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No Matter How Smart You Are, Your Mistakes Can Make You Look Pretty Stupid - 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 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

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Tags: No Matter How Smart You Are, Your Mistakes Can Make You Look Pretty Stupid, blogs, content writing, dealer synergy, email, grammar, karen bradley, post, spelling, writing


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Comment by Karen Bradley on November 29, 2012 at 7:21am

Hi Joe,

Firstly, thank you for the kind words and thank you for sharing a personal reference with us. I think it is awesome that grammar played an important role in your childhood and I applaud your household for stressing that importance. I am certain it is responsible for the strong foundation and level of professionalism you possess today. Most times, we fail to realize as children (due to the maturity continuum) that the values being taught to us will help mold who we become as adults.

As for the utilization of emoticons, I have noticed this increasing trend too. My personal opinion is that it does not devalue the professionalism of an email if done at the right time. I would not do it with the very first email, though. We all agree that words can be misinterpreted through text and I feel it would apply to emoticons too. For example, Mr. Customer, that vehicle is definitely in stock :). Is that a smiley face because you are happy that the customer’s needs are going to be met, or are you smiling because you think you have a car deal? I would attempt to establish some small level of rapport with the prospect prior to doing so. If you get an email response and the customer is using emoticons, use away! If the customer is responding to you and their personality seems kind of dry, I would be more reluctant to do so. Also, if you have had the opportunity to actually speak with the customer over the phone, you will have a better sense of whether or not you feel they would relate to the usage of emoticons. So yes, I agree that the usage of emoticons can help personalize the communication medium, but only when done at the correct time.

Thank you for the great thought-provoking question, Joe!  

Comment by Joe Webb on November 29, 2012 at 5:04am

Karen - Great blog.  I certainly agree with everything you say here.  I was fortunate/unfortunate to grow up in a home where my grammar was corrected the moment I misspoke so I learned proper communication skills at a young age. (It's likely one reason I ended up graduating college with a degree in Journalism).  However, I've noticed a small trend happening.  Above and beyond the gross negligence of spelling errors coming from dealerships, I'm beginning to see a trend of dealers using emoticons in their personal emails to customers.  I believe they feel an emoticon can help better display the tone of a statement where text alone may not.  We've even gone so far as to incorporate an emoticon into one of the email templates we provide our dealer clients just to test.  However, I'd like to hear your feelings on this.  Do you feel adding an emoticon negatively affects the professionalism of the email or do you feel (since people are so used to using them through text) that it can help personalize the medium?

Comment by Sean V. Bradley on November 29, 2012 at 4:14am

Karen, I couldn't agree more with you! Too be honest, sometimes I get so busy that I shoot an email out there without hitting spell check or when something gets heated (frustrating, difficult, bad etc...) I might shoot out an email reacting to the situation (good or bad) simply trying to handle a situation swiftly and in my eagerness to resolve a situation or deescalate a situation, I shoot out a "quick" email and it might have the COMPLETE opposite effect if the email is riddled with mistakes or spelling errors! So, you are 100% on point with your post! Thank you for the reminder!!! 

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