Yes, yes. Spelling matters, but only for the ‘important stuff’, right?
You see when it comes to communication, everything is important.
Your spelling ability (or lack thereof) is a direct reflection of you, your standards and your business.
Rightly or wrongly, people will judge you according to your use of the English language. They will also make assumptions about who you are, how you run your business, how reliable your products are and how interested you are in your potential customers.
How do I know this?
Because I do it all the time.
I’m the first to admit I am a bit of a Grammar Nazi. Spotting spelling errors in a piece of writing (particularly marketing material), is a bit of sport for me. Sometimes the errors are funny; sometimes they are hilarious. But most of the time, they just make me cringe.
Berrie muffuns and cappachino
On a road trip earlier this year, I came across the following in a McDonalds store:
While most people would probably laugh off the mistake and realise that they were offering a ‘mixed berry muffin’, I for one deliberately avoided said ‘berrie muffun’.
The poor spelling made me feel the people behind the counter were careless, uninterested and slap-dash. I felt if they were not interested in the details that the customer actually saw, how attentive would they be when it came to policies, procedures and health regulations that the customer does not see?
I felt if they weren’t interested enough to check the sign promoting their wares, they obviously wouldn’t be interested in me, the paying customer.
They lost a sale from me because of their spelling error.
Here is another sign I came across while travelling:
Do you see what is wrong with it?
I was going to order a cappuccino, until I saw they were selling ‘cappachino’. I figured that if they couldn’t spell it, they certainly couldn’t make it. And so I left the shop empty-handed.
Certainly, the above are small examples, but both instances resulted in a lost sale and left me with a negative impression of their business.
However every now and then, a spelling error can spell (pun intended) disaster.
The importance of an ‘s’
Earlier this year, an extra letter ‘s’ caused a 124-year-old Welsh family business to go bust, leaving the UK government with a £9 million ($17 million) legal bill.
In 2009, Companies House, part of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, mistakenly recorded that the engineering firm Taylor & Sons Ltd, had been wound up.
In reality, it was another unrelated company Taylor & Son Ltd (not Sons), that had gone broke.
However, despite Companies House trying to correct the error three days later, the damage was done. The company had already lost credibility with their suppliers, with all 3000 of them terminating orders and credit facilities were withdrawn. Within two months of the spelling error, the company went into administration.
In January of this year, a High Court judge ruled that Companies House was legally responsible for Taylor & Sons’ catastrophic loss of business and ultimate collapse. They are now facing a multi-million dollar legal bill.
Whether you are selling coffee, muffins or own a multi-million dollar company, spelling matters.
Correct spelling successfully communicates your message, while incorrect spelling distracts and confuses.
The way you spell displays your standards of business to potential customers. Correct spelling leaves a good impression of your values, your branding and your business. Incorrect spelling causes potential customers to question how seriously you do business and how attentive to detail you may be.
Like it or not, the way you spell may be the difference between gaining a customer and losing one.
In a world where businesses are madly competing against each other and first impressions count, spelling matters. In many respects content is not king — appearance is. How often do you judge someone, or something based on appearance alone? That’s why spelling counts.
Even if you are the poorest speller on the planet, it is your job to ensure the words you use are spelled correctly.
You can use dictionaries (the old-fashioned kind, or the online versions); you can use spell-checker (although this has its limitations); and you can get someone else to proof your work — preferably someone who can spell!
Just make sure your work is free from spelling errors.
If you need help with proofing, editing or spelling, contact us today — and we will be happy to lend a hand.