Mass Marketing Miscues

Publishing software can be a dangerous thing.

June 29, 2000
Rod Sutton's Editorial Archives

Thomas Paine and the Boston printers helped propel the Colonies to revolution and freedom. The ability to convey ideas to the masses through printed words ensured that the ideas holding the seeds of freedom could be disseminated quickly and easily.

Desktop publishing--and now web publishing--has had a similar revolutionizing effect on remodeling companies. Small businesses have long lagged behind their more sophisticated and funded brethren who have been able to market through newsletters and other printed materials. Advertising departments and in-house communications personnel churned out promotional pieces by the thousands. But with the universal acceptance of computers, simpler and more user-friendly software, and the convenience of 24-hour-a-day printshops such as Kinko''s, even the smallest of businesses can put together a newsletter for distribution to clients and prospects.

This has enabled remodelers to build brand recognition and referrals. It''s helped raise the awareness of individual companies and the industry as a whole. But as it increases professional marketing techniques, it threatens to lessen the level of professionalism. How? Typographical errors, grammatical miscues, and run-on sentences without a verb cause readers to question the message. If the company can''t catch those mistakes, how can it be trusted to manage my project?

I read a lot of remodelers'' newsletters and websites; they contain great information. But what must a client think when he reads a newsletter containing errors such as these:



  • "We''re hear to help you."



  • "We stared out as a carpentry firm."



  • "enwure quality..."

    Spellcheck doesn''t cut it in professional publishing. Writing the entire newsletter the night before it''s to be printed doesn''t either. Here are a few simple rules up front to make sure whatever newsletter--or website column--you publish is error-free and articulate:



  • Allow ample time to formulate the ideas you want to write about. Free association works in diaries and journals, but it won''t make a lot of sense to the average reader.



  • Jot down a rough outline. This doesn''t have to be layers of I''s, A''s, and 1''s that look like a college research paper, but it should start with your main reason for writing and the few main ideas that support it.



  • Stop occasionally and reread what you''ve written. If it doesn''t makes sense up to that point, rework it before you continue.



  • Don''t rely on spell checking programs. The wrong word spelled right implies that you didn''t proof read. If you don''t want to read your own copy, why should anybody else.



  • Read backwards. This old copy-editing trick forces you to look at each word separately. During normal reading, you mind will skip entire words and fill in meanings.



  • Have someone else read everything you write. That second pair of eyes will undoubtedly find some mistake that you''ve missed three or four times.



  • Realize that the printed word lasts a long time. What you write on a monitor is fleeting. But once it''s printed, it''s there for all eyes to see. Force yourself to make sure it''s right on screen before you spend the money to put ink to paper.

    You don''t have to have a big budget to print eight or 16 pages on glossy paper. You can produce a useful, effective newsletter on paper readily available at Kinko''s. With a bit of extra time spent during the process, you''ll have a marketing piece that says, "A professional produced this."

    Rod Sutton is the Editor-in-Chief for Professional Remodeler. Please email him with any comments or questions regarding his column.

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