By: Colin Baker

Just a Simple Mistake? How a Typo Can Damage Your Reputation

March 22, 2017

Share:

Can a missing hyphen lead to a loss of tens of millions of dollars? It happened to NASA back in 1962. The space organization sent Mariner 1 to Venus to collect valuable data about our neighboring planet. The mission should have gone off without a hitch save for one mistake: the coding used to help the probe set its speed and trajectory was missing a hyphen. The result? Mariner 1 exploded only a few minutes after launch. $80 million were lost in an instant with nothing to show for it but flaming debris. A typo turned into a disaster.

Leaving a Lasting Impression

So how much can a simple typo cost you? After all, it’s only an honest mistake, one that some people will overlook since they’re prone to the same errors. If you see a typo in your local newspaper, chances are you’ll skim over it. At the most, you may chuckle before moving on. Even so, no matter how small or seemingly harmless, the impact of a typo in the marketing world can lead to unpleasant consequences.

While the ramifications from typos and similar errors may not be as dramatically disastrous as NASA’s probe launch blunder, they can still leave a lasting impression, one that might not go away so easily. This is especially true in the age of social media, where cringeworthy mistakes can spread to millions of people at the press of a button. That’s how a H&M t-shirt misspelling the word “genius” or a local news station’s school report using “two” instead of “too” can gain so much attention and leave an organization embarrassed. Typos can damage your reputation, especially if you’re running a political campaign and misspell “America.”

Sending the Wrong Message

The effects of an embarrassing typo can turn a company into a laughingstock, and once an organization gains that sort of reputation, a full recovery can takes years, if it happens at all. As worrying as misspellings and punctuations are, typos don’t have to be public to hurt a marketer’s reputation. Marketing teams communicate with their clients through email or project management platforms, and if those communications are riddled with typos, you risk giving off the wrong impression. Clients want to know they’re working with a company that prioritizes professionalism and accuracy, so what do they take away from an email that is full of errors? This is especially crucial when establishing relationships with new clients.

Doubly important is the need for projects and content to be free of typos when delivered to clients. Content is the outward expression of your work and should demonstrate the extreme care and attention to detail your organization should value. A single typo on an important deliverable puts all of that work into question in the eyes of the client. This can become even more of an issue if the mistake isn’t caught until after the content has gone public. Almost instantaneously, your reputation can be called into question.

Catching Typos

The issue then becomes how best to avoid typos in the first place and prevent an unwelcome hit to your reputation. It all comes down to quality control. What process does your content go through before it’s delivered to the client? Who looks over it specifically for those errors? Marketers may possess their own talents in marketing, but many will readily admit their writing skills may be lacking. Having copywriters and copyeditors tackle the writing in deliverable content is one solution worth pursuing. Any content should be seen by more than one pair of eyes, preferably someone with expertise in spotting these types of errors. Ideally, three or four people should review creative marketing materials depending on how important it is. Being a writer, I may admittedly be biased in the level of importance writers have in marketing, but a keen writing-centered eye can find mistakes that marketers may overlook. The result is a preserved reputation of accuracy and capability.

As always, all content and communication should be treated with care and dedication. Clients want to know they are getting top quality from marketers. If typos are a regular occurrence, a client’s confidence can wane. Put simply, typos are a poor look for any business, especially a marketing agency. When the little details are taken care of, the bigger picture usually falls into place.

Written by Colin Baker on March 22, 2017

Follow me: