The writing’s on the wall.
When it comes to good English, there are two schools:
- It’s a load of useless nit picking.
- It’s utterly vital.
When it comes to good English in business, I have one thought:
- Get it right, or else.
It’s not just me who thinks this. Check these quotes:
I’m not going to apply for a company that can’t spell.
Job applicant. From the guide: Optimising Your Job Ad Writing on SEEK.
If a mistake isn’t mine, but my name is on it, I have the offender shot.
Winston Marsh. Business consultant and conference speaker.
Well spotted. / Great catch! / Thanks so much for picking that up.
Three of the world’s most powerful bloggers, whose errors I’ve flagged.
So where do you stand?
I ask because many people don’t think good English is necessary in commerce.
In recent years, I’ve heard a disturbing number of business owners articulate a common theme:
Errors make me look human. I leave (or even put!) them in so I don’t alienate my readers.
I find this philosophy gobsmacking, and not just because I’m a copywriter.
When I was a human resources manager, poorly spelt resumes went straight in the bin.
Not due to some elitist ethic. But because poor attention to communication (just like dirty shoes and blood-test cannabinoids) reliably indicated disorganised thinking and slack attitudes.
Voice in the Wilderness
When I switched from HR to copywriting:
- The ‘Three Rs’ were a faded memory of our education system.
- Software spell checkers had (apparently) removed the need for brains.
- TXT communic8ions introducd a brutl shrt& dat mNE usrs cldn’t differenti8 frm nrmL Eng.
I envisioned a golden age in which I, the modern scribe, would make a fortune perfecting communications for those who’d lost the power.
Unfortunately, plummeting literacy meant those writing bodgy comms were unaware of their errors.
Like most of their readers.
I had to scramble to the high end of the market, or lose my mind (and shirt).
It Only Takes One
I concede that in many day-to-day interactions, you can get away with poor English.
But if you run a business, there will come a day you need to:
- Write a watertight contract.
- Attract a brilliant team member.
- Secure a fat grant.
- Win a pivotal tender.
- Impress a lucrative prospect.
- Outperform an arch competitor.
- Issue a public statement.
- Avert a court case.
And though there may be just one nit-picker per hundred thousand citizens, you can bet your bottom post-GFC dollar that person will be a critical link in your food chain.
Therefore my questions to you are:
- Why risk botching your messages with unforced errors in a fragile economy?
- Do you really prefer dealing with those who can’t tell write from wrong?
I wrmly w31com UR vwz.
(LOL, ROFL, LMFAO, Hahahahahahahaha etc.)
Paul Hassing, Founder & Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire