One of our cars needed a couple of tyres last week, so I left the email copywriting that I was doing at the time and headed down to the local branch of a well-known national tyre supplier for some new rubber. The response to my phone call had been friendly and helpful. The same applied when I pulled up at the depot too. In the warm, clean waiting area there was free coffee and a decent pile of magazines to flick through while the work was being done in a well-organised workshop beyond the window. And a wide-screen TV was running what looked like a very professionally produced series of mini-documentaries about different aspects of tyre care and selection. All good so far…
The TV caught my attention, as it was supposed to do. I found myself engrossed in a feature on the benefits of fitting winter tyres. It was really interesting, and I was pleased to see that subtitles had been designed in for the hard-of hearing. Of course, it was impossible not to read the subtitles. And as I did, I noticed that the copywriting and proof-reading hadn’t been done well at all. For instance, the word braking appeared as ‘breaking’ and Arctic conditions became ‘artic conditions’ (and not an ASDA delivery lorry in sight!)
My attention was diverted from the (very slick) mini programme to spotting the typos in the subtitles. Worse still, I found myself wondering why, if they couldn’t write ‘braking’ correctly on a tyre-related programme, I should have full confidence in the message that was being delivered (or the brand that was delivering it to me). Some people, it’s true, might not have noticed. But others, like me, will have done so. And others still may have been distracted by a niggling awareness that something was wrong with the text – without being sure exactly what.
The silent assassins had struck like the gunshot that kills before the victim hears the report from a weapon. The brand had been dented and the message undermined. And the originators probably hadn’t got a clue.
And the lesson to learn? If you want to reduce the risk of ‘silent assassins’ undermining your marketing message in brochure copy, web/SEO copywriting or in client case studies, a bit of professional support could work wonders. After all, you wouldn’t dream of fitting your own tyres would you? You’d leave it to the experts. The same applies to copywriting, copy-editing and proof-reading.
And like new tyres at the start of winter, what a difference it makes.