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Delivering the Goods, Not the Laughs

July 31, 2014

Not too long ago I was stuck in traffic behind an HVAC van. With nothing better to do, I read the services this particular company offered. One word in big, bold letters stopped me cold – FURNANCE.

Now, I knew they had meant to offer services in regards to a furnace, but their typo led me to speculate several things about this company. 1) Were they truly ignorant of the correct spelling? 2) Had they made a small mistake? 3) But if so, which was true: Were they too cheap or too unconcerned to correct it?

No matter how I looked at it, the professionalism of this company was now in question. If ignorance were the issue, what else would they be unaware of? If they knew about the mistake, but hadn’t fixed it, could I trust them to be concerned enough about my product to truly do a good job? After all, if they couldn’t spell their main product line correctly – a simple seven-letter, two-syllable word – did I really want to trust them with my complicated piece of equipment? The answer was no.

Each day we represent our product, our company, ourselves to the world. Does our presentation inspire confidence? Does it say, “I am an expert, and I can guide you.”? Or does it say I’m too careless to care? Many would argue that a typo is no big deal. I would argue differently.

For example, anyone who follows either politics or history has never forgotten the Chicago Daily Tribune’s infamous headline, “Dewey Defeats Truman.” To add insult to injury, it’s ingrained in everyone’s mind because of the equally famous photograph of a grinning Truman holding up the paper’s mistake for the world to see. And we remember this over 65 years later.

Despite that, some folks would still argue that typos don’t matter. “What’s the harm?” or “Who cares?” are often tossed about as excuses for sloppy work.

And while some typos merely amuse us, some can add up to real dollar signs. A case in point is a 2007 law in Arkansas where one errant word changed the meaning of a law. The Associated Press reported in April 2008 that, “An extraneous ‘not’ in the bill allowed anyone who was not pregnant to marry at any age if the parents allow it.” Yes, that included babies. This error was corrected in a special session, but those don’t come cheap. And they come at the taxpayers’ expense.

Delivering high-quality and error-free materials to potential advertisers is essential to maintain your credibility in the marketplace. Clients and potential clients either view you as an expert in your field – or they don’t. If your presentation materials are accurate and reliable, you will be viewed through that same lens. On the other hand, if your documents feature typos and inaccurate data, your reliability becomes suspect, too. Do you really want to gamble on “Oh, they know what I mean” when you’re trying to win or renew a contract?

-Barbara Krebs, Quality Assurance