A few years back, a car dealership published a Yellow Pages coupon for $100 off the purchase of a new car. Its obvious intention was to limit the coupon one to a customer … except it didn’t specify this condition.
One sharp customer caught the mistake and collected 350 coupons. She then showed up at the dealership, negotiated her deal, and handed over the bag of coupons as payment. The sales manager argued with her, but eventually gave her the $34,000 car. And with more coupons than she actually needed, the customer told the sales manager to “Keep the change.”
This true tale demonstrates the critical importance of proofreading your marketing materials before releasing them to the public.
Typographical errors are a pet peeve of mine, where conditions are left off or obvious spelling mistakes aren’t corrected.
I don’t know if the problem is caused by ignorance, apathy, tight-fistedness or poor time management, but I do recognize it’s a widespread issue.
Consider these two items I recently encountered:
• A coupon for “$4 off Platnium Car Wash!”
• A USPS mail redirect to “Carlsbad, CE”
My guess is the coupon was supposed to say “Platinum” and the postal notice “Carlsbad, CA,” but someone got sloppy when it came to proofreading.
And before you ask, spellcheck is fine, provided you can clearly distinguish between two, to and too. But what if you can’t?
Harry Truman’s famous observation “The buck stops here” applies to every business. Responsibility for messaging mistakes rests with the owner, rather than marketing agencies, printers or anonymous underlings.
Furthermore, three decades in communications has convinced me that customers don’t care who created that brochure, postcard or newsletter. It’s YOUR name on the marketing piece, and they’ll blame YOU for any mistakes. Assuming you want your organizational reputation to reflect quality, start with your marketing materials. There’s nothing less professional than misspellings in what may be the only items people ever see.
And don’t just proof the pricing, either. Check headlines, messaging and contact information. Double-check colors, fonts and logos for continuity.
Yup … you can sum up the whole thing in three words; it’s YOUR responsibility!
Because even if you hire a professional proofreader, you’re still the owner. You’ll get the credit or blame for any message the public receives.