Editing copy – simple risks may be the biggest

Editing is hardly a sexy topic, but it’s one of the most important skills any marketer can utilize today. When marketers produce – whether content, messaging, promotional pieces or swag – our creativity is front and center. That means our mistakes are at the forefront, and subsequently, very easy to spot.

We’ve all heard the stories of how something as small as a typo in a telephone number leads potential customers to an X rated telephone line. Or 50,000 beautifully printed pieces have the wrong email address. Mistakes like this not only make us and our companies look bad, but they are extremely costly.

Nothing can undermine a message like a typo. Or several. No matter how brilliant our copy or creative our promotional products, when we forget to diligently proofread, we look like idiots. And the problem with marketers is that because we often produce so much copy, we are guaranteed to have at least one typo hiding somewhere.

Here are three easy steps that can effortlessly be added to your copy writing process.

  1. Find a good second eye. Offices are full of people who can edit. Usually accountants or engineers are often not writers themselves, but are excellent at picking out typos. Find one of these people and be very nice to them. For the price of a latte, you’ll get ROI in spades. If you work alone, have your partner, friend, neighbour, or older child view it.

    If there is absolutely no one to edit, you’ll need to be the final eye. Leave the material for at least 30 minutes, then review line by line.

  2. Remember the usual suspects. There are certain words that are almost always used incorrectly. We can promise you, you’ll almost never use “loose”, but that word is nearly always seen instead of “lose”. The biggest culprits? “Your” vs. “you’re” or “it’s” vs. “its”. “Your” and “its” are possessive. “You’re” means “you are”, “it’s” means “it is”. Another popular one? “Their”, “they’re” or “there”. “Their” is possessive. “They’re” means “they are”, and “there” almost always refers to a position (unless in the case of “there, there, little one,” which has no business being a part of your marketing copy).

    A general rule of thumb is to assume you will likely make one of these incredibly common errors, and always review these words. Or, the case of “it’s”, always use “it is”.

  3. Test. As a young marketer, this was one of the best pieces of advice I ever received, and it came from our inhouse legal counsel. Always physically test the information on the content you are publishing. When reproducing a telephone number, dial it yourself. Never print an email address without typing it into your address bar and sending. Test the URL by opening a browser and copying and pasting the address into it.

Build this into your process, so that every time you’re publishing, you test. You will avoid spending thousands of dollars on reprints and maybe even save your job.

In today’s digital marketing landscape, where inbound generation and content rule the headlines, these simple editing rules are more important than ever. Putting these practices in place can save you both in dollars and reputation.