Can grammar affect your marketing?

The short answer here is yes, it can affect your marketing. Or, according to some, it can ‘effect’ it. That’s right, just one letter can make the difference between a potential customer choosing to work with you or steer well clear. It’s such a seemingly insignificant factor but get it wrong and it could potentially cause damage to your brand.

Your brand is one of your greatest assets, and so it is vital to market it correctly. The 21st Century has brought with it a multitude of ways in which to do this, with social media becoming one of the most common ways to communicate and mobile and tablet devices providing uninterrupted access to your online community. We’re all familiar with the ever-present internet abbreviated speech associated with these devices, with few thinking ‘LOL’ means anything other than ‘Laugh Out Loud’. But, with mobile devices increasingly used for business purposes, what happens when this language is also brought into the boardroom?

The BBC reported on exactly this issue recently (http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20180413-best-wishes-kind-regards-or-an-icy-yrs) asking the question, how we all use the English language in our day to day e-mails and how formal or informal we should be and are. As the article suggests, it’s not easy because what woks for one person, doesn’t work for another. However, in business particularly, whatever your chosen e-mail sign off, writing properly is still important.

Watch your language

We should all be aware that it’s not just the unfamiliar who have a problem with netspeak as it is known. According to a study by the research arm of dating site OKCupid, which looked at 500,000 first contacts between customers of the service, the biggest turn offs in communications are netspeak abbreviations, bad grammar and poor spelling, with “ur”, “r”, “u”, “ya” and “cant” provoking the greatest dislike. The same study additionally cited correct apostrophe use as appealing, providing better than average response rates.

We can’t all be experts in spelling and grammar, but it is essential to ensure we get the basics right every time. Don’t rush your communications, take the time to compose them, and always have a second pair of eyes on hand to check your work – it can be difficult to spot an error in something you have written yourself. At the very least, it’s worth reading it back yourself before hitting send.

Most common mistakes

To help you know what to look out for in your own communications, here are some of the most common mistakes we make as listed by the Oxford Royale Academy.

  1. Misplaced apostrophes – this is number one on the list of the most common grammar mistakes in the English language. It’s worth checking out the rules on this one, because once you know how to use them properly, it’s not difficult to get right.
  2. Your/you’re – when asked, most people know when to use each of these and yet we don’t. Perhaps a common mistake to make in a rush and sometimes because of predictive text, the difference between the possessive ‘your’ and the ‘you’re’ short for ‘you are’ is another particularly important one to get right.
  3. Its/it’s – in a similar realm to the your/you’re, this is another one that often gets mixed up. Perhaps because this is the one exception to one of the apostrophe rules – usually apostrophes are used to indicate possession, but not in this instance. ‘It’s’ is only ever used as a shorter version of ‘it is’.
  4. Could of – This is used a lot instead of the grammatically correct ‘could have’. Also, commonly and incorrectly used with ‘would of’ and ‘should of’. It should always be ‘have’.
  5. There/their/they’re – Any words that sound the same but have different meanings seem to cause us a problem. While some aren’t aware of the rules, it’s another one that can get missed when you’re in a rush.
  6. Fewer/less – If you want to see an example of this one used incorrectly, visit your local supermarket! ‘’10 items or less’ should actually be ’10 items or fewer’. Fewer should be used when you can count the items individually, while ‘less’ should be used when it’s a commodity such as water, that you can’t count individually.
  7. Amount/number – Exactly the same as above, the word ‘amount’ should refer to a commodity, while ‘number’ should refer to things that can be counted.
  8. To/two/too – Yes, another example of words that sound the same getting mixed up. The number ‘two’ less so, but ‘to’ and ‘too’ are often confused.
  9. Then/than – Reading this you may wonder if this is right, but again when words look and sound similar, it seems to be enough to throw us off our game. Check carefully between the comparison ‘than’ and ‘then’ meaning to follow something in time.
  10. Me/myself/I – These words cause us all sorts of problems. A useful tip with this one – if you’re talking about you and someone else, put their name first in the sentence. Then decide whether to use ‘I’ or ‘me’ by removing their name. For example, ‘John and I are going for a walk’ – you wouldn’t say ‘me is going for a walk’. Only ever use ‘myself’ if you have already used ‘I’.
  11. Who/whom – This is one for the hardcore grammar enthusiasts! It might help to remember it like this. ‘Who’ and ‘whom’ work in the same way as ‘he’ or ‘him’. So, for example: ‘who works here? He does’ – so ‘who’ is correct. ‘Whom should I invite? Him’ – so ‘whom’ is correct.
  12. Affect/effect – Another very common mistake and not easy to remember because the words are so similar, but ‘to affect’ means to have an influence on something while ‘effect’ is a noun referring to the result of being affected by something.
  13. e. and e.g. – Last but by no means least, people often interchange these two abbreviations, but their uses are completely different. I.e. means ‘that is’ or ‘therefore’ while e.g. means ‘for example’.

Hopefully this checklist with a few top tips, will at least make us all more mindful of our grammar whether typing a quick tweet or sending a letter to customers, but if it all feels too daunting, don’t forget there is also help available externally if you require it from experts in the written word, so don’t be afraid to ask. It could be the difference between making and losing a sale.

Let us know your grammatical pet hates by contacting us at hello@brouhamarketing.com or @brouhamarketing