A joke I remember from years ago has a man knocking at the gates of Heaven. “Who’s there?” asks St. Peter. “It is I”, comes the response. In the punch line, St. Peter says, “Go away! We have too many English teachers here already!” (Okay, I confess; my B.A. degree is in English Education, so, while many people may chuckle at this joke, I “resemble that remark”!)
Anyway, the point I want to make in sharing this old chestnut is that, when a blog is posted in the name of your business (or, for that matter, when you put out brochures, design your website, or do print advertising), you’re really “putting yourself out there”. In fact, with blogging, you’re putting yourself out there on the World Wide Web. Yes, I know I always write about how a blog should be less formal than other marketing pieces, more conversational and more personal. And granted, it may feel much more natural and conversational to simply say “It’s me!” rather than the stuffy-sounding “It is I.”
But, here’s the thing: You always want to be sure that poor usage and misspelled words aren’t distracting the reader and taking away from your business’ message. And, while stilted and over-formal language can be a distraction, poor grammar and misspelled and misused words can be an even worse one. Think about a great after-dinner speaker delivering a great motivational message. If only you weren’t distracted by that stain on his tie or the popped button on her blouse!
Last spring at the Ivy Tech Community College graduation ceremony, I heard Indiana’s Governor Mitch Daniels express the same idea, stressing in his commencement address how important it was going to be to students’ future success for them to gain command of our English language. He pointed out the unfortunate habit many young people have of inserting the word “like” into every sentence, and admonished graduates, as they embarked on their careers, to “lose the ‘like'”!
Good command of language counts in blogging. In fact, words are a blogger’s only tool to engage readers and drive traffic to the website. Shouldn’t you sound down-to-earth, friendly and approachable, rather than stuffy or stilted or formal? By all means! You want your customers and clients to l-o-v-e doing business with you. But be very careful not to distract the visitor’s attention with shoddy use of the English language. The message you want to convey is that every product and service your business has to offer is a thing of quality. In all your marketing materials, and particularly in your blog, keep the “love”, but, as the Mitch Daniels says, lose the “like”!