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Proofreading. If you can’t spell, pay someone who can!

Bad grammar isn’t just annoying to badge-carrying members of the grammar police like me. It affects a company’s trustworthiness, credibility, and even sales. While I’d like to drone on about all the funny memes I can’t share because of mistakes or hidden rocks painted with misspelled words like I usually do, today’s blog is only focused on how these mistakes have the potential to cost you in lost business.

I’ve noticed mistakes on a couple of products in my home recently, which got me thinking about how these mistakes can make people second-guess using a company’s products or services. The first thing I noticed was on a hair product:

Because this is a well-known, established brand, I didn’t think too much of it. It came across to me as careless or lazy, but it wouldn’t make me second-guess purchasing this product again.

The next thing I noticed was on my dog’s ear cleaner:

I bought this based on the recommendation of a local, highly trusted dog trainer who likes the brand. Because of that, I also just saw this mistake as careless or lazy. BUT, if I had randomly come across this product in a store with no recommendation from anyone and noticed the misspelling, I wouldn’t have purchased it. Not knowing the brand or having anyone who could vouch for it would make it a completely different situation for me. I wouldn’t just see it as careless – I’d assume they are not trustworthy, and wonder if they messed this up, what else have they messed up? Maybe they screwed up the ingredients and this will hurt my dog. Did some random person just whip this up in their kitchen and slap a misspelled label on it?

Just last week I was placing an order on a meal delivery website that is so riddled with mistakes it’s kind of unbelievable. It’s a company I have used before several times, and know that it’s legit and has good food, but if I just happened upon this site knowing nothing about it, there is NO way I would place an order with them. If they can’t be trusted to fix the 50 spelling and grammar mistakes on their website, I definitely wouldn’t trust them to cook food that I’m going to eat.

In my own experience, if people are already familiar with you and you spell a few things wrong, they will forgive you for it, but you may still look inept.

But when it comes to prospective new customers or clients, there’s a very good chance they won’t bother learning more about you and will find someone else who does what you do, but can spell and appears more credible.  

Proofreading shouldn’t be an afterthought. It is just as important as the research, planning, writing, and design that go into a project, and can singlehandedly make or break that project in the end. Don’t spend hours upon hours coming up with the perfect blend of ingredients for an ear cleaner for dogs, only to have people not buy it because you spelled “resulting” wrong. It’s OK to bend the rules with slang and fun, casual copy for the right audiences. But sloppy spelling errors are never OK, and first impressions matter.

Topics: Blog, Agency Life