Foot in Mouth Marketing


Do you ever wonder if FIMM has infiltrated the marketing world?  Have you noticed recently how many newsletters, sales ads, cable TV commercials and products have gone out without benefit of a good editor?

There's a funny that's been making the internet rounds for years which shows you the power of the human mind to grasp the meaning of the written word even though certain letters are missing.

"Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe."

True though this may be, there is a big difference between being able to understand something and holding it in high esteem.

Current popular thinking tells us that "spelng" isn't important, taking care not to words out doesn't hurt your message any, editors are just high priced nitpickers, and who needs to learn to communicate effectively anyway?  After all, it's YOUR problem if you don't understand ME!

You all remember the controversy over 2 + 2 = 5 in public schools where teachers were told not to "damage a child's self-esteem" or "stifle his creativity" by telling him he is...WRONG.  We all know that Johnny's boss isn't going to care about his creativity if his budget comes up short because $20k plus $20k isn't $50k!  And Johnny's self-esteem is going to take a big hit when he's UNEMPLOYED!

The same holds true for how we communicate.  Words mean things and the words we use and the manner in which we use them is important.  This is true not only because we might not be understood, but because we might not make the impression we desire!

Consider the following examples of Foot in Mouth Marketing that should have been run past a good editor:

"Perishable.  Homemade Baby.  Keep Refrigerated." (Box of baby food jars) "Tastes like Grandma!  Homemade Jam" (I'm afraid to ask how they know!)

Another popular myth about communication is that all we need is our right to Free Speech and we're 'good to go'.  Everyone has the right to say whatever they wish; this is America!  What they don't always understand is that those listening have the right to interpret it any way THEY like.

"The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously." -Hubert H. Humphrey

Consider these marketing tactics that leave a somewhat sour impression:

"Hitler Handkerchief Perfume" (Perhaps bringing it more current: Bin Ladden?)

"Great Value: 2 DVDs $6.99!" (Which ones? and Care Bears Share a Scare)

Everything we say and do (and everything we don't say and don't do) communicates something to someone.  It isn't always just a matter of being understood.  Many times it's a matter of making the impression you desire.

"Litercy Night! September 7, 2008" (Of course, if you can't read, you might not know it isn't worth it to attend!)

Here is a picture of an actual SAT study guide we found for my daughter last year.  Barron's is a well-known company!  We didn't buy it.  Can you guess why?


We do the same thing when we speak and our listeners interpret what we say and how we say it in order to formulate opinions about us and our credibility.  Being understood is only HALF the battle.  Making a good impression or being able to persuade or being taken seriously is the other!  That's why it's vital that we learn to become effective communicators.  That's why I teach the Art of Eloquence.

By the way, if you need an excellent editor/proofreader.  I highly recommend Carla Ives from A Word Aptly Written.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication, but it is her humorous approach to communication skills which has made her a highly sought-after Christian speaker and writer.  Her articles appear in homeschool publications, such as Homeschool Enrichment Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which also endorses her Say What You Mean curricula.  You can also find JoJo on web sites such as and  For more information on communication FUNdamentals and Christian-based communication skills for the whole family, please visit ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

1 comment

  • MeritK

    That’s a Good One!

Leave a comment