I can still hear her. Mrs. Hawkins. She had a well-earned reputation as THE toughest, old-schoolest, no-nonsense takingest teacher to EVER stalk the halls of my junior-senior high school. While she never told anyone that they were a disappointment, she did tell us many other things - positive things. I hear her singing out the dreaded, "-ly -ly -ly. It ends in -ly. It's an adverb. It modifies a verb." Only she didn't sing it like Julie Andrews, she sang it like she was just a bit tired of us students not putting in the time, not appreciating what she was handing us, and not understanding that it was OUR future that we were threatening.
Back in the day, in our small school, I "suffered" with Mrs. Hawkins in the worst possible way. Get this! One year I had her for homeroom, for "Basic Studies" (which was two periods in a row focused on English, Social Studies, and something else that I can't recall), and for Study Hall. Yes, she owned me in 9th grade. I had her for English in other years, Study Hall on occasion, we all passed by her several times per day, EVERY day, from 7th grade through 12th grade, and she even chaperoned our dances! She had us diagramming sentences, writing essays, reading aloud, walking "like good citizens" in the halls, and even behaving like gentlemen when we were with the ladies! It just about couldn't have been worse.
It couldn't have been worse until we graduated and got into college. I can't tell you how many classmates shared with me how easy college English was after the old-school drilling that Mrs. Hawkins gave us. We all seemed to be better writers, readers, and thinkers than many of our college mates. In fact, many of us were able to avoid freshman English totally because Mrs. Hawkins actually ran us through what was then called "Advanced Placement" English. Yes, just like all the other people we didn't like back then because they actually made us work, learn, and grow, we finally figured out that Mrs. Hawkins was one of the very best things that ever happened to us. I honestly think about her nearly every day - and I thank her.
I certainly am thinking about her today as I read the tantalizing teasers from a new B2B Marcom survey. Brought to my attention by @copywriter4u, the survey says, "poorly written content is the #1 disappointment for B2B tech buyers". WOW! THE #1 disappointment for my #1 target audience is the very thing that Mrs. Hawkins worked so hard to teach me to avoid. And, though Mrs. Hawkins never told a student that they were a disappointment, many B2B buyers tell us that every day. Maybe not in those words, but by NOT reading our literature, by NOT spending more time on our web pages, by NOT replying to our emails, and by NOT giving us the order.
While we are all scurrying around, trying to learn the hottest new social media skill, don't forget to also deliver the basics. Eventually, a customer is going to need to actually ingest your message. And, whether it is written, or delivered via a script that you prepared, it has to be built with proper structure, grammar, punctuation, and design, or you risk disappointing the very person you are paid to impress.
So, stand up straight, don't interrupt others, and please use proper grammar in your B2B Marcom. Yes, ma'am.
Terrifying Image source.