As a small business owner, you likely write your own marketing content. But if you strictly follow every grammatical rule you learned in school, you could be shooting yourself in the foot.
In short, adherence to all these rules could result in a message that’s unclear.
So how can you clarify your marketing message?
First, understand that writing marketing content is typically very different than writing a paper in school.
One of the clearest examples of this involves grammar. Specifically, how marketing content doesn’t need to follow all of the grammatical rules you likely learned in school.
That’s not to say there aren’t basic grammatical rules you need to follow. For example, you should use periods at the end of sentences and know when to use “who” vs. “whom.”
Click to see how to use “who” vs. “whom.”
If you would say “he,” use “who,” and if you’d say “him,” use “whom.” So, you could write a phrase like, “to him it may concern,” but switch it to say “to whom it may concern.”
Holding too loosely to grammatical rules can make your marketing content look sloppy. But holding too tightly to grammatical rules may make it difficult to read.
And because the point of marketing is to convey a message, I think the following holds true:
Readability, not strict adherence to grammatical rules, should be the aim of your marketing content.
Let’s look at a few grammatical rules you can break when writing for your small business.
1. You can end a sentence with a preposition.
If ending a sentence with a preposition makes it easier to read, do that. You don’t want to jumble your message by adding unnecessary words to keep from ending on a preposition.
Heck, I do this in my slogan: “We make marketing content, so you don’t have to.” So, yeah, I’m a fan of this practice.
With that said, let’s move on. (See what I did there?)
2. You can say, “over” when referring to amounts.
Contrary to popular belief, you can use “over” in place of “more than.” So, if saying, “over X amount of people,” reads easier than saying, “more than X amount of people,” you should do that. Use your best judgment.
3. You can start a sentence with a conjunction.
Break up long sentences by starting a sentence with a conjunction. People don’t usually like to read long sentences when viewing marketing content.
And since the purpose of your content is to communicate your message, don’t be afraid of breaking this (rather archaic) rule.
4. You can have a one-sentence paragraph.
It’s helpful to break up paragraphs since we tend to scan websites instead of reading them.
Feel free to have multiple one-sentence paragraphs throughout your piece.
5. You can have a one-word sentence.
You can do this. Seriously.
6. You can say “y’all.”
This one is for my fellow Southerners. If saying, “y’all” can help you sound more relatable, then y’all should do it. But I’d be careful of doing this if you are writing a more formal piece.
Personally, I don’t say this word in my marketing materials (outside of this post). Still, if it works for your brand’s voice and target audience, use it.
Does grammar matter when it comes to marketing content? Yes.
Do you have to follow all the rules? No, but follow most of them.
This list isn’t exhaustive, but now you know you don’t have to follow every rule your middle school English teacher likely gave. That said, I hope you’ll feel more at ease next time you start writing your next marketing piece.