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Spelling It Out

Advice abounds concerning the importance of spelling. Starting at about six years of age, most of us begin learning how to spell and endure weekly tests to prove the lessons filtered into our general knowledge. Unfortunately, many of those lessons are ignored when it comes to modern content creation. While much has been written about the importance of spelling – Copyblogger tackled it here and Problogger here – I haven’t seen much about the impact poor spelling can have on your business. Hint: It’s big.

Brand Damage
I encountered this sign during a recent holiday to Indonesia. The first time I saw it was on a poster-sized board propped on an easel, prominently displayed in front of a Ralph Lauren retail shop. Kicking myself for not having a camera with me, I was extremely surprised (and pleased) it was still in use three days later. The Ralph Lauren brand is strong enough to withstand an embarrassing advertisement for “Strippers”. Is your brand that resilient?

Over the past week, I’ve collected spelling errors found in my normal business dealings. I’m detailing them here with the residual impression they create.

Disregard for Clients and Partners
This disaster of a sentence was found on a networking group’s website, listed as a benefit for paid membership:

Thanks to the lovely folk at Xxxxxxx Restauarnt you will rceieve 10% off your next meal.

The actual name of the restaurant was spelled wrong, too. I counted four errors in only 16 words. Why, on earth, would I pay to join a group with so little regard for accuracy? Getting the name of their sponsor wrong indicates a lack of respect for them, too.

A reply from a professional organisation had this doozy in it:

In regards to your enquiry, you are elidigble to gain XXXX membership.

I was wondering if this very expensive membership would provide enough value to justify their fees. When their communication to me showed an obvious spelling error, it made me feel like they probably weren’t worth the money they were charging.

A receipt for a paid invoice contained this heading:

Date Service Amount ($) Discription

Since the company sending out the invoice has hundreds of thousands of customers, I wonder what sort of quality controls they have or if their business processes are in order.

The Takeaway
Spelling is an important aspect in your business dealings. My concentration is interrupted when I come across a spelling error. I’m not the only one. What you may perceive as an unimportant detail, is likely being addressed in a broader context by the audience reading it. Whether you like it or not, you and your business are being judged on the quality of spelling and grammar in your business communications.

What spelling errors have you noticed? What did it tell you about the company?

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