Spelling It Out For You

David Ward’s Thursday Night Insight this week reminds us all about the importance of making the right impression in front of our prospective customers.

Last weekend my family and I took a short trip to Sandbach, Cheshire. My wife’s hairdresser has taken a new job at a salon there and, since it’s only a short hop over the M6 motorway, she has decided to start to frequent that salon instead of her usual haunt. Sandbach is only 10 miles from home and I felt somewhat embarrassed about the fact that, in what will soon be six years in this area, I have never visited it. On Saturday I put that right.

We arrived in Sandbach with a feeling of anticipation and interest as to what this little town had to offer. My wife and daughter attended their appointments and afterwards we (my wife, not my daughter) decided a nice cold beer in the sunshine was just what the doctor ordered, so we settled down for a refreshing drink at a very nice looking pub established in the 1600s.

With its ageing façade adorned with enormous planters festooned with colourful flowers, it really did look a picture. This was a place full of character in the heart of all that was happening in the town that day, including a bustling farmers’ market. It was also a place that was home to a simple slice of marketing. A sign by the door hoped to entice passersby into the pub by declaring that they should “Come and relax in our beautifull secret garden.” Now call me an old-fashioned chap but unless the spelling of “beautiful” that was used dates back to the 1600s and the original owner is still running the place, I find this kind of simple error unacceptable. Did the owner not read the sign before it was displayed? Doesn’t he care? If he doesn’t care about what is presented outside his pub, what else doesn’t he care about?

Sometime later on that same day…

Just by chance (and I’ll explain the link to my initial ramblings shortly), my daughter attended a local carnival with my wife and, with pocket money burning a hole in (not surprisingly) her pocket, she (my daughter, not my wife) set about spending it. At six, she’s not quite a shopaholic yet but she did seem to enjoy the experience. This is what she bought:

  1. 3 rides on a bouncy slide (likely to cause burnt flesh unless properly covered)
  2. 1 imitation snake on a stick
  3. 1 plastic hairdresser toy pack brought to our fair isle by a Chinese company
  4. 1 large bag of sweets

Item number 3 is where this becomes relevant. On the front of the packet we were informed that the toy was “design for Childrenall. Are fangled and in the high quality welcome you use our product.”

“Huh?” I hear you ask.

Well, that was my initial thought too. On two separate occasions on the same day I had my Thursday Night (or should that be Saturday afternoon?) Insight sewn up. And here’s the punch line, so to speak…

Sometimes there is very little to distinguish between products, companies or services. One simple thing that can be done is to avoid making your offering stand out for the wrong reason. It can be the small things that make the difference between success and failure. Don’t let something as simple as poor presentation of messages, communications, or an eye for the finer details be one of them.

Think about what sort of impression you leave with your prospective customer. If you don’t care about the details of spelling and grammar, what else don’t you care about? Potential customers will ask themselves whether their needs will be treated in the same lackadaisical way. I’m sure most businesses do care about this kind of detail but I’m convinced that over time it’s gradually getting worse and worse. Don’t fall into the same trap and don’t underestimate the impression given through a lazy use of language.

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