No Matter How Smart You Are, Your Mistakes Can Cost You A Lot of Money! - Karen Bradley

 

Attention email composers, bloggers and content writers (just about all of us):


I was instantly inspired to write this article after reading an article titled,"
Poor Writing Is No Laughing Matter." As a business owner, I can most definitely relate.  I find myself repeatedly reminding my staff that grammar is extremely important and it does in fact matter. Not only is it a direct representation of you, but your entire organization too! Each and every person should take pride in their writing. You may not realize you are being analyzed by your writing skills and grammar, but trust me, you are!
 
I can especially appreciate the part of the article where it stated, "Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence”.

Here at Dealer Synergy, we teach our clients the importance of the "Science of Communication", which states that there is only a 7 percent communication effectiveness through text and the words we use. I repeat, only 7 percent! Yet, for most dealerships, it is the highest form of communication used and emails are constantly being sent out with poor grammar, shorthand and misspellings. Let's think about this for a second. We expect our customers to trust us with the second largest purchase they will make in their lifetime, yet we can't even press spell check or proofread our work before we send it? We live in an industry where perception is reality. Heck, we live in a world where perception is reality! Don’t let a false perception of you become an undeserved reality.
 
Here are a few of my personal tips:
  • ALL emails should be created equal. Show respect for the person on the other end of the email (the receiver). I don't care if you are writing an email to your 4 year old child or the President of the United States. Treat them just the same!
  • Practice good writing and grammar habits, ALWAYS. This includes Facebook, Blog Posts, twitter (as long as you can still remain within the character limit) and even text messages! As we are all aware, it is much easier to develop a bad habit than to break one!
  • The spell check button is your best friend. You wouldn’t ignore your best friend, would you? We’ve all heard the phrase “you only get one shot at making a great first impression”. What impression are you making on your prospects? Or better yet, what impression are the other people in your organization making on your behalf?
  • Do not use shorthand with your prospects. It may seem like the coolest and latest thing to do, but please do not type "u" instead of "you", "yw" instead of "you’re welcome", or "ttys" instead of "talk to you soon". Or “Mr. Customer, I was hoping to get you the 411 on the car you wanted, but smh, I checked our inventory and it is GFN.” You get the point.
  • Invest the time. I recommend reading through your email 3 times before hitting the send button. Check for both spelling and grammar corrections. Spell check will not identify the difference between to, two and too. They are all spelled correctly, but defined differently.
  • Read the email out loud. If you stumble on a word or phrase, the reader will too.

The use of correct grammar, punctuation and spelling pertain to more than just email correspondences with your prospects. Any form of communication visual to the public eye should be examined thoroughly.  This includes, your company website, email templates, Social Media posts, blog posts and even your recruiting initiatives!
 
No one is perfect and not all of us are English majors and professional writers, but if you follow the tips above, you will have the best shot at making the best first impression possible.  We may not be seeking out a Pulitzer Prize, but why can’t we make our prospects feel like we are? 
 
If you would like to hear more on this subject, have comments or questions, please email me at  karen@dealersynergy.com. Thank you for reading!

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Comment by Karen Bradley on December 11, 2012 at 11:43am

Thank you to everyone who contributed their thoughts to this post. I have enjoyed the conversation immensely! If you are just reading this post for the first time, please make sure to read through the comments as well. There were a lot of insightful pieces of information shared, from various automotive professionals, to collectively make a difference. We discussed the usage of emoticons, abbreviated text and the influence of generation Y and its influence over our current communication methods and initiatives.  

Comment by James P. Wilson on December 11, 2012 at 11:24am

Michal and Daryl,

I'm a little behind on responding but I just want to thank you for your kind words of encouragement! :)  I've learned a lot of my philosophies from following people like you, who have great insights and experience.  Comments like yours, and conversations like this one, always help me a great deal.  This has been a great thread!  Thanks everyone!

Comment by Karen Bradley on December 7, 2012 at 11:04am

Michael,

I believe Daryl was speaking to James regarding his age. Although, I only recently left my twenties:) 

I really appreciate the kind words and have enjoyed your comments. I look forward to our continued interaction.

Comment by Michael Baker on December 6, 2012 at 7:02pm

Daryl

Flattery is always welcome by males and females, obviously. Having interfaced with the the very astute two-Sean and Karen over the years, I would be very impressed if they are both twenty something, even though both appear to be that youthful and healthy. Regardless, Congrats to Karen's great discussion subject matter this week on Dealer-Elite as shown in the accolades. This discussion will likely continue, hopefully from others that are reading, but not participating with their individual wisdom. Let's go members. Time to stellarbrate this subject matter!!!!!!!

Comment by Daryl Fawler on December 6, 2012 at 6:44pm

James,

Thanks for the input. I love to hear from the 20 somethings. It's great to know that you get it and understand the values that matter. As a parent of two 20 somethings, I've always tried to impress upon them that courtesy, manners, punctuality, appearance, and hard work will advance them much further in life. So far, they seem to get it as well. So many times we see the opposite examples in your generation which can be disappointing. Keep up the good work. I'm sure there's plenty of people of all ages that understand.

Comment by Karen Bradley on December 6, 2012 at 1:47pm

Daryl,

I would have to concur with James regarding your statement: "If I can't take the time to send a legible reply or request, I've just lowered the value of my products and services." That is so strong! Your statement falls in line with the original article which stated, "Your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence." Let's think about that for a second. The person on the other end of the email may not know you, they cannot see you, nor can they hear you. All the person sees as a direct representation of you is your writing piece. You should always ask yourself,"What is my writing saying to the reader"? It goes beyond the words on the page. Grammatical and spelling errors can reveal a person's core values, for better or worse.  

Comment by Michal Lusk on December 6, 2012 at 11:50am

James:

You bring up an excellent point: professionalism is not age related! It comes out of your values, attitude,and character, not years on the calendar. I have three daughters in your age range who, like you, take great care in all their communications, and especially in writing. And like you, they prefer to do business with people who take the time and exercise the care to be professional. Thanks for your insight!

Comment by James P. Wilson on December 6, 2012 at 11:18am

Daryl,

Your post is very well stated, and I agree entirely with its message.  I found this point to be especially important:  "If I can't take the time to send a legible reply or request, I've just lowered the value of my products and services. We all need every advantage we can get, including proper attire, grooming, training and communication."


Well done.

Comment by James P. Wilson on December 6, 2012 at 11:14am

Michael,

I'm going to expand on the discussion you and Karen were having, and give you some perspective from a latter born Generation Y member.  My age group was the first to become obsessed with the text messaging/social networking craze.  However, I am not one to abbreviate even when I send text messages to friends. I think it shows laziness and a lack of respect for the other person.  Essentially, if a person feels he or she isn't worth a couple of extra seconds to spell out a word ... he likely won't feel you have much respect for him either.  At least, that's how I view it.  Then again, I've studied things like communications and public relations probably a lot more than the average consumer;  I'm sure I think of things a lot differently than most.

Regardless, my point is that just because people are becoming more accustomed to abbreviated text, that doesn't mean that everyone likes or appreciates it.  From a business standpoint, I would be thoroughly insulted if I received a text message from someone who was trying to sell me something.  Email is a different story; and there is nothing more professional and courteous than an old fashioned phone call or, even better, talking to someone in person.   This is coming from a 22-year-old college student :)

Comment by Daryl Fawler on December 6, 2012 at 10:56am

I believe consumers expect professional interactions wherever they shop. Person to person, phone or electronic should make no difference in how effectively we communicate. Every day I see examples of poor communication. Unfortunately, I assume the person sending me a request or reply that is hard to read, is lazy or has a poor education. Maybe I'm wrong?  If I can't take the time to send a legible reply or request, I've just lowered the value of my products and services. We all need every advantage we can get, including proper attire, grooming, training and communication. I'm sure that we've all seen salespeople on each end of the spectrum. I personally enjoy buying as close to the top end, and try to represent that to my clients. Great post Karen, we all need to encourage professionalism. (please excuse any grammar mistakes)

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