Britons would not use a company with poor grammar on its website – most people citing they wouldn’t trust the business to provide high-quality service.

This proves that anything with your business name on it – including adverts or press releases, billboards or business cards – has an effect on public perception of your company, and that simple mistakes can come at a big cost.

A simple error now and again, like a missing apostrophe or comma, is usually fine – it’s glaring errors like offering “pubic relations” services or selling a “coffee poot” that throw up a red flag with customers.

Nothing in marketing comes easy, and you can’t rush anything involved in the process, especially proofreading your content. Dedication and a fine eye for detail are all-important in creating the perfect image for your business.

In no particular order, below is a list of the most common writing errors to look out for when writing copy for your business:

  • Misuse of apostrophes and commas: many people, including myself, don’t fully understand these little guys – so what we end up doing is underusing or overusing them. Luckily, the web is full of resources explaining their nuances to help us all – grammar.about.com is a good one.
  • Their/There/They’re, Its/It’s and To/Too/Two: these are the three most commonly confused words, making it worth having a quick look online to gain a better understanding of their differences. Many people are passionate about errors of this nature, so be careful with their use.
  • Too much reliance on spell-check: this computer function is great if you completely misspell a word, but its not very good at figuring out if what you wrote makes sense. It will catch “Jcak and Jlil went up the hill” but not “Hack and Gill went up the bill.”
  • Fat Finger Syndrome, or FFS: if you meant to type sparked but accidentally typed sparkled, you’ve become a victim to this. Typing lazily also qualifies as a cause of FFS, for example typing, “clcik here for more ifno”. Keep alert, for your copy’s sake.

Now, here are a few quick tips to help avoid costly copy mistakes:

  • Check and check again: just because spell-check said your copy is all clear doesn’t make it ready to use, so you’ll also have to give it one or two thorough read-throughs to pick up any hidden mistakes.
  • Read it out loud: when you read things to yourself, the chances of skipping past mistakes increases – so read aloud and listen for errors.
  • Have someone else read your work: asking a trusted co-worker, friend or relative to have a look at your copy is the best way of avoiding errors making it into the final draft. The more people you get to review your work, the less likely an error will slip past.
  • Check for one error at a time: don’t look for spelling mistakes, comma errors and cohesiveness at the same time. Read through your work multiple times, scanning for a specific type of mistake with each read-through.
  • Take a quick break: ten minutes away from your writing helps clear your head and allows you to look at it with a fresh set of eyes and, hopefully, with a bit more attention to detail.

Do you have a grammar mistake horror story, or more tips on what to watch out for? If so, tweet them to @lavacomms.