8 ways you lose – if you don’t write well for business

Someone asked me the other day, “what does it matter if my business writing isn’t very good?” Here I am writing thousands of words per year to help people write better, but bearing that question in mind I think it’s time I outlined the harsh facts of how much poor business writing can cost you … in several ways.

1.You lose – credibility

No matter how much of an expert you may be at IT or accountancy or orchid-rearing, if your website, printed material and other content is badly written customers may well assume you can’t be that good if you can’t even write about it correctly.

 2.You lose – professionalism

This is the next stage after loss of credibility; customers will question whether you are as professional as you say you are, if the way you write contains spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax and other mistakes. Big danger zone.

 3.You lose – business to your competitors

Be honest. If you’re checking out websites or brochures for – say – your next vacation, which travel company will strike you as more reliable: one whose content is spelled and phrased correctly, or one whose text contains typos all over the place?

4.You lose – even if your prices are lower

You might get away with advertising firewood or dishwasher salt with spelling mistakes in the copy if your prices are lower than your competitors’ but with any product or service that customers need to trust, spelling and other writing mistakes can signify overall carelessness and inefficiency. They will probably want to pay a little more to ensure they get the service they want.

5.You lose – the reputation and image you’ve built up face-to-face

There’s nothing that kills a business’s image faster than a stupid mistake in words used, let’s say, for in-store displays or signs … how can customers take seriously a display of gorgeous fruit and vegetables when there’s a sign up there saying “superb organic apple’s” … or a café that offers “large latte’s only $X / £Y” …?

6.You lose – by giving competitors and detractors the chance to sneer at you

OK, pulling up a business because of spelling, grammar or similar mistakes might be a cheap trick, but the business world is full of cheap tricks because everyone is scrabbling for an increased market share. If your content is not well written it can give competitors and nay-sayers just the opportunity they need to run you down.

7.You lose – by giving the media the chance to belittle you

This may only apply to larger enterprises, but on a local level it can apply too. Particularly if you put out press releases that contain mistakes and other bad writing, journalists can – if they feel inclined – get hold of your content and shake it to death like a terrier with a rat. Publicly.

8.You lose – money

Let’s face it: when we’re talking business writing, we’re talking livelihoods, incomes, turnover and with luck, profit. Can you really afford to lose money through something as simple – and as easy to put right – as business writing?

3 ways to WIN with your business writing:

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English




  1. Last week Suze I came across a branding expert in a magazine. They spoke about readability very seriously in small white text on a red background. And in their copy they spoke about the importance of great copy – it can affect your livelyhood.
    I wonder how much business they get as copywriters when they can’t spell livelihood correctly? I wonder if their customers can actually read what info they are sharing… on the plus side the phone number was in black, so that was readable.

  2. Thanks for that Sarah – and this is just one of thousands of examples of people shooting themselves through the professional foot with mistakes that destroy their credibility. Even your common or garden spellchecker would pick up a spelling goof like “livelyhood” (the WP spellchecker on here just has!) and any web designer recommending small reversed out type for its usability has a glorious career ahead of him/her in street sweeping.

    What’s even more irritating is that it’s NOT hard to get things right; it just takes a little common sense and a sharp eye…


  1. BizSugar.com says:

    8 ways you lose if you don’t write well for business…

    If you don’t write well for business you can lose a lot – not just your image, but your credibility and money too. Expert business writer Suzan St Maur shows you why, and how to make sure it doesn’t happen to you….