A few days ago, I saw an advertisement for a workout boot camp class. There was a whole paragraph describing the class. But, this sentence stood out, and not in a good way.
Harness your bodies ability to burn fat with custom meal plans and our rapid results boot camp!
I must admit, once I saw the grammatical error, the company’s credibility fell fast and hard.
Now, you may be thinking, “So what, it’s a small mistake!”
Well, what if you made a similar mistake during the quoting process? What if your website homepage or advertisements had a small mistake? It would cost you customers, and it would be over something preventable.
Here’s the truth: Any written communication you send out into the world can and will get judged. The next time you type out an email to customers, double check for any of the following errors.
- Its vs. It’s
Placement of apostrophes can be tricky. Think of it this way: The apostrophe is replacing a word. When you read it’s, think it is. It’s good to see you. It’s a beautiful day. It’s a limited time offer.
If it is doesn’t work with the sentence, there is no apostrophe needed.
- They’re, Their, There
English is a confusing language. This is one of those things you’ll have to memorize, or look up when in doubt. But, notice they’re has an apostrophe. When you read they’re, think they are.
Often people will fall into the trap of capitalizing Important Words For Emphasis. I get it. In your brain, those words stand out. But, it’s incorrect, unprofessional, and kind of confusing. The takeaway: You only need to capitalize proper nouns. Easy.
- Colons & Semicolons
I’ve seen a lot of strange uses of colons and semicolons. I’ve come to realize they’re mostly unnecessary. A simple comma or period will often suffice. But, here’s the best way to use these punctuation marks if you choose to do so.
Use colons at the beginning of a list.
Our agency’s approved partners: ABC Homes, John W. Realty, and Greenview Contractors.
Or, use colons for emphasis.
There’s one more thing: Personal liability.
For semicolons, the AP Stylebook says, “Use the semicolon to indicate a greater separation of thought and information than a comma can convey but less than the separation that a period implies.”
If that is a little confusing, not to worry. Ditch the semicolon and use a period or comma instead. Few will know the difference anyways.
- Spellcheck Doesn’t Catch Everything, Sadly
Do you have a word that you can never to seem to spell correctly? For me, that word is definitely. Also, unnecessary. Luckily, spellcheck is there to double check me.
Computers are so smart, but they can’t speak perfect English. Spellcheck doesn’t catch all sneaky grammatical errors, like extra or redundant words. Did you notice the extra to in the previous paragraph? Spellcheck didn’t.
- Second Set of Eyes
It’s always a good idea to have a second set of eyes to look things over before clicking Send or Publish. It only takes a few minutes for someone to read through your work and check if everything looks okay. A little work like this up front and you can keep your agency from losing face.
Today, there is a high bar for credibility. Brands have to appear as trustworthy as possible to be chosen by consumers. Be proactive to keep these small mistakes from disrupting your agency’s reputation.
About the Author
Emily Nguyen supports the implementation of ITC’s marketing efforts, including producing product newsletters and other customer communications, managing multiple social media profiles, and writing and reviewing content. She has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Texas Tech University. Emily enjoys social media, exploring Dallas-Fort Worth, and spending time with her husband and their dog.More Content by Emily Nguyen