Ad agencies and marketing departments know the importance of good writing. After all, they produce a lot of content: advertisements, sales letters, white papers, blog posts, newsletters, video scripts for commercials, and much more.
But one thing that some overlook is the importance of proofreading and copy editing. This can take your writing from good to great, making it much easier to strengthen a brand, increase revenues, and grow a business.
Here are five reasons ad agencies and marketing departments need an experienced proofreader or copy editor.
1. Mistakes Are Costly
A single mistake in an advertisement can be an expensive lesson in humility. Here are just a couple of real-world examples:
- Not in the public interest. I’m sure Ottawa County, Michigan, officials weren’t very thrilled that the word “pubic” rather than “public” made it onto tens of thousands of election ballots. A half-dozen people in the county clerk’s office had proofed the text before the ballots were printed, and they had all missed the typo. What they really needed was a trained, professional proofreader who could look at the text with fresh eyes. Sadly, reprinting the ballots because of the embarrassing error cost taxpayers $40,000.
- The $7 million mistake. Alitalia Airlines accidentally listed business-class flights along an international route at a mere $39 instead of $3,900. The airline reluctantly honored the budget tickets for 2,000 travelers who had snatched them up—at a loss of more than $7 million to the company.
2. Sloppy Writing Damages Your Public Image
Wise businesses are not solely focused on making sales in the short term. They take a long-term perspective—they know that their brand and image are very important.
What do customers think about when they see your logo or hear your name? What sort of ideas does your brand stand for?
Would a mistake be consistent with the image and brand you’re trying to portray? Probably not.
Imagine the ridicule heaped on the unlucky real estate marketing firm that boasted the following in a listing:
Heated poo in back yard*
Here’s another real-world example. A travel agency posted an ad in the Yellow Pages for “exotic travel,” but what appeared in print was “erotic travel”—whoops. According to AOL, “The agency’s reputation was destroyed, losing 80% of its existing customers and gaining next to no new business.” After a court battle, an $18 million judgment was issued against Yellow Pages on the grounds of gross negligence.
3. It’s Hard to Edit Something You’ve Written
When you or someone on your team writes something, it can be difficult to catch all the mistakes. You and your colleagues are too close to the task at hand. You already understand the target market and industry lingo, as well as the product or service that’s being marketed.
A fresh set of eyes is helpful in these situations. Skilled proofreaders will spot many mistakes that you’ve missed, and they will make sure everything is consistent. Meanwhile, at an earlier stage, a copy editor can also offer feedback to help make the writing stronger overall. All of this can make your marketing much more effective.
4. Feedback Leads to Improvement
Humans don’t learn well in a vacuum. We need feedback to see the mistakes we’ve made and how to correct them. So when a pro gives you feedback on your writing, it’s only natural that you’ll become a better writer.
This won’t happen overnight—but you’ll definitely notice the effects after a few weeks or months of working with a copy editor.
5. Hiring a Proofreader Saves Time
Let’s face it—marketers are busy enough as it is. They’re often dealing with tight deadlines and working on multiple projects simultaneously.
By working with a copy editor, marketers can spend more time on the tasks at which they excel, such as brainstorming ideas, implementing campaigns, and testing the results. The end result is a better return on investment for your marketing budget.
This post touched on the five most common reasons that ad agencies and marketing departments should work with an outside proofreader. By avoiding writing mistakes, you’ll ultimately have more success with your marketing.
*Source: Moir, Drummond. Just My Typo: From “Sinning With the Choir” to “The Untied States.” New York: Three Rivers, 2014.