proof shame

Let me first say that I have made many mistakes. A few have been made in life and many more have been made in my marketing efforts. I have approved print jobs with both minor and egregious errors. I have designed and sent ads to a publisher with misspellings. And this blog has been known to have more than the occasional typo. (Although, a copy editor friend is now reading the blog so I’m more careful than I used to be.)

As you go through the day, more than likely you’ll see a few mistakes in marketing pieces. Most of them come through hastily written signage, employees not using common sense, or the dangerous combination of minimum wage and brand messages. I’ve even provided photographic evidence of poor proofs here before. In fact, the problem has gotten so bad that we’ve come to the point that you get a write up in the New York Times because you know how to use punctuation on a sign.

It’s easy to find these singular errors. But occasionally, you’ll find an example where they just backed the dump truck up and let it all go. There’s a new restaurant in my hometown that has been publishing its menu in the local paper for the past few days. And it’s bad.

My wife is an adjunct college English professor and she took it to her night class. The students found copious amounts of misspellings, punctuation errors, and things that just made no sense. Here’s the ad, but because of the poor design and small type, you really can’t read it. But while trying to find an online copy of the menu to show you, I did find that the restaurant has already become a local laughingstock because of others who have noted the horrible job on the ad and menu.

This is not nitpicking. This is being in control of your marketing. There’s no reason for it. Shame on the newspaper and salesperson for letting such a horrible thing be published on behalf of a client. Shame on the graphic designer who didn’t proof the work. And shame on the owners for not taking responsibility for their own marketing and image.

If a company is not going to take the time and effort to properly craft the marketing messages that they’re paying for, how bad are the other aspects of the marketing experience I’m going to have with the company going to be? As you can see in the laughingstock link, shoddy craftsmanship in preparing a menu spills over in the preparation and quality of the food on the menu as well.

Chris Houchens is a marketing raconteur & writer. Connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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One comment on “proof shame
  1. Wendy MacQueen says:

    Great work Chris! I struggle with this with my clients all the time – untrained folks being allowed to write for them, design for them, build their websites.
    It is a real struggle getting small business owners to realize that even a small mistake reflects on their brand.
    My fifth grade teacher, Loretta Gertrude Price, taught the whole class that when you go to a restaurant, check the bathrooms first. If the bathroom isn’t clean, then for goodness sake don’t eat there. If they can’t be bothered to clean the bathroom (which customers see) then imagine what the kitchen must be like (which customers don’t generally see).
    The marketing is the same thing. If you don’t put the effort into making sure everything is perfect, why would a customer believe you are serious about your business?