But what happens when you’ve just:
- Penned a great blog post
- Sent out an email blast
- Ordered 10,000 copies of a direct mail flyer
And a typo slips in….
Whether someone points it out to you or you discover it on your own, the humiliation is the same. You’ve let your team down and potentially chased off some customers.
It happens to all of us.
It doesn’t matter if you’re running a one-man solar copywriting shop, a local PV installation firm, or even a presidential campaign. So if you’ve made some mistakes in the past, don’t feel bad. Hopefully your team got a good chuckle and you didn’t lose too much business.
But why do typos happen? And what should you do?
Why Typos Happen – Even to Copywriters & Marketers
The simple answer is, we’re human.
- The best pitchers in the world let homeruns slip by
- The best lawyers lose cases
- The best musicians go flat
If you do anything frequently enough, you’ll get better and better. But you also statistically increase chances for errors – simply because you’re producing more.
That’s the simple answer. But there are other reasons behind this baffling trend of professional copywriters and marketers making silly mistakes.
For starters, writing and editing use two very different parts of the brain. Actual content creation is…well…creative. Whereas editing is more analytical.
You’ll notice that the most talented authors in the world usually have editors. And the most meticulous editors in the world typically don’t pen many books.
This is why you should put some space between the writing process and the editing process. Get your thoughts down on paper – let the juices flow. And then stand back for awhile.
Once you have a bit of distance, you can revisit the piece with greater objectivity. Let your analytical side take over as you critique your own writing.
How to Minimize Typos in the Future
We’ve already discussed how taking a break between writing and editing can make your copy much cleaner. But here are some other tips for reducing errors in your solar marketing materials:
- Spellcheck (obviously). Pretty much every word processor has this feature.
- Read the copy out loud. This will also help you determine if the flow sounds natural.
- Take breaks in between every reading.
- Some copywriters advocate printing out the document and reading a hardcopy. I agree that this works, but I’m a firm supporter of the paperless concept. As green-collared workers, we should reduce consumption as much as possible.
- Have others read it. The more, the better.
- Use text-to-speech software. On the Mac, you can choose between male or female – American, British, or even South African (I use Tessa). It looks like PCs have a similar feature.
- After every edit, make sure you read through the final version once more.
But even with this multi-step process, typos still slip through.
Shortly after graduating from college, I worked for a jazz record label in New York. It was a great gig. I got to listen to Ella Fitzgerald and Stan Getz albums all day while researching and editing liner notes (I even got my name in some of these albums, which was pretty cool).
We had a system in which every member of the team would make corrections before sending it on to the next “editor” in the line-up. You’d think that with 4 sets of eyes painstakingly combing over every single word, the finished product would be perfect 100% of the time.
Nope. Mistakes still slipped through occasionally.
Perhaps it was all the music playing in the background. Then again, the same thing happens with newspapers, published books, and magazines – all of which have:
- dedicated editors
- professional copywriters
- advanced spellcheckers
- text-to-speech software
How to Correct Typos When They Do Happen
The vast majority of typos are easy to fix. Most content is online, and it only takes a few seconds to go in, make some edits, and save the revised version.
Sometimes, the content is syndicated on social media or RSS feeds, making it harder to retrieve errors. But with some persistence and luck, you can usually clean up the mess.
Hardcopies and email blasts are obviously much trickier. Once a typo is out there, it’s out there. Your options are to:
- Recall the materials and send out revised versions – a costly affair
- Send out correction announcements – also costly, and it brings greater attention to the error
- Let the typo slide and hope no one notices – pretty risky and not very professional
None of these is terribly attractive. Prevention is clearly the best alternative. Before anything goes to the printer’s, make sure you go through the tips outlined above twice, thrice, and four times – just to be safe.
What’s your most embarrassing typo? Share your thoughts down below.