As a professional writer and editor, I see many writing mistakes repeated. Here is my list of the top ten.
- Not knowing your audience. Writing is a form of communication. You need to know who you are communicating with.
- Giving your audience too much credit. You know your product and service better than anyone. You’re the teacher; your customers are the students. Everyone appreciates a teacher who takes the time to explain.
- Giving your audience too little credit. Your customers are tired of empty claims. For example, every company in the world has great customer service. Prove you deserve that claim through testimonials, case studies and awards.
- Using language poorly. Are you sure that’s what you meant to say? Are you sure you cannot say it clearer, more accurately, more concisely or with more conviction?
- Listing features before benefits. Everyone wants to know “can you solve my problem?” All the features in the world will fall flat if the customer’s problem remains a problem. Start with benefits.
- Burying your message. You would not read every word of a 50-page computer manual to find the ON switch. Your marketing message is the ON switch for potential buyers. Make your strongest, most important points first.
- Not delivering your message. Are you agonizing so long over a brochure that the opportunity is lost? Are you sending tweets to people who don’t use Twitter and writing rack cards for people who never pick them up? Marketing writing can only work for you if you send it out on time and on target.
- Ignoring basic grammar and spelling. Okay, I admit it: one of my pet peeves is using “that” instead of “who” to refer to people and using semicolons (;) where commas (,) are correct. But I care about those things because they actually do make a difference in how your message is perceived. When you say “people that” instead of “people who,” you turn people into things.
- Being concise before you are clear. People have less patience than before with long messages; but if the message isn’t clear, your customers will give up on it even faster. First be clear, then try for concise.
- Using a professional writer who is not a native speaker of your audience’s primary language. A professional writer will help you avoid mistakes 1-9. That writer should be a native speaker of your audience’s primary language to avoid mistakes of culture and nuance in your message.
As founder and sole proprietor of TWP Marketing & Technical Communications, I have a long history of helping B2B and B2C companies deliver a clear, concise, accurate and passionate marketing content to their customers. I’m ready to help you.