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Is It Ok to Skirt Grammar Rules in Marketing? (Not Really)

Content that’s fresh, relevant and inviting to your audience: That’s one rule we marketers live by. But once you’ve invited them in, what you say should also make sense and be clear and readable.

That’s where punctuation and grammar step in. While having a hyphen where it doesn’t belong, incorrect usage of the dreaded EN dash or EM dash, or ending a sentence with a preposition may not even be noticed, a misplaced apostrophe, misspelled or incorrectly used word or fragment/run-on sentence may prevent your audience from getting your message and taking you seriously.

One possible exception might be social media copy (i.e., Twitter, Instagram, et. al.). Here, it’s not quite anything goes, but it’s close. Character count is paramount; punctuation, articles, full sentences, Oxford commas (you get my drift) maybe not so much. But this is a topic for another day.

Today, let’s consider your audience and choosing the right way to engage them with good grammar.

Higher Ed

If you’re looking to attract cream-of-the-crop students to your college or university (and who isn’t?), you better get the skinny on that Oxford comma, use of apostrophes (or not), how to begin and end a sentence and all the rest; especially if you’re preparing an open house brochure, web page or course catalog. Students in this post-millennial generation (and their parents) will notice and their interest will fizzle. What should you do? Consult Webster and AP or Chicago Manual of Style. is also very helpful.

Healthcare/Professional Services Recruitment

Looking for new hires at your law firm or hospital? Chances are your candidates will also notice glaring grammar glitches in your ads, emails, billboards, etc. Most likely, these flaws won’t be enough for the ideal prospective employee to look for work elsewhere, but why take that chance?

Financial Services

Credit unions, banks and other financial firms that want to increase account openings and loan applications are better off putting their best numbers (not words) forward: APR and APY rates and other numbers should be delivered in snackable bites. Want to be top-of-mind for potential depositors or loan applicants? Think rate first, but keep those fundamentals of proper English in mind, too.

So even though grammar may take a backseat in marketing content on some platforms, getting your message out there in a concise, easy to understand, creative and correct way will not only increase your chances of reaching your target, but there’s a better chance that they’ll even reach right back.


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