I have seen this vicious, silent killer. I have watched it move in the darkness, creeping, then silently staring like a stoic predator hunting its prey. It glares, quietly, yet blazes and burns the focus of your vision. All the beauty of the website, the photography, the products are shut out by the pervasive and penetrating grammar error. It laughs in the face of profits, scorns the opportunity of success, and sucks the last breath of trustworthiness in your brand.
Just today I witnessed two marketing campaigns on Instagram with such potential, but a glaring error in spelling made me turn away. Call it arrogance, but how can I trust you to make my skincare or purchase life insurance from you if you do not know the difference between to, too, and two?
The character, Grendel, in John Gardner’s Grendel, calls himself a “ridiculous, hairy creature torn apart by poetry.” Gardner uses the legendary monster of Beowulf to show us the power of diction, syntax, tone, and figurative language. If this breaker-of-bones, cruncher-of-men can metacognitively appreciate the power of language, most certainly you, as your own copywriter, must respect language.
Not everyone is a gifted writer. Actually, hardly anyone can write something once and find perfection in it. One of my most beloved writing teachers, Dr. Marilyn Aronson, used to say: “Hard writing makes easy reading.” Writing takes skill, patience, practice, and the will to revise it all over again. If you, as a business owner, do not have the patience to perfect your practice, it is in your best interest to pay someone to either write for you or to edit your work.
On the other hand, if you do not want to pay someone else to write for you, there are some foundational rules for copywriting. You can use these tips for marketing, blogging, copywriting, respectively.
- PARAGRAPHS! Never, ever write a blog/newsletter/product description in ONE paragraph.
- Revision. RE-VISION. This means seeing your writing in a new way. Look again!
- Read your work OUT LOUD. Our ability to hear language far surpasses our ability to write it.
- DICTION = Word choice = Choose Words = Words came before bold and italicize. Make words your strength.
- Creativity doesn’t mean being a genius. Creativity is thinking about what would make the ordinary extraordinary.
- Verbs are a terrible thing to waste. Jenny can be excited about her new jewelry purchase, or Jenny can be enthralled by her new captivating statement necklace.
- Syntax can save lives. “Let’s eat, grandma!” versus “Let’s eat grandma.”
- Know your homonyms!
- To = direction, Too = excessive, Two = 2.
- Their = ownership, They’re = they are, There = location.
- Lose = not a winner, Loose = not tight. *(Not really a homonym since they’re pronounced differently, but a common mistake.)
- Advise = verb, to instruct, Advice = noun, the helpful info. *Also not a homonym, but people drive me crazy with this one.
- Here = location, Hear = sound.
- Write out your numbers. Eleven is so much more elegant than 11.
- Short, simple sentences clearly communicate your message. Leave run-ons for your workouts.
These are just some basic steps you can take to begin writing more clearly and effectively to create authority and trust in your brand. At the very least, you can use free apps, like Grammarly,* to help improve your writing as you write – or you can hire us at the Vine Vendor Network to get your business writing in tip-top shape.
*This is not an affiliate link, but a program I personally recommend and believe in.