Language and Image: The Power of Words

dictionary-communicationDoes it really matter if you misspell a word here and there? What about using a word that sounds the same? It’s an easy mistake to make. Customers will be forgiving, right? Wrong.

Language is a great tool for getting your message across and presenting the professional and respectable image that you want your business to be recognized as. If a customer sees that you can’t be bothered with something as important as good communication in a business transaction or marketing, they might think that you aren’t paying attention to the details elsewhere, too, like when you are working with them. Potential customers will read a poorly worded or misspelled message and immediately look elsewhere. First impressions mean a lot when you are looking for someone to provide a service.

Here are some basic rules for written (and online) communication that every business should follow.

  • Use spellcheck. – If you aren’t confident in your spelling skills, or can’t figure out how to spell something correctly, use a word processing application to write and check your text before entering it into an email or social media space. Also when in doubt, don’t use contractions. “We do not accept checks” is much more clear and direct than “we don’t accept checks“, but either of those are usable, whereas “we do’nt accept checks” is not. If you don’t know where to put that apostrophe, don’t contract the words.
  • Use correct grammar. –  “we was there“, “gonna git’er done right“, “what that matter you?” If you were talking to a business, would you trust that someone who spoke like that actually knew what they were doing? The image you are portraying is that you do not know how to communicate, and do not have the basic education or skills to properly attend to the job or the customer.
  • Don’t talk to your customers like they were your bar buddies. – Business communication is much more formal than spoken communication. You might say “Man, that was killer!” to a familiar friend, but never write it to a customer. “We were all very pleased with that” would be much more appropriate.
  • Don’t use the wrong word. – Just because the word is spelled correctly, doesn’t mean it is the right word. Simple sounding swaps of words can make your wording incomprehensible. “They’re going to their house, over there.” is an example of 3 frequently misused and wrongly substituted words. The same goes for “Our friends are at home“.
  • NEVER use texting shorthand! – “We <3 r custmrs!” will drive away many customers, because they can not take you seriously. Even in social media, use real words, in their entirety. If what you want to say is too long, simplify the message, or use the appropriate platform for a longer message. If you are trying to communicate that you are running late, “I m otw 2 ur hse. sry 4 bn l8.” will make some customers lock their doors and pretend that they are not home, just to avoid having to deal with you.
  • Draft, Edit, proofread, repeat. – If you can’t take the time to use language, hire someone to do it. All great writers, ad agencies and teachers will tell you that the first thing you put on paper is usually never the final form. It’s an idea, a thought. the final masterpiece takes time, thought and consideration. If you rush through, you get results that look haphazard.

Think carefully before you send, post, publish or submit. Your business image depends on it.

 

About Reba Winstead

Reba Winstead is the blogger and social media manager at CountyWebsite.com, and the editor of several community news websites through CountyWebsite.com.
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