I have an otherwise sophisticated, intelligent client whose company boilerplate brochure content includes this bullet point (“genericized” to preserve anonymity):
- Virtual widget center staffed by the same award-winning engineering team employed by the fastest growing widget-making organization in the state.
Wait…which team? Are they part of my client’s company, or another company altogether? Which is the fastest-growing organization…my client’s, or someone else’s? And furthermore, what benefit is any of this to me, the customer?
Every time I see this copy, I cringe. I’ve tried repeatedly to change it, and my efforts have so far been rebuffed, for reasons that remain murky. It has inspired me to create a short list of reasons why—today more than ever—quality writing is essential to your business:
- Clarity. Don’t confuse your customers or potential customers. Poorly worded or misspelled advertisements, web copy, and other marketing materials can misrepresent your company and/or your offerings. In fact, one recent study showed that a single spelling error cut online sales in half!
- Persuasiveness. Well-crafted marketing and sales materials help you persuade people to pay attention to your products and services. There’s a reason why “Got milk?” and “Just do it” work.
- Positioning. With the thousands of emails, advertisements, tweets, blog entries (!), and old-fashioned sheets of paper we see daily, doesn’t it make sense to try to stand out…and stand out in a positive, professional way? You only have a few seconds to make an impression on your reader.
- SEO. If your “key words” are misspelled, how can search engines find them on your website?
- Respect. Wasting your customers’ time with meaningless, confusing, or incorrect information costs you dearly. In contrast, offering useful, well-presented, appropriate information shows that you value their time and their intelligence.
Even if YOU don’t understand the difference between “your” and “you’re,” or know when to use “adverse” versus “averse,” odds are good that someone reading what you write DOES. Don’t let poor writing get in the way of earning new business!
2 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why Good Writing Still Matters”
Thanks for the post, and for the link to the BBC article. I’m a trombonist and our orchestra’s personnel manager, so not only am I continually looking for a gig, but I also do a lot of hiring. Granted, we musicians aren’t the brightest bunch, but I have to say I’m appalled by the amount of poor grammar that comes across my desk both as resumes from applicants /and/ as job postings from other orchestras. Sadly, many of the candidates applying for vacancies in the orchestra are graduate students ~ or already have attained their advanced degree ~ but their cover letters and resumes don’t reflect that fact. I have seen other “major” orchestra vacancy listings recently advertising “Principle Trombone” and “2nd Obeo.” That’s a problem. That /says/ something to me.
Just yesterday, I received an email from a music critic asking for the names of some extra musicians featured in this weekend’s performances. “Pls snd names of d’amore, gamba, and lute. Thx.” Text-speak bothers me, even in texts. I think that it’s one of the root causes of the greater problem. Did this email /really/ save him that much time? He received a pretty terse answer, for sure.
Thanks for the real-life examples, Brian! You’re proof that it’s not just writers and other “word nerds” who notice poor grammar and writing. I think it’s important to note that you are in a position of helping people get work (or turning them down). If their words misrepresent them or reflect poorly on them, it may cost them the opportunity to get a performing gig or a job. That’s true in EVERY industry, from performing arts to industrial distribution.