It’s all in the deatail

I’ve always found that it is the little things that matter – if a company wants my business, it should be able to spell my name.

It’s all in the deatail

One of my favourite TV shows is from Britain and it is called Grumpy Old Men.

The show features a bunch of well-known poms including Sir Bob Geldof, Jeremy Clarkson, Rick Wakeman, John Peel (RIP), Rick Stein and Bill Nighy, all mainly in their 50s, and all being grumpy about anything and everything to do with modern life.

While I enjoy the show, the problem is that I sometimes feel myself becoming dangerously like them in some of my attitudes and the thing that really sets me off is a lack of attention to detail, especially in the area of spelling and basic grammar.

Maybe falling standards in the education system are to blame – “Little Johnny is ‘working towards’ being able to spell.” What utter nonsense – he can either spell or he can’t.

Maybe it is the fault of technology – why learn how to spell when you can use spell check on your computer? (albeit an American version of it – or should that be verzion??)

Or maybe text messaging is to blame with its emphasis on phonetic rather than correct spelling.

Regardless of the cause, the outcome is spreading into society and it seems that the business community is catching the disease with ever increasing frequency.

Take this recent example.

I was flicking through the job pages of a trade magazine and came across an ad seeking an implementational planner – don’t worry, it does mean something in the context of the industry in question.

The only problem was that the ad was actually asking for an “implimentional planner”, whatever that may be.

Now if I am a potential candidate for the role, I can probably read between the lines, but what impression does that give me of the recruitment company?

They don’t understand the industry? They don’t know what the job is called? They understand everything but couldn’t be bothered to check the ad? They checked the ad but can’t spell so couldn’t spot the problem?

I don’t know which excuse is worse, especially from a company that is going to be marketing me to a potential employer – it may only be one little spelling mistake, but the residual impression it leaves is far greater. I for one would not consider using that company again.

Sadly this is not an isolated case – other examples of poor attention to detail are all around.

Phone calls from telcos asking me to switch my business to them when I am already a customer of theirs…“Must end Sunday” promotional ads running on Monday… and, worst of the lot, letters to me as a “valued customer”, but with my name spelt incorrectly.

In a highly competitive world, a lack of attention to detail can send out a small but powerful message to customers – I am too busy/careless/arrogant to bother with trying to get things right, because I know you’ll keep buying me anyway… won’t you?

It’s enough to make anyone grumpy.


Sean Adams founded his marketing advisory company The Seed in late 2000. Sean has had nearly 20 years advertising experience in Australia and Britain across a range of disciplines – research, planning, account management and media. Over that time he has worked with some of the world’s top advertising agencies, working with many of the world’s leading brands.


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John Addis writes: I’m grumpy with you Sean. While running a publishing company I took to asking people in interviews where to place apostrophes, in four different sentences. People called me a pedant (true) but if you can’t get the little things right, what hope for the big things? Language is what separates us from the animals. If we don’t pay any attention to it, we’ll be back to sniffing each others’ backsides before anyone notices.


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