You've written a killer press release about a new product. You've invested several hundred dollars to have the release distributed to thousands of media outlets. Finally, the phone rings! It's a woman who says she's inundated with calls that should be going to you.
Turns out you transposed two digits in the phone number and failed to proofread the press release. It's a mistake that could cost you several thousand dollars in sales.
And you're not alone. Other companies have lost far more money than that -- or faced public ridicule for proofreading errors in their marketing copy.
That's why it's necessary to proofread any and all tickets, ads, flyers, signs and email promotions slated for use -- as well as your website copy and any social media items you're sharing.
While minor grammar mishaps won't necessarily get you into serious trouble, other proofreading errors can. Here are seven ways to avoid the most potentially painstaking mistakes:
1. Double-check prices. The wrong punctuation mark in the wrong place can change the price on that $1,499 necklace you're selling to $14.99.
2. And deadline dates. You might be writing about dates for sales, early-bird discounts or event registration or contest entry deadlines. If you print the wrong date and people lose out, they might vent on sites like Facebook and Twitter -- bad PR that can overshadow what would have otherwise been a great promotion.
3. Call all telephone numbers. When I worked at newspapers, the best copy editors followed this rule. Writers make more mistakes with phone numbers than almost any other aspect of their stories. Don't just double-check the phone number online, either. It could be wrong there, too. Pick up the phone.
4. Triple-check all email addresses, including your own. I have mistyped my own email address more times than I can count. A quick Google search will usually tell you if someone else's email is correct. If time permits, call and check.
5. Click on all links. Make sure they lead to the correct pages. Some businesses include the link only to their homepage, but if a press release or article includes a call to action, the link must lead to that specific location. A confused browser will leave.
6. Make sure days correspond with dates. If your marketing copy says an event is being held on Saturday, Nov. 2, check the calendar to make sure that the day and date are correct. If the event were happening this year, for instance, a quick glance at a calendar would tell you that Nov. 2 falls on a Sunday.
7. Always add contact information. I've written before about how you could be losing sales if you don't put contact information on your website. Many small business owners hide behind contact forms. Others forget to include contact information in emails, marketing copy and press releases. Make it easy for people to find you -- and buy from you.
If you're looking for someone to proofread your work, it can be easiest to recruit from someone within your company who is familiar with the topic at hand. And for an extra pair of eyes, you can find freelance proofreaders on sites like Odesk, Elance and Freelancer. If you don't have much money to spend, some Fiverr.com users will proofread for just $5.
You can also call your local newspaper and ask if any of the copy editors do proofreading on the side. Many virtual assistants also offer proofreading services. If you have no room in your budget whatsoever, find a proofreading buddy and read each other's copy. You can never be too careful.